NHL Thoughts: Ryan Getzlaf's Work Ethic

The full 30 Teams, 30,000 Thoughts: Anaheim Ducks blog is coming soon, but here is one of those thoughts that was just too long not to be its own article.

It seems certain Ducks are not working hard enough off the ice. Unfortunately, we outside of NHL organizations do not have access to fitness reports, or even the slightest information that might give us some insight into a given player’s work ethic, or any means of proving our suspicions about a player’s fitness habits. If we’re extremely lucky, we might just get a murmur from the media about how someone’s fitness is struggling, but that’s all. Unless, of course, you’re Dustin Penner, then everyone is allowed to talk about you.

Otherwise, we have to rely on our eyes, and it is not always easy to tell whose body is in great shape and whose isn’t when all those pads and a jersey are in the way.

Not easy, maybe, but not impossible. Not when you have the gift… the gift, of sight! The gift of seeing through male players’ hockey pads… Wonderful.

If anyone out there can tell me how to get rid of it, I’ll pay you $50,000. Email me.
Please. It’s gotten so bad, I’ve actually started watching baseball. YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!

How does one acquire this gift, you ask? I’m not sure why anyone would ask that question, but if you really want to know, i’ll tell you.

For those of you familiar with animé series Full Metal Alchemist, it works a bit like that. If you’re not familiar, in it, two young brother lose their mother, and they resort to alchemy (a form of sorcery) to bring her back from the dead. But while they ask for their mother back, alchemy is complicated and difficult in this story, often with dire consequences, and what they get back is not quite their mother, but something twisted instead, something they never, ever wanted, not in their worst nightmares.

Likewise, as a straight male, I asked for something having to do with ex-ray vision and women, but got back something…else…instead. Not only can I still not see through women’s clothing, but now I cannot watch a hockey game without getting unwanted flashes of sight through the player’s jerseys and pads.

Email me. Please. $50,000. Please.

Obviously, I consider this a curse. It’s hard not to. However, there is the rare instance where some good comes from it. Sometimes it can give me insight into why a certain player is struggling.

Enter Ryan Getzlaf. When I got the flash with him, it wasn’t just the barely visible “Pacific Division Champions” tattoo on his lower back that looked like he’d attempted to remove that stood out to me. I also began to wonder if maybe Getzlaf wasn’t playing in peak condition. In fact, I even tweeted Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times about it as early as the preseason. See here.

And wouldn’t you know, that whole line has struggled to produce this year compared to seasons past, and amidst those struggles have come murmurs that Ryan Getzlaf has not been committed enough to the team or his game. I can’t say I’m seeing anything different.

However, I still have confidence in Ryan and Perry, despite the down seasons so far. They may not be improving their games like they should be, but they still look just as good as ever. It’s possible they were just having a sluggish pre-season game; it’s hard for me to remember what I saw that made me include them in the tweet. All I remember is that I singled out Ryan Getzlaf for a reason.

With him, it appeared to me more than sluggishness. He looked a half-step slower physically as well as unmotivated mentally, which is a very important distinction. If you’re just mentally unmotivated but still in tip-top condition, the moment you get mentally motivated again you can just turn the switch and play as well as ever after a couple of games. But if you’ve lost a step physically, that can take months to get back, if not more.

Not to mention, the players who allow themselves to lose a step physically during their prime years, when no player should ever be declining, usually allowed that to happen in the first place because their work ethic was not good enough to maintain top shape. In other words, people lacking the work ethic to stay in their best shape typically lack the even greater work ethic required to get back into their best shape.

It could take months for a player highly motivated and willing to put the work in. For others, it could never happen at all. I don’t know how Getzlaf will respond or whether he is willing to start working harder because I don’t know him.

All I know is, at one point Getzlaf was an absolutely elite center, top 3 or 5 in the NHL. I hate to say he dominated Joe Thornton most times they played head-to-head, and he was really just a player who excelled at almost every everything and took over games. But now, he is not doing that, not like he used to. He does not look the same. Don’t get me wrong, he is still an elite center; he’s just not where he was. Whether that’s because of physical work ethic, mental focus, some unknown injury, or whatever else, it’s hard for any of us to know for sure. But it looks like work ethic to me, and the murmurs coming out of Anaheim are saying the same thing. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and whatever it is, the bottom line is that Ryan Getzlaf is now officially on the Vincent Lecavalier sponsored “Players who shouldn’t be in decline but clearly aren’t the same as they used to be” list. And whatever the reason for that, Getzlaf needs to be better. Because at his best, he was one of those rare players who could, conceivably, take his team to the top of the league without much secondary scoring past his linemates. And that’s what the Ducks need; that’s their only hope of succeeding in anything right now because they don’t have the depth, which I’ll touch on later.

Getzlaf has to be better. Bottom line.

  • (To be fair to Lecavalier, he’s been better this year, and he seems to be working very hard at least in the games. Still, he’s nowhere near the player he used to be).

Disclaimer: No money will actually be given to anyone.

Thanks for reading,

Written by Shark Circle

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