Cam Tucker

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 03:  Kevin Bieksa #2 of the Anaheim Ducks sits in the penalty box during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Coyotes 5-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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


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.

Decision to hire Randy Carlyle will reflect poorly on Bob Murray if Ducks regress

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
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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 ifthe Ducks regress under the same coach he fired and then re-hired five years later.

Scrivens: McLellan is moving Oilers ‘in the right direction’

Todd McLellan
AP Photo

The Edmonton Oilers may have finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last season, missing out on the playoffs once again and getting another early first-round draft pick.

But former Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens, speaking in an interview on a wide range of topics, from U.S. politics to adjusting to life in the KHL, with Igor Erenko of Sport-Express and translated for Postmedia, seems to believe that organization is taking positive steps under veteran head coach Todd McLellan.

Scrivens, who turns 30 years old next month, played 78 games in goal for the Oilers before he was eventually traded to Montreal last December. He posted a .916 save percentage in 21 games for Edmonton in the 2013-14 campaign, but saw that number dip to .890 the following season.

Despite accumulating top draft picks — highly skilled forwards for the most part — the result of losing season after losing season, the Oilers have been unable to make any real progress toward becoming a contender in the West.

“We didn’t have a good enough team, it didn’t have sufficient structure, but that’s been getting better. And the last unsuccessful season notwithstanding, I think that Todd McLellan is moving in the right direction. In any case, I was happy to be a part of Edmonton, to be in my home town,” said Scrivens, who signed last month with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.

“A lot of first picks overall helps only when they play for the team, and play well. That, obviously, wasn’t happening in Edmonton. That’s a coach’s job to force the team to be responsible. But management must show support, showing the players that they wouldn’t be picking him apart just so. When the players don’t play well, you can hardly change anything.”

He also praised maligned forward Nail Yakupov for how hard he works, but added Yakupov needs the “right coach” to help him develop his game.

McLellan wrapped up his first season with the Oilers, who posted a 31-43-8 record.

Further to what Scrivens said about structure, or a lack of, McLellan began demanding more of it last preseason after a loss to Vancouver that featured some particularly bad defensive breakdowns. The coach then cautioned everyone that the necessary improvements would take time.

Improvements to the roster were also necessary. The Oilers needed a defenseman. A good defenseman.

This summer, the Oilers and GM Peter Chiarelli decided to act, acquiring blue liner Adam Larsson from New Jersey in exchange for Taylor Hall, a dynamic offensive talent. That’s a hefty price, but one the Oilers coach believed his organization needed to pay.

It’s Anaheim Ducks day at PHT

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 27:  Ryan Getzlaf #15  is tapped by Jamie McGinn #88 of the Anaheim Ducks after losing to the Nashville Predators 2-1 in Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center on April 27, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks had a slow start to the 2015-16 regular season, before finally finding stride and claiming first place in the Pacific Division.

But thoughts of a long playoff run, perhaps even a Stanley Cup, were suddenly dashed in the first round, as the Nashville Predators provided an upset with a seven-game series win. Another season ended in disappointment for the Ducks. And that ushered in major change for that franchise, particularly behind the bench.

Bruce Boudreau was fired (and soon hired in Minnesota), while core players were sent a stern message from general manager Bob Murray following the shake-up. Boudreau’s replacement in Anaheim? Randy Carlyle, who won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 but had so many struggles in Toronto before he eventually lost his job there.

That wasn’t the only major change.

Faced with a goaltending situation that needed to be resolved, Anaheim traded Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a first-round pick — the 30th overall pick — in this year’s draft and a second-round pick next year.

That move clearly paved the way for John Gibson to take over the true No. 1 goaltending duties in Anaheim going forward.

It then became a priority to bring an experienced back-up goalie into the mix, and so the Ducks acquired Jonathan Bernier from Toronto.

The Anaheim Ducks have been a formidable team in the regular season, but since 2007, they haven’t been able to take that next step toward a championship. With a different coach and Gibson as their No. 1 goalie, can the Ducks change that next season?

Coach and VP of hockey operations? Too much, too soon for Patrick Roy

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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This is part of Colorado Avalanche day at PHT…

Well, at least Patrick Roy’s tenure with the Colorado Avalanche can never be described as boring.

Given his fiery nature and unorthodox decisions made behind the bench — pulling the goalie for an extra attacker well before the typical or conventional time in the final minute to a minute-and-a-half range, as an example — his sudden resignation as Avalanche head coach and vice president of hockey operations earlier this month may seem, in a weird way, like an appropriately dramatic end to this latest chapter in his career.

(Remember how his time in Montreal ended??)

The hiring of Roy to the head coach’s position brought back one of the beloved characters and contributors to Avalanche Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001. But he was also handed the aforementioned VP title, and the subsequent input in hockey decisions that comes with it, right away.

That title was reportedly critical to getting Roy to agree to become the new coach in Colorado. Despite the fact he was 10 years removed from playing the NHL game at the time of his hiring and had no previous coaching experience in the NHL.

From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN at the time of the hiring:

Because you had better believe Roy never would have agreed to join the club without a guarantee that he will have a say in the makeup of the team. He will have a say in any future trades or signings.

But it was apparent that by the end, there was a disconnect between Roy and general manager Joe Sakic when it came to hockey decisions with the club — including at the 2016 NHL Draft, as per Mike Chambers of the Denver Post — and Roy’s statement when the big news broke confirmed as much.

“He must also have a say in the decisions that impact the team’s performance. These conditions are not currently met,” said Roy of his role in the statement.

Roy came back to the Avalanche with eight years experience as GM and head coach with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. He had plenty of regular season success there and won a Memorial Cup. He had regular season success in his first season in Colorado, but the team fell in the playoffs and has since regressed drastically in the Western Conference.

Much like a player moving from junior into the professional game, the transition for a coach to the NHL is a difficult one and may take years, or time spent working on the craft in the minor leagues.

Roy is one of the greatest goalies to ever play hockey. And he may, some day, find himself back behind the bench with another NHL franchise. But, as a coach in the NHL, he’s had one playoff season, propped up by the combination of his team’s great shooting percentage and strong save percentage.

You can certainly argue that the VP title — and responsibilities and any clout that come with it — in addition to his coaching duties without having previously coached a game in the NHL falls under the category of ‘Too Much, Too Soon.’ And you can argue that both sides were to blame for it being this way. It’s added responsibility that could’ve perhaps been bestowed upon Roy at a future point in time — after he established himself as an NHL coach.

Related: Poll: Who should replace Patrick Roy as Avalanche coach?