Last week, a pair of franchise icons were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame together. Their names are Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne and the franchise is the Anaheim Ducks. The two of them helped put the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on the hockey map. Their play and success changed the Mighty Ducks from “Disney’s team” into a legit hockey franchise.
Paul Kariya was drafted fourth overall by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1993. He made his NHL debut in 94 and played 47 games that season. He scored 39 points in those 47 games and finished second to Peter Forsberg for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the best rookie. The following season, Kariya was named to the 1996 all-star team. At the time of the game, he was 14th in the NHL in scoring with 51 points in just 42 games. He finished the year with 108 points and finished 9th for the Hart Trophy. He would win the Lady Byng award, which is awarded to the league’s most gentlemanly player. In just two seasons, Kariya had all the makings of a superstar player for the Mighty Ducks franchise.
During the 1995-1996 season, the Mighty Ducks acquired right winger, Teemu Selanne from the Winnipeg Jets, in exchange for Chad Kilger, Oleg Tdverdosky, and a third round pick. Selanne, who won the Calder Trophy in 93′ was a much needed offensive weapon to pair with Kariya. At the time of the trade, he had 72 points, tops on the Jets. He would score 36 points in 28 games following the trade as Anaheim just missed out on a playoff berth as they finished 9th in the Western Conference.
The following season, Kariya would be named the captain at just 21 years old. He and Selanne would lead the Ducks to their first winning record in franchise history. They finished the season 36-33-10 and were the 4th seed in the Western Conference. They faced off with the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round. In the first round, with the Ducks down in the series 3-2, Paul Kariya scored two goals in game six, including the overtime winner to force a game 7 on home ice. Anaheim would shut out Phoenix in game seven to move on to round two. In round two, Anaheim would be swept by the eventual champion, Detroit Redwings. Kariya had 13 points in 11 games and Selanne had 10. Two years later, the duo would lead the Mighty Ducks to another playoff berth, but yet again were swept by the Redwings in 99.
Following their great success together, the next several seasons were much different. Kariya would miss parts of the 1999-00 and 00-01 season with concussions and his production as a result dropped off as he scored just 67 points in the 2000-01 season. Selanne was traded to San Jose in March of 2001, marking the end of the duo’s time together in Anaheim. Without Selanne, Kariya scored 57 points in 2001-02, his worst season in the NHL and the team was the third worst in the NHL with just 69 points.
Despite all of that, Kariya decided to remain a Duck for one more season, as he signed a one-year deal as restricted free agent. That year, Kariya got back into form scoring 81 points in 82 games, leading Anaheim to 95 points, good for the seventh seed in the West. Anaheim would upset the defending champion, Red Wings as they swept them and moved on to round two. They would beat the Stars in six games, to face off with the Minnesota Wild in the Mighty Ducks first conference finals in franchise history. Anaheim would sweep the Wild en route to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final against the Devils. In game six of the Stanley Cup Final, Scott Stevens would deliver a blow to the head of Kariya, as he laid motionless on the ice, and ultimately left the game. He would return four minutes later and would score a goal as the Mighty Ducks forced a game seven. They would lose 3-0, as the Devils would win the Stanley Cup. The game would mark the last game played in Anaheim for Kariya as he left after nine seasons with the Mighty Ducks.
Franchise icon, Teemu Selanne would return to the Ducks for the 2005-06 season. He would score 90 points that season and be awarded the Masterton Trophy. The Ducks would lose in the conference finals that season to the Edmonton Oilers but entered the 2006-07 season as cup favorites. Selanne would play in his 1000th game that season, and also scored his 500th goal. He would also score his 301st goal as a Ducks, passing former teammate, Paul Kariya and become number one in Ducks history. The Ducks would win their division as they finished with 110 points. Selanne led the team in goals (48) and points (94). They would capture their first Cup in franchise history in 2007. At 36 years old, Selanne would consider retirement.
Selanne would play in Anaheim for seven more seasons following the Cup win. He would become the franchise leader in points, passing Kariya. He would score his 600th career goal in 2010. He would finish his Ducks career following the 2014 playoffs. He finished with 988 points and 457 goals. He was the first Duck to have his number retired, as the franchise retired his number 8 in 2015.
All in all, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya were the first two franchise icons for the Anaheim Ducks. Kariya was their first star and a fan favorite for many years. Selanne had great success with the Ducks and was a part of their first Stanley Cup to date. The news of each player becoming Hall of Famers on the same day was the perfect culmination of their careers, as the duo will forever be linked together.
Lastly, now that Paul Kariya has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Ducks should absolutely consider retiring his number 9 in the rafters, next to Selanne’s. While some fans may still be bitter about how he left the team, his impact on the club far outweighs that and it has been time to put the animosity in the past. He put the new expansion team in sunny California on the map and paved the way for the franchise as their first draft pick and first-star player. Next stop, rafters for number 9, Paul Kariya.