Eulogy: Remembering the 2016-17 Anaheim Ducks

(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 and fans who hated them the most. Here is a self-loathing eulogy by Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner editor Frank Schwab, an Anaheim Ducks fan remembering the 2016-17 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.)

By Frank Schwab

Hey, at least it didn’t end in Game 7 at home this time.

The Anaheim Ducks have become the “good … not good enough” team. They’re the Kansas City Chiefs, which means Ryan Getzlaf gets to be Alex Smith I guess. (Two whole sentences without a football reference; cash your ticket if you had the under).

Look, I remember the days of the Disney-owned team with the dopey nickname and taking a nap between shifts for Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. I should be thrilled about five straight division titles. The Toronto Maple Leafs wept for joy over sneaking in the playoffs and not embarrassing themselves in the first round. It could be worse.

But it’s just not fun being the anonymous, West Coast version of the Washington Capitals.

There was progress this season! It didn’t end in a Game 7 loss at home, like each of the previous four seasons. They got over that Game 7 hump with a win in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers. Then they blew Game 5 and 6 in the Western Conference Finals against the Nashville Predators.

Big step forward. Take that, Bruce Boudreau!

(As an aside, I can’t tell you how soul-crushing losing four Game 7s at home has been. Do you know how much it stinks to wonder things like, “Well if they don’t win the Pacific, that means they can avoid a Game 7 at home!”? As it turns out, losing in Game 6 of the conference finals was just as awful. Go figure.)

Anaheim is stuck in between. They’re not bad enough to make major changes. They’re probably not good enough to win it all. We’re in for another year of getting hopes up in the regular season and then complaining about the playoff schedule when it goes bad.

It’s like the worst Disneyland ride ever.

Oh, another disappointing sequel is on the way. The Ducks can bring just about everyone back next season – in-season addition Patrick Eaves is the only potential big loss in free agency – but they’re bringing back a team that hasn’t gotten over the hump for five years in a row. There’s not much else they can do but spin the wheel again and hope to get lucky.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again?

While we’re at it, let’s not act like the Nashville Predators have reinvented hockey. If goaltender John Gibson doesn’t get hurt in the first period of Game 5, it’s a good bet he wouldn’t have been as terrible as Jonathan Bernier was in Game 6. That was the game in which the Ducks dominated but Bernier vomited up a .750 save percentage. Nashville won’t get that again from whichever goalie the Pittsburgh Penguins use as they treat the Predators like a speed bump next week.

But the ugly jerseys and the surprise anthem singer thing is cute, people will love that before they forget you were ever in the Stanley Cup Final.

Anyway, back to the Ducks’ ongoing playoff futility.

I can try to spin it like it would have turned out better with Gibson, Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves for the end of the Western Conference Finals, but the Ducks needed a miracle win in Game 5 against the Oilers just to get that far. The improving Oilers were the better team most of the second-round series. The Predators controlled the Ducks for most of the West finals, then Bernier became Nashville’s MVP. The Ducks looked very good in the regular season, and looked nothing like a Cup contender once the playoffs started. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

They’re getting older too. Anaheim’s top three scorers this season were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. They’re all 32 years old. Perry looked like he’s in a significant decline, and I know him falling off a cliff can’t happen soon enough for everyone.

“I’m just going to keep holding this hand so you can’t jam your stick into my taint.”

Kesler looked totally worn out in Game 6 against Nashville. His playoff resume with Anaheim has more big talk than big wins. He seamlessly can go from “No human can withstand that many hits” to “Obviously, it seemed like he was a bit rattled,” then disappear when it comes time to back it up.

I’m convinced Getzlaf tried to get himself suspended with his “inappropriately demeaning and disrespectful” slur in Game 4, and when he just got a fine he found a different way out of the playoffs.

Getzlaf is going to be known as the captain who presided over four straight home Game 7 losses, then a Game 6 road loss this season just to introduce a new way to disappoint the dozens of us who identify ourselves as Ducks fans. To put it in terms that Getzlaf might better understand: This sucks.

I’ll try to get excited about the future, which looks OK even if Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler hit the wall. The Ducks have done a fine job developing young talent. Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler, Nick Ritchie, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Ondrej Kase (who was a playoff surprise) are all 26 years old or younger. Gibson is just 23. But if this group has shown us anything, it’s that October through March will be nice and then we can brace for how it ends.

It’s in their DNA by now. You’d see a bunch of Caps comparisons with them, if anyone cared about the Ducks.

They’ll bring this team back. Maybe the crazy Randy Carlyle hire will keep working and he’ll ignore all those darn new-fangled analytics all the way back to the Cup Final. The young players could continue to improve and perhaps that intersects with a final push from Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler.

That’s the hope, anyway. In the meantime, no, your Emilio Estevez jokes haven’t gotten old at all.

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Frank Schwab is an editor with Yahoo Sports.


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