Ryan Getzlaf didn’t need to have the captain’s C sewn on his uniform to be considered a leader on the Ducks.
His voice has been audible for a while in their locker room and he wore the “A” of an alternate captain last season. But with the retirement of future Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer, the moment was right for the de facto leader of the next generation to become the official leader.
Getzlaf on Sunday became the eighth player to be chosen captain in the Ducks’ history — Niedermayer had two separate stints — as the result of a vote by players. The 25-year-old native of Regina, Canada, beat out Saku Koivu, who served nine seasons as captain of the Montreal Canadiens, and Teemu Selanne, another certain Hall of Fame pick. They will serve as alternates, with Todd Marchant and Corey Perry designated to act as alternates when necessary.
Being chosen a team captain is a huge honor in any sport but is especially coveted in hockey, which values the team over the individual. Getzlaf said Sunday he welcomes the honor but knows he’s not the only leader in a room that houses Koivu, Selanne and other veterans.
“We’ve got enough leaders here that things are easy,” he said.
Selanne said he expects Getzlaf to be a different captain than the soft-spoken Niedermayer.
“They’re two different personalities. Getzy’s going to be way more vocal than Scotty,” Selanne said. “Scotty was leading by example, by doing all the right things all the time. Everybody’s different but to be captain that’s a sign that your teammates respect you so much. It was a tight vote and that’s how it should be.”
Getzlaf, who led the Ducks in preseason scoring with two goals and nine points in five games, said he feels no need to change his personality.
“You don’t become the captain and then change what you’re doing. It’s like become the president and change everything that you campaigned about,” he said. “It’s a thing you grow into and I was lucky enough to be honored with it today.”
The timing was right, Selanne said, because the Ducks have increasingly turned to younger players to fill key roles.
“Obviously Saku doesn’t need the C and we have good leaders here. You don’t necessarily need a letter to be that kind of guy,” Selanne said. “It’s a good challenge for Getzy and obviously he has seen good leaders around him before. He’s going to do a great job, I know.
“Getzy has all the tools to fill the spot perfectly. I know that he’s going to take even more responsibility. We do our jobs around him and support Getzy. It’s his time.”
Getzlaf said he’s ready to lead the Ducks through what looms as an uncertain season, one that will test their defense and resolve.
“I don’t think it raises expectations,” said Getzlaf, a key member of Canada’s Olympic champion hockey team at the Vancouver Games. “It comes with a certain responsibility. I’m willing to accept that and look forward to it. I’m up for that challenge and that leadership group that we’re in right now.”
-- Helene Elliott