Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Anaheim's All-Time Team: Who centers the top line?

Well, before I get started on this All-Time Team challenge, I should first point out that the Chief at A2Y has written up his Rival Rating for the Ducks ("the Fowl"), and brings up a lot of the same reasons that I listed in my pre-sponse post, plus some new ones (the summer snatchings of Fedorov, Schneider, and Bertuzzi). There's actually some glowing references to our cumulative effort here at BoC, so here's to classily hatin' ya, Red Wings.

No real reason for the Bertuzzi picture, I suppose, other than it's an image I hadn't used yet and now seemingly my window for paparatuzzi is suddenly over. Still, this mc79 post is gold; see ya in hell, Bert.

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A sidenote about this BoC challenge (see Rudy's All-Time Kings and Chen's All-Time Sharks): We're not huge planners or schemers here at BoC, and it's very rare that a themed-set-of-posts idea moves from the "we should all do this" phase to reality, so this is pretty cool. Even so, in the summer Sleek tradition, I'm going to not quite follow instructions.

That is to say, instead of me just telling you my all-time team, I'm going to open one slot up for debate. Because really, that's what this Anaheim exercise boils down to. Top line wingers isn't much of a debate (see chart to the right), and in terms of top defensemen and a #1 goalie, the Ducks are at their peak right now -- they've never previously had the talents of a Niedermayer, Pronger, or Giguere.

But who is the #1 center for the Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (what else would you call this mythical all-time team?)? That and a few more items I think are worth separate posts before I fully endorse a Sleek roster, so here goes. Before I list out the candidates, though, I guess I should lay out some ground rules, or at least what I think are some considerations for "All-Timey-ness":

1. Think about the player at their Anaheim peak -- things not to consider: Adam Oates as a Boston Bruin, Andy McDonald's career without Teemu Selanne, or Ryan Getzlaf's future potential. This all should be based on games already played in an Anaheim uniform.

2. That said, longevity and consistency are pretty useful -- players should provide some identity as an Anaheim fan favorite.

3. Just to confuse things a bit more, also consider how well the top-line center would fit with wingers Kariya and Selanne; as we don't want our team outscored by the Sharks' imaginary squad.

So here's five candidate centers, in somewhat chronological order. Be warned, I suspect I only have room for four of these guys on my final roster, so in addition to telling me who should center the top line, I'm also looking for who should be cut from the team entirely. If you're feeling generous, you can even rank all five.

Steve Rucchin
Seasons: 10 (1994-95 to 2003-04)
Reg: 79 gp, 19-48-67, +26 (1996-97)
Post: 21 gp, 7-3-10, -2 (2003)

Roochie is the guy who represents steadiness and longevity on this list. Counting against him, though, he may be the least talented individual of the bunch. Still, I could be happy with Rucchin on the top line; for years Ducks fans heard about how some new person was finally going to take the top-line center position from Rucchin (who was a bit slow to keep up with Kariya and Selanne), but every time Rucchin held his spot. Rucchin did lead the 2003 Ducks in playoff goals.

Adam Oates
Seasons: 1 (2002-03)
Reg: 67 gp, 9-36-45, -1
Post: 21 gp, 4-9-13, +2

Old man Oates only came to Anaheim for one season towards the end of his career, and was a top-line mainstay between Kariya and Sykora during the 2003 cup run, where he co-led the team in scoring. Oates was a wizard with the puck, floating aerial passes that make goal-scorers salivate. He was stunningly quick at times, also, to the point where "Old Man Oates" became a tongue-in-cheek nickname. Oates never played with Selanne, so we can only conjecture there, but I suspect his puck-dishing would blend in well with the Finn's finish. As a bonus, Oates probably beats out this group in the category of "player I most enjoyed watching play".

Sergei Fedorov
Seasons: 2 (2003-04 and five games of 2005)
Reg: 80 gp, 31-34-65, -5 (2003-04)

Fedorov isn't a guy who Ducks fans are particularly enamored with, but there's little question to his talent. Also, I'd argue that Sergei represents Anaheim's first ever summer blockbuster signing -- a superstar in their prime choosing to come to SoCal. Sergei never played with Kariya and only got five post-lockout games with Selanne, but he did become the first player not named Kariya or Selanne to lead the Ducks in scoring since the inaugural season. Fedorov's quick, puck-smart, and a vicious backchecker; despite never seeing an Anaheim postseason, could he be the best fit on the top line?

