There has been an exchange of blows between two franchises recently – the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers – and the NHL has stepped in and has stopped that fight. We respect that. We believe that the NHL has a perfect right to do that. They have the authority to do that. We intend to abide by the league’s directive, which is to stop the criticism. There is no question in our mind or defiance about the league’s authority here. We accept their authority to stop this and we intend to stop it. However, several things were said last Friday that I believe need to be addressed. Specifically, No.1: the Anaheim market; No.2: a comment about Corey Perry; No.3: a comment about Bobby Ryan and No. 4: a comment about Scott Niedermayer.Thank you.
First, let’s talk about our market. The Anaheim Ducks do not have to take a back seat to anybody based on their performance over the last three seasons and that’s all I care about. Those are the only seasons I have been there. No NHL team has played in more playoff rounds in the last three years than Anaheim. Detroit has played in the same number, which is eight. No organization, if you add their NHL and AHL team, has played in as many playoff rounds as Anaheim and Portland, which is 14.
The Anaheim Ducks can justifiably say that no team in the NHL has outperformed the Ducks at both levels or at the NHL level in the last three years. No one has won more than one Stanley Cup. We’ve averaged 103-plus points. The team itself has nothing to be defensive about or apologize for. More important, we believe our fan base is as supportive, as rabid and as loyal as any fan base in pro sports, not just in the National Hockey League. We’ve played to 77 straight sellouts. I believe that is the third-best string in the U.S. All of our suites are sold. Club seats are at record levels. No one can question the commitment, support and loyalty of the Anaheim Ducks fan base. We believe they’re the best fans in professional sports. We also feel that we’ve achieved this in a market that is absolutely jammed with competition with 10 other professional sports teams and several major college programs that generate the type of coverage that pro teams dream about – USC football, UCLA basketball and so on. I can’t go through the entire list. We feel we get great coverage, great print coverage. We feel we get fair electronic coverage. When I say fair, I mean equitable fair, not fair as in fair-to-good. Considering the crowded marketplace we’re in, we don’t have to take a back seat to anybody, apologize or be defensive about our market or media coverage.
No. 2, comments about Corey Perry. It is our understanding that Clubs are not entitled to express interest in the services of a player belonging to another NHL organization. Our understanding is that such an expression of interest constitutes tampering. We have asked the league to investigate whether a tampering episode has taken place. We’ve asked them to make a full investigation into that. We will have no further comment on this and we will abide by whatever the league’s decision is on this.
No.3, Bobby Ryan. We believe that players belonging to another organization should be exempt from criticism by the Ducks. We think such criticism is unwarranted unless you’re talking about something a player does or says that affects our team. In other words, you’re playing another team and a player on their team does something to one of your players and you have to comment on it or they say something that you have to react to. Otherwise, we believe that players in another organization should not be criticized by the Anaheim Ducks. Bobby Ryan needs no defending. He is a wonderful young prospect and had an amazing playoffs in the American Hockey League. I think for Bobby Ryan to have been dragged into this in any way or criticized in any way goes outside what we believe the treatment of players should receive.
No. 4, we signed Scott Niedermayer as a free agent in the summer of 2005. There were no allegations of impropriety of any kind at that time. Now an impression has been created that there was impropriety. We have asked the National Hockey League to conduct a full investigation into the signing of Scott Niedermayer. Once they have done so, we expect to be exonerated of any misconduct and then we expect the league to act appropriately. We do not feel it is our place, for example, to create an impression of wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of another team without being able to back it up.