ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Paul Kariya has pulled on an Anaheim Ducks jersey again to show his support for their playoff run.
Kariya has rarely been around hockey since the high-scoring forward’s remarkable playing career ended due to a series of concussions. He surprisingly appeared in a promotional video for the Ducks on Thursday, shortly after they advanced to the Western Conference finals.
In the wordless video, Kariya joins with Orange County resident Kai Quinonez to paint an orange “X” over a “9” in the Honda Center rafters. The numerals symbolize the 16 victories necessary to win the Stanley Cup.
The Ducks have been eager to welcome Kariya back to the franchise in some capacity for several years, but the Southern California resident has kept a distance from hockey since his last game in 2010.
Kariya was the Mighty Ducks’ first major star during nine high-scoring seasons with the club, teaming with Teemu Selanne as one of the NHL’s most exciting tandems. Kariya is still among the most beloved players in Ducks franchise history, with his No. 9 jersey popping up regularly at Honda Center.
After playing for Anaheim in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, Kariya left as a free agent and was occasionally booed when he returned to Orange County. He played for Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis before retiring with 989 career points in 989 games.
Post-concussion syndrome ended the 42-year-old Kariya’s career prematurely. He has told Selanne and other friends that he is still upset about the NHL’s handling of head injuries during his time in the game.
Although Kariya didn’t even attend Selanne’s jersey retirement ceremony in 2015, he has played various roles in other charity endeavors for the Ducks – although nothing as prominent as this video.
Quinonez first got to skate with the Ducks as a 13-year-old in 2015 through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He now plays on a team in the Ducks’ high school hockey league.