The Anaheim Ducks and Their Self-Defeating Game

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

The Anaheim Ducks are plainly and simply the biggest self-defeating team in the NHL over the past two seasons. But what does that mean?

A reoccurring problem for the Anaheim Ducks is their lack of drive or spirit to come from behind. Over the course of the past two seasons, they have made a bad habit of putting their foot on the breaks at a green light if things don’t go their way. To put it simply, they just stop playing. Is there a specific reason behind this? Can it be fixed? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons this team has fallen into such a disheartening pattern.

Before the 2018-2019 season, the Anaheim Ducks were behind some of the league’s most miraculous comebacks. Their bending, yet unbreaking attitudes, won them games that they didn’t deserve to necessarily win.

Just look at the Comeback on Katella. They played horribly throughout that game. Yet, they were still playing hard enough to at least have a shot at tying it up late. Now? They’re just going to sit on their thumbs and sob to themselves against any team that scores more than three goals against them. It all starts with attitude, and that’s become very sour in Anaheim.

Starting with Carlye and Continuing with Eakins

It’s become clear over the past few months that Randy Carlye wasn’t the greatest coach to deal with in the locker room, and that ended with an incredibly toxic lockerroom situation. That would sour any team’s attitude, but it’s to the point where it doesn’t feel like it could be fixed until most of the veterans are gone.

Even with new head coach Dallas Eakins behind the bench, the team is still playing down to opponents and giving up easily. To see certain seasoned skaters sitting on the bench with long faces after a two-goal deficit is pathetic, and that isn’t helping to make a good environment for the younger players.

If the younger players come to play, and the veterans are holding them back, that’s a severe problem for the entire team. That’s the kind of problem that gets a team some very high draft picks, and at this point, the Anaheim Ducks bench on a nightly basis look like they are aching for some new talent to replace some of the lazier vets. And that’s more-so the problem than the coaching. It’s the players that get away with being complacent. Eakins can’t make skaters play if they don’t want to.

Lack of Passion

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Back in the midst of the Pacific Division Championship run for the Anaheim Ducks, every game felt like it mattered. Even if the Ducks were out of a game early, they were still skating like it was a 0-0 tie. Over the past two seasons, that’s just been thrown out the window completely.

2017-2018 was the regression year that saw the Ducks still attempting to do their best, but 2018-2019 just killed everything the team worked for. That’s one of the most specific reasons behind the self-defeating attitude.

It feels like the passion to win is just gone, there’s no drive to even try now that the team is looked at as a rebuilding team. It would be silly to expect the Ducks to win a championship, but to expect the team to get out on the ice every night and compete isn’t.

If the players aren’t in it, the coach won’t stay connected with them for long, and then the management gets short-tempered and that’s when the Ducks go from a division championship team to a team that finishes below .500 every year. The real question here is still whether the blame lies solely on Carlyle’s toxicity or not, and it doesn’t. He was a big part of it, but any fan can thank General Manager Bob Murray for throwing gasoline on the dumpster fire. Murray is the other specific reason behind all this self-defeat.

Big Bad Bob Murray

The breaking point for that eighty point 2018-2019 Ducks team was the Andrew Cogliano trade on January 14th. To just up and trade that kind of player is a massive slap in the face to every player in the organization, and it’s embarrassing. To follow it up, Murray made three trades in the next two days. For anyone that remembers those few days, it was an extremely intense time for the players. Murray made the message clear that he was unhappy with his players, and he was going to do whatever he thought was right.

In doing so, Bob Murray was just incredibly wrong. What he failed to grasp was that it wasn’t necessarily the players that were at fault. His very good friend in Carlyle wasn’t instilling anything into the team that would help them, so they were just left to dry while the head coach was in his own daydreams. It got to a point where players supposedly had to tell Carlyle what to do because he just didn’t care enough anymore to do anything on his own.

Despite all that info getting out, what was Murray’s response? To blame the players of course. He went on record saying:

"“At this time, I am not considering a coaching change. I am more focused on our players, specifically with who is going to step up in this situation.”"

That quote was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. After that, the Ducks won two games before officially checking out for the season and losing another seven in a row. For a human being to actually believe that making such a statement would help anything is laughable, and it’s just the greatest blunder in a long list of blunders for Anaheim’s below-average general manager.

Can this Attitude be Fixed?

Trying to fix the mess that this Anaheim Ducks organization got themselves into isn’t really an easy task. It runs from the top right down to the bottom, and besides the newer skaters and Dallas Eakins, everyone that was around for the 2018-2019 season will never be the same.

The players can’t really be blamed, how could anyone want to play under a General Manager that blames the wrong people and uses trading as a threat to play better? Their passion is gone from bad coaching and an atrocious head office. If owner Henry Samueli was attentive enough to actually get rid of Murray, that would be one solution for the self-defeat that lives within the team. Another would be to just aim for youth and let the veterans ride off into the sunset. Unless they find their luster with the team and the organization again, it’s hard to see any of them playing to the best of their abilities for the entirety of every season.

It’s hard to see things getting better before they get much worse thanks to an organization that lends its lack of care to the players. Bob Murray destroyed any drive to actually compete night in and night out, and the Anaheim Ducks are going to rely on early leads to carry all their victories. Anything outside of that is going to be a guaranteed loss nine times out of ten. Here’s to hoping that the Samuelis start paying attention real soon.

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