Written by: Perry Lefko
Published: November 26, 2021
One of the early pleasant surprises of the 2021-22 National Hockey League season has been the play of Anaheim Ducks’ centre Ryan Getzlaf, who at age 36 is playing as if he is 10 years younger.
Through the Ducks’ first 19 games, Getzlaf had 19 points and, if he was to continue on this point-a-game streak through 82 regular-season games he would equal the second-highest of his career when he totaled 82 points in 77 games in the 2007-08 season. He had a career high 91 points in 81 games in 2008-09.
Getzlaf, who is scheduled to do a private signing for AJ Sports on January 20, has totalled almost a point a game in his career, totaling 1,001 in 1,120 regular-season games.
When the day comes that he announces his retirement, Getzlaf will be a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, but who knows when that day comes when he hangs up his skates. He is turning back the clock now and, if you were to pick a roster today for Team Canada in the 2022 Olympics, an argument could be made that Getzlaf, a native of Regina, would be a great addition. To me, he would be perfect for fourth-line duty because he would understand what was expected of him, killing penalties, taking key faceoffs in the defensive zone and just being glad to be part of the group.
Now, so much can happen between now and then, but it seems every day pundits are trying to pick the players for all of the teams scheduled to play in the Olympics. Canada is stocked with talent, more than any other country, and could probably assemble three squads and all would be competitive. The thing is, the eventual Team Canada roster will not be comprised of the best overall players in terms of talent and offensive or defensive ability. It’s about mixing and matching players and finding the best possible fit.
Getzlaf already has experience in the Olympics, being a member of the 2010 and 2014 Canadian editions that won gold each time. He finished tied for second in total points in the 2010 tournament. So he understands the importance of the tournament and, I’m guessing, would value being on the team more than the two previous editions because of his age.
Getzlaf is one of those players who could best be described as a winner. In addition to winning two Olympic gold medals, he won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2009 and a gold in the 2005 World Junior Tournament. Getzlaf finished second in total points in the tournament with 12.
Why are some players winners? It could be a matter of being in the right circumstance or maybe, just maybe, these players bring an intangible quality that becomes the secret sauce. It’s not like Getzlaf was not expected to be great. He was a first-round selection, 19th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He had size, 6-foot-3 (191 centimeters) and skill, two qualities that were in huge demand during that time in the NHL when big was the operative word. The fact he has adapted his game to the fast-skating style now played is a testament to his ability. He has played his entire career in Anaheim and is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played, assists and points. He was appointed the team’s captain for the start of the team’s 2010 season and has served his franchise well with professionalism and style. Few players in any sport have played their entire career with one franchise. Barring something changing that, Getzlaf will retire with the Ducks. He is the face of the team in so many ways.
So, provided I didn’t jinx him, I can see no reason why Getzlaf can’t continue to play as competitively and consistently as he is doing now and put himself into consideration for the Team Canada roster.