Fifteen Things You Didn't Know About Ryan Getzlaf

The Anaheim Ducks center is the greatest, least-known sports star Orange County has ever seen—and he likes it like that

Goalie Jonas Hiller echoed the sentiment: "It's depressing; it makes you feel sad."

"He asked to speak to me before the game," Getzlaf says of Downie. "He said he thought I jumped him in Colorado and asked me to fight again. He said I owed him."

More than a few teams have been known to have a hard time recovering from such a blow. Getzlaf wouldn't allow it, saying, "You can learn a lot from losing big games." Getzlaf promptly got in a fight in the season opener against Colorado, setting a tone that would propel the Ducks to win 15 of their next 18 games.

"[Detroit] was a big building block for us," Getzlaf says. "We had a lot of guys who hadn't been in that situation that learned a lot. The guys did a great job of getting back to where we want to be."

Ask, you shall receive, Steve Downie
Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images
Ask, you shall receive, Steve Downie
Paige Getzlaf: And the mystery continues . . .
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Paige Getzlaf: And the mystery continues . . .

As of this writing, the Ducks are third in the Western Conference, which means when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week, they would play the conference's No. 6 team. Currently, that team is the Los Angeles Kings.

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The Hart is given to the NHL's MVP, and Getzlaf has been in the running almost from the start of the season. He is having, arguably, the greatest all-around season in team history. He is second in the league in points, sixth in assists and 11th in goals. He not only produces during games, but he also does something precious few can do: control games.

"I definitely think he belongs in the hunt [for the Hart]," says former Ducks GM Brian Burke, now with the Calgary Flames. "This is a dominating player. He has a bad temper, a high skill level and a big body. That's a good combination for a hockey player."

For such a big man—he's 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds—he is remarkably smooth on the ice and often seems to glide. He plays center, hockey's version of a point guard. Like great players in all sports, he seems to see everything, to move deliberately while all around him rush about. The puck not only seems to find him but tends to stay on his stick that extra moment, allowing him to make not only the proper play, but also rarely the costly mistake, especially in the Ducks' half of the ice.

"He never seems to rush with the puck. He has the patience to make a play," Hiller says. "His skill set is amazing; if he has the puck, something good is going to happen. He's just so big, so skilled. I know guys from other teams, and they always complain 'Man, I hate going against Getzlaf.' That's probably the best compliment you can give a player."

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Getzlaf wouldn't be the Ducks' first Hart winner. Perry won the award for the 2010-11 season, during which he scored 50 goals. But he had a significant advantage over Getzlaf. Sidney Crosby, the best hockey player in the world, who has held the title for some time, missed half of that season with concussions.

Even then, Perry won a close vote over Daniel Sedin. It was a surprise to many when Perry's name was announced at the NHL Awards; one of those most surprised was Perry himself, who said, "It surprised me."

Getzlaf is having his best year, but Crosby is having another one of his, leading the league in points by double digits over the second-place Getzlaf.

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As a member of Team Canada, he has won two Olympic gold medals. The first came in 2010 and as a result of the epic final game against the U.S., won in overtime by Canada, 3-2. Playing for the Americans that day was Getzlaf's then-Ducks teammate, Bobby Ryan, and that connection inspired one of the best sports-related skits ever.

At the 2010 NHL Awards show, fans were treated to Getzlaf torturing Ryan by calling him only by his new nickname, "Silver." Getzlaf, you see, had gone quite gold crazy and was now a raging asshole. The most inspired moment in all of this was when Ryan entered the players' lounge to find Getzlaf sitting, enjoying a beverage. Hilarity ensued. . . .

Ryan: Dude, are you using my medal as a coaster?

Getzlaf: Oh, this is your medal? Sorry, I didn't recognize it. It wasn't gold.

The skit was such a hit that a second one appeared at the following year's awards show, featuring Getzlaf even fuller of himself, toting a teacup Pomeranian and waited on by a personal assistant who signed autographs for him. Ryan has since been traded away, but after Canada's gold-medal performance this year, could there be a third skit on the horizon featuring Getzlaf and Ducks teammate/Team USA player Cam Fowler?

"Oh, I think that ship has sailed."

Come back, Asshole Getzlaf. Come back!

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One of the reasons the NHL Awards skit is especially funny to the knowledgeable hockey fan—is there any other kind?—is that Getzlaf is one of the least likely to get above himself. Witness the willingness and zeal he shows to mix it up in a fight to protect and defend teammates. As befitting a player of his considerable and wide-ranging skills, he has recorded two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks this season, considered one of the most manly accomplishments in a sport that raises manliness to extremely manly levels.

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