This is part of Anaheim Ducks day at PHT…
After firing coach Bruce Boudreau, general manager Bob Murray directed his ire of another Game 7 playoff disappointment toward the players, including the Ducks’ core group.
Following a first-round defeat to Nashville, the Ducks let go of a good coach that just so happened to be scooped up by the Minnesota Wild just eight days after his tenure in Anaheim was terminated.
“There’s definite concerns in that area, and I think the core has to be held responsible, and they have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time,” said Murray at the time of Boudreau’s dismissal.
Corey Perry, with an eight-year deal worth an AAV of $8.625 million, had no goals, four assists and a minus-seven rating in seven games versus the Predators.
Following the news of Boudreau’s firing, Perry accepted the blame. As did players like Andrew Cogliano.
“We haven’t done the job at the right times, and when it really counts. I’m not sure what the factors are. This isn’t on Bruce,” said Cogliano, as per the Ducks website.
The Ducks’ 10-year anniversary of their Stanley Cup title is next year. Randy Carlyle was the coach back then and he’s the coach in Anaheim once again.
Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are both now 31 years old and supremely talented players. But outside of Olympic gold or world championships for Canada, it has been a while since they’ve won an NHL championship. Instead, losses in do-or-die Game 7s have recently become the norm.
Ryan Kesler, also 31 years old, was brought in via trade in June of 2014, giving the Ducks a player who used to be in the conversation as the best two-way center in hockey. He’s still a strong two-way center.
This is also a team with a group of talented young players (although restricted free agents Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm remain unsigned for right now). The Pacific Division is still very much within this team’s grasp in the regular season and same goes for the Western Conference in the playoffs.
But regular season success from this group hasn’t been able to translate into the playoffs.
The core certainly heard about it at the beginning of this off-season, as Murray strongly suggested a tough-love approach was coming. Perhaps they deserved to be told. And if the Ducks do break through in the playoffs next year, it’s easy to see Murray’s comments evolving into a narrative — a pivotal moment, or course of action, in motivating his players.
As for Murray, locked into a contract through 2020, he has now resided over the firing of two coaches since becoming the GM in 2008.
Carlyle is certainly under pressure to deliver a winner. It’s believed veteran players in Anaheim endorsed Carlyle during the hiring process, so there is that to consider, as well. But it won’t reflect well on Murray if — and we stress if — the Ducks regress under the same coach he fired and then re-hired five years later.