So who are the best and most memorable players ever to hit the ice in the sweater of the home team at Honda Center?
It's an interesting question for sure and here at Anaheim Calling, we set out to determine exactly that. Buckle up for a serious nostalgia trip because over the next few weeks, we're going to be giving you the results.
Preface: Voting Procedures
Each writer at Anaheim Calling was asked to name their top 25 players ever to play for Anaheim. A first-place vote counted as a "1" vote, a second-place a "2" vote, and so on.
The votes for each player who was named were averaged together to give them their average rank. The player with the lowest average rank is named #1 all time, second-lowest #2, etc.
Now, this system presents an inherent problem. Should one person name a player extremely high and then nobody else names them at all, their average has just one entry, thus placing them at that really high position unjustly.
I.E. Player A receives three second place votes, two third place votes, and a fourth place vote. Player B receives one second place vote only. Player A's average rank is 2.67, while Player B, who only one person voted for, has an average rank of 2. Is Player B really better than Player A? If only one person voted for them at all then they most likely aren't.
So in order to solve for this discrepancy, every player that was named on a ballot at all automatically got a vote from every writer. However, for writers that did not name that player, the player received a vote of "26," or just off the ballot.
If we apply that to the previous scenario, Player A retains their 2.67 average, while Player B suddenly has five "26" votes added into their average, bringing their average rank to 22--much lower down the rankings.
Now that that's clarified, let's get to the list.
#25: Matt Cullen
The Anaheim Ducks drafted Matt Cullen in 1996 with the 35th overall pick. Cullen quickly made a name for himself and went on to spend six seasons with the Mighty Ducks until being traded to the Florida Panthers in the 2002-03 season.
During his tenure with Anaheim, Cullen played 427 games and was a bona-fide Mr. Reliable, never appearing in fewer than 75 games in a season (with the exception of his rookie year). His best season saw him pot 18 goals and 30 assists for Anaheim.
Cullen was not part of the Ducks 2003 run to the Stanley Cup Final, but did get his hands on the silver trophy in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite now being aged 37 years, Cullen continues to grace the NHL with his play, now entering his second season with the Nasvhille Predators.
#24: Joffrey Lupul
In his two stints with Anaheim, Joffrey Lupul managed to do some very impressive stuff.
For starters, Lupul made the big club immediately after being drafted seventh-overall by Anaheim in 2002.
In his third season as a pro, Lupul had arguably one of the most memorable playoff performances ever by a Duck when he capped off a hat trick by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in a series against the Colorado Avalanche. To this date it is the only four-goal playoff performance by any player in franchise history.
But perhaps Lupul's other major claim to fame is not necessarily for his play, but for his being a key piece in the trade that brought in Chris Pronger, who helped carry the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup championship.
Lupul's second tour with Anaheim was regrettably injury-marred, as a major spinal injury and blood infection limited his playing time.
Today, Lupul is a major piece in the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, where he frequently plays alongside Phil Kessel and James Van Reimsdyk.
#23: George Parros
There's a certain place in all of our hearts for the guy whose job it is to go out there and punch faces. While he may not contribute much to the offensive portion of the game, his effort on the ice as well as off of it in many cases, makes him one of the most endeared members of the organization.
Such was the case with George Parros.
George Parros never once scored more than five goals in a single season with the Anaheim Ducks.
He also never once registered less than 102 penalty minutes in a full 82-game season.
One of the franchise's most loveable goons became one of the fan favorites for his charity off the ice, frequently spearheading efforts with the troops, the Movember movement, CHOC hospital, and many other organizations. Proceeds from replicas of his famous mustache sold at Honda Center were donated to charitable causes.
As for his play on the ice, Parros was rarely one who would find his name on the scoresheet outside the penalty column. But ask anybody around the organization what they think about the guy known as "Big George" and you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone with a bad thing to say.
#22: Sandis Ozolinsh
Sandis Ozolinsh spent three years of his 20+ year professional career in Anaheim, but three memorable years at that.
Ozolinsh was a part of the 2002-03 team that fought its way bravely to the Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps his most memorable goal during that series came when Martin Brodeur dropped his stick on an Ozolinsh dump-in and the puck trickled in through his legs.
The remainder of his time with the Ducks was vastly injury-shortened, however, many other years with the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers cemented him as a household name in the NHL in the 90's and 2000's.
Even after his retirement from the NHL, Ozolinsh went home to Latvia and played in the KHL for Dinamo Riga. In fact, Ozolinsh featured for a Latvian team that surprised many by not only beating the Slovaks, but giving Canada a run for their money in the quarterfinals at the last Olympic Games.
#21: Chris Kunitz
Chris Kunitz spent his first five years in professional hockey with the Anaheim Ducks organization, starting in 2003-04 when he signed as an undrafted free agent out of Ferris State.
From there, fans grew to love the speedy winger for his chippy play and willingness to get to the dirty areas, and the scoring that it included.
Kuntiz almost immediately made an impact, scoring 41 points in his first full NHL season, and then 60 points in 2006-07, plus six points in the playoffs to help lead the Ducks to a Stanley Cup.
His top-line pairing with Teemu Selanne and Andy MacDonald is still revered as one of the top lines the Ducks have ever assembled in terms of chemistry.
Now playing alongside the Penguins, Kunitz has the honor of setting up Sidney Crosby on a nightly basis, having yet another revolutionary year last season, scoring 35 goals and earning himself a roster spot on Canada's Olympic team.