I started writing this post as somewhat of a mea culpa to Ryan Getzlaf for how hard I've been criticizing him this season. Towards the end of the season, Getz picked it up on the ice and really started to seem like he's grown into wearing the 'C'.
Bruce Boudreau, the man to who wears his heart on his sleeve, declared yesterday that Getzlaf is 'best captain [he's] had in the NHL". I won't go that far; however, Bruce's comments should be tempered considering he's probably still smarting from what happened in Washington, and doesn't exactly hold a high opinion of the team captain, Alex Ovechkin. Anyway, it's a ringing endorsement from the head coach on Getzlaf and I was willing to soften my view on him.
Then I read this article by Lisa Dillman of The LA Times. There was one quote from Getzlaf that I found particularly unsettling:
Others had big drops in offense too. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf talked about handling the season while balancing fatherhood. He had 57 points this season, down 19 from last season and his lowest point total since 2007-08.
"Being a dad and all that stuff isn't the easiest thing in the world when you're trying to weigh it out between hockey and home and a struggling season," he said. "It was a tough year mentally for that. But I learned a lot."
'Being a dad' is what made you struggle? That quote not only calls into question the maturity level of Ryan Getzlaf, but the fact that he just doesn't seem to 'get it'.
I am two years older than Ryan Getzlaf. I can't imagine my 26 year-old self having a kid, so I guess I can see how things can be crazy being a parent that young. Then again, I wasn't a multimillionaire at 26. I didn't play professional sports. I couldn't have a bad year at my job, blame it on balancing home and work, and still have a job the next day. I find it disingenuous to place his faults on the ice on the back of his child - without acknowledging his own contribution to his career-low season.
You can go back and read the game recaps from the beginning of the season. In almost all of them, we rant about Getzlaf quitting on plays or not hustling. To Getzlaf, in this article by Eric Stephens, that simply wasn't the case:
"I think I put out a little bit too much at the start of the year, mainly trying to do too much and worrying about what your team was doing and that kind of stuff. As opposed to just getting myself ready to play every night and leading by example rather than trying to worry about the other guys in the room."
AGHGHGH. Caring about others too much?
There are no easy answers to explain why Getzlaf won't own up to the fact that he had a shitty year. The part that bothers me the most is the lack of humility in his explanations. Tell us you failed. Admit that you had a horrible season - not just the team - YOU did. That is what a captain does. He doesn't say that he wants to "forget about" this year. He is steady every season - winning and losing. He does what is best for the team, even if that includes stepping down when home and work are too much. He certainly doesn't use fatherhood as an excuse for poor play before he leaves to go to Finland to play in the World Championships.
By the way, while captain of the Ducks, Scott Niedermayer had four kids at home. As an assistant captain, Teemu Selanne has four kids and Saku Koivu has two. I'd say their careers - including one that contained a battle with cancer - went pretty well. They had down years but certainly didn't use their children as scapegoats