Andy McDonald
Seasons: 7 (2000-01 to 2007-08)
Reg: 82 gp, 34-51-85, +24 (2005-06)
Post: 21 gp, 10-4-14, +6 (2007)

Andy Mac played seven seasons for Anaheim, but really only two are worth talking about: the two post-lockout seasons he spent with Selanne on his wing. Aside from those two years, McDonald's career has been fairly pedestrian. Still, as this is an exercise about peaks and playing with superstar wingers, Andy Mac could be a front-runner. His 85-point season is the top performance for any of the Anaheim centers, and he did lead the 2007 squad in playoff goals. Andy Mac's downfall has been consistency, or at least the ability to produce without superstar wingers, but should that affect his place on Anaheim's All-Time Team?

Ryan Getzlaf
Seasons: 3 (2005-06 to 2007-08)
Reg: 77 gp, 24-58-82, +32 (2007-08)
Post: 21 gp, 7-10-17, +1 (2007)

Getzlaf almost by default should take this position in the next couple of years, but is he all-time-top-line-ready now? Getzlaf earned the 1st line center role in his third year this past season, and was stellar, leading the team in scoring while facing opponents' top defenders. Other than the power play, Getzlaf hasn't shared that much ice time with Selanne in his Anaheim tenure, though, as he's fulfilling an on-ice marriage with Corey Perry. Perry, by the way, is not making my all-time squad, if that matters in the Getzlaf ranking.


Who shall center the #1 line?


So there you have it. Five centers who have spent at least one season in Anaheim and are competing for a coveted Kariya-Selanne center position for these Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Who gets the #1 spot? Who gets cut from the team completely? I'll take your rankings and justifications in the comments.

Go Ducks.

22 comments:

RudyKelly said...

I'd probably put Getzlaf #1, then follow him with Andy Mac, Rucchin and Oates. No offense, but I never felt that Fedorov was a real member of the team.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, Fedorov's going to have to battle tough to stay in the lineup, I'm guessing. Still, it's tough for me to knock the guy: when Kariya and Oates left, Fedorov was the best UFA on the market and delivered a lot of what was expected from him on a crash-back-to-earth team.

Then again, I could see Fedorov better in a 2nd or 3rd line role than perhaps McDonald: that guy's main talent seems to be riding on the coattails of Selanne, and if he doesn't land the top spot, that sort of gets negated.

Flicktron said...

Rucchin. I've always loved the way he's played. He was a bit slower, but he was the heart and backbone of a team. He always led the team to a hard fought game every night.

Duckszone.com said...

Rucchin
Getzlaf
Oates
MacDonald
Fedorov

Earl Sleek said...

Some good Rucchin-love votes thus far; that's kind of amazing, really, considering the competition.

But I totally dig it. Heart and soul dude, through-and-through. Who needs an all-time team led by a floater?

Mike said...

I'm not even a Ducks fan, and I feel strongly that it should be Steve Rucchin. He was the top-scoring center for the Ducks 6 times (95-96 through 99-00, and again in 02-03). Nobody else you mentioned even comes close.

Earl Sleek said...

He was the top-scoring center for the Ducks 6 times (95-96 through 99-00, and again in 02-03).

No, that's totally true, but it's worth noting that he only broke 60 points twice in that stretch, and if you laid out Anaheim's top-point seasons by center, Rucchin's best season would be fourth.

If you want to see something crazy I saw in researching this piece, take a look at Anaheim's scoring leaders from the 1995-96 season:

- Kariya led the team in scoring with 108 points.
- Rucchin was second on the team with 44 points.

Without looking it up, that is probably the biggest gap from leading scorer to second-leading scorer in the history of stat-keeping. Ridiculous.

None of this, by the way, takes away from the "Rucchin #1" argument; just some stuff I thought was vaguely interesting about his career stats.

shep said...

1. old man oates -best playmaker ever.

2. rucchin
3. fedorov
4. andy mac
5. getzlaf

Julian said...

1. Getzlaf - A combination of skill, size and nastiness nowhere else on the list. If you had to start a team based on their time as a Duck who would you take?

