Bob Murray

Ducks GM Bob Murray gets extension through 2020


Bob Murray has been the Anaheim Ducks’ general manager since 2008 and with the team swinging upwards, there’s no plan to change course now. Consequently, the Ducks announced that they have signed Murray to a four-year contract extension that will take him through 2020.

Murray worked under former Ducks GM Brian Burke when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2007. The Ducks haven’t gotten past the second round since then, but they have made the playoffs in four of Murray’s six campaigns, despite the budget limitations he’s faced.

Under his watch, the team has undergone a youth movement that they’re started to reap the rewards of. Defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, who played significant roles in the 2013-14 campaign, are two early examples of that, but there’s still have a lot of talent coming. They have the second best farm system by Hockey’s Future’s estimation, even after factoring out several “graduated” players like Fowler, Lindholm, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Emerson Etem.

One of their most promising prospects, goaltender John Gibson, might play a big role next season. The Ducks turned to him during the second round of the playoffs despite his lack of NHL experience and while he was far from perfect, he also showed a lot of promise. Then again, the Ducks might go with a more experienced option in 2014-15 to give Gibson additional time to develop.

Either way, the next task for the Ducks will be getting past the second round and moving on from the Teemu Selanne era. Although Selanne’s role was limited this season, the 43-year-old forward has been a fixture of this team for many years. His presence and leadership will be missed.

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks