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
ANAHEIM, CA – OCTOBER 21: Paul Kariya #9 of the Anaheim Ducks and girlfriend Valerie Dawson watch during his jersey retirement ceremony at Honda Center on October 21, 2018, in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

A Fairy Tale Ending that Didn’t End the Way we had Hoped

To wrap this article up I wanted to share a little personal note. Kariya, like many Anaheim Ducks fans, is my all-time favorite player in NHL history and is the reason I started cheering for the team, not the movies or cartoons, the player himself. I started following this team when I was five years old and have had my fair share of Kariya posters along with my prized 2003 Stanley Cup Finals jersey.

As a guy from Eastern Canada, it is not the easiest cheering for the Anaheim Ducks, as comes with responsibilities, most of their games start around the time I go to bed. In addition to that being a Western Conference team means they do not play teams in my area (Leafs, Sens, Red Wings) very often. The only time I ever got to see them live was actually in Anaheim for two games at New Years’ of 2010-11.

More from History

As a Christmas gift, I was super excited to finally see the team live and reality surpassed the expectations. The team beat my dad’s Flyers on New Year’s eve, then Hiller stood on his head defeating the defending Cup Champion Blackhawks two nights later.

The reason I am telling you this is because I look back on it now to think I was so close to seeing my all-time favorite player, who I grew up idolizing so much, play his final season in an Anaheim Ducks jersey.

I remember the excitement about the idea of Kariya going back to the Ducks for 2011, being disappointed that he was taking that season off, and even more disappointed that he was forced to retire the next offseason.

While he had a great career, and was rightfully inducted into the Hall of Fame, Kariya returning for one more season with the Anaheim Ducks would have closed the book on his great career with the team that adored him for so long. While he still may not have won his Stanley Cup, it still would have been the fairy tale ending that started the day he was drafted by the Disney-owned franchise.

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