First Day of School at Duck U


DEAN JEN:

Welcome scholars to our first ever semester at Anaheim Ducks University. I am Dean Jen, the leader of this proud institution. Here at Duck U, we provide a comprehensive Anaheim Ducks education from only the most qualified professionals. In addition to myself, we have professors that cover a wide range of topics from college hockey, the Olympics, and other stories surrounding the team. Today marks the beginning of our 2011-2012 lecture series that will not only teach, but inspire current students and recruit incoming freshman.

Before we get started with our first lecture, "Architecture 193: Starting a Franchise", let me give you a brief bio of myself. Once watching the documentary, "The Mighty Ducks", I decided to devote myself to the study of the team. After a three year expedition amongst the primitive people in the hot desert expanse known as Houston, Texas, my expedition team (lead by pair of explorers named as "Mom & Dad") was sent back to Southern California. It was then that my passion born of the documentary and my real life married. Since that moment, I have immersed myself in all things Mighty and Ducks. In recent years, I have earned my Ph.D. from Stansbury Univeristy in the studies of Getzlafology and Non-Traditional Hockey Markets. In my free time, I enjoy cornballing and judging MotherBoy pageants.

Now if you'll take out your notebooks and pencils, we'll begin with our first lecture. It's time for me to introduce you to the people and events that made it possible for us to be here today.

On December 10, 1992, the Walt Disney Company was granted a conditional expansion franchise by the National Hockey League. The team was named after the popular documentaries about a team of misfit hockey playing children. To many, starting an NHL team was just another way for Disney to expand it's already profitable merchandising division of the company. A new franchise is guaranteed to lose money the first couple seasons, and the only way to soften the blow is to sell as much merchandise as possible. It's difficult to disregard that theory. It's not like Disney bought the team because Walt Disney was a huge hockey fan and always wanted his name on the Stanley Cup.

In order to establish the franchise, Disney was required to pay $25 million dollars to the NHL and an additional $25 million (over 5 years) to the owner of the Los Angeles Kings for the assumed deviation in market share by the Mighty Ducks arrival. By July 1993, the Mighty Ducks had amassed 11,500 season ticket holders (overall goal 15,000) for their new 17,250 seat yet to be named area in Anaheim, California. The next step for the burgeoning franchise was a television deal. Luckily for the Mighty Ducklings, their owner was an entertainment behemoth. At the time, Disney owned the local Southern California television station KCAL and was able to broadcast a whopping 20 games during the season. By virtue of being in So Cal first, the soon to be rival LA Kings had a majority of their games broadcast on the sports station PrimeTicket along with local station KTLA.

The next step for Disney was to employ people that actually knew about hockey. Jack Ferreira was named the team's first Vice President/General Manager. Of the candidates interviewed, Ferreira was the most experienced when it came to upstart franchises. Two years prior, he was GM for the newly established San Jose Sharks. Yes students, our original team was built by the same man that created our worst enemy. Another man that almost received the GM job was Pierre Gauthier, but instead he was retained as Assistant General Manager. At this point in the story, the franchise had yet to establish a partnership with a steady minor league affiliate which is generally overseen by the Assistant GM. (During the season, players assigned to the AHL would be sent to the near by San Diego Gulls or eventual partner Baltimore Bandits.) Gauthier was brought in after spending time as Director of Scouting with the now extinct Quebec Nordiques. His experience as a scout would help in the next big task facing the franchise - the Expansion Draft. As many of you know, Gauthier would play a key role with the franchise later on, but today we'll focus only on his work with the new team.

Working alongside Ferreira and Gautheir was Director of Player Personnel, David McNabb (who remains with the team to this very day) and head coach, Ron Wilson. (Yes, that Ron Wilson.) Together they would travel to Quebec City, Quebec to begin to build the team that would take the ice in a few short short months. The Mighty Ducks weren't the only new kids on the NHL block. Down south there was an empty litter-box that needed kittens. The Florida Panthers would be in competition with the Mighty Ducks for the best of the unprotected players. The rules of the expansion draft will come later in your studies, but for today's lesson, just note that not every player was fair game in the expansion draft.

