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Coming to Terms with the Anaheim Ducks Season: A Fan’s Perspective
The night that Anaheim Ducks fans had been dreading for the last few weeks finally arrived. Sunday was the team's final home game of the season and, quite possibly, the last time the Ducks faithful would see fan favorite Teemu Selanne on Honda Center ice.
It was an emotional night that included several heart-tugging moments, from the "One More Year" posters for Selanne that lined the glass during warm-ups, to the chants of the same throughout the game, to the linesman taking his time on a late game face-off while the fans showed their respect for Anaheim's favorite son. As someone who was there, I can assure you the video clips do not do the moment justice.
It was also a frustrating night, as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Ducks, 2-1, with Anaheim's lone goal coming from the first star of the game, the Finnish Flash himself. It was disappointing, but it was a fitting end to a disappointing season.
And although the Ducks have three games remaining on the road, I find myself with that all too familiar ache in my gut, knowing that I won't get to see my hockey team play again until the fall.
It came much too quickly and feels miserable.
As sports seasons go, this Ducks season was a hard one for the fans. September came with such high hopes, but a team that looked poised to make another playoff appearance quickly and dramatically fell apart.
As the calendar turned from 2011 to 2012 and with a new coaching staff in place, there was reason to believe the Ducks could salvage this dreadful start and make a miraculous push into the NHL's second season. They played some outstanding hockey, but more than that, we saw a team that began to believe in themselves again. And they showed it by racking up the wins and the points.
But time ran out on the miraculous run, as the hole the Ducks had dug themselves into in the fall was too deep to climb out of by spring. What always seems to follow a disappointing season like this are the extensive analyses on "what went wrong" with the team.
Much has been written, said, pondered and tweeted about why the Ducks season turned out the way it did. With all the talent on this team, there must be some reason that can be pinpointed, somewhere to place the blame, right?
I've decided that looking too closely at the "if onlys" and the "what ifs" will only drive me crazy. And personally, I've had enough crazy for one season of Ducks hockey.
I've come to terms with this season. Win or lose, playoffs or no playoffs, I'm OK with it. The analyses, while somewhat helpful to me in my understanding of the game, do not change the Ducks point total or their place in the standings. I'm fine without a definitive explanation of what went wrong with the team or a place to put the blame. It's sports, and sometimes, that's just how the season goes.
For as frustrating as the season was, there were plenty of positives, centered mainly around Selanne. Fans got to witness the Ducks leading scorer climb to at least 19th place on the NHL all-time points list, passing names like Luc Robitaille and Jari Kurri along the way. The Ducks have some young, talented players in Devante Smith-Pelly, Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri, who showed some real promise in the final weeks of this season. And after responding positively to the coaching change, I'm excited to see what the team will do with an entire season under new head coach Bruce Boudreau.
The great thing about sports is the hope that comes with each new season. The Ducks roster may look different come fall, and maybe that's a good thing. Hopefully that roster will include Selanne, but if he hangs up his skates for good, I will always have the memory of being at Honda Center on that emotional, final night.
And ultimately, no matter who is on the team, they are still my Ducks.
Is it October yet?
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