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Monday, November 17, 2008
Poster boy Getzlaf relishes star status

By David Amber
Special to ESPN.com

Ryan Getzlaf -- Quick Facts

• Selected 19th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks.

• Led Anaheim in points, assists and plus/minus last season

• Signed a five-year, $26.625 million contract extension on Nov. 20, 2007

• Led Anaheim in playoff scoring with 17 points in 2007 on its way to the Stanley Cup

• Collected a team record five assists Oct. 29, 2008, vs. Detroit

When he's not pitching products for Home Depot, or soaking up the California sun, Ryan Getzlaf is busy establishing himself as one of the NHL's brightest stars. At 23 years of age, the big center has a Stanley Cup to his credit and one day could add a Hart trophy to his hardware collection. In this edition of "Facing Off," the Ducks' poster boy talks about how the Stanley Cup helped him take a bite out of the Big Apple; why he might be coming to a football field near you and which All-Star defenseman drives him nuts on the ice.

Question from Amber: You start the season with just one assist and a minus-five through the first six games. Now you're near the top of the league in points. How did you turn things around?

Answer from Getzlaf: I think it was a matter of sticking with it. As a team, we didn't start the year the way we wanted to, but as our team succeeds, obviously, individuals are going to succeed. Me and [Corey] Perry just started clicking the way we used to. We had a lot of scoring chances at the start of the year. Things just weren't going in, and now they are.

Q: Even in junior hockey you were never a scoring champion-type player. What would winning an Art Ross Trophy in the NHL mean to you?

A: [Laughs] I am definitely far from that right now. It would be great. If you look at the guys that have won it, even to be in the running for an award like that would be awesome.

Q: True. A long way to go, but you have to have goals.

A: That would be cool.

Q: Your draft year of 2003 is considered by many to be one of the deepest drafts ever. In the first round alone Eric Staal, Dion Phaneuf, Marc-Andre Fleury, Zach Parise, Nikolai Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Nathan Horton, Jeff Carter and you were all taken. You went 19th to the Ducks. Five years later, if that draft takes place today, where would you be taken?

A: The draft's a funny thing. I was ranked to go higher than I did on draft day. It kind of sucked sitting there 'cause you're waiting and waiting, and then once your name is finally called, it is such a relief.

Q: OK, but if the draft was today, where would you be picked?

A: [Laughs] I don't know what to say. Maybe I could move up in the draft a little bit. But there are some great players that you named. Going first would be cool, but who knows.

Q: Playing Junior A, you suffered a concussion and missed a month after a hit from Dion Phaneuf. What do you remember from that play?

A: I remember it all. It was an awkward situation. Dion caught my back shoulder, which forced my head to go into the boards. I smashed my head pretty hard, managed to get back to the bench. I felt OK, but then the next shift I didn't know what was going on.

Q: Were you thinking about that hit when you dropped the gloves with Phaneuf in the playoffs a couple of years ago?

A: No, not really. The one thing I am not is a grudge-holder by any means. Things always happen on the ice quickly -- that's the game. Dion and I have definitely had battles for years. In Junior I think I saw him every shift that I played against Red Deer, so it's always been that rivalry. He's one of the top players in the league as well, so we always play each other tough.

Q: You have dropped the gloves once this year. In the old NHL, a guy with your skill set would never have to fight. Would you like the league to abolish the instigator rule?

A: It definitely has its pros and cons. It depends what way you look at it. You can look at it that some guys don't fight guys like me because they don't want to penalize their teams. Or maybe you can look at it the other way -- maybe they do take liberties 'cause they know that the tougher guys can't jump them. Either way, I think players do a great job of policing themselves. I have no problem. If I have to fight, I have to fight, it's the way it is right now.

Q: Your older brother Chris is a wide receiver in the CFL. Who was the better athlete growing up?

Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf has picked up right where he left off last year, leading the Anaheim Ducks in scoring.
A: [Laughs] Interesting question. Well, obviously, I'll say me. Me and my brother, as we grew, we got really competitive. We pushed each other. Growing up, I always wanted to be better than my older brother. I always played with the older kids and that helped me develop. We both became pro athletes in different sports, so I guess it helped both of us.

Q: So who would have better success crossing over: You to the CFL or Chris to the NHL?

A: Oh, I don't know. That's a good question. We may have to try that out. I would love to give the CFL a shot and see if I could make it. My brother was a pretty good hockey player growing up, so it would be interesting to see who would do better. I have to see if I can get to practice with his team sometime, and he can practice with us.

Q: After winning the Cup, you hosted VH1's top-20 countdown in New York. What was it like having the Stanley Cup in New York City?

A: It was cool to host the show and see how television works from the inside. To have the Cup in New York City in that atmosphere was a blast. That was my first time in New York. I went to the ESPNZone in Times Square. I took a lot of pictures and just really enjoyed myself.

Q: What music would I find in your iPod?

A: A bit of everything. But I'm a country fan. I listen to Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill. Mostly country music.

Q: You've also done commercials. Are you planning to eventually make the transition from the ice to Hollywood star?

A: I haven't really thought about it. I like doing stuff like that. It's fun to get away from your routine. It's different and sometimes it's a challenge, so I like it.

Q: What do your teammates think about all the off-the-ice attention you get as a poster boy for products and the league?

A: They ride me pretty hard about everything. When posters come out, the guys will find them and put them up in the locker room by the end of the day. Todd Marchant is the ring leader for stuff like that. He always finds all the stuff I've done and then makes fun of me.

Q: As a kid who grew up in the Prairies of Canada, what is the best part of playing professional hockey in Southern California?

A: The weather. It's beautiful here. I drive in a convertible to the rink every day. It's a different atmosphere, but you do have your die-hard fans. Every year here the interest grows. It's great.

Q: The year Anaheim won the Cup the "kid line" of you, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner played a huge role in the teams success. What was your reaction when you saw the huge offer sheet Dustin received from the Oilers?

A: It was mixed emotions. At the time I was thrilled for Dustin that someone wanted him that bad, and the money they were offering him. But at the same time, it put us in a really tough situation and everyone knew that. We had a lot of young guys coming up, needing new deals, so we couldn't afford to match that offer. It put our [then] GM [Brian Burke] in a tough spot. A lot of people don't know, but [Penner] contemplated turning down the offer for about two weeks. I talked to him a lot about it, but it just didn't make sense for him to walk away from that kind of deal.

Q: You're lucky enough to play with two future Hall of Fame defensemen in Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. But as far as opponents are concerned, which defenseman is the hardest to play against?

A: [Pause] Rob Blake is pretty good. He's big, and he's been around a long time, so he has a lot of little tricks to beat you to different spots. He has that long reach, so it's tough to get the puck from him. He's like Pronger -- they're both big guys who have been around for a long time. Guys will tell you experience on "D" is important. He has a lot of tricks that still work on me.

Q: You're only 23, so is there a player in the league you look up to and hope to have a career as great as his?

A: Joe Sakic. I like him a lot. I've had the chance to hang out with him at All-Star Games, and that's big for me. The numbers he's put up, and the leadership he has provided, it's incredible. Another guy I look up to is [Teemu] Selanne. He has helped me a lot. We don't play similar games, but we have similar attitudes and have developed a good friendship here. He shows us how to have fun at the rink.

Q: Right now which team is the one to beat if you're going to win the Stanley Cup?

A: The Ducks. Our confidence is unbelievable right now. Obviously, I don't see a whole lot of the East, but on our side of the league you could roll the dice anywhere. San Jose is playing well right now. Dallas is a good team. They haven't been putting up huge numbers so far, but I would expect to see them at the top somewhere too.

ESPN reporter David Amber is a contributor to ESPN.com.