I guess there is something to be said about businesses that work around the clock. In a Jim Irsay like fashion, the Anaheim Ducks made changes that would shake the franchise overnight. Rather than picking the team up and moving, it was announced late last night that head coach Randy Carlyle was relieved of his duties. But the most shocking part of the announcement came when in the same breath team President and General Manager Bob Murray announced the replacement for Carlyle: recently fired Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. In addition to Carlyle receiving a pink slip, assistant coaches Dave Farrish and Joe Trotta were also let go, paving the way for Boudreau to assemble a staff of his choosing. Brad Lauer, a coach for the Ducks AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch, has already been named as one of the replacement assistant coaches. The team states that the other assistant role will be filled at a later date.
While it is no surprise that Boudreau would find another coaching job, it shocks us all that his career turnaround would only take four days. He inherits an underperforming Ducks team that currently sits at the bottom of the Pacific Division with a dismal 7-13-4 record and 10 points out of the 8th spot in the Western Conference. Before winning their game against the Canadiens last night, they were in a seven game losing streak. Their franchise goalie was struggling with a .889 save percentage, the defense was soft, and the offense only had an average of 2.21 goals per game – which ranked them second to last in the league. Something had to change. Earlier in the week, the rumors began to swirl as to what kind of change would come.
Murray had a dilemma on his hands. His main two options to shake the team from their slide were either to fire the head coach or make roster moves with a big trade. The team’s most promising young forward, Bobby Ryan, was the center of all the trade rumors. The 24-year-old scorer seemed to be the one piece that would net the most return. Sending Ryan out would most likely fetch a young defenseman, an NHL ready forward, and a high draft pick in the 2012 draft. As soon as other franchises new Ryan was potentially on the trading block, the furry escalated. The New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs were amongst many teams trying to add the 30-goal scorer to their lineup. In the end, however, Murray felt that the correct move was to get rid of the head coach, saving the Ducks most prized forward for another day. With the exit of Carlyle, it is unlikely that Ryan will be moved. The team was quick to thank Randy for his time with the team, as per the Ducks website:
This was an extremely difficult decision,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “Randy is a terrific head coach, and did a tremendous job for us for six-plus seasons. We thank him greatly for his hard work and dedication to our franchise, not the least of which was a Stanley Cup championship. At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed. Bruce is a proven winner with a great track record, and we are optimistic we can turn this season around under his leadership.
The Ducks can and should expect a positive change moving forward. All hagen dazs and buffalo sauce jokes aside, Boudreau has a history of winning. After being named the Capitals coach in November of 2007, he went on to lead the team to a Southeast Division title in that same season and took home the Jack Adams award. Since then, the Capitals have been a regular season winning machine. And while Boudreau has had issues in getting his team deep in the playoffs, a change could be what the doctor ordered. He is a coach that absolutely loves the game hockey and will be part of the new dedication that the Ducks need. He is known for “keeping it real” and using quite a few choice words when needed. Murray hopes that his decisions will lead the team back into the playoff hunt where the Ducks have mostly been a contender in recent history, winning the team’s only championship in 2007. If we can learn anything leading up to this coaching change, expect Anaheim to be in the playoffs come April 2012.