Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Anaheim Ducks Edition
(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Jen Neale of Puck Daddy (with illustrations by Earl Sleek)
Most Disappointing Team: 2007-2008 Anaheim Ducks
Some have proclaimed the 2006-07 Cup-winning Ducks team as one of the best of all time. It certainly was one of the best assembled and complete rosters. If they could only keep most of the band together, they'd have a great chance to repeat.
I wasn't sure how to explain the painful destruction of a beautiful thing so I decided to make a list: Dustin Penner/offer-sheet/barn fight (wasn't terrible in long-run); starting the season in London; miserable Cap management by Brian Burke; ancient relic Mathieu Schneider joins team; angry outcast Todd Bertuzzi joins the team; Bobby Ryan was promoted and demoted about six billion times pissing him off and making him moody; Scott Niedermayer stays partially, but not officially, retired until December; Teemu Selanne contemplates retirement until January; Andy McDonald was traded for Doug Weight; and other things too painful for my consciousness to recall.
They lost to Dallas in the WCQF.
Most Disappointing Duck: Bobby Ryan (just kidding!) Stanislav Chistov
Finishing 27th in the league with a 25-41-16 record, the 2000-2001 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim had earned
themselves the 5th overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. The franchise was in turmoil. They fired coach Craig Hartsburg earlier in the season, and his assistant, Guy Charron, took over.
Well, at the end of the season, Charron was demoted back to assistant coach to serve under new head coach, Bryan Murray. By hiring Murray, GM Pierre Gauthier was ascribing to Murray's new vision for the team, one that resembled the then-dominant Detroit way of doing things.
The plan was to build around Paul Kariya, Alexei Smirnov (another future bust from the prior draft), and Stanislav Chistov.
Here is the scouting report on Stan from the draft:
“An excellent skater with impressive speed and agility … and outstanding offensive-minded player who is a scoring threat every time he is on the ice … a creative playmaker with very strong puck handling skills … has the ability to control the puck and maneuver very well at top speed … has good vision and strong hockey instincts … a very good competitor and a hard worker who plays with a lot of intensity.
"The best available player at #5 and arguably the most skilled player in the draft, Chistov is expected to return to Russia next season but commented that he would attend the Ducks camp this season if invited. He has also played center. Compared to both Kariya and Sergei Samsonov, though it’s been said his skating isn’t as powerful as Kariya’s."
A few things about this draft report. First, it's filled with a whole bunch of BS hockey and sports cliches, those should have been a warning sign right away. Second, they mention he's 'played center' before. Yeah, 'played center' and 'is a center' are two totally different things. The Mighty Ducks needed a center, and you know who would have been a great add? The No. 6 pick in the same draft - Mikko Koivu. D'oh!
In 196 games over three seasons with the Ducks, Stan scored 19 goals, 42 assists, was a minus-20 (unfancy stat), and 116 penalty minutes. He was traded to Boston in 2006-2007.
Side note on the whole 'be like Detroit' mentality: after drafting Chistov and Vladimir Korsunov in 2001, the Ducks would not draft another Russian-born player for eight years. In 2009, the Ducks drafted goaltender Igor Bobkov; he's earned the nickname (from me) 'the token Russian' because he's the only Russian we've had for years. They slowly shed Russian players since Bryan Murray left the organization to coach Ottawa in 2004; at least that's what my brain tells me when I wear my tinfoil hat.
Most Disappointing Moment in Ducks History: 2014 Game 7 implosion against the Kings
The hockey faithful in California had waited 20 years to get this series. It took a while just to get the teams in the playoffs at the same time, let alone play each other.
When it finally did happen, the Ducks put up a good show, but not a good fight. Anaheim was really lucky with John Gibson in the earlier parts of the series. It looked like a genius move by Bruce Boudreau to put him in over Jonas Hiller, but like quite a few of Bruce's playoff ideas, it was a gamble.
The team was tired and beat up. They needed an experienced net minder backing them up if they had any chance at winning the series. I truly believe Boudreau's decision to start Gibson over Hiller in the series resulted in a pissed-off, now-apathetic veteran goalie rather than one with betrayed, hurt feelings.
