That 25-year-old center Ryan Getzlaf officially became the eighth captain in Ducks history Sunday wasn’t out of the blue. He was one of two alternate captains last season, along with Saku Koivu, and both were seen as logical successors when captain Scott Niedermayer retired in June.
The more interesting wrinkle was how Getzlaf earned the “C” that was stitched onto his jersey prior to Sunday’s preseason tilt with the Los Angeles Kings.
“The players made that decision,” head coach Randy Carlyle said.
“This year we thought it would be a little bit of a different scenario. Obviously we’re a team that’s transitioned some of our youth to major roles, and we thought it was in the best interests if players made that decision. We had a vote yesterday … and then relayed the news to the two players that were very, very close in selection from their teammates. Ryan Getzlaf came out on top. With the other players we also selected [the alternates will be Koivu and Teemu Selanne], they had a fair number of votes, because we asked our players to vote for three players, not just one.”
Since Carlyle became the head coach in Anaheim in 2005-06 there had been one vote, and it was his. He made the choice sound easy in hindsight. “We’ve had the luxury of Scott Niedermayer here for a number of years, and when he wasn’t here in  training camp we had a Chris Pronger,” Carlyle said. “Those are pretty high profile players in the league.”
This year the choice wasn’t as clear-cut, which was reflected in the voting. That isn’t to say that Getzlaf and Koivu (if we can safely assume that Koivu, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens from 1999-2009, was the runner-up) would be anything similar as captains.
The 35-year-old Koivu is more of a lead-by-example player, almost in the mold of Niedermayer. He faced more pressure from fans and media in Montreal than he will ever face in Anaheim, especially on the downside of his career as a second-line center and penalty-killer, not a star.
Getzlaf is the opposite. In six NHL seasons, he has emerged as the team’s most talented player and also one of its most emotional. Those emotions will lead the 6-foot-4 center to the penalty box for both good reasons (see this fight from the decisive Game 6 of the Ducks’ 2009 playoff series against the San Jose Sharks) and bad (see Tuesday’s third-period charging penalty that led to the Kings’ final goal in an 8-3 Ducks loss).
How his game affects the rest of the team will be interesting to watch in the coming months and years.
Compared to Niedermayer, “they’re totally two different personalities,” Selanne said. “Getzy’s going to be way more vocal, Scotty was leading by example by doing the right things all the time. Everybody’s different.”
For his part, Koivu did not mince words. “He’s going to be here for a long time and I think it was the right choice,” said Koivu, noting that that Getzlaf is “very mature for his age.”
Getzlaf isn’t even the youngest captain in franchise history. That honor
belongs to Paul Kariya, who was 22 in his first game as captain in
For those who have been around the team the last several years, the job seemed destined to be Getzlaf’s whenever he was ready for it. On Saturday, his teammates decided that he was ready.
“I definitely wanted it. It’s something I’ve been working for for a long time,” Getzlaf said. “A letter’s still just a letter. It doesn’t change who I am as a player, who I am as a guy. I’m lucky enough to have the support group that we have around us, that the pressure’s not all on me.”