Bieksa willing to play ‘whatever role it takes’ to get Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Final

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All day long, PHT has been discussing — and asking — whether the Anaheim Ducks, after another playoff disappointment and the hiring of coach Randy Carlyle, can transform from a strong regular season team into a Stanley Cup finalist.

Kevin Bieksa, at the age of 35, would sure like to see that come to fruition.

After coming one win shy of hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, Bieksa has since moved to Anaheim in a trade and now enters his second season for a team that has a strong enough roster to make the playoffs. But the Ducks haven’t been able to take that next step since winning it all in 2007.

After an injury late in the regular season, Bieksa recently expressed to Steve Ewen of The Province newspaper a sense of optimism about how he feels, physically, at his age and with some hard miles — he’s never played an entire 82-game season — since entering the league in 2005.

Age and health may be the two biggest question marks when it comes to Bieksa, the oldest defender with the Ducks, a team that has a strong group of young defensemen, like Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler.

So close in 2011, he doesn’t have many chances to get back.

“Who knows? If we had won a Stanley Cup back in 2011, maybe my perspective would have changed. I’m at the point in my career where I really want to win a Stanley Cup and I’ve wanted to win one for 30 years and I’ve dreamed about it for 30 years and I’ve been as close you can get,” Bieksa told The Province newspaper in Vancouver.

“I’m going to keep playing for that. I’ll take whatever role it takes to help my team get there.”

Last season, his first in Anaheim, Bieksa had decent puck possession numbers — 50.8 per cent Corsi For at even strength — while playing 21 minutes a night, including penalty kill and power play. But at five-on-five, he was on the ice for 2.31 goals-against per 60 minutes, compared to 1.75 goals-for per 60 minutes.

He struggled, particularly early in the season when the entire Ducks team was still working things out following a slow start.

His two-year contract extension, worth $4 million a season, kicks in for the 2016-17 campaign.