Now that the Anaheim Ducks are more than a quarter-century old, it feels right to look back on their early days. The Ducks are a historic franchise in the NHL for what they’ve accomplished. They brought the first Stanley Cup to Southern California and have spent much of the last decade as Stanley Cup contenders.
In addition to their team success, they’ve rostered multiple Hall of Famers who have achieved some of the highest personal accomplishments a hockey player can attain. One of those accomplishments is scoring 100 points or more in a season. The Ducks have had two players do it in franchise history, and both of those players achieved the feat twice. Let’s look back on both of the 100-point campaigns by Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.
Paul Kariya Makes History in 1995-96
When the Mighty Ducks (as they were known at the time) drafted Kariya fourth overall in the 1993 NHL draft, they knew they were getting a skilled player. Kariya was the top scorer on the best team in college hockey, the 1992-93 national champions the University of Maine Black Bears. That team was one of the best, perhaps the best, in college hockey history.
Kariya scored exactly 100 points during his only season at the university, and no college hockey player has scored that many points in a single campaign since. He wasted no time translating his college success to the NHL. In his first pro season, the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign, Kariya scored 18 goals and added 21 assists.
That was just a preview of what he would accomplish the following season.
In 1995-96, Kariya came out of the gate on a tear and never slowed down. He had already scored 15 goals and tallied 11 assists well before Thanksgiving.
During the season, Kariya went on two different nine-game scoring streaks, both times scoring 17 points in those spans. On only one occasion in 1995-96 did he go two games in a row without a point.
Still, by Game 41, when Kariya made it to 50 points with a two-assist game against the Calgary Flames, the 100-point prize was not assured.
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Kariya, who had spent most of his time on the “Special K” line with 19-year-old rookie Chad Kilger and veteran Todd Krygier, would receive some help in a major way in February.
Finnish Flash Arrives
On Feb. 7, 1996, Anaheim sent Kilger and defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky to the Winnipeg Jets in return for Selanne. Once Kariya and Selanne found their chemistry, the young Canadian winger went off. In the remaining 28 games, the two would connect for a point 17 times.
Kariya compiled 35 points in those final 28 games and come April 7, with four games remaining in the season, Kariya scored his 100th point — an unassisted goal — in a four-point night versus the San Jose Sharks. He would finish the season with 108 points.
It was the first 100-point season and the first 50-goal performance by a Mighty Duck in only the team’s third year of existence.
Selanne also accumulated 108 points in his time with the Jets and Mighty Ducks. He scored 40 goals and added 68 assists, providing a significant offensive boost to the Mighty Ducks and Kariya.
Kariya’s success earned him his first All-Star appearance but remarkably placed him only ninth in Hart Trophy voting. Mario Lemieux won with a whopping 161 points (69 goals and 92 assists). Eric Lindros, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic and Sergei Federov all earned more votes.
Still, fans will remember Kariya’s 108-point performance in 1995-96 as one of the most dominant in Ducks history.
Selanne Makes an Impact in 1996-97
Like Kariya, Selanne came to the Mighty Ducks with high expectations, but unlike his new teammate he’d already proven himself in the NHL in a big way. Selanne had already set the NHL record for most goals scored in a season by a rookie with 76 in 1992-93.
Coming off a 108-point season the year prior with the Mighty Ducks and Jets, and with a full season of games with new teammate, Kariya, things were setting up for a big year in Anaheim.
It didn’t start that way.
In the era where ties still exited, the Mighty Ducks went 1-9-2 through their first 12 contests. Though Selanne accumulated 13 points in that time, five of those points — two goals and three assists — came in a six-all tie against the Colorado Avalanche.
As Selanne heated up, so did the Mighty Ducks. From the end of December to the end of January, Selanne had a point in 12 consecutive games. During the streak, he accumulated 19 points (10 goals and 9 assists). That streak followed up two consecutive nine-game scoring streaks all in the first half of the season.
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Over half of Selanne’s 109 points involved Kariya, either on an assist or a goal. That helped Kariya follow up his 108-point season the year prior with 99 points of his own in 1996-97 in only 69 games.
Selanne Quickly Becomes a Ducks Legend
Elliott Teaford, who covered the Ducks for the Los Angeles Times in 1997 and now covers them for the OC Register, quantified the Ducks’ success when Kariya and Selanne both scored, which was often in 1997.
