Anaheim Mighty Ducks
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks first tasted success not on National Hockey League ice, but on Hollywood's silver screen. Disney's "The
Mighty Ducks" preceded the NHL team and became an instant success. It starred Emilio Estevez and was a story about a down and out
hockey team that turned things around. It grossed over $50 million and led to the release of two follow-up Mighty Duck movies.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim played their first NHL game in the 1993-94 season. In the summer of that year, the Ducks drafted
goaltender Guy Hebert as the first ever Duck in the expansion draft. In that same year's junior entry draft, the Mighty Ducks selected
Paul Kariya as their first ever draft pick. Kariya played his (NCAA) college hockey at Maine and won the Hobey Baker award as a freshman.
Though small in stature, Paul Kariya was considered one of the more skilled prospects and he did not disappoint in the NHL, going on to
become the Ducks' francise player in their first decade of existence.
Their innaugural season saw them accumulate 71 points in the regular season, though fall short of a playoff birth. Guided by coach
Ron Wilson they combined journey men players, with up and coming prospects and solid goaltending to stay competitive in that first
year. The 19 road victories they notched in their first year was an NHL record for expansion teams. Their second season was cut short
by the NHL lockout, but the Ducks were still very competitive, almost making the playoffs. Paul Kariya, Oleg Tverdovsky, and Guy
Hebert formed the core of the team that year. By the next year, it was quite clear that the Mighty Ducks were a very promising team,
with excellent fan support and solid ownership. They further solidified their position on the ice by trading for superstar winger
Teemu Selanne. Though Tverdovsky was sent to the Winnipeg Jets as part of the deal, Kariya and Selanne would combine to form a potent
scoring threat for years to come. The 1995-96 NHL season saw the Ducks improve their record with 78 points, though they once again
missed the playoffs.
The Ducks continued to show progress in the following year. By now coach Ron Wilson had found his top notch offensive line, putting
together the trio of Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, and Steve Rucchin as the club's first line. They combined for a total of 275
points in that regular season and the team finished with a 36-33-13 record, which also saw Anaheim taste playoff action for the
first time. They defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in a hard fought six game series. In the second round they met the vaunted Detroit
Red Wings; where three of the four games went to overtime, with Detroit winning them all. The Red Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup
championship that year, but the experience was invaluable for the young Mighty Ducks team.
After tasting playoff success, the Ducks went back to a more mediocre level of play. After an ugly spat between coach Ron Wilson and
the front office, there were wholesale changes and the team was taken over by Pierre Page. Also on the ropes were contract negotiations
with budding superstar Paul Kariya, who eventually did not sign until the season started. The Ducks woes were not quite done yet,
with Kariya sustaining a serious concussion from an illegal hit by Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Gary Suter. Kariya did not recover
that season from the very serious concussion and the post concussion syndrome that followed. The Ducks would continue to underperform
without their young franchise player.
The Mighty Ducks did not manage to do anything exciting for the next couple of years. Selanne was dealt to the San Jose Sharks and the
Ducks started retooling for a more defensive system that would lead to success under coach Mike Babcock. They emerged as one of the
biggest surprises in the 2002-03 season. After a good regular season they stormed through the playoffs, losing only two games in the
first three rounds. They handed the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings a four game sweep in the first round, and went on to
defeat the Dallas Stars in a six game series in round two. The Western conference final saw them face the young Minnesota Wild team. In
their second sweep of the playoffs the they made quick work of the Wild and advanced to their first ever Stanley Cup final. The Mighty
Ducks were part of a hard fought Stanley Cup final, losing to the New Jersey Devils in seven games. Their goaltender Jean-Sebastian
Giguere was the big story, winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The following season saw the Ducks
go in the opposite direction, missing the playoffs. As the game came back from the lockout, Brian Burke was tapped to manage the team. He signed Scott
Niedermayer and the team was back in the Stanley Cup hunt, finishing third in the Pacific division with 98 points. They also made a good impression in
the playoffs, losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference finals. They also made one of the bigger off-season splashes by trading for Chris
Pronger from the Edmonton Oilers for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and two first round picks.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks Overview:
Team name: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Arena: Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim
Stanley Cups won: 0
Anaheim Mighty Ducks Resources:
Mighty Merchandise, Clothing and Jerseys