Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf announced on Tuesday he will retire from the NHL following this season.
Getzlaf, 36, played his entire 17-year career with the Ducks and has captained the team for the past 11 seasons. He is currently injured but plans to play a few more games to close out the season. Getzlaf could be skating as soon as Thursday and his goal is to play in Anaheim’s final home game, on April 24.
With his parents, his wife and their four children by his side, Getzlaf felt confident he’s finally ready to glide into life after the NHL.
“I’ve always said I was going to let my body and mind dictate when I was going to retire,” he said Tuesday.
“I remember talking to my buddies when I first came in the league, and I thought that was going to be at about 26,” he added with a laugh. “Definitely over-lasted what I thought I would. The grind of the everyday, getting up, the preparation for each season, gets harder and harder as you get older.”
Getzlaf teared up several times during a news conference at Honda Center attended by dozens of his friends, family members and both current and former teammates. Getzlaf wasn’t surprised to see his wife, Paige, but was shocked to see his parents and children, who kept their attendance a secret.
“I’ve created an atmosphere around me of support, a loving family that I’d like to go home to,” Getzlaf said. “Kids that I’d like to grow up playing with, not watching play. That was a (reason) for me to step away from the game before those things happen.”
Getzlaf had been contemplating retirement ahead of this season, when he signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal to stay with the Ducks. According to sources, Getzlaf told teammates last week about his plans to officially retire. Getzlaf has had conversations with Ducks ownership about joining the front office postretirement sources say, although a role has not been formalized yet.
Getzlaf, a Saskatchewan native who was drafted at No. 19 in the first round by Anaheim in 2003, is one of only 13 players in NHL history to win two Olympic gold medals (with Canada, 2010 and 2014) and a Stanley Cup (2007). In 1,150 career NHL games, Getzlaf has scored 282 goals and 731 assists for 1,013 career points.
Getzlaf is Anaheim’s all-time leading scorer in both the regular season and playoffs.
“We are so proud of everything Ryan has accomplished in an amazing 17 years playing for the Ducks,” Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli said in a statement. “While we will all remember his leadership qualities on the ice, it is his community-first approach that has cemented his legacy in Orange County. In addition to spearheading the Ducks Learn to Play Program and numerous other organizational charitable initiatives, he launched his own such event with the Annual Getzlaf Shootout to benefit CureDuchenne, raising over $4.27 million to date.”
There are only 11 other players in NHL history who have captained the same team for 10 years and scored 1,000 points. Of those other 11, nine are retired and have been eligible for the Hall of Fame, with eight inducted: Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Ray Bourque, Alex Delvecchio, Jean Beliveau, Jarome Iginla and Ron Francis. Two more of those 11 players are not yet eligible: current stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.