Everything that’s been discussed about Ryan Getzlaf over the past few days has to do with the war of words he engaged in with Alex Ovechkin following the Ducks loss to Washington.
What hasn’t been discussed quite as much this season is Anaheim’s captain continued steady contribution to his hockey club. Despite the team being in a slump (4-5-1 in the last 10), they remain at the top of the Pacific Division with a 10-point lead over the tied Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. Much of this success can be attributed to Getzlaf’s consistent point-per-game pace (17-37=54, 54 GP) this season.
I had the opportunity to chat with Captain Duck after the team took part in the 13th annual First Flight field trip for local elementary school students. The event combined science, hockey, and ear-piercing screeching from 16,000 kids at Honda Center.
Once our ears stopped ringing, we had a fun conversation.
Q. I talked to Bruce on Sunday [after the loss to Washington] about you. I asked him what his impressions of you were when he first got here. He said you were more of a “secondary leader” when he got here. Did you feel that way? [Author’s note: Getzlaf was named captain in 2010 under Randy Carlyle; Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne wore the A’s until they retired]
RYAN GETZLAF: [Pause] Ahh, hmm. It’s hard to say. I mean, I didn’t feel that way necessarily when he came here. There were many years where I was a secondary leader; had to build into that role. At the same time, we still has some guys here that were around for a long time that we’d look to in certain situations.
He also says that this finally feels like your team. Do you feel that way, or does it go back to it’s always kind of felt like your team, buuuut…
[Laughs] I honestly, I’ve just been doing my own thing. I’ve been trying to build my career as I went, and when I arrived here I knew that I wanted to be a leader in this organization at some point. I had to wait my turn, and learn from some guys ahead of me. I feel like it’s there now.
The last thing he said was this team lives and dies by you. Not you and Corey Perry; it lives and dies by YOU. That’s A LOT of pressure, is it not?
[Smirks] Uh, a little bit. [Laughs] It’s welcomed, though. That’s what you want to be. You want to be the guy that everybody looks to in the locker room. Everybody looks to you to drive the bus, and that’s something I’ve kind of built over the years. I’d like to think it’s earned, and not really given, too.
Prior to the 2012 lockout, you had one of your career worst seasons. When we came back from the lockout, you had one of your best seasons. What changed in between that time?
I don’t know. That one year, a lot went on. I’ve said numerous times I had my first child at that time. I got married that summer. Uh, we moved.
There was a lot going on that I had to deal with from a personal standpoint, and learn to deal with as a professional. So that year was a big learning experience for me.
So when you got back on the ice, you just felt more comfortable?
I think when it came down to it, and it was time to play again, I was excited to get back on the ice. I was disappointed in myself in the year before, and what went on. And also the same thing, I learned about how to leave stuff at home. How to deal with having a child and not feeling like I’m skipping out on things. I went to the rink a lot happier.
A lot of fans don’t like you and Corey Perry.
We know that Perry plays with an edge. But what about you? You seem like a nice guy.
[Silence then laughs]. I’d like to more fans dislike him [nods head towards Perry’s locker]. I get pooled in with him [smirks]. It’s just one of those things when you’re playing in different buildings, and you’re doing certain things, they tend to hate the opponent. That’s a good thing when you’re in their buildings and they don’t like you.
What do you think your career would be like if Corey Perry had never played a part in it?
Ohhhh, I’d probably have two Stanley Cups and …
It’s an interesting thing to think about. There were a lot of different situations where he wouldn’t have been here. So, we tried to trade him once…
I remember that. It was to Edmonton for Mike Comrie.
Yep! Things could have been a lot different.
He could have ended up with Hilary Duff.
Oh yeah, that could’ve been Perrs. Although, I don’t think she’d stoop that low. [Laughs as he looks around for Perry.]
You turn 30 in May…
UGH! YEAH! Don’t tell Kes (Ryan Kesler) that…
He’s like, what? 45, at least?
AT LEAST. Or at least his body is. [Laughs]
Is it weird to you to be turning 30? It was weird for me.
Nah, I think it’s weird, or more difficult, to think that I’ve been here for 10 years already, than it is to be 30. It’s been a long journey, but it feels like just yesterday we got here. That’s the weirdest part to me.
[Author’s Note: I (unreasonably) expected him to tell me I don’t look like I’m in my 30’s.]
As you said, you’ve been in the league for 10 years. You’ve won a Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals, have various other personal accolades, you’re a husband, and a father of three. What keeps driving you each season? Don’t you have it all?
Hmm, yeah, well, has a hockey player, as a professional, you always want more. I’ve always been taught that if we’re going to do something, do it all out, and that’s the way I try to approach every season. It’s an opportunity ahead of us, that we can win. When I compete for things I like to win, no matter if I’m in a bike race on the street or playing hockey, that’s just what I like to do.
Ok, so now we’re going to go with some quick, rapid fire questions. First, funniest teammate?
[Silence] Ohh, ugh. [Laughs] This is supposed to be rapid fire, but I can’t think that fast. Hmm. Funniest teammate? [Scans around the locker room].
You gotta look around [an empty locker room]?
Funniest teammate, [Andrew] Cogliano.
Next! You had your face basically broken in 2010.
You missed 14 games. You stuck it out with a visor for the rest of the season, and you have not worn one since. Why?
[Laughs] That was my tough year.
Oh yeah, that was the tough year.
[Laughs] Yeah it was my tough year that I had that visor on.
So just not a visor guy?
Yeah, I tried all year to wear it, and I just couldn’t. I didn’t feel like I could perform the way I wanted to. I felt uncomfortable all the time.
I remember from the Olympics you’d prop it up way on your head.
Yeah, I would wear it way up.
Would you rather score 60 goals and zero assists, OR have 100 assists and zero goals? This is a psychological question.
That’s a really hard question. [BIG SMILE]. So it’s what I WOULD rather do? Or what I would get more crap about? Because if I had 100 assists and no goals, I would probably say I had a terrible season. I’d rather have 60 goals because I don’t think that’s something I can accomplish.
Just put your mind to it, Ryan. I believe in you. [Least sincere I’ve ever sounded]
I’ve got Perry on my team! There’s only one puck on the ice!
Two more. Which nickname for you and Ryan Kesler do you like better: Keslaf or Getsler?
I haven’t heard the second one, so …
[INTERRUPTS] THAT’S BECAUSE I MADE IT UP! Trying to get it to stick.
Ohhh, okay. I was going to say, I hadn’t heard that one.
You should pick it.
Finally, the Ducks played a video of your first hockey memory. You said the team you played on as kid would trade off playing goalie.
Who ended your goaltending career?
My dad. Yeah, dad ended it pretty quick, almost as soon as it started.
Was that when he realized how much the equipment cost?
[Laughs] He was pretty adamant that he wasn’t going to let me play goalie. So I don’t know if it was the equipment or that was just an excuse. [Smirks]
Awesome. Well, I think that worked out pretty well. Thanks, Ryan.
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