“Yes sir, Mr. Ducksworth. Thank you very much, Mr. Ducksworth. Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, Mr. Ducksworth” – philosopher, coaching legend and true Minnesota Miracle Man, Gordon Bombay.
Where would the Anaheim Ducks be today if it wasn’t for a DUI and a sentence of mandatory community service?
They wouldn’t be.
(I just blew your mind.)
Thanks to a ragtag group of kids led by an alcoholic lawyer (and a bajillion dollar company looking for a pet project to make more money), the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey franchise was created. Right away, hockey fans around the world assumed Commissioner Bettman was playing a hilarious joke on the league by allowing a Mickey Mouse organization create a team based on an Oscar award winning children’s movie. (I should mention I was 10 years old in 1993 and didn’t watch the Oscars.)
Twenty years, one ownership change, several SEC violations and a Stanley Cup later, Bettman has yet to don his trucker hat and admit to everyone they’re being Punk’d.
Since the team’s inaugural season in October 1993, being a Mighty Duck fan was akin to being the kid in school who eats paste. Right, Corey?
Everyone pointed and laughed at the team created by Disney. How do I know? I’m not just a sarcastic hockey blogger, I’m an Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks (of Anaheim) fan.
The Mighty Ducks were such a novelty and so easy to make fun of. When they went away and the team was reborn as the Anaheim Ducks, people leaned on (and still do) the ‘created by Disney’ crutch as a point of so-called humiliation for us Ducks fans.
Which is why I am so damn confused at the interest of non-Ducks fans on bringing back the green and purple eggplant and jade for one night. The Mighty Ducks have gone from paste-eater to prom queen (aka the “Carrie” Treatment) but I digress.
On Sunday, the Anaheim Ducks jumped in the Delorean and became the Mighty Ducks again in celebration of 20 years of annoying the crap out of the rest of the NHL.
Upon arrival fans were given a copy of the team program, the Ducks Digest (above), and a copy of the 1993-1994 team photo.
Dammit. Wrong picture. Sorry.
Who knew Ryan Getzlaf was on this team, too? (First row, second from the left)
The team came out for warm-ups and it was almost surreal to see the old uniforms on the players. The only ones seen in them before the ownership change were Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Francois Beauchemin.
Fun Fact: Ducks rookie defenseman Hampus Linholm (#47) is the only player on the active roster not born when the team debuted; he was in utero, born January 20, 1994.
Wandering around the building formerly known as the Arrowhead Pond, I was pretty thrilled to see Ducks fans dressed up for the occasion. Not only were there Mighty Ducks jerseys but there were jerseys from the movie and a Corey Perry London Knights jersey. The latter doesn’t fit into the theme of the night but I thought it was cool.
In a Puck Daddy exclusive, I was able to quickly reunite the Dynamic Duo of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne in one of the Mighty Ducks third jerseys.
And then the festivities began. It all started with the classic video played before every game of the Flying V gliding around the NHL cities.
Bottom left photo is a rearranging of the Hollywood sign, despite the lack of letters D-U-C-K-S being in the word ‘Hollywood’
Normally when Ducks’ mascot Wild Wing comes in on a zipline, I turn into an excited 10 year old again. Usually he ‘flies’ across the arena; for some reason they decided to slowly lower him this time around.
It was time to bring out some of the original Mighty Ducks and no one got a bigger cheer than former goaltender Guy Hebert.
I haven’t even mentioned this game is Bobby Ryan’s first back in Anaheim since his trade over the summer.
There has to be a metaphor to go along with this picture
Bobby scored the Senators only goal. Some fans cheered, others booed. I sat quietly and thought to myself. We were one ping-pong ball away from this:
(Stick-tap to The Royal Half and Indiana Matt for the Photoshop. The Half’s review of opening night 20 years ago is stellar.)
All in all it was a great night. The music was my entire late-elementary, early middle school playlist. I was reminded why the Samueli’s buying the team was the best thing ever; no more Tinkerbell and Gary Glitter after goals. Most importantly, the Ducks won 4-1 and we got free cupcakes.