As one of the younger franchises in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks aren’t blessed with a lot of representation in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently, only seven players who have ever worn a Ducks uniform have gone on to be enshrined. Of those seven, only Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne are primarily remembered for their tenure in Anaheim.
This could change in the coming years, however. With Ryan Getzlaf announcing his retirement at the end of this season, another Anaheim legend may join them in due time. Getzlaf’s case for the Hockey Hall of Fame will be rife with debate. Even though he’s re-written the franchise record book in Anaheim, Getzlaf’s counting stats in the NHL leave a little to be desired compared to other Hall of Famers. However, his play on the international stage and his impact in a non-traditional market like Anaheim makes a strong argument for his enshrinement.
Getzlaf’s NHL Numbers Create a Borderline Case
Getzlaf’s final game was his 1,157th in the NHL. While this is a franchise record Getzlaf comfortably owns, he’s outside the top 30 in games played for a single franchise. Getzlaf’s 1,019 points put him at 91st all-time. His primary method of collecting points came from assists, and his total of 737 is good enough for 51st all-time.
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Finishing in the top 100 of any statistical category of a century-old league is a remarkable accomplishment, but it doesn’t create a lock for the Hall of Fame. As one of the elite pass-first centers of his era, a spot nearly cracking the top 50 feels a bit underwhelming considering the makeup of the list. Players with a larger legacy in goal-scoring, such as Patrick Kane and Teemu Selanne, rank ahead of him, as well as some non-Hall of Famers like Vincent Damphousse and Pierre Turgeon.
Getzlaf’s counting stats become an asset during the postseason. Recent memories of the Ducks missing the playoffs have made it easy to forget that Getzlaf maintained a near-point-per-game pace with 120 points in 125 playoff games. In the 2017 Playoffs, the Ducks’ last deep playoff run of Getzlaf’s career, he scored 19 points in 17 games.
Getzlaf’s International Performances
Like basketball’s Hall of Fame, the scope of hockey’s hall isn’t just limited to the stats and accolades of one league, but of the sport as a whole. This includes international competition, which strengthens Getzlaf’s case. Along with two Olympic gold medals, he won a gold medal at the 2003 World Junior Championship as well as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Of course, playing for Team Canada comes with that kind of expectation. But those expectations are created because of players like Getzlaf, who stepped up his production even further on the international stage. In 58 games representing Team Canada at all levels, Getzlaf scored 67 points.
Getzlaf’s Impact on Anaheim and Southern California Hockey
Finally, Getzlaf’s impact on the city of Anaheim shouldn’t be overlooked. Getzlaf arrived in Anaheim during a pivotal moment in the franchise’s history. His debut in 2005 came only months after Disney announced they would sell the team to Henry and Susan Samueli. The team had just lost their first superstar in Paul Kariya prior to the 2004 lock-out, and Teemu Selanne’s return to Anaheim in 2005 was met with hampered expectations due to his knee issues. But Getzlaf’s impact quieted all concerns. After losing in the Western Conference Final in 2006, the Anaheim Ducks won their first Stanley Cup in 2007. Getzlaf led the Ducks in scoring that postseason with 17 points and was on the ice as the final seconds ticked away.
By 2010, Getzlaf succeeded Scott Niedermayer as captain and has held that role for the last 12 seasons. This is far from Steve Yzerman’s record of 20 seasons, but it rivals the likes of Getzlaf’s contemporaries like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan Toews, all sure-fire Hall of Famers. The Ducks experienced unprecedented success with Getzlaf as captain, including five straight Pacific Division titles from 2012 to 2017. Through the course of his 17-year career, the Ducks made the playoffs 11 times, a significant improvement for a franchise that made the playoffs only three times in their first 10 seasons.
Getzlaf Will Be a Hall of Famer, Eventually
Getzlaf’s Hall of Fame credentials will spark debate in the coming years. He was undoubtedly one of the more talented skaters of his era and he shined the brightest on the biggest stages. But his counting stats leave room for detractors to dismiss him as a ‘Hall-of-Very-Good’ player.
The current logjam of borderline Hall of Fame cases may be cleared up by Getzlaf’s first year of eligibility. First-year candidates over the next few years include the likes of Roberto Luongo, Henrick Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist, and Justin Williams. These are all worthy candidates for the Hall of Fame, but the limited amount of names will give an opportunity for other former players who have been eligible for several seasons. With other borderline cases like Rod Brind’Amour and Alexander Mogilny potentially getting the call in the coming years, Getzlaf’s path to the Hall of Fame may be clearer by his first year of eligibility. My prediction is that Getzlaf will eventually make the Hall of Fame in a similar way to how the other Ducks’ legends were inducted. With close friend and longtime teammate Corey Perry boasting an equally borderline case for his own candidacy, the selection committee may choose to put them in the same Hall of Fame class, much like Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne being inducted together in 2017.