A look at the Anaheim Mighty Ducks’ All-Decade team for the 1990s
This is part of a series detailing the all-decade team for every NHL franchise for the 1990s. The all-time teams were compiled using a mix of skill, longevity and statistics; it is not necessarily the best, most memorably or most talented players. Instead, this is the list of players by each position who had the best numbers over a prolonged period (i.e. at least three full seasons between 1990-91 and 1999-00) during the regular season.
Team: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (1993-94 to 1999-00)
215-258-69, .460 WIN PCT, 1,470 GF vs. 1,589 GA, -119 Diff, 2/7 Playoff Appearances, 0 Stanley Cups
Anaheim managed to be surprisingly respectable for an expansion team. They only had two seasons with win percentages below .400, and had three .500 seasons in their first seven years. They struggled in their sophomore season of ’94-95 and again in ’97-98, but otherwise they were a competitive team. The change to a Conference playoff format made it a little more difficult for them to make the playoffs, but they still managed two appearances, even winning a playoff round in their first appearance (they beat the Phoenix Coyotes in 1997). That being said, Anaheim’s win percentage wasn’t great, and at 46.0% they ranked 20th of the 26 teams that played at least four seasons during the decade. Despite the presence of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, Anaheim simply could not score; they averaged 2.71 goals for per game, ranking 23rd for the decade (shockingly, they finished behind Florida). But they were excellent defensively, averaging 2.93 goals against per game, which ranked 11th. But that offense was their Achilles heel, and their -119 goal differential placed them 20th. They took a little while to get their collective legs under them, but they were shaping into a competitive franchise by the end of the decade.
Left Wing: Paul Kariya (376 GP, 210-254-464, +79, 117 PIM, 31 GWG)
Paul Kariya was undoubtedly the face of the franchise during his time in Anaheim. He struggled as the team did during the lockout-shortened ’94-95 season, with 39 points in 47 games. But he rallied to post two 100-point season (and another 99-point season) over the next four years. The team slumped badly when he was held to just 22 games (and 31 points) in ’97-98), both Kariya and the team rebounded the following year as Kariya scored 42 goals and 86 points. In six seasons with the Ducks in the 90s, Kariya had four seasons of 39+ goals (including a high of 50 in ’95-96), and three seasons of 55+ assists. His +/- was strong, especially considering Anaheim’s ugly goal differential; after going -17 in his rookie season, Kariya was +96 over the next five seasons (during which the Ducks had a -58 goal differential). He ran the team’s powerplay, posting four seasons of 11+ PPG (including 20 in ’95-96), and he also had 12 short-handed goals. He practically WILLED the team to success early on, scoring an incredible 19 game-winning goals between ’95-96 and ’96-97; the team won 71 games during those two seasons, which means Kariya had the deciding goal in 27% of their victories. He was one of the NHL’s brightest stars during the 1990s. Though not a physical player (he once recorded 40 PIM, and had no other season above 24), he was skilled, classy and exciting to watch.
Centre: Steve Rucchin (398 GP, 103-197-300, +64, 110 PIM, 17 GWG)
Steve Rucchin had the great fortune of spending the bulk of his tenure in Anaheim playing between Kariya and Selanne, two of the best offensive wingers of the decade. Rucchin wasn’t an All-Star, but he was a capable centre (although he would have ideally been a #2 centre on a strong team). In six seasons with Anaheim during the decade, Rucchin had two seasons of 60+ points, and two others of 50+. He only once scored 20+ goals (23 in ’98-99), but had three other 19-goal seasons. He was more of a playmaker, with four seasons of 36+ assists (including a high of 48 in ’96-97). He definitely wasn’t a physical player, but he was a boon with the man advantage, scoring 5-10 PPG per season over a five-year span. He also chipped in 17 game-winning goals (17% of his total).
Right Wing: Teemu Selanne (333 GP, 199-224-423, +66, 110 PIM, 32 GWG)
The acquisition of Teemu Selanne from the Winnipeg Jets is possibly the single greatest trade the Anaheim Ducks (Mighty or otherwise) have made in their two decade history. Selanne scored 16 goals and 36 points in 28 games after being acquired in ’95-96, and he teamed with Kariya to form one of the most exciting duo’s in the league (during a time when offensive stars were few and far between). Selanne had two 50-goal seasons, and another with 47 goals. He had a pair of 100+ point seasons, and two others in the 85-86 range. He was a fiend on the powerplay, scoring an incredible 25 PPG in ’98-99 and finishing in the 8-11 range in three other seasons. Selanne was absolutely clutch for the Ducks, scoring 32 game-winning goals in 333 games (16% of his total). Between ’96-97 and ’99-00, the Ducks won 131 games and Selanne scored 31 game-winners, meaning he had the deciding goal in 24% of Anaheim’s victory. Another 19 were decided by Kariya, meaning the duo was directly responsible for 38% of Anaheim’s victories during that four-year span. And the Finnish Flash is still not just playing, but thriving 13 years later… and he was drafted back in 1988! Simply amazing.
Defense: Fredrik Olausson (200 GP, 35-84-119, +6, 90 PIM, 3 GWG)
Olausson actually had two stints with the Ducks. The first was a short 56-game stint bridging ’95-96 and ’96-97, and then he came back for two full seasons in ’98-99 and ’99-00. He scored 16 goals and 56 points along with a +17 rating in ’98-99, but then fell to 15 goals and 34 points along with a -13 rating in ’99-00. During that time though he had 18 powerplay goals and 3 game-winning goals, along with 120-121 shots on goal per season. His first stint was much more nondescript; he had 4 goals and 29 points in 56 games. Olausson wasn’t an all-star, but he was a quality player on a team that didn’t have a lot of blueline depth. And he managed to have a fairly healthy +/- rating on some weaker teams, so he gets the nod as Anaheim’s #1 defenseman during their formative years.
Defense: Bobby Dollas (305 GP, 28-61-89, +31, 213 PIM, 4 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Oleg Tverdovsky
Oleg Tverdovsky was an exciting young player, but he simply didn’t play enough in Anaheim to qualify for the list. He played 87 games over two seasons before being the centerpiece of the package Anaheim sent to Winnipeg for Selanne. During those 87 games, he scored 34 points and was -6. He came back to the Ducks in ’99-00, scoring 15 goals and 51 points (along with a +5 rating). But Bobby Dollas had better two-way play during the Ducks’ first five years in the NHL, so he gets the nod. In just over four years with Anaheim, he had four seasons of 18+ points (including a high of 30 in ’95-96). But he managed to have a positive +/- rating in three of his first four years, including an impressive +20 rating for the expansion ’93-94 Ducks. He played a smart game, keeping his PIM totals in the 55-65 range during his full seasons. He was an early leader and steady presence for the team as it found its identity.
Goalie: Guy Hebert (400 GP, 161-179-48, 25 SO, 2.71 GAA, 0.912 PCT)
I believe he was the last of the original Mighty Ducks, staying with the team until midway through the ’00-01 season. Plucked from St. Louis (where he was Curtis Joseph’s back-up goalie), Hebert thrived in Anaheim and quickly seized the #1 role. He managed to have a record of .500 or better three times in seven seasons, and his goals-against average was only once over 3.00. He had three quality seasons with a GAA below 2.75 and a save percentage of .914 or better. He also had at least two shut-outs every season, including a high of 6 in ’98-99 and three others with 4 shutouts. His excellent play didn’t go unnoticed outside of Anaheim; he played for the U.S. at the 1994 World Championships, the 1996 World Cup (which the U.S. won) and the 1998 Olympics (in Nagano). He also played in the 1997 All-Star game.