Let’s talk about the team out West that’s, incredibly, inspired by a 1992 Disney movie. The Anaheim Ducks came into the league in 1993 as an expansion team. They were in fact owned by the Walt Disney Corporation and were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Even the jerseys matched the logo from the movie; it was a truly magical moment for the sport.
It also didn’t take the team very long to become competitive. After acquiring Teemu Selanne from the Winnipeg Jets via trade in 1996, the then-Mighty Ducks were able to reach the playoffs for the first time in 1997, only four years into the league. They would go on to win their first round series against Calgary before getting swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
The Mighty Ducks hit a small rough patch soon after, which led to trading Selanne away to the Sharks. Anaheim eventually returned to the playoffs in 2002. Led by original draftees Paul Kariya and Steve Rucchin and brilliant goaltending performances by Jean-Sebastian Giguere, the Mighty Ducks blew through the Western Conference playoffs on route to their first finals appearance. They lost that year to the New Jersey Devils, but pushed the series to an entertaining seven games. Disney sold the team in 2005 and the new ownership removed the Mighty from their name, completely rebranding the design of the team. The Ducks eventually made it back to the Finals in 2007, and won their first and only Stanley Cup just 14 years into the team’s existence.
Ducks of a Feather
Anaheim has only been a franchise for 27 years, but has taken advantage of its short time in existence. The Ducks have made the playoffs 14 times, won their division 6 times, and won the cup in 2007. There are still 11 teams that haven’t won a Stanley Cup. Anaheim has achieved success in such a short amount of time through great management and star power. This team has seen a bevy of famous players don their uniform, from the Mighty to the plain old Duck days. Names like Selanne, Kariya and Giguere, along with Scott and Rob Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and my personal favorites Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have helped keep the Ducks in contention.
The 2019-20 version of the Anaheim Ducks can best be described by sharing two separate stats with you. Out of the 31 teams in the NHL, the Ducks ranked 21st in goals for and 25th in goals against. It was an unwatchable season to say the least. However, the Ducks also had the 6th toughest schedule of all 31 teams this year, so make of that what you will.
A positive from finishing at a disappointing 29-33-9 in this shortened season is landing the 6th overall pick in this years draft. On top of that, Anaheim will also pick at 27th in the first round after making a trade with the Boston Bruins. That trade sent away young right winger Ondrej Tase for the Bruins 1st round pick this year, David Backes, and 20 year old defenseman Axel Andersson. It’s clear the Ducks are doing their best to build towards the future.
Also, you have to look even further at the bigger picture. The team is relatively young, with only six 30+ year olds on the 26 man roster. The most productive line of the season, the 2nd line, included Rickard Rackell, Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg, all of whom are under 30 and ended the year in the top 5 in point production for Anaheim. Henrique led the team in goals scored with 26 and points with 43, one point ahead of team captain and veteran Ryan Getzlaf.
Anaheim’s general manager Bob Murray is set to enter his 12th season with the franchise, which is still owned by Henry Sameuli, the same man who purchased the team from the Disney Corporation in 2005. The Ducks are coached by Dallas Eakins, who looks to improve on the team’s losing record after just one season at the helm.