2. Andy Mac - Shifty. Kariya-lite.

3. Rucchin - Fedorov is better, but Rooch is the hometown pick. And he's terrifying in person. The guy doesn't blink.

4. Fedorov - Did the best he could (I think) in a bad situation. Got hurt early on and never seemed to recover.

5. Oates - Liked him alot, but he was near the end.

Earl Sleek said...

If you had to start a team based on their time as a Duck who would you take?

Actually, that's not a bad question to frame this theoretical exercise around. And even asking it has probably pushed Getzlaf up a spot in my head's ranking.

5. Oates - Liked him alot, but he was near the end.

Yeah he was, but still, he is one-of-a-kind. I fully expect to see another Getzlaf, another McDonald, another Rucchin, and another Fedorov in my lifetime. I would be shocked and stunned to see another Adam Oates ever again. They just don't make 'em how they used to.

As an aside: I just want to congratulate everyone today for properly spelling the name "Fedorov". It's actually one of my biggest pet peeves when hockey fans repeatedly type "Federov" -- seriously, the guy's played enough games to earn the ten seconds it takes to learn to spell his name. Sorry 'bout the side-rant (which again, nobody violated); carry on.

MattM said...

If you want to see something crazy I saw in researching this piece, take a look at Anaheim's scoring leaders from the 1995-96 season:

- Kariya led the team in scoring with 108 points.
- Rucchin was second on the team with 44 points.

Without looking it up, that is probably the biggest gap from leading scorer to second-leading scorer in the history of stat-keeping. Ridiculous.


A 64 point gap is pretty crazy, possibly the biggest percentage gap, but if you look at the Gretzky Oiler teams, he was beating the next guy by as much as 89 points, and still beating him by 75 or so when the next guy was sitting well over a hundred points. Lemieux too, some of those years in the 80s.

Oh, and to participate in the actual exercise, despite mostly hating the Ducks:

1. Getzlaf - Just an amazing player who has grown by leaps and bounds as a legitimate difference maker over the last 3 years.

2. Rucchin - I'm kinda a sucker for the hard-working, responsible, character players.

3. Oates - I'm also a sucker for face-offs.

4. McDonald - Always felt like he was more a product of his environment than anything else.

5. Fedorov - The best player on career in this list, I'd say, but his time in Anaheim is pretty forgettable.

Earl Sleek said...

A 64 point gap is pretty crazy, possibly the biggest percentage gap, but if you look at the Gretzky Oiler teams, he was beating the next guy by as much as 89 points, and still beating him by 75 or so when the next guy was sitting well over a hundred points. Lemieux too, some of those years in the 80s.

Good point. Those cats were pretty amazing (as I'm seeing more and more of, now that I get that long-elusive NHL network, which brags about Gretzky 22 hours out of every day).

Now confronted with hard contradicting facts, I totally meant "percentage gap". :)

Oh, and to participate in the actual exercise, despite mostly hating the Ducks:

Yeah, I should have pointed it out in the post, but I'll take input from any hockey fan. Doesn't necessarily have to be a Duck fan -- I think a lot of it can be objectified enough.

Good list, and thanks for keeping my fact fabrication in check.

Anonymous said...

Rucchin FTW. If Getzlaf stays with the Ducks for most of his career (and I expect/hope that will be the case) he'll probably be the Ducks best center ever but right now, the one that meant/means most to the Ducks is no doubt Steve Rucchin. Didn't have much attacking skills and technique but he was a natural leader and it was a shame that when he finally got the 'C' it was during the lockout! (and next he was shipped to Atlanta or NY can't remember right now)
I think Fedorov was the most talented out of the group but when he got to Anaheim I think he was past his prime, never played like he did in the 90s with the Red Wings.
Oates... damn those crazy passes were just bloody amazing. Hull can thank him for not embarrassing daddy Bobby. But Adam didn't won the Cup with the Mighty Ducks (although he was close) and stayed for only one season at the end of the line so can't give him the #1 for just that.
Finally Andy McDonald... he was great during The Second Coming Of Selanne and that's it. no #1 for him...

Paul said...

1) McDonald - In my opinion would have the most chemistry with Kariya and Selanne due to his style of play. If it weren't for that he would be #5

2) Fedorov - Despite Anaheim missing the playoffs, you can't deny that he was by far our best player that year and perhaps the most talented centre to ever play in Anaheim.

