It cannot be easy to follow Brian Burke, even if you’re not just talking about amusing facial expressions and often outspoken moments with the press. Yet that was the task at hand for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who took over for Burke when the American GM left the Ducks for a be-careful-what-you-wish-for dream job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Ducks apparently like what they’re seeing so far from “Bar Stool Bob” as the team handed him a four-year extension today. This adds onto his current contract, which was set to expire after the 2011-12 season. (You can watch video of his reactions here.)
Ducks fans seem to have mixed feelings about Murray (a slight majority voted that the team made a bad choice by extending his contract in a poll at the OC Register), but that might stem largely from decisions he was forced to make because the team has a tight budget.
Murray had some bad luck (Scott Niedermayer’s retirement) and made some tough decisions (most notably trading Chris Pronger because the team didn’t want to give him a long-term extension), but the team’s future is still pretty bright. They have a young, talented core in Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry on offense and some promising pieces in goalie Jonas Hiller (if he can deal with his disconcerting health issues) and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler. He didn’t call the shots on every move that set up their impressive nucleus, but he navigated a trying negotiation process with Ryan and scored a steal when he drafted Fowler in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The key will be to surround those players with competent players. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne have shown that they can still contribute at times, but it’s obvious that the team needs to improve the team’s supporting cast or at least make it younger.
Overall, Murray is making the best of a challenging situation in Anaheim. He might not always make flashy or “easy” decisions, but it looks like the Ducks are in good hands going forward.