ANAHEIM, Calif. — Some athletes and coaches will tell you things like uniforms don’t matter, that the athlete underneath the gearand the work, the desire and the heart matter more than the fashion statement on the outside.
But a uniform is not as meaningless as it sounds. It’s something athletes put on and wear with pride. The emblem across the chest can signify so much more than just a simple design; it characterizes a team, a town and an identity.
The Ducks renewed their original identity Sunday at Honda Center, donning the original Mighty Ducks of Anaheim uniforms in celebration of the club’s first-ever win 20 years ago to the date.
The more fitting celebration came on the ice where the Ducks defeated Ottawa, the team they beat in 2007 to win their first Stanley Cup, 4-1.
“I was super, super excited about the retro gear,” said goaltender Jonas Hiller, who won his third-straight start. “If it were up to me, we could play the whole season like that.”
The mood was equal parts nostalgic and excitement as everything from the music, the graphics around the arena and even the graphics on the Prime Ticket broadcast were all from the early 90s. A sellout crowd of 17,177 was mostly clad in eggplant and jade and several of the players from the original 1993 Mighty Ducks team were also in attendance.
“I think it was a cool thing to honor all the guys and fly the ’93 Mighty Ducks in, I thought it was a pretty special event,” Hiller said. “It’s fun to be a part of this organization.”
The Disney-type magic that once surrounded the organization at its inception seemed to return.
The Ducks controlled the game right from the opening faceoff, scoring two early goals and chasing goaltender Craig Anderson less than five minutes into the game. The Ducks set a new club record with 56 shots on goal, topping the previous record of 54 set in 2009.
Anaheim’s 23 shots in the first period alone nearly matched the all-time mark of 26 in a period.
“We could’ve had eight goals and it was only a 2-1 game,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It took a lot of character for them to keep playing. Sometimes most teams have one really good period then you have a sag, but we didn’t have that.”
In the second period, rookie Hampus Lindholm earned his first NHL point when he sent a beautiful backhand feed to Corey Perry who finished it off for his second goal of the game.
“He’s still only 19, so it’s going to take a little while, but he’s getting better every night,” said Boudreau.
Boudreau brought up a point that wasn’t lost on anyone: At 19, Lindholm wasn’t even born when the franchise was created.
But don’t worry: He’s seen the movie.
“It’s a good one,” he said. “Those were cool jerseys.”
It was Hiller that enjoyed his attire the most. Hiller and Viktor Fasth, who did not play, both sported masks that paid tribute to the team’s first goalie Guy Hebert with the current logo on the backplate, the original Mighty Duck logo on one side and the infamous Wild Wing on the other.
“I’m worried that I’m not going to get to keep it,” Hiller said. “I should probably just take it home.”