Ducks goalie John Gibson: ‘We’ve got to start taking some steps forward’

Ducks goaltender John Gibson was frustrated. Could you blame him?

The Ducks’ 2020-21 season was many things at many times.

Mostly, it was bad. Historically bad, in fact.

The Ducks’ .384 points percentage was the lowest in franchise history.

Gibson seemed to bear the brunt of it.

He was a victim of a lack of support more often than not, with the Ducks scoring an NHL-low 126 goals during the pandemic-shortened 56-game season. He was fed up with losing and sounded off about it. His 9-19-7 record in 35 games was not what the only two-time All-Star goalie in franchise history had in mind.

“I love it here,” he said during a season-ending Zoom call with reporters. “I don’t have any intentions of playing anywhere else. I love it here. I love the city. I love the fans. But, at the same time, I want to win. We’ve got to start taking some steps forward and trying to figure out what needs to happen.

“You ask anybody and they want to win. Nobody wants to lose. It seems like the last few years, we kind of found ways to lose games, put ourselves behind the 8-ball and maybe get a little too comfortable with losing. We have to figure out what’s the best plan of action to change it and kind of turn the tide.”

Defenseman Cam Fowler was frustrated, too.

“We’re not a team that’s used to being in a situation like that,” he said. “We’re used to playing meaningful hockey games and competing for the playoffs every year, so that was the expectation of our group and to fall short of that was disappointing.”

Center Adam Henrique was disappointed.

“Hard year,” he said. “Mentally, a hard year. I don’t think we, man-to-man on a nightly basis, were good enough, really.”

Right wing Troy Terry was optimistic and hopeful of a better future, though.

“It’s not like we were winning every game, but it just felt different,” he said. “The last few weeks of that season, it just felt like we were playing a better brand of hockey. We were creating more scoring chances. We were making more plays. Personally, I was excited about where I was and I’m excited to carry that into next year. I think there are a lot of things to be excited about right now. I think it’s a big summer for everyone.”

Each of the players who participated in exit interviews with reporters this week expressed his views on the Ducks’ lost season, the team’s 17-30-9 record and last-place finish in the West Division. No one held back in expressing his frustration, disappointment, anger or optimism.

Gibson was the most forthcoming, though.

“I don’t think anyone likes losing,” he said. “I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I go out there. There’ve been challenges, I should say some growing pains, trying to keep my frustration level down and just kind of focus on the task at hand. I just had to focus on my game, being the best I could be and giving the team the best I could.”

Of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season, Gibson said: “We haven’t had much success over the last few years. When that builds up over time, more than likely something is going to change. I wouldn’t be surprised if something changes. I think we need to be contending for a playoff spot. It seemed like after the first month and a half or so of the season, when you look at it, it was going to be tough for us to come back. I don’t think anybody wants that. I think we need to take a step forward and be competing for the playoffs and be a competitive team on a nightly basis.”

Asked whether he was optimistic about the future, he said, “Honestly, I’m not sure right now.” Asked whether he saw signs of progress, he said, “I definitely think we’ve got some good young guys coming up. You saw how Jamie and ‘Z’ played.”

Gibson referred to defenseman Jamie Drysdale, 19, and center Trevor Zegras, 20, the Ducks’ top draft picks the past two years, who made a rather dramatic jump from junior-level and collegiate hockey, respectively, to the NHL this past season. Drysdale and Zegras will continue their seasons with the Ducks’ AHL team, the San Diego Gulls.

It’s hoped they, along with several other young players, will inject much-needed life into the Ducks’ moribund offense in the seasons to come. Gibson declined to fault his teammates for their lack of goal-scoring support this past season, however.

“I don’t think it’s anything new,” he said. “If you look at how we’ve been, even in the earlier years when Randy (Carlyle was coaching), we always thought we would try to win a game 2-1 or 3-2, and we’d be in close games. So, I don’t think that’s anything new.

“That’s the way we found success when we had success. I don’t think we were ever consistently going to put up six or seven goals (per game). Looking back, when we had success, it was always in close games. Now, we’ve just found ourselves on the wrong end of them and we’ve got to find a way to get over that hump.”

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