Getzlaf exits to cheers, tears

RYAN GETZLAF concluded his 17-year NHL career on Sunday (Flickr/Bridget Samuels photo).

It’s been a dismal season for the Anaheim Ducks. With two more games to play in the 2021-22 season, they’re mired seventh in the eight-team NHL Pacific Division with a 30-36-14 record.

But there was still reason to celebrate on Sunday as the Ducks bade farewell to Ryan Getzlaf. He finished a 17-year career with the Orange County team, and added to lifelong stats with an assist.

The Ducks lost 6-3, but there were smiles, applause and more for the 36-year center, who was the face of the franchise for a decade as well as being the team’s franchise leader in points, assists, playoff scoring and games played. He’s also been team captain for the last 12 seasons.

He was cheered all game long by a standing room only crowd at Honda Center, and honored with expensive gifts before the puck dropped.

“This was more than I could ever have imagined,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for more. It really hit me in the heart to see that many people show up tonight.”

It was a bittersweet moment for Ducks’ fans who saw their team go down to its 19th loss in 22 games. They started the season ice cold, losing seven of 10 games before turning it around with eight straight wins in late October and November.

February was a cruel month with two wins and five losses. March was worse with a 2-12 performance that included an 11-game losing streak.

The Ducks will finish out the season with two road games, visiting the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday and the Dallas Stars on Friday.

Meanwhile, back at Staples Center ….

The one area winter sports team that still has playoff dreams is the Los Angeles Kings, who have won four games in a row headed into their last two games of the regular season (at Seattle on Wednesday and at Vancouver on Thursday).

As of today, the Kings are third in the Pacific Division (46-27-10), as things stand now, they would face the Edmonton Oilers (46-27-6) in first round action. In the season series, the Oilers have won three of four games.

Dodgers, Angels off to encouraging starts

With wins on Sunday, the Dodgers and Angels each are showing signs that this might be the year that both Los Angeles-Orange County area teams will have strong, exciting seasons.

The Dodgers (11-4) are atop the National League West, arguably the strongest division in Major League Baseball. The Blue Crew only lead the second place San Francisco Giants by a half-game and the third place Colorado Rockies by one game.

In 2021, fans were treated to a gripping pennant race in the NLW and an exciting playoff aftermath.

The folks from Chavez Ravine have a powerful array of hitters with Freddie Freeman (.322, three home runs), Cody Bellinger (.273, four homers) and Trea Turner (.279, 17 RBIs) so far, and you know that Mookie Betts (.196) and Justin Turner (.218) will come alive at the plate soon.

Joining the already outstanding pitching staff led by Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 2.65 ERA) and Julio Urias (1-1, 3.00) is former Angel Andrew Heaney (1-0. 0.00).

You can almost pencil them into the playoff brackets before May arrives.

The Angels (9-7) haven’t made a playoff appearance since 2014, but appear to have a decent shot at it. Strangely enough, the Halos (now in second place in the American League West, one game back of the Seattle Mariners) are doing better on the road (5-2) than they’ve done in Anaheim (4-5).

Probably the biggest boost to the roster is Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 2.12 ERA). A bit of a gamble after missing two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, he has been nothing short of excellent so far. Together with Shohei Ohtani (1-2, 26 strikeouts and just four walks, the team is a big ways toward a powerful rotation.

There’s solid hitting support, too. Mike Trout is back (please, Mike, stay healthy) and batting .333 with four home runs. Ohtani, the two-way wonder, leads the team with 15 hits. He’s got three home runs and nine RBIs. The most pleasing new (bearded) face is Brandon Marsh, who’s hitting .306 with two homers and 13 RBIs.

Historically, the Angels look good in the spring and fade in the summer heat. It could happen again, of course, but in 2022 it looks like they have the talent and maybe the luck to be hot right into September.

Final out: “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there is a man on base” – Dave Barry (relax … he’s kidding …).



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