The Anaheim Ducks have played 2,000 games as a franchise. Ryan Getzlaf has appeared in exactly half of those, a record he achieved on Sunday night at home against Chicago.
Memorable moments: raising the Stanley Cup after the 2006-07 season, his first full campaign. A fight with Joe Thornton of the Sharks right off the hop in the playoffs one season. And every Ducks fan will have at least one more to complete a trio.
Getzlaf was drafted in the first round, 19th overall, by the Ducks in 2004. His first appearance in the NHL came in the 2005-06 season.
Now fifteen years into a career that should stretch at least a few more (he is under contract until the end of next season at $8.25 per year–in millions), he has done what few players do, and fewer do with one team, playing thousand nights’ worth of games.
Over the years, he’s missed his share, too, one with an appendix that had to be removed, a bunch due to eye and facial injuries. Altogether, he’d have played about 1100 had he done an iron man thing. As it is, his admirers in Anaheim are more than happy with what he has achieved as Captain of the team for the past ten years.
On the injury front, note that he is now the only Ducks’ player not to wear a visor. Most have no choice, as the league mandated them for incoming players about six years ago now. Getzlaf and other “older” players (he is not yet 35) are grandfathered to wear one or not. When he gets hurt, he typically puts one on for a game or two. Then it’s off again.
Outside of Anaheim, Getzlaf has twice won Olympic gold for Canada, in 2010 and 2014. With the Ducks, he has posted best seasons of 91 and 87 points, and in his breakout Stanley Cup campaign, he led the Ducks in scoring during the playoffs. His top goal tally during the regular season is 31 (2013-14), and he is near a point per game player over the course of his career. Easy to figure in his thousandth game: he has 934 points, thus a .934 PPG ratio. Amongst those are 268 goals. His playoff totals show an additional 125 games and 120 points including 37 more goals.
For so many games, he played alongside Corey Perry, now departed to Dallas. So often, he dished the puck to Perry, who put the goal in. Now, with his linemates being Nick Ritchie and Max Comtois amongst a bit of a rotating cast (partly due to Ondrej Kase being hurt), Getzlaf is in a shooting mode. He has seven goals thus far this year, having played 16 games. Last year, he scored just 14 goals in 67 games, though he added 34 assists.
The Ducks, not just Getzlaf, have changed their style of play this year. They had to. Scoring was near non-existent last year, and no playoff berth was forthcoming. This year, with a number of rookies in the fold, the pace of play has picked up and the offensive pressure is greater. The Ducks have still underachieved in the scoring department, with 41 goals coming in to Sunday and 43 exiting, fifth of the top five in the Pacific, which is, admittedly, a rather high-scoring division.
Fans know what they have in Getzlaf, and they appreciate him. Versus Chicago, it started when he was introduced to take the opening faceoff at center. The building roared. During play, he was applauded every time he touched the puck in the first period. His contribution wasn’t exactly dynamic, statistically or realistically, though. In fact, the first Chicago goal might have partially been his responsibility, because he was out midway to block a shot that sailed past him on his left and into the right side of the net where Ryan Miller was decidedly not taking up space. Screen.
But he also held forth on offense, controlling the puck and getting a good chance when a pass from Michael Del Zotto came to him in the slot. Getzlaf took a turn-around backhander that was stopped. He also played a good deal on the point on a power play sequence.
In the second period Getzlaf carried a puck out from the corner to the front of the net, but he shot into the goalie. In the third, he went down the right side and whirled a backhand pass back to Rakell, who took a slapshot that went over the net.
It was no stretch to see Getzlaf’s prominence on the ice. The long stick. The tall body. The poise–nothing about Getzlaf has changed for a number of seasons.
As for the team, the Ducks had bursts of strong offense, but they still don’t keep at it consistently. Additionally, they also have no particular skill on the power play right now, as their percentage indicates: a flat ten percent. The best in the league is Boston, at a completely unrealistic 32.6%. Only the Kings (9.1%) and the awful Ottawa Senators (4.8%) are worse than Anaheim. Their coach did say afterwards that he is keeping his units together to allow them time to mature.
The Ducks started faster than they have done recently, something Getzlaf and the coach had commented upon after the game on Friday night. They actually were outshot early, though, 15-11 in P1, and they found themselves down two goals after the first.
All the people presented to the media after the game: Getzlaf, Sam Steele, Nick Ritchie, and the coach, cited their comeback from the early two-goal hole as a strong point. The Ducks got one goal about midway through the game, and the second Anaheim goal was scored with six minutes gone in the third period.
The Ducks flurried around the ten-to-go to seven-to-go minutes of the third, a long stretch with no whistles. Anaheim was in the Chicago end, controlling the puck and buzzing around, long diagonal passes being flung about. This was reflected in their shots in the period, 13 versus nine for Chicago, a comeback after trailing after both periods one and two. Having allowed the goal to tie, Chicago put on a press late, with Ryan Miller making a splits save with seconds to go to keep it even.
The game went to OT, with Patrick Kane scoring. The goal was set up, of course, by Toews. Keith got the additional assist.
Getzlaf’s family, including former CFL player and brother Chris, attended the game. Getzlaf talked about the feat of playing this many games afterwards: “It was great. Obviously the crowd; this is our home building and I’ve been here a long time. It was a very warm welcome, a little emotional during the game, and a little bit embarrassing. I’m not very good at those things.” The team had him on the video board for an extended period. Look for more of the same on Tuesday, which marks the completion of the 1,000-game feat.
During the break between periods two and three, the team announced that they would give away a commemorative poster on Tuesday celebrating Getzlaf, and that they would have Getzlaf mini-sticks available. Fun stuff. More cheering.
Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said of his captain, “He has been given much by the organization and he has given everything that he has, back. To play a thousand games in one jersey is a very, very hard thing to do.”
Getzlaf was the first star, but neither he nor Steel, third star, nor Patrick Kane, visiting second star, made an appearance.
Nicklas Lidstrom fans: check out the new book by Lidstrom with Gunnar Nordstrom and Bob Duff. It’s called The Pursuit of Perfection. Triumph Books is the publisher,