Between them, the Getzlaf brothers — Ryan and Chris — were capable of expertly setting up teammates and opponents.
Ryan Getzlaf demonstrated an uncanny ability to pass the puck over the 17 NHL seasons he spent with the Anaheim Ducks, for whom he amassed 1,019 points.
Chris Getzlaf, who was twice a 1,000-yard receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, refined his craft to the extent that rival defensive backs were routinely turned inside out.
“A lot of it is continual practice,” said Chris, who will captain one of the teams at Saturday’s Roughriders Foundation Winter Classic charity hockey game in Saskatoon.
“Football is a weird sport in that you practise way more than you play, unlike the other professional sports. I spent years and years developing how to set guys up.
“I think the biggest thing when it comes to route-running is to be able to see the game. You have to have a good understanding as you hit the line full-speed whether they’re in zone or in man (defence). That’s going to dictate how you run that route.
“Over the years, I was able to develop and find ways to set people up so that I could get good separation at the top of the route.
“As everyone’s pretty aware, I wasn’t the fastest guy out there, but I did have a great separation cut when it came to running routes and I was able to translate that into full-speed games on a regular basis.”
Consider, for example, the corner routes that he typically ran while collaborating with quarterback Darian Durant for significant gains.
The rewards of their working relationship were evident on Nov. 24, 2013, when Chris caught three passes for 78 yards to help the Roughriders defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in the 101st Grey Cup Game, played at historic Mosaic Stadium.
Chris, who made receptions of 38 and 33 yards to set up Saskatchewan touchdowns, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Canadian.
Clutch performances were also a trademark for Ryan, who led the Ducks in playoff scoring (with 17 points) as they surged toward a Stanley Cup title in 2007.
In terms of points per game, Ryan had a higher career average in the playoffs (0.96) than in the regular season (0.88).
All meaningful games combined, 72 per cent of Ryan’s 1,139 career points resulted from assists.
The passing ability, he told me the other day, was a skill that came naturally.
“My natural progression in hockey was to find an open guy,” he said. “I was kind of like that since I was a kid.
“I’ve been told to shoot the puck more often more times than anybody on the planet, I bet. I was told that by everybody except my linemates.
“It has been part of my game for a long time. I had a vision of the ice that I was able to hone in on throughout my career.
“I was able to learn where people were going to be and what they were going to do and it allowed me to have fun while I was doing it.”
Fun will be the buzzword during the second annual Roughrider Foundation Charity Classic, during which the Getzlafs and their teammates will face a squad that is to be captained by placekicker Brett Lauther.
The faceoff is set for 12:30 p.m., at Merlis Belsher Place on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
The Winter Classic is a fundraiser for the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation, which assists young people by focusing on three pillars — amateur sport, health and education.
BRAVE FACE TIME
Given today’s hockey theme, it is partially plausible (maybe) for me to shamelessly promote Brave Face — my recently issued book on the maskless goalies era.
Copies of Brave Face, published by the amazing people at Triumph Books, will be available on Wednesday when I talk about sports of all sorts (OK, primarily hockey and football) at the next Canadian Club of Regina meeting.
The event, moderated by former Regina Leader-Post colleague Will Chabun, is to be held in the Conexus Arts Centre’s Jacqui Shumiatcher Room. The reception is to begin at 4 p.m., with my incessant yakking to commence a half-hour later.
To register, or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday.
- Super Bowl prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27, San Francisco 49ers 21.
- The CFL’s Taylor-Swift connection: Bobby Taylor and Bob Swift were teammates with the Toronto Argonauts from 1966 to 1970.
- And there’s this: Swift and Willie Taylor were teammates with the B.C. Lions in 1964 and 1965.
- Swift’s final CFL season (his 14th) was spent with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1977. In a very kind act of charity, the Blue Bombers released receiver Joey Walters — like Swift, a product of the Clemson Tigers football program — in August of that year. He was promptly claimed by the Roughriders, on whose behalf he amassed receiving-yardage totals of 1,715 (a Club record, set in 1981) and 1,692 (1982).
- Bob Swift once worked at Taylor Field. He was an assistant coach with the Roughriders in 1983 and 1984.
- Yeah, that last one is a reeeeeeaaaaaaaacccccchhhh. Please accept my profuse, insincere apologies.
ROLL CREDITS …
- Nice people who deserve a plug: Troy Casper, Michelle Bruton, Scott King, Nelson Lokombo, Andy Fantuz, Cleveland Vann, Steve Mazurak, Alan Ford, Wes Cates, Terri Harris-Strunk, Jake Wieneke, Don Hewitt, Barry Clarke, Dave Pettigrew, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Paterson, Michael Remis, Bill Kinash, Ernie Richardson, Trent Fraser, Tony Playter, Dick White, George Watson, Keith Rever, Marianne Rever, Erin Stankewich, Bryann Seib, Matthew Gourlie, Vickie Krauss, Lorne Lasuita, Ted Jaleta, Angie Reed, Gavin Nash, Lori Nash, Darcy Dahlem, Murray Mandryk, Dr. Tom Robinson, Dr. Mark Anderson, Jim Hopson, Shirley Prokop, Rob Carnie, Carly Rathwell, Paul Gareau, Brenden Purdy, Thomas Piller, Kelsey Brazill and Foster Monson.