“What’s more, the Ducks are 19-3-2 when Kariya and Selanne each score a goal and 46-17-8 when each has at least one point. They are 1-3-2 when neither has a point.”From ‘Kariya and Selanne: a Combination Lock,’ LA Times, 12/26/1997)
Selanne attained the second 100-point season by a Mighty Ducks player and the second consecutive 100-point effort after Kariya’s season the year prior, when he assisted on goals by Kariya and Steve Rucchin March 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 26-year-old Selanne had quickly endeared himself to the Ducks faithful, both with his scoring ability and his fun-loving attitude. When asked what his favorite part about playing for the Mighty Ducks was, Selanne told legendary Los Angeles Times journalist Bill Plaschke,
“Disneyland, I love it, I go 10 times this year,” he said. “I love Space Mountain.”From ‘Ducks Have Become Feature Attraction,’ LA Times, 04/05/1997)
Though Selanne joked off the ice, the combined efforts of he and Kariya helped propel the Mighty Ducks to their first playoff appearance in their history and their first series victory.
One of Selanne’s biggest points wasn’t included in Selanne’s 109-point regular-season total because it came in the playoffs.
In Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarter Final against the Phoenix Coyotes, Selanne assisted on Kariya’s overtime winner to force a Game 7. The Mighty Ducks would win that game and take the series.
In the second round, the Mighty Ducks fell to eventual champion the Detroit Red Wings in four games.
Kariya and Selanne Dominate Again in 1998-99
Both Kariya and Selanne had more to prove headed into the 1998-99 season. Kariya only played 22 games in 1997-98, missing time due to a contract holdout and a season-ending concussion.
As a result of the concussion, Kariya missed the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and finished 1997-98 with 31 points in 22 games.
Additionally, the contract Kariya held out for would expire after 1998-99, so the winger needed a strong performance to increase his earning potential.
While Selanne didn’t have injury issues and still produced at a high level in 1997-98 — he scored 52 goals that season, the second-highest total in his career behind only his record-setting rookie season in Winnipeg — his remarkable production did dip to 86 points overall.
With Kariya out of the lineup often and Selanne down to 86 points, the Mighty Ducks failed to qualify for the playoffs after doing so the first time in franchise history the season before.
Expectations were high for both the players as they entered the 1998-99 season.
Selanne and Kariya both came through big time.
By the end of the regular season, Kariya had tallied 101 points (39 goals, 62 assists) while Selanne had 107 (47 goals, 60 assists).
With Kariya and Selanne at their best, the Ducks reeled off seven consecutive wins, which was, at the time, the franchise record.
Their presence also made the Mighty Ducks power play unit the league’s best. Anaheim scored 83 power play goals and touted a 21.96% success rate, more than a percentage point better than the next best team.
Selanne and Kariya Go Streaking
Selanne reeled off 17 consecutive games with a point, including an eight-game goal streak within that period. He also rang in 1999 with a bang, scoring three goals and adding two assists in a five-point effort against the Buffalo Sabres and Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Kariya also managed some impressive feats that season including setting the Ducks’ franchise record for most assists in a single period with four.
He notched points in 11 consecutive games from Nov. 6 to Nov. 27.
The dynamic duo of Selanne and Kariya, helped the Mighty Ducks finish third in the Pacific Division and sixth in the Western Conference. That drew them a first-round matchup with the defending champion Red Wings, who dispatched them again in just four games.
Though it was a disappointing first-round exit for the Mighty Ducks, they did take home some hardware as Selanne won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals. Selanne was the first winner of the trophy.
Selanne and Kariya were the first cornerstones of the Ducks franchise and helped guide them to some early success and notoriety. Their presence was especially crucial for the further growth of hockey in Southern California after the departure of Wayne Gretzky from the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues. It’s no wonder why both became legendary Ducks and were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame together in 2017. Since that 1998-99 season, no Duck has reached the 100-point mark, though Corey Perry came a lucky bounce away from doing it, finishing 2010-11 with 99 points. The 21-year absence of a 100-point scorer on the Ducks roster, let alone two, makes Selanne and Kariya’s careers all the more legendary.
Anthony Ciardelli grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but now lives in Los Angeles. Though he was raised a Bruins fan, he quickly came to enjoy the hockey culture in Southern California and the rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. He covered USC Athletics while pursuing his journalism masters there. He also enjoys doing play-by-play for USC Trojan Hockey.