For most people, the birth of a child is good reason to halt a few of the extracurriculars in life and readjust. For Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, it means full speed ahead.
In the midst of leading his team through the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Getzlaf’s wife Paige gave birth to the couple’s third child. Yet, Getzlaf’s all-around performance and leadership didn’t miss a beat. For those who know him best, this is nothing out of the ordinary. Getzlaf’s teammates and coaches sing nothing but praise of his growth as a person and player around the locker room, and it seems the league has finally taken notice.
On Tuesday morning, the NHL announced Getzlaf, along with the Los Angeles Kings‘ Dustin Brown and Chicago Blackhawks‘ Jonathan Toews, as finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award given to the NHL captain who best honors his team and community through his leadership.
Saying Getzlaf is deserving of this nomination is an understatement. While the work ethic Getzlaf displayed during the first round of the playoffs seems enough to take note of on its own, the strides he has taken to lead the Ducks through this season on and off the ice reaffirm the validity behind the nomination — this year above all others.
On the ice, Getzlaf’s Ducks have been the talk of the town all season long, finishing the year as the Western Conference Champions and highly favored to make a run for the Stanley Cup. Getzlaf finished second in points only to Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Sidney Crosby this season, and his top line often created the fireworks to drive home last-minute wins at Honda Center all year.
Off the ice, Getzlaf has solidified his name as a champion for multiple causes in Orange County. Through various events, including the Getzlaf Golf Shootout, he raises funding and awareness for a muscle-wasting disease affecting men with his CureDuchenne efforts. He and his wife are also involved in various efforts with the Ducks franchise, including leading the troops through an annual fashion show benefiting CHOC Children’s Hospital.
Earlier in the season, along with linemate Corey Perry, Getzlaf donated equipment and funding to promote youth hockey in a place where surfing lessons likely outnumber those of skating lessons by a wide margin.
The captain’s drive to help create not just a thriving hockey fanbase in Southern California, but a distinct culture, is second to none. And while Hockey Day in Orange County is still likely a few years (or decades) away, with Getzlaf at the helm, the potential of this Ducks team is indeed limitless.