Anaheim Ducks rant week continues as Chris Bushell dives into why he, and Ducks Nation, need to take a step back and look at the big picture.
I want to start this off by saying you have every right as an Anaheim Ducks fan to be upset. Upset at the front office, upset at the team, upset at how thing were handled, etc., and when this miserable season came to an end last week it was easy to just continue to vent and let it all out. But that is the short sided reaction.
The core of this team has achieved something for the Ducks franchise, they have forever elevated it. They have brought the team from a “cute Mickey Mouse” product to a playoff team and Stanley Cup contender. Making the playoffs for the team and the fan base is no longer good enough.
We aren’t excited just to be there, we want to do damage and look to win the whole thing. Like it or not that wasn’t going to happen this year. While some of the moves GM Bob Murray made, especially with regards to the coaching and over last summer, were head scratching he may just come out of this thing looking like a complete genius. He won’t and shouldn’t be given credit, that should fall with his amateur scouting staff but he could come out looking incredible based on how next season and the following ones unfold.
Madness not Method Could Lead to Something Special
Roughly a year ago, when the Ducks were swept out of the playoffs and quite frankly looked like boys against men, we were all promised things would change. We were promised a long look at the roster, a new scheme and game plan and a renewed confidence to getting back to Stanley Cup contention. However, as the season began it was the same coaching staff, roughly the same roster, and the same tired scheme that proved it no longer would work in the NHL. Despite the initial few wins to start the season, everyone knew it wasn’t sustainable and it broke, and broke bad.
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The odd moves Murray made in the off-season failed to do anything substantial and the likes of Andrej Sustr, Ben Street, Luke Schenn, and Brian Gibbons were either sent down or played little to no role. Corey Perry was hurt and not coming back until almost seasons end, Ryan Kesler was continuing to deal with his ailing hip, and Patrick Eaves battled the post viral issue that kept him out all of last season. There wasn’t much of anything to like about the season or the roster construction.
On top of this, the Ducklings, who most thought would start the changing of the guard, didn’t deliver to start. And because of it, Sam Steel and Troy Terry were sent down to SD while Max Comtois went back to his junior team. The Ducks went into a freefall the likes many of us had never seen and the coaching staff, players, and fans had no clue how to handle it or end it. But from it came some of the best things the franchise could have asked for.
Randy Carlye was finally fired and the search for a new coach with an updated scheme and new message will be brought in. Murray made shrewd in-season moves acquiring great young pieces in sniper Daniel Sprong and young up and coming D-man, Brandon Guhle. The kids returned from SD after gaining key playing time and confidence and Terry, Steel and Max Jones truly have the future of this team looking bright.
Throw in the fact the Ducks could have a top 10 pick and will have 2 picks in the top 25 of this year’s draft. The Ducks are trimming the fat off this roster this summer as none of the current UFA’s are players that need to be retained, and their best players are locked up long term. It wasn’t the plan back in September but there is the case to be made the Ducks are in a better position now following this miserable season then they were a year ago.
Relax and Enjoy this Summer
There is no denying this will be a long, long summer for us Ducks fans. There should never be a celebration following a season like they just had with the culmination of missing the playoffs. But this should be a wake-up call to the organization of how things need to be done and a reminder of what this feels like and to never want it to happen again. The likes of Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique should see the window is closing on their time to capture a Cup and be putting the work in to hit the ground running next season. The second wave of Jakob Silfverberg, Ondrej Kase, Daniel Sprong, and Rickard Rakell should see they need to take the reins and help the veterans get there. The kids got to see how you need to play in the NHL and should give this team a youth, speed, and skill factor they have not had in quite some time.
If this is the end for Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves it will no doubt be a sad day. Both are incredible people and incredible players and the reason I said people first is because that is what is most important. When you have played all your life and hockey is part of your identity it isn’t easy to walk away. But these are two guys with long lives ahead of them, with wives and families they care for. Their quality of life comes first.
Through all of that, the Ducks may need to realize they need to move forward without them and use that cap money to bring in added star power to make a run for that elusive second Cup. It isn’t easy to get there but this roster should be even more focused, hungry, and determined next season and I truly believe they are going to be a very good and fun team next season.
There has been a sort of cloud hovering above Honda Center for a year and a half now. But it seems the winds of change are coming and not a moment too soon for the Ducks and their fans. So, it’s perfectly reasonable to be mad and upset at how things went this season, because there truly were some dark times. But when you look at the big picture you can see the Ducks are in a much better spot for going throw this corkscrew of a year, and somehow someway it may truly have been what they needed to return to contender status.