Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, and Scott Niedermayer’s success is well documented during their time in Anaheim, while Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry continue to cement their place in Ducks’ history. These are the Anaheim Ducks every one associates with the team, but there are plenty of forgotten favourites.
As one of the more interesting sports teams in North American history, they have had the characters to match. There are a lot of more easily-forgotten players that have helped the Californian franchise become the hockey hotbed it is today. This list takes a look at some of the key figures that donned an Anaheim uniform, back when the team was still considered “Mighty”.
10. Joe Sacco, C
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim officially filled out their roster with the 1993 expansion draft that they shared with the Florida Panthers. With players coming from all corners of the hockey world it’s difficult for expansion teams to predict how their new team will mesh, or which players will thrive.
Looking back at the June 24th draft night, drafting Joe Sacco from the Toronto Maple Leafs system would prove to be the Mighty Ducks’ most prosperous move. Sacco would go on to lead all expansion players in regular season games played with Anaheim (333), goals (62), assists (68), and points (130) during his five seasons as a Mighty Duck.
9. Petr Sykora, RW
Petr Sykora only played two full seasons with Anaheim before being dealt to the New York Rangers halfway through the 2007-08 season, but he managed to be very productive during that time. His 131 points as a Mighty Duck came in just 197 games, placing him 17th all-time on the Ducks points per game list (0.66).
Sykora’s tenure as a Mighty Duck will probably most be remembered for his goal in Game 1 of the 2003 Western Conference Semi-finals against the Dallas Stars which came in the 5th overtime period, ending the 4th longest game in NHL history.
8. Vitaly Vishnevski, D
While Vitale Vishnevski will not be remembered for his offensive production, he was a reliable defender for six seasons as a Mighty Duck. Vishnevski was a key piece during Anaheim’s 2003 run to the Stanley Cup finals, in which they were beaten by the New Jersey Devils in seven games.
Vishnevski ranks 13th on the franchise list of games played (416), and while he only recorded 48 points during that time nobody could argue his ability to throw punishing hits.
7. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G
J.S. Giguere etched his name into the history books by becoming just the 5th player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as a member of the team that lost the Stanley Cup finals.
During the playoff run, Giguere went 15-6 (7-0 in overtime games) with a .945 save percentage, a 1.62 goals against average, five shutouts, and even chipped in an assist. Giguere’s incredible performance earned him the ESPY Hockey Player of the Year award, only the second time it has been awarded to a goaltender (Dominic Hasek won in 1999).
6. Matt Cullen, C
Matt Cullen is the definition of an NHL journeyman. He has played for eight different teams during his 21-season career. Of those eight teams, Cullen’s longest stint was spent with the Mighty Ducks after they drafted him in 1997. For a man that has moved around so much, it’s even more impressive that Cullen sits 10th all-time on the franchise scoring list (200 points in 427 games).
While Cullen’s numbers stick out on lots of Ducks lists, the really interesting thing about this turn-of-the-century Mighty Duck is that he’s still playing.
Cullen is a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins who are currently fighting the Ottawa Senators for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final where Cullen may just meet his former team. Who could have predicted that when he left Anaheim back in 2003 (coincidentally the same year current Pittsburgh teammate Chris Kunitz’s five-year stay in Anaheim began)?
5. Steve Rucchin, C
Steve Rucchin may be seen as a benefactor more than anything as he had the pleasure of centering two of the most dangerous wingers in the game. Rucchin came out of the University of Western Ontario to find himself on the Mighty Ducks’ top line between Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.
People will always remember Rucchin’s wingers as two of the greatest Ducks of all-time, but Rucchin held his own on the score sheet, finishing his career 5th on the Ducks’ all-time points list (432). He also scored a series-clinching overtime goal to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings en route the the Ducks’ first Stanley Cup Final appearance.
4. Todd Ewen, RW
If you didn’t like Vishnevski for being on the list despite his lack of offense, you should probably just skip over Todd Ewen.
Ewen was a bruiser. He only played 153 games over three seasons with the Mighty Ducks but managed to rack up 647 penalty minutes during that time, a whopping 4.25 PIM per game. Six games after recording his final point as a Mighty Duck, Ewen put up 37 penalty minutes in a game against the San Jose Sharks which actually overshadowed his point total with Anaheim (25).
Unfortunately, Ewen took his own life in 2015 after battling depression for years.
3. Ruslan Salei, D
Ruslan Salei played more games on the Anaheim’s blueline than any other defender. During his 594 games he recorded 105 points and 735 penalty minutes. The Mighty Ducks’ staple would have cracked 600 games with the team if it wasn’t for an infamous hit on Mike Modano that landed him with a ten-game suspension.
2. Guy Hebert, G
Guy Hebert was the first official member of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after being drafted first during the 1993 expansion draft. Hebert recorded the franchise’s first ever shutout on December 15th, 1993, in a 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He would go on to have a successful career with Anaheim, currently sitting second on the franchise’s all-time games played (441), just six games behind J.S. Giguere. While Giguere may be your first thought when thinking of goalies donning the classic Mighty Ducks jersey (behind everyone’s favourite Disney backstop Greg Goldberg, of course), Hebert should not be overlooked when it comes to classic Duck goaltenders.
1. Oleg Tverdovsky, D
Oleg Tverdovsky was a high-profile prospect coming out of Russia. The blueliner was drafted 2nd overall in the 1994 entry draft and instantly received the nickname “Double O”, standing for Oleg Orr – a flattering comparison to one of the greatest defenseman of all time in Bobby Orr.While Tverdovsky lived up the high expectations, his largest contribution to the Mighty Ducks came in the form of a trade. In 1996, Tverdovsky was the key factor leaving Anaheim during their franchise-altering trade that saw Teemu Selanne come over from Winnipeg. Eventually Tverdovsky would actually be traded back to the Mighty Ducks to play with Selanne, so no hard feelings.