Anaheim Ducks rightfully retire and raise Paul Kariya's No. 9 to the rafters

Paul Kariya was honoured by the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Paul Kariya was honoured by the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Sunday night was Paul Kariya’s night in Anaheim, California.

The (Mighty) Ducks legend was honoured by the team he spent nine NHL seasons with prior to Anaheim’s clash against the Sabres, with his No. 9 being raised to the rafters and retired during a touching pre-game ceremony.

Kariya was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 alongside his longtime teammate Teemu Selanne, who was on hand to introduce his old buddy before cracking a joke in reference to Kariya’s absence and distance from the sport of hockey since his retirement.

Many more of Kariya’s former teammates were in attendance to honour the Ducks’ first-ever draft pick, and current players paid their respects to the Anaheim folk hero by rocking his name and numbers (along with those delicious throwback threads), during warmup.

Ducks goaltender John Gibson got in on the action, too, as he rocked a tribute to Kariya on the right side of his bucket — which was auctioned off after the game.

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To say Kariya was humbled by the honour would be a bit of an understatement.

“I would never say or think that I’m deserving of any recognition, certainly not something of this magnitude.

“I’m very proud of my career and what I’ve accomplished, and what I’ve accomplished in the game, but something like this is out of the realm of what I deserved as a player. I guess you can say I was outvoted,” he said.

The fourth overall pick in 1993 retired from the NHL in 2010 after an illustrious 989-point (402 goals, 587 assists) career with the Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. He posted 669 points in 606 contests with the Ducks over nine seasons, was a five-time All-Star, and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada at the 2002 Winter Games.

Kariya joins his pal Selanne as the only two Ducks players to have their jerseys retired.

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