The Essentials: Anaheim Ducks Edition

(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. Here's Jen Neale from Anaheim Calling, giving us The Essentials for the Anaheim Ducks.)

By Jen Neale

Player: Teemu Selanne

There is an argument to be made for Paul Kariya to be the essential (Mighty) Duck since he was pretty much the first everything in the franchise; however, there is a reason we all wait anxiously at the end of every season to see if Teemu Selanne will return for his 18th, 19th, and now 20th season.

He is the face, heart and soul of the franchise. To see him on the ice is not only exciting but reassuring. He makes everyone around him better, if not through play then through attitude. I cannot imagine life-after-Teemu, even though it gets closer each year. Once it's all done, his number will be the first in Ducks history to be retired.

Season: 2006-07

Duh. And it didn't even take us 45 years to win our first Cup.

Game: Game 5, 2007 Western Conference Finals

I mean no disrespect to the Ottawa Senators, but the Ducks won the Stanley Cup after beating the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals.

The six-game series was nasty. Chris Pronger and Rob Niedermayer were suspended for hits. Even mild-mannered Scott Niedermayer would get into scrums. It was Game 5 of that series that cemented, in my mind, that the Ducks were going to win the Cup. Detroit was holding on to a 1-0 lead going into the final seconds of the third period. It looked all but wrapped up for the Red Wings until Captain Scotty would tie the game with 48 seconds left in regulation. There was no one that wanted the Cup more than Teemu Selanne and it was only natural he would be the hero. He would make a split second decision in overtime to lift a backhand over Dominik Hasek and win the game for the Ducks.

This win gave Anaheim their first series lead and they'd close it out in the next game at home.

Goal: Paul Kariya, 2003 Stanley Cup Final

The 2003 playoff run was full of mini-miracles. I still can't believe that team got so far. I was sure that run was going to be over in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final after seeing our captain get steamrolled by New Jersey's Scott Stevens. Paul Kariya laid lifeless on the ice only to be shown coming-to with a puff of air that caused a fog on his mask. We'd lost Kariya to concussions a couple times before and I was sure he was done.

We were all shocked when he returned in the second period. Kariya went on to score an amazing goal that locked up the game for the Mighty Ducks, sending things back to New Jersey for Game 7.

Trade: Teemu Selanne, Marc Chouinard and Winnipeg's 4th round choice in 1996 for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tverdovsky and Anaheim's 3rd round choice in 1996 (February 7, 1996)

I could go for the obvious here and say the Chris Pronger trade changed everything, but people forget that the team he joined just lost in the conference finals to his now-former team. They were already a really good team; they just needed that one piece. The real trade that changed the franchise forever was between the Mighty Ducks and the Phoenix Coyotes Winnipeg Jets.

On February 7, 1996 the Mighty Ducks acquired: a 4th round pick in the 1996 draft, Mark Chouinard and Teemu Selanne for 1995 first-round pick Chad Kilger,1994 first-round pick Oleg Tverdovsky and a 3rd round pick in the 1996 draft.

Acquiring Selanne changed the state of hockey in Orange County. The Dynamic Duo of Kariya and Selanne put butts in the seats and drew national attention to the team for being more than just a novelty.

Unsung Hero: Steve Rucchin

People tend to forget that while Kariya and Selanne were lighting up opposing goalies, they weren't on a line by themselves. The two superstars were centered by Steve Rucchin.

For a long while, Rucchin held third place in goals, points and assists behind the original twins. Now he's been bumped into fourth in most categories by the current set of twins, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Rooch was the guy that cleared space for Paul and Teemu. He made sure they were protected.

Franchise Villain: Detroit Red Wings

I would like to say that the Kings and/or the Sharks are our biggest rivals, but they aren't. We do have a healthy hatred for each other; however, we rarely see each other in the playoffs — an atmosphere that drives rivalries. The Ducks have met the Red Wings in the playoffs five times with Detroit besting the Ducks three series to two.

I know that Detroit doesn't feel the same way about Anaheim. Yet I never see more fights in the stands than I do when Detroit visits Honda Center.

Fight: Francois Beauchemin vs. Jarome Iginla

The most important part of fighting in hockey is picking your dance partner. This couldn't be more important in the playoffs. If you can get the other team's star player off the ice for five-minutes, it can change an entire game and possibly a series. In the 2005-2006 playoffs, the Mighty Ducks were facing Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames.

Game 6 could have been the last game in the series if it wasn't for Francois Beauchemin. According to Beauch, Iginla asked him to go, and that could have been the worst move in Iggy's career. Beauchemin absolutely destroyed Iginla. From that moment on the series was completely shifted in the Ducks favor. They went on to win that game 2-1 and win the series in seven.

Coach: Randy Carlyle

I wanted to say Mike Babcock at first just because I'm still a little bitter about the beginning of this last season, but it has to be Randy Carlyle. He was a d--k. He was grumpy and a hard-ass. He made Aaron Ward hate hockey. He told Joffrey Lupul he couldn't play left-wing in the NHL (I'm sure he's changed his mind now). Yet he brought Anaheim a Stanley Cup. Can't argue with success.

Broadcaster: Brian Hayward

To be a true color-guy for a team, you have to be a homer. There are few homers in the NHL quite like that of Brian Hayward. Hazy has been with the team since day one and he is un-apologetically the biggest Ducks fan. I like him because he's unintentionally hilarious. Who could forget James Wisneiwski's hit on Brent Seabrook that sent Seabrook tumbling like a drunk cartoon character?

Hazy accused Seabrook of embellishing the hit. People were pissed after he said that. To Ducks fans, it was just Hazy being Hazy.

Arena Trend: Visiting Fans

The Ducks are amongst the lowest ticket prices in the league. You would think that would draw sell-out crowds every game, right? Well, sort of. If the team isn't winning, only the die-hard Ducks fans come to games. That leaves a lot of open tickets for the visiting team's fans. There are nights when home games sound like away games because there are so many of the other team's fans.

Arena Food: Club Level Freshness

If you want fresh food that hasn't seen a heat lamp, you have to sit on the Club Level, and you can't get up to if you don't have a ticket for those expensive seats. Honda Center went on a two-phase dining upgrade of the past two seasons. It just got more expensive and added a few more choices.

All I ask for is the Samueli's follow what their next-door neighbor Arte Moreno (owner of the Angels) made a priority - lowering beer prices.

Swag: The Wild Wing Jersey

Ever since Charlie Conway donned the jersey in D2: Mighty Ducks, the masked duck will forever be associated with the franchise. Yet there is one iteration of the logo that I'd like see burned in an incinerator. This year, I made my first trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I expected to see the exhibits on the founding of the franchise and winning the Cup.

The last thing I thought I would see in the hall was this beast of a third jersey. There are plenty of ugly jerseys in the NHL and this ranks near the top.