After 17 seasons in Anaheim, including the last 12 as Ducks captain, the 36-year-old center knows everyone at Honda Center, even if he doesn’t know everyone’s name.
“Being in one place your whole career,” Getzlaf said, “gives you the opportunity to form friendships.”
That’s the beauty of this.
Getzlaf achieved a rarity in professional sports, not only spending his entire career with the same team, but winning a championship, setting records and leaving a legacy. He means so much to Anaheim; Anaheim means so much to him.
He will sit out the Ducks’ final two road games so he can play his final NHL game at home against the St. Louis Blues on April 24. Because everyone will understand the significance, they’ll get the farewell they deserve, and they can soak up the moment.
It’s funny to think back to the morning of the 2003 NHL Draft, as Getzlaf’s father, Steve, did during the press conference on Tuesday. Steve asked Ryan what team he wanted to go to. Ryan said maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs. Steve told him that wouldn’t happen, as the Maple Leafs didn’t have a first-round pick.
“Well, somewhere warm then,” Ryan said.
Well, it all worked then, didn’t it?
The Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, at the end of Getzlaf’s second NHL season. He led them with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He went on to become Anaheim’s all-time leader in games played (1,150), assists (731) and points (1,013) in the regular season, as well as games played (125), goals ( 37), assists (83) and points (120) in the playoffs.
Although he’s never won a major NHL award, he’s come close: in 2013-14, he was a runner-up at center for the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby for the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the most valuable player as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
“I was able to achieve this dream of being a hockey player and winning the Stanley Cup here in Anaheim,” Getzlaf said.
Getzlaf didn’t need to go anywhere else and didn’t want to, even if he had the chance.
Suitors were interested in acquiring him before the 2021 NHL trade deadline, when he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and the Ducks were set to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season. He and his wife, Paige, were in control due to a no-move clause in his contract.
“To tell you the truth, last year’s trade deadline was one of the toughest two days of my life,” Getzlaf said. “Me and Paige spent long nights talking about it, and ultimately the decision to stay here was based on the loyalty this organization has shown me over the years, and it just didn’t feel right to go anywhere. or.”
What Getzlaf has in Anaheim should be cherished, as he knows.
Getzlaf singled out a former teammate on Tuesday: his best friend, Corey Perry. Getzlaf and Perry played together from 2005 to 2019, before Perry joined the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning as an unrestricted free agent.
“We started this journey together, and it would have been great to end this way, but obviously our business is what it is,” Getzlaf said.
Whether Getzlaf will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame remains to be seen. Bryan Hayward, the former NHL goaltender who is now Ducks TV’s analyst, made a not-so-subtle argument for him on Tuesday, pointing out some facts in his favor.
Eleven other NHL players captained the same team for 10 seasons and scored 1,000 points with that team. Eight are in the Hall: Jean Béliveau, Ray Bourque, Alex Delvecchio, Ron Francis, Jarome Iginla, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman. Two are still playing: Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Getzlaf won gold with Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Twelve others have won the cup and two Olympic gold medals. Six are retired and all are in the Hall: Martin Brodeur, Viacheslav Fetisov, Peter Forsberg, Igor Larionov, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.
Of the 29 retired players who scored their first 1,000 points with the same team, 26 are in the Hall.
“We’re talking about an elite company here,” Hayward said.
Yes we are.
Whatever happens with the Hall of Fame, however, one day Getzlaf’s No. 15 should hang from the rafters of the Honda Center alongside Teemu Selanne’s No. 8, Paul Kariya’s No. 9 and the No. 27 by Niedermayer.
“It’s clear he will go down as one of the elite players of his era in the National Hockey League,” Hayward said, “and we’re so proud he did it all here with the Ducks.