3) Getzlaf - His last season puts him at #3

4) Oates - One of the best playmakers ever, he was getting a bit past it when he played in Anaheim but he was still good enough to make $4

5) Rucchin - Despite having so much chemistry with Kariya/Selanne, in my opinion Andy McDonald is better suited to their style of play. Rucchin simply doesn't have the talent to put ahead of the other four candidates.

kevin said...

Started to put together an all-time Ducks team, had to stop pretty quick because I couldn't pick a legitimate first-line center.

Still, I actually forgot about Fedorov, maybe because I wanted to forget that season. So,

1. Fedorov. He had nobody on that team, dogged it, and still went 30+/30+. Best fit, I think, with Selanne and the other guy.

2. Rooch. Least talented of the bunch, but I'm sentimental.

3. Getzlaf. No argument that he shouldn't be #1.

4. Oates. I loved that 02/03 team.

5. Andy. Very underrated center and maybe the best as a Duck, but too much like #9 to play on that line.

Earl Sleek said...

Man, these lists are great. I really picked a debatable point, based on the variety of responses.

5. Andy. Very underrated center and maybe the best as a Duck, but too much like #9 to play on that line.

Yeah, this is a good point. I mean, if you theoretically had two speedy wingers in #8 and #9, what's the best way to complement them, with more of the same? Or is a bit of a contrast needed (see the career of Rucchin)?

I used to refer to Andy Mac as the Kariya Clone in his early days, before I remembered that I had a friend in college that I always called Andy Mac. At that point, it was too easy off the tongue to quit.

MattM said...

The NHL network is much better during the winter. More actual hockey, less OMG WAYNER!

Good list, and thanks for keeping my fact fabrication in check.

No worries, I'm pretty sure making up stuff is what the internet is for.

Doogie2K said...

Getzlaf. How many men can deliver flying roundhouse kicks to Daniel Sedin's head in the course of a game?

That's what I thought.

Marl said...

As I can't get any further with this exercise than typing "Rucchin" after "1.", I'll actually think about roles to get me somewhere.

1. Rucchin. Longest tenure, long time center between the first line wingers, solid play both ways, great run in 2003, a true warrior. What's not to like (and don't give me that skill BS)?

And then it gets more difficult... Numbers two and three get there mostly because the other two don't really say "Ducks" to me when I hear the name.

2. McDonald. I actually never liked the guy, but the credentials are there. Best season points-wise, a longish tenure, really solid Cup run.

3. Getzlaf. To be honest, he's not quite there yet because he's a young guy, but he's the franchise player of the "next" core, was the points leader last season by a wide margin and played great in the Cup run. In the process of grabbing the torch from Selanne, so to say.

4. I was going to type Fedorov because of great play without a supporting cast and because Oates doesn't strike me as a fourth line guy, but then I decided, fuck the options, I'm gonna go with Pahlsson. Having the second most seasons as a Duck of the current roster, he actually has a longer tenure than I remembered. He's come close to winning major awards lately and was friggin' awesome during the Cup run. Plus he'll look good on the fourth line behind the other guys.

That's not exactly a star-studded lineup, but at least these guys really are/were Ducks. I'd be quite fine replacing any of the last three guys with Fedorov, though, if other things are considered before duckiness factor, as he's one of the best ever. I like Oates, too, but as a non-fan he doesn't strike me as a Duck pretty much at all.

Earl Sleek said...

but then I decided, fuck the options, I'm gonna go with Pahlsson.

Oops, I should have mentioned, Pahlsson is already on the team. This team is going to have some centers playing on the wing almost by default.

In fact, if it were really just my exercise, I'd have a Pahlsson for every year he played on the Ducks, I'm that much of a sucker.

But good to see that other folks are in the Pahlsson party, too!

Marl said...

Oops, I should have mentioned, Pahlsson is already on the team.

Oh, I should have known. Well, I have to say I was wondering... You not including him did seem weird, and so did these options. I mean, only three options for all-time team that played more than one season basically?

But good to see that other folks are in the Pahlsson party, too!

It's not hard to be in this case, given the options (one year guys).

Bryan said...

Marl is awesome. My thoughts exactly. Reunite Rucchin with Selanne and Kariya. McDonald was awesome in being part of Selanne resurgence and don't forget he did lead the Ducks in playoff goals. Getzlaf is the future. Fedorov and Oates while Hall of Famers, were not very strong Duck centers. And with Pahlson as the checking center, you're set