(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here is Detroit Red Wings blogger J.J. From Kansas of Winging It In Motown, fondly recalling the Anaheim Ducks. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
Dear hockey fans,
Let me start off by saying HAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT ANAHEIM.
Ok, now let's start.
Wait... before we do, I want to get my one clichéd Disney Mighty Ducks joke out of the way right now. I mean, there are some good parallels with Captain Duck having lots of heart but not enough skill, and also having the maturity of a pubescent boy.
But no, my lone Mighty Ducks joke is that Corey Perry would be Lester Averman in a remake, except Lester would be his middle name and his first name would be Moe.
There, that's out of the way. Let's talk how bad the Ducks were.
I mean, they were the two-seed in the superior conference, but man oh man if this team were any more of a paper tiger, they'd be selling Frosted Flakes.
It's funny though, because this is actually one of the most skillful Ducks teams to take the ice in several years. Somehow they couldn't find a way to get past a team that had Justin Abdelkader on its top line all season.
It's just that this is the team's leadership:
For those of you in the East who don't stay up late enough to watch good hockey teams play, just take what you know about the petulance of the Canadiens, the hands-would-be-better-if-our-knuckles-could-stop-dragging-long-enough-to-heal attitude of the Bruins, the top-heaviness of the Capitals, the coaching competence of the Maple Leafs and the emotional comportment of the Sabres.
That's the Ducks.
There's something perfect about this being the way the Wings/Ducks Western Conference rivalry finally ends. By most measures other than puck-control, the Ducks were a better team and the Wings were the dirtier team (the opposite of what happened in 2007); you just wouldn't know it by how the scoreboard turned out.
When the chips are down and it's real crunch time, playoff teams lean on their captains to get them through must-win games. Henrik Zetterberg called upon more than two decades' worth of the best leadership in the NHL and put up five points in two games with his team's back to the wall.
Ryan Getzlaf did this
We all saw it in Game Six: Todd Bertuzzi got into Ryan Getzlaf's head, and bad. This is odd because usually when you work with the terms "Todd Bertuzzi" and "head", you use the term "upside" rather than "inside", but such is Ryan Getzlaf and his beautifully petulant assault on an innocent pane of plexiglass.
It was as hilarious as Lieutenant Dan raging against a hurricane ... except Lt. Dan had more to stand on.
The rest of the Ducks' leadership?
Well, Teemu Selanne lasted three games before remembering what year it is and that he sucks now.
Seriously. Look at this picture. This is from 2013. I will bet you any amount of money that Selanne has the Ray Charles Diet Pepsi jingle running through his head. Does somebody want to tell this guy that he's old enough to actually be Ray Charles by now? It's going to be real tough for the Ducks when their 40-plus European star retires and leaves them struggling to make the playoffs. At least now they'll have hope that you can come back from that and make it past the first round.
Then you have Bobby Ryan, who scored some killer late goals for the Ducks. Those will be even better when he signs with a contender a few years down the road.
Emerson Etem was an absolute stud for the Ducks, but thankfully, Bruce Boudreau is a dummy and only gave him 12:50 ice time per game.
Corey Perry? Well he was so busy trying to decapitate somebody with his skates that he kind of forgot to shoot the puck somewhere other than Jimmy Howard's chest.
I haven't seen a Perry take this many passive shots at a brand since 'Part of Me' hit the charts.
Even better? This is the Ducks team of the future.
This team which wasn't good enough to escape the first round against a lower seed is what's set. This team with wilting stars and petulant whining is the Ducks' team going forward. Ducks fans should be asking their owner Henry Samueli for answers, but Samueli, who stayed quiet during the lockout isn't likely to provide any.
Of course, he has already learned his lesson that it's just best to keep your mouth shut, lest you get yourself in trouble.
He didn't learn that from Craig Leipold though; he learned it from Ernesto Miranda.
What hurt the Ducks, in the end, was they're a team content to throw more than $16M worth of cap space for two guys who couldn't get it done when it mattered while hoping that a defensive corps which relied heavily on Sheldon Souray holding it together could make up for their mistakes.
What the Ducks could really use is a defensively good puck-moving defenseman to build around. Perhaps somebody in the 6-1 185lb range? Maybe a kid from British Columbia?
Nahhhh... they'd have had to have drafted a kid like that in 2008 or something for him to have been ready to make a difference for them by now. Or maybe they could have foregone that second round pick they wanted so badly in return for Lubomir Visnovsky.
The people I do feel badly for in all of this are all of the hockey fans in Anaheim. Now that the rivalry is over and the Wings are moving back East, they'll only get to see their favorite team once every season.
I'm not saying that there are more Red Wings fans in Anaheim than there are Ducks fans; I'm just saying that even in the GM's box, you can't even throw a chair without accidentally hitting a fan of the Winged Wheel.
It's all the better though anyway, Anaheim sucks as a city too. There's one good thing in Anaheim and it sure as hell isn't the Ducks. If California were a woman's body, Disneyland is the place everybody wants to go. Naturally, nobody wants to spend much time in the surrounding neighborhood though. This is Anaheim for you.
You can't really blame Anaheim itself though, they're really just a result of Los Angeles doing what Los Angeles does, which is creating flawed sequels.
The Ducks might have won the first Cup for California, but that's just how sequels can work sometimes. They'll often be more successful than the original, but they're generally terrible. The only people you find who will argue that the sequel is better are dummies who like to be different instead of right.
This is Anaheim's fanbase.
The good news about contrarians is that they're a minority by definition, so there's always going to be less of them than there are of people who don't suck.
Then again, the only way you can tell you've left Anaheim and have entered Los Angeles is that they're still playing hockey there.
So enjoy being the third-best team in the 26th-best state for hockey, Ducks. You deserve it.
[Special thanks to @RedWings3RDP for the Getzlaf .gif and to @Spade_Haivyn for the Selanne pic. Thanks even more to Josh Howard @JHowardDesign for the shops that, for the second straight year kinda creeped me out while making me laugh.]