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The Last Day

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


Instead of preparing for a Game 7 that never came, the Ducks spent their Tuesday morning at Honda Center collecting their belongings and reflecting on another season in the books.

“You have to take your hat off to your players and your coaching staff for the run they made at the end of the year,” Murray said. “I’m very proud of how they responded."
The 2010-11 version of the club will be remembered as one that fought valiantly through adversity to return to the postseason after a season away from the 16-team battle for the Stanley Cup. While overcoming another bad start to the year and key injuries, the Ducks earned a fourth seed in the Western Conference in their final regular season contest at rival Los Angeles.

But Anaheim’s stay in those playoffs would be short-lived, as its season came to a halt with a 4-2 loss at Nashville on Easter Sunday. “You have to take your hat off to your players and your coaching staff for the run they made at the end of the year,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “I’m very proud of how they responded.

“Making the playoffs is fine. It’s what you want to do. You can’t go any further unless you do make the playoffs. But in saying that, that is not what we’re here for. We are not an organization that just believes in making the playoffs and that is okay. It’s not good enough.”

Murray Video

The Ducks came oh so close to putting the Predators on the brink of elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, in what turned out to be their final home game. Up 3-2 in the final minute of regulation, Anaheim surrendered the tying goal with 35 seconds left on the clock and then the game-winner 1:57 into overtime.

“It was a pretty big dagger to overcome,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. “It seemed like we were stunned. We missed a great opportunity to go up in the series. The momentum swing went the other way from that point forward. It’s not that we didn’t play hard in Nashville. We gave ourselves a chance by scoring the first goal, then we tied the hockey game and we were in it. We just didn’t seem to have enough.”

“All those young players lead you to an enthusiastic response on the possibilities that could happen next year,” Carlyle said. For us now, it’s more about evaluating and self-analysis. That is what these next five, six days will be."
Said Ryan Getzlaf, “That definitely was a pivotal time in the series when you look back now. We were that close to having that 3-2 lead in our building. Going into Game 6, it would have been an opportunity to win instead of an opportunity to stay alive. That was a tough loss in overtime.”

Despite playing in all six games of the series, Anaheim’s top defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky was playing with not one, but two bad shoulders. He said during exit interviews with the media that the A/C joint is affected in each and the right is worse. His defense partner Toni Lydman also was playing with a hurt shoulder and is scheduled to have surgery (as will forward Matt Beleskey on his shoulder) on Monday.

“I don’t feel very good,” said Visnovsky, who was told by doctors he will not need surgery right now. “I took three shots before every game. I was playing at 50 percent. I was frustrated I could not help the team, especially at playoff time. It was tough for me to play one-on-one and hit somebody. I tried with everything I had and it was not easy.

“I can’t hold my son in my hands right now. It’s painful, but this is hockey. I thank these guys in the locker room, the trainers and doctors.”

The biggest injury to hit the Ducks’ roster overall in 2010-11 is still trying to be defined. Jonas Hiller began to feel vertigo-like symptoms on February 2, during his drive into Honda Center for that night’s game against the Sharks. After being pulled from that contest, he attempted to come back on several occasions but never did feel 100 percent.

An All-Star selection for the first time in his career this season, Hiller will now take the offseason to regroup further and get a better understanding of his situation. The next few months will be crucial for him and the Ducks in regards to his future on the ice.

“It’s still not 100 percent,” Hiller said. “It’s tough to have a long summer, but in my case, it’s probably not a bad thing. We are still trying to figure out exactly what it is or what exactly is the best thing to do. I’m positive we will find the right solution."
“It’s still not 100 percent,” Hiller said. “It’s tough to have a long summer, but in my case, it’s probably not a bad thing. We are still trying to figure out exactly what it is or what exactly is the best thing to do. I’m positive we will find the right solution. I think it’s just going to take its time.

“I’m moving forward, even though it’s slower than I wish it would be. I have a couple of months now. Once I come back in September, I have to be ready.”

Said Carlyle, “He’s a major component of our hockey club. It’s a big piece to have your No. 1 goalie not with your hockey club for three-plus months. It’s a big piece and hard to fill. I thought Ray Emery and Dan Ellis really enabled us to survive and get a chance to be in the playoffs. He’s going to spend some time here and then go back to Switzerland. Then there will have to be a real true diagnosis of what exactly is causing his issues.”

The pain of losing a playoff series was still fresh in the minds of all the Ducks on Tuesday, from the players, to the coaches and executives. “We are too good of a team to be sitting here right now,” Bobby Ryan said. “We should be playing hockey. It’s a very tough day.”

But when looking into the future of the franchise and the start of another training camp in September, good things appear to be on the horizon for the Ducks. The core of the team is already signed to return, including Corey Perry, Saku Koivu, Getzlaf, Ryan, Visnovsky, Lydman and Hiller. Also in the fold will be young players who made a name for themselves this year in Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa and Brandon McMillan. “All those young players lead you to an enthusiastic response on the possibilities that could happen next year,” Carlyle said.

“For us now, it’s more about evaluating and self-analysis. That is what these next five, six days will be. It will be about what could we have done better? How could we have changed things? We’ll do an evaluation of our players. How do we handle them? Is there a better way? Those are all things that are a necessity at this time of year. We can’t be satisfied by losing in the first round of the playoffs. That is not what this organization is about.”

Undeniably the biggest question mark in the coming month though will be the fate of Teemu Selanne. The 40-year-old defied his age by stringing together a 30-goal, 80-point season. He also led Anaheim with six playoff goals, tied for the most in any one round in franchise history. As has been the case over the last several offseasons, the Finnish Flash will take some time away, retreat to his native Finland in mid-June and make a decision from there on whether or not to continue his future Hall-of-Fame career.

"It was so much fun this year," Selanne said. "That is all I really asked. It’s not about goals, points or anything like that. Always before the season I hope every day I can enjoy this. That is my goal. This year is exactly what I expected in a fun way. Of course in the end, I felt we had more to give. But sometimes it’s not enough.”
“I honestly don’t know,” Selanne said. “At this age, you have to be 100 percent sure you are ready to put yourself in this situation again. It was so much fun this year. That is all I really asked. It’s not about goals, points or anything like that. Always before the season I hope every day I can enjoy this. That is my goal. This year is exactly what I expected in a fun way. Of course in the end, I felt we had more to give. But sometimes it’s not enough.”

Said Murray, “I think he is still having fun. He has to go talk with his family. They are important. He is just too good of a player to quit. I will do everything in my power to keep him here.”

Notes
 Having just completed his whirlwind rookie NHL season, Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler will continue to play hockey for just a bit longer. The 19-year-old accepted an offer to play for Team USA at the World Championships in Slovakia (Bratislava and Kosice).

“It’s definitely an honor to be able to represent USA over there. I’ve been lucky enough to represent USA in a few other tournaments, the World Juniors and Under-18s. This is another step for me. I’m excited for it. I’m flying there tomorrow, so I have to pack up and get my mind adjusted to playing some more hockey.”

A native of Slovakia, Visnovsky is also making the trip home and hopes his injuries subside enough to allow him a chance to get back on the ice. “The World Championships in my hometown (Bratislava) and my country,” he said. “I will go there, stay with the team and I take the time. It’s hard to say no. My body is not ready. I will take the time and see what happens. I will take a week off for sure and see what happens with my shoulders. If it feels better, I will try to play. If not, I will just watch my teammates.”

Sbisa also said he will represent his native Switzerland in the World Championships.
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