This is sportsmanship at its finest.
The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks faced off for the last time this season on Saturday. Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf suited up in final road game of his NHL career before he officially retires Sunday.
The game turned ugly in the final seconds after LA forward Arthur Kaliyev cross-checked Anaheim defenseman Josh Mahura along the boards. Getzlaf went after Kaliyev and a full-on melee broke out between the two teams.
Despite a brawl taking place seconds earlier, all the players on the Kings lined after the game to shake Getzlaf’s hand. These two teams clearly despise each other, but the respect the Kings have for Getzlaf triumphs any hatred.
Los Angeles veterans Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were the first to shake Getzlaf’s hands before all the other players followed suit. Even the Kings’ coaching staff shook Getzlaf’s hand before he left the ice in LA.
It's been an honor, Getz. pic.twitter.com/ag02YlsLtP
— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 24, 2022
One of the best moments of the handshake was the exchange between Quick and Getzlaf. Quick has been trying to save Getzlaf’s shots for almost 20 years now. Bally Sports cameras appeared to capture Quick telling Getzlaf, “F**k, you’re awesome. Congrats.”
The Freeway Face-Off is one of the NHL’s best rivalries, but the respect these two squads have for each other is unparalleled. After Ducks goalie Ryan Miller retired last season, all the Kings players stuck around after the game to pay their respects to him.
Getzlaf finishes his career with 19 goals and 59 points in 84 career games versus Los Angeles. Getzlaf played more games against LA than any other team, so the Kings more than anyone know how talented he is.
Getzlaf also received a nice send-off from the Lightning a week ago and is sure to receive a massive ovation in his final game Sunday versus St. Louis. It’s clear Getzlaf is an extremely well-respected player in the NHL.
Only in hockey will you see an entire team shake the hand of an opposing player who participated in a brawl against them seconds earlier.