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

The Howe occurs when a player scores a goal, assists on a goal and gets in a fight. In that first game, with Colorado leading 6-0 with just a little more than a minute remaining, Getzlaf and Avalanche winger Steve Downie got into it, with Getzlaf getting several punches to the side of Downie's head, one that put him on his knees, then recovering just in time to make himself upright and allow Getzlaf to hit him once more upside the head. Then, in a move that seemed to defy the laws of motion, Getzlaf connected on an upper cut that began at his own chest, went under Downie's left elbow, travelled up and connected with the Av's winger's chin, all while Downie's left arm was firmly locked around his neck. According to—because there is something called, bless it—Getzlaf was the clear winner.

"No real weaknesses," Selanne says. "I always say he can be as good as he wants to be, and now, he really wants to be the difference."

He got in a second fight in January against the Philadelphia Flyers and once again pummeled his overmatched opponent, who turned out to be the unfortunate Mr. Downie, who had earlier been traded to the Flyers for the express purpose, it seems, of getting pounded by Getzlaf. When asked why he had such animosity toward Downie—had he run over the Getzlaf dog, violated the Getzlaf Sea-Doo?—Getzlaf said that Downie had, in fact, been asking for it. Literally.

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

Was a time when the ”C” lay heavy on Getzlaf
Debora Robinson-Anaheim Ducks
Was a time when the ”C” lay heavy on Getzlaf

That night, the Downie fight helped Getzlaf record his second Howe Hat Trick. When he was reminded after the game that his linemate Perry had three Howes, Getzlaf explained, "Corey? Yeah, but he gets beat up all the time. It's different."

*     *     *

Last year, the Ducks signed Getzlaf to an eight-year, $66 million contract extension.

*     *     *

The very flat plain that is Regina is known for being the capital city of Saskatchewan and for a resilience that has allowed its people to come back from the worst cyclone to ever hit a Canadian city, for being the site of some of the worst labor violence during the Great Depression and for producing some kickass curling. And the Getzlafs.

An active city that loves its sports, Getzlaf embraced the lifestyle and played just about everything, from hockey to baseball to volleyball to football. Interestingly enough, even in other sports, he tended to gravitate to positions that would allow him to dictate action—i.e., he played tailback in football and was a catcher in baseball. Some of his greatest games were played against his brother Chris, who has gone on to play slotback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, with whom he has won two championship Grey Cups. Ryan said the only thing marring hoisting the Stanley Cup the night the Ducks won it was that his brother wasn't there to share it with him. When Chris got married last year, the wedding was hosted at Ryan's home.

The brothers' success has moved locals to call them the "First Sports Family of Saskatchewan," though there doesn't appear to be any plans to name any parks after them as of yet. Apparently, you have to be a curler for that. There are numerous things in town named after curlers. Renowned for its curling prowess (yes, that's a thing), Regina has been home to some of the sport's greatest, none greater than Olympic gold medalist Sandra Schmirler—or, as she was also known, Schmirler the Curler.

Oh, Canada.

*     *     *

Hockey's an odd thing. It is at times the most brutal sport, one in which players deal in brutal, bare-knuckle fighting that would cause scandal in any other sport, yet, as any sports writer will tell you, hockey players are the nicest, kindest athletes you'll ever deal with. It's not close—there's not even a second place (though there is a last place: Major League Baseball players, who are crotch-scratching wads).

Hockey players are well-known to eschew sentimentality when it comes to playing the game—especially when it comes to the loss of blood and/or teeth—yet they can be absolutely mawkish about the rites and emblems of the game. Consider their schizoid regard for the Stanley Cup, a trophy all hockey players are known to view with an aura of religiosity, but which those lucky enough to hoist have been known to regularly defile, especially in its use as an eating utensil (sounds rather Roman Catholic, actually).

And then there is the captain's "C" you see on players' sweaters. It's doubtful players from any other sport respect and honor the "C" more. The hockey captain is seen as that thing players value most. Ask them if they would rather have a great player or great teammate, and they will likely always choose the latter.

"I don't know if there's a more team sport than hockey," Niedermayer says. "You really need to depend on teammates, coaches. . . . That is what a captain is expected to do; you know, get everyone in the same direction on the same page."

« Previous Page
Next Page »