(Photo: Dinur Blum)
Anything to do with hockey already makes for an interesting year, but 2014 has been especially big for the Anaheim Ducks with a few ups and downs. These are just a few of the major highlights for them so far. With everything from mumps, a few surprising trades and a playoff run in between, this year has still been one of the good ones for one of the best teams from the Western Conference, and 2015 will just be icing on the cake.
1. Anaheim welcomes Ryan Kesler
“I’m going to Anaheim to win a championship,” Kesler said after the trade. “That’s going to be my sole goal and my team’s sole goal. That’s basically it.”
He waived the no-trade clause in his contract and the Canucks traded him and a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft. In exchange, Anaheim’s Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa packed their bags and were off to Vancouver. So far this season, Kesler has definitely made his presence known and his physicality is exactly what the Ducks needed.
2. Cogliano is the NHL Iron man
There’s no stopping Andrew Cogliano from being up and ready to play every game. While everyone around him seems to be getting sick or injured, he’s pretty lucky to be alright every night. Earlier this December, the 27-year-old played his 571st consecutive game against his old team, the Edmonton Oilers. Even with mouth and face injuries during his time with Edmonton, he didn’t miss a game, despite those times where things were going pretty bad for him, like missing teeth and half of his tooth stuck in his lip. Hopefully there’s no jinx from this, but there is no doubt that this tough customer has worked hard to get where he is and it will be fun to see how long he can keep his record going for.
3. The infamous mumps
Oh yes, the big topic about mumps is not gone yet. This year, the contagious infection made its way around the Ducks’ locker room and affected some of the biggest named players. Of course some of the other teams in the league aren’t out of the woods yet, but cases from Anaheim can be traced to a few months back. The big question is just how did they manage to catch it? Who knows, but it seemed like Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin were out for ages with the infection, but the team still managed to pull through without them.
4. Freeway Rivalry
The Ducks had a great playoff run and everyone thought that 2014 was going to be the year for their second Stanley Cup. However, their hopes ended during the second round to their rivals, and reigning champions, the Los Angeles Kings. After the Ducks defeated the Dallas Stars during the first round, LA dominated the seventh game 6-2 and left Anaheim in the dust. The Kings managed to score three times in the first 15 minutes and never took a chance to look back. The sellout crowd at Honda Center left heartbroken but this season has some high hopes for another chance for the cup.
5. Jonas Hiller shipped off to Calgary
How surprising was this really? After John Gibson made his NHL debut and completely impressed the crowd and with Frederik Andersen doing what he does best, some fans started questioning if Hiller was really needed in Anaheim anymore with the club filled with young talent. There were still way more than a handful of fans that supported the veteran goaltender in Anaheim, but free agency gave him a chance to pick a new team to call home.
Anaheim General Manager Bob Murray confirmed the move for the 32-year-old player.
“We’ve got younger players coming along that we had to move into the lineup,” he said. I thought it was best for this organization that we move forward a little bit. It was just time.”
Hiller had some great years with the Ducks and his time doesn’t go unappreciated at all. It was all a matter of how it was just his time to move on, now he’s excelling with the Calgary Flames. This season, there have been a few issues on the goaltender side of things, but with Andersen and the legendary Ilya Bryzgalov back, Anaheim will be just fine.