After losing a coin toss and seeing overall number one pick goal John Vanbiesbrouck go to Florida, the first player selected by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the Expansion Draft was goaltender Guy Hebert from the St. Louis Blues. Of all the players drafted by the Mighty Ducks that day, Hebert would be the one with the longest tenure. The rest of the roster drafted is listed below in alphabetical order:

Name Position Former Team
Robin Bawa
Center
San Jose Sharks
Bob Corkum Center Buffalo Sabres
Bob Dollas Defense Detroit Red Wings
Mark Ferner Defense Ottawa Senators
Stu Grimson (A) Left Wing Chicago Blackhawks
Sean Hill Defense Montreal Canadiens
Bill Houlder Defense Buffalo Sabres
Alexei Kasatonov Defense New Jersey Devils
Steven King Right Wing New York Rangers
Randy Ladouceur (A) Defense Hartford Whalers
Lonnie Loach Left Wing Los Angeles Kings
Troy Loney (C) Left Wing Pittsburgh Penguins
Joe Sacco Left Wing Toronto Maple Leafs
Anatoli Semenov Center Vancouver Canucks
Jarrod Skalde Center New Jersey Devils
Tim Sweeney Right Wing Boston Bruins
Jim Thompson Right Wing Los Angeles Kings
David Williams Defense San Jose Sharks
Terry Yake Center Hartford Whalers
Ron Tugnutt Goalie Edmonton Oilers
Guy Hebert Goalie St. Louis Blues

Following the expansion draft and free agent signings, the team was full of experienced, mostly past their prime veterans and career AHL-ers. By no means did management go out of its way to attract new talent with high level contracts. Having the billion dollar juggernaut with Disney as owners didn't mean there was a free cash flow for the front office to work with. Unfortunately, this would be a reoccurring theme throughout Disney's tenure.

Like their namesakes, this band of misfits was set and ready for opening night. The expectations for the franchise weren't high, and facing the Detroit Red Wings weren't going to make things easier. On October 8, 1993, in front of a maximum capacity crowd at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, the 1993-1994 Mighty Ducks took to the ice for their first official NHL game. The nerves showed on the new team and they lost 2-7. While the team may have lost, Sean Hill will be written into the team's history for scoring the first ever goal, on the power play nonetheless, in franchise history. The team would not have to wait long for their first win. On October 13th versus the Edmonton Oilers, the Mighty Ducks notched their first franchise win by a score of 4-3.

It would go on to be a better than expected season for a first year franchise, seeing as the now two years old San Jose Sharks won only 17 games their first season. The Mighty Ducks would end the season fourth in the Pacific (ahead of the Oilers and Kings) with 71 points and a 33-46-5 record. Those that have come to Duck U only in the past few semesters forget how far we've come, and take for granted the strength of the current team. Let's compare the team leaders from the 1993-1994 season to the 2010-2011 team to see how far we've come:

Category 93-94 Mighty Ducks Total 10-11 Ducks Total
Goals Bob Corkum 23 Corey Perry 50
Assists Terry Yake 31 Ryan Getzlaf 57
Points Terry Yake 52 Corey Perry 98
+/- Rating Bob Dollas +20 Toni Lydman +32
Penalty Minutes Todd Ewen 272 George Parros 171
Power Play Goals Tim Sweeny & Troy Loney 6 Teemu Selanne 16
Shorthanded Goals Bob Corkum 3 Corey Perry 4
Game Winning Goals Gary Valk 5 Corey Perry 11
Shots on Goal Joe Sacco 206 Corey Perry 290
Save Percentage Mikhail Shtalenkov .908 Ray Emery .926

Quite the growth spurt! As with any new team (or re-building team), you have to stink for a while in order to get better. Many of the names you see above on the right would be the result of off and on struggles of the organization. As for the Mighty Ducks, help would be right around the corner. For their first ever draft pick, a young Paul Kariya out of the University of Maine had finished his last season at school, and was now believed to be NHL ready. Little did young Kariya realize that the hopes and dreams of the franchise would be heaped upon this young man from the moment his skate hit the ice at the Pond.

And that's where we'll end for today. Look for more lessons from all of our professors throughout the 2011-2012 school year. Take notes. There will be a test at the end.

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