Greg Johnson analyzes Duc..."/> Greg Johnson analyzes Duc..."/> Greg Johnson analyzes Duc..."/>

What’s Up with Ducks GM Bob Murray at the NHL Trade Deadline?

SUNRISE, FL- GAnaheim Duckseneral Manager Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks.
SUNRISE, FL- GAnaheim Duckseneral Manager Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks. /

Pucks of a Feather Contributor Greg Johnson analyzes Ducks GM Bob Murray’s critical comments about the team and subsequent Fallout.

What is it like in the locker room when your general manager says your team, “…basically s**t the bed in the big games?” Most of us will never know. You might have missed this Valentine’s Day interview Ducks GM Bob Murray did with Craig Custance in The Athletic. The real question for Ducks fans is; has Murray completely lost it, or is he a great GM?

The Challenge by Bob Murray

Bob Murray has plenty of detractors within the Anaheim fan base.  Many want to win now. But Murray is a patient man, not a wild gambler. If he doesn’t like his odds, he’ll walk away from the table. That makes some fans do their best impressions of Edvard Munch’s masterpiece painting The Scream.

Over time, some fans have finally grown comfortable with Bargain Bob’s extreme patience. He doesn’t spend a lot of time with the media. His mentor, Brian Burke was much more accessible to media and fans. But when Bob Murray speaks, we have to know there’s a purpose. And we should pay close attention, just as his players should.

The question swirling around the Ducks is: will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?  Murray is wondering the same thing.

Last week, after a brutal road loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Murray hit his team with the bluntness of a sledge hammer. “So far when it’s come to real, critical big games — we’ve basically s**t the bed in the big games. Right now I sit and watch. I’m not really talking to anybody, not really doing anything.”

Ouch!  We don’t really know how the team felt after that threat. All we can do is see if Bob achieved what he was looking to get. So how did it go?

The Response by the Ducks

The day after Murray’s call to action was published, the Ducks were down 2-0 midway through the game at Chicago. They squeaked out a win when Adam Henrique slipped a one-touch backhander over Corey Crawford’s shoulder midway through the third period on a sweet feed from Ondrej Kase.

Two days later in Minnesota, the Ducks again found themselves down in the third period. A goal by Kase and a protracted 11-round shootout later, the Ducks escaped with a win and two more points.

Then the switch was tripped within the team. In Vegas on Monday, the Ducks did what only one other team had done all season. They shut out the league-leading Golden Knights at home. In fact, the Knights had only been beaten four times in regulation at home in 28 games. The Ducks played what was possibly their most complete game of the season.  That was a game that saw starting goalie John Gibson leave the game after two periods with yet another lower body injury.

The Dallas Stars were the only other team who had shut the Knights out at home this season. Finally at home again, Anaheim took the Honda Center ice against Dallas Wednesday night still desperately needing points to stay in the playoff hunt. It’s hard to call this victory dominant. The Ducks gave up 41 shots on goal. But Anaheim definitely looks like they are playing a tight, tough game now. The Ducks scored an early power-play goal. Then they killed three straight 5-on-3 advantages for the Stars early in the third period. In between the last two two-man disadvantages, Captain Ryan Getzlaf scored a shorthanded goal that made Honda Center fans celebrate like they did in Game 5 of the second round last season.

What About Bob?

Bob Murray got exactly what he was looking for just last week. Since his, “…s**t the bed…” challenge, the Ducks are 4-0, and they are making a good run at a playoff spot. The team is playing with an intensity not seen earlier in the season. The boys definitely want some help at the trade deadline.

Time will tell what kind of help the Ducks get before Monday’s noon trade deadline. Murray has a history of making minor deals or straight-up hockey trades this time of the year.  Last year was an exception when he traded what became the Ducks first round pick for Patrick Eaves. Many Ducks fans are hoping for a big splash trade target, such as Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. That type of trade for a rental player is unusual for Murray. He’s not a fan of making big moves at the deadline because he feels teams overpay at that point in the season. He got that philosophy from former Ducks GM Brian Burke. Long-time Ducks fans are expecting a lower-level deal or a straight hockey trade. But the Ducks look to be buyers, especially if they can cap this recent run with weekend wins over bottom feeders in Arizona and at home against Edmonton.

What About the Fans?

So has Bob Murray completely lost it, or is he a great GM? I guess that depends on what you want as a fan. If you want to go all in this season, Murray is probably not your favorite GM. But he’s your guy if you want to root for a team that is a contender year after year. He’s your man if you want to see playoff hockey with your own eyes year after year. Murray is a great GM if you want to win more than one playoff game over the past three seasons.  (Sorry Kings fans.)

If you’re a Ducks fan, sit back and enjoy the brilliant patience of your general manager. He believes in keeping his team competitive. Murray knows he has to build through the draft. Bargain Bob is convinced he needs to develop that talent through his own minor league system. He’s the one who will keep building his team to compete year after year. Murray is the guy who has built the team that has appeared in two of the last three Conference Finals. Bob Murray is the man you really want running your team.