NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.
It's been quite the rollercoaster ride for Ryan Getzlaf the past two seasons.
In 2011-12 he slumped to a career-low 11 goals and totaled 57 points, the fewest he's scored in a full NHL season. He also had a minus-11 rating and the Ducks fired coach Randy Carlyle, the only NHL coach Getzlaf had played for, while plummeting to 13th in the Western Conference standings.
With low expectations heading into the 2012-13 season, Getzlaf looked a new man -- actually, more like the player fans were used to seeing. His 15 goals tied linemate Corey Perry for the team lead, his 49 points were tops on the club and 10th in the League, he led the Ducks with 34 assists and his plus-14 rating topped the team's forwards. While he scored just four power-play goals, his three shorthanded goals led the team and set a personal best.
Getzlaf's numbers last season are more indicative of a player who has averaged slightly less than a point per game during his eight-season NHL career (521 points in 566 games) and has a career plus-81 rating.
So who was the imposter in the No. 15 jersey in 2011-12?
Getzlaf was physically healthy that season, playing all 82 games, but emotionally was a different story.
"The year I struggled I had my first child," he told NHL.com. "I was newly married and all the other stuff that I dealt with away from the rink and I think that was a part of it. And I was a new captain at that point, and you're dealing with all the stuff you have to learn."
Part of the education for Getzlaf was balancing his professional life with his family life.
"That season me and my wife had to learn how to have a child and [me] be away," he said. "I felt a lot of times that I was guilty of being away from my family and not seeing a lot of my son's initial stuff. I remember the first time he walked I watched it on my phone. It was the things that I had to learn to deal with and know that what I was doing was just as important as what she's doing at home."
While learning about the work/family balance, Getzlaf also said he still was growing into his role as captain. He was given the captaincy after Scott Niedermayer retired in 2010, and said that while he's learned a lot from watching Niedermayer, he's still developing his own style of leadership.
"It's been a learning curve," he said. "I obviously followed one of the best captains in the game in Scott Niedermayer. He taught me a lot of things, when to keep your mouth shut and when to talk, those kinds of things. Scotty had a little different way of leading than I do. But I think when it comes to being a captain, you have to learn to deal with the off-ice stuff but put that aside when it's time to go on the ice. I feel like I've learned a lot in the last couple years on developing those relationships with the guys and them having that trust in me."
Ducks general manager Bob Murray also noticed a change in Getzlaf, and it definitely was a change for the better.
"Being the captain, I think sometimes he overthinks it a little bit," Murray told NHL.com. "Last year he didn't overthink at all. … He's growing with being that captain."
That growth helped the Ducks rocket out of the starting blocks, maintain a strong pace through most of the season, and finish atop the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference.
The way the season ended, a Game 7 loss at home to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, put a blemish on things. However, Getzlaf said he hopes some of his younger teammates take the sour ending as extra motivation for this season.
"I expect our team to try and outplay what we did last season," he said. "That's always the goal for our group, to get to the Stanley Cup Final, and that's no different going into this season. We have to be aware that there are a few more teams that are aware that we could be a contender. Last year we went in as a dark horse and no one expected much of us, so I think we surprised a lot of teams at the start of the year and that's not going to be the case this season."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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