Anaheim Ducks Tales: When Paul Kariya Almost Came Back

Paul Kariya #9 of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)
Paul Kariya #9 of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI) /
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Anaheim Ducks
Paul Kariya #9 of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI) /

We have discussed numerous times the importance Paul Kariya has played in the Anaheim Ducks franchise, and there is no debating that. However, there was once a time when fans were hopeful he might return. Had that happened, there may not have been that awkward stage between PK9 and the Ducks organization after his retirement.

It was the summer of 2010, and the Anaheim Ducks were in a transition period after a long run of success throughout the 2000s. The team had just missed the playoffs for the first time since the pre-lockout 2003-04 season and were preparing for their first season without long-time captain Scott Niedermayer, who made the decision to retire from the game of hockey for good. This was a year after parting ways with their other franchise defensemen, Chris Pronger, the previous offseason.

While getting rid of two future Hall of Fame defensemen in consecutive offseasons was a major blow to Bob Murray‘s roster, with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry still in their primes, along with Bobby Ryan becoming a consistent 30 goal scorer, there was no time to rebuild. In the first round of the draft the team was elated after projected Top 5 pick, Cam Fowler, dropped to the Ducks all the way at 12. While Fowler is a heavily debated player amongst the fanbase, the team should still be happy that the draft went as it did, as Fowler has been close to as advertised over the years.

Fowler, as a rookie, made the team and joined veterans on the blue line such as Lubomir Visnovsky, who ended up leading the league for points by a d-man that year, Toni Lydman, and Sheldon Brookbank, playing in front of Jonas Hiller who became a first-time All-Star by giving the Anaheim Ducks a chance to win every night.

Upfront, along with the famed RPG line, was another big name in Joffrey Lupul, who had dealt with numerous injuries over the past 2 years and was coming into the season healthy. Additionally, many veterans supplemented the veteran core including Saku Koivu, Todd Marchant, Jason Blake, George Parros, and of course, the return again of Teemu Selanne, who signed a one-year pact to the joy of Ducks fans everywhere. While everyone was excited to have the Finish Flash back, his work off the ice was what could have made a lot of Ducks fans over the moon.

Selanne Was the Reason Kariya Almost Returned to the Anaheim Ducks

Selanne the previous off-season was a big reason for getting Saku Koivu to join the Anaheim Ducks after the long-time Habs captain was let go by the team. The Flash almost played a big part in bringing his former teammate and good friend Paul Kariya back in a Ducks jersey. While it would have only been a one-year deal, the importance of Kariya playing his (potentially) final seasons in a Ducks uniform would have really gone a long way with his relationship with the Ducks fanbase. Selanne spoke further about this back in 2019 on the 31 Thoughts podcast.

"“I don’t think a lot of people know this, but right before he retired because of concussions he was one phone call away that Paul would play his last season with me in Anaheim. I thought when he called me in July, I thought he was going to tell me the news that he signed. But he said after the last medicals and the doctor said ‘no more’. So he was pretty close that he would come back.”"