This kind of feels like karma biting Ducks fans in the arse. We waved our Cup over Kings fans for years. Now they have two.
Most Disappointing Ducks Transaction: Letting Paul Kariya walk
The legacy of Paul Kariya within the Anaheim Ducks organization is one that divides fans of the team, and it all comes down to the way the player and the team parted ways.
There are three versions of the story: Kariya's version, the Mighty Ducks's version, and the truth. Either way, the parting wasn't amicable. Whatever the offer was or wasn't to Kariya, he was already one foot out the door to join BFF Teemu Selanne. The fact he took a NEARLY $9-MILLION PAY CUT to do so hurt even more.
To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure what transpired. I do know at the time I was 20-years-old, and reacted to his leaving like a boyfriend breaking up with me. I was pissed off. I boo'ed him at the first game Colorado played at the Pond. I'm not proud of that. I hope to see his No. 9 hanging next to No. 8 sometime soon.
Very close second place: Trading Teemu Selanne to San Jose (that probably didn't make Kariya too happy).
Most Disappointing Ducks Coach/Executive: Michael Eisner
Putting Eisner up for this accolade is a double-edged sword of sorts. He did create a hockey franchise that introduced me to the sport as a kid. At the same time, he was running an entertainment mega-corporation that knew zero about running a franchise, especially when it came to how much it would actually cost.
Everything was just so Disney-fied. Even at 12-years-old, when I first started following the team, I knew I should be embarrassed by the fact that my team was born only because of a movie series (I loved) and Joshua Jackson was no where in sight. When a player scored a goal, Tinkerbell would flutter on to the Jumbotron and sprinkle magical pixy dust on the goal scorer; that didn't happen with other teams. The Kings had Wayne Gretzky staring in the cartoon ProStars; we had the Mighty Ducks, a crime-fighting, duck-filled hockey team with our mascot Wild Wing (voiced by Ian Ziering of 90210) leading the way.
Those two issues, in addition to theme park plus NHL price-inflated merchandise, were nothing compared to what I felt was the most egregious interference by Disney: every time there was a fight, the in-arena camera would cut away to two large clapping gloved hands of a famous cartoon mouse. Fighting was not something Disney supported.
Disney secured the bid for the Mighty Ducks in 1993, and in 1996, they purchased a large share of the Angels from Gene Autry. I always thought Disney liked the Angels better. I liken this relationship to when I was younger and the only child until my brother was born. All the sudden I was competing with the stupid baby for attention.
The best decision Eisner ever made was to put the Mighty Ducks up for sale in 2003.
Most Disappointing Ducks Fashion Choice: Wild Wing busting through ice jersey (natch)
Nothing says ‘Disney vomited and created this monstrosity’ than a jersey with your team’s cartoon mascot busting through the ice. And how about that slashy, edgy font on the back of the sweater? Oooh, and the number has an open space - what a rebellious organization!
Truly, I believe these were subconsciously created by Disney after Wild Wing jumped IN TO - NOT OVER - a flaming box-thing on opening night for the franchise.
Luckily these franken-sweaters lasted only through the 1995-1996 season. People were excited to see the old Mighty Ducks uniform make an appearance this past season, but I doubt we'll ever see this yucky ducky ever again.
I would like to give mention to the Stadium Series ensemble the Ducks had to wear this past season. I've wanted an orange jersey since the team changed colors, but this was just ... uhm ... gnarly? The Ducks looked like they were wearing the pelts of skinned Muppets.
Could Captain Duck be any more miserable?! He looks like someone who just shouted, "Shut-up about my hair, you guys! I'm taking my stick and going home!"
The photo shoot happened during Movember; hence the creepy-guy mustache. They must have had only a production sample for him to wear, and seeing how tight it is, I'm guessing they had to cut him out of it.
I give the organization a pass on this outfit because it fit a league-wide uniform theme for the outdoor game; therefore, I blame the league for its creation, not the Ducks.
On a side note: As the good California neighbor that I am, I thought I'd offer all three California teams an alternative jersey logo they can take up north when they play in Vancouver.
(Last season, the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks combined for a 12-2-0 record against the Canucks with a 49 GF and 19 GA.)
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Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Columbus Blue Jackets • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs