In this choose your own adventure scenario, Benny gives his first interview as the Anaheim Ducks new bench boss.
The bluf for this little piece was that our editor asked us to write a Duck-centric “choose your own adventure” styled article, where we would choose what road the Anaheim Ducks would travel down on the opening night if we were the head coach. Naturally, all coaches have their own personalities, and as a real-life coach, I’ve chosen to portray one that is almost probably nothing like myself. Despite the sass, however, I have tried to include my very real thoughts on the direction the Ducks could maybe consider taking this coming season.
Setting the Stage
The stage is set with super-reporter Ciara Durant, of Pucks of a Feather fame, sitting across from the Anaheim Ducks new head coach Sir Benny of Lava Jr. Like many interviews, it begins with the sipping of fine cognac and the smoking of thick Cuban cigars. Yet, as the day turns into night, Ms. Durant decides that it’s time to commence the interview properly and discuss the hard-hitting topics that her many fans would be dying to hear about.
Ms. Ciara Durant (CD): Sir Lava, you’ve been named the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks seemingly out of the blue. We’ve not yet had a chance to discuss your thoughts on the team situation you’ve walked into and what you might hope to achieve over your tenure.
Sir Benny of Lava Jr (BL): Please just call me Benny. Sir Lava was my father’s name.
New Intern, Garett Brown, taking notes, makes vomit noises in the background.
BL: Ignores the intern. You’re right. However, the call for the Anaheim Ducks job came somewhat out of the blue to me. They’d seemingly put a lot of stock in Dallas Eakins, bringing him up through the farm system and backing him in for this coming year. I can’t really allude to what may have caused the split in such a short period of time between the draft process and the beginning of the pre-season.
Nonetheless, the interview calls came out, and knowing how much stock the Anaheim Ducks management have in their coaches knowing the names of their players, I put a lot of time into studying up on those things. I certainly tried to forget anything I knew about actual hockey tactics, as I certainly didn’t want to accidentally sound like I knew what a hockey puck was in the interview.
Yet, some habits die hard and I may have mentioned a few things. This is a hockey club that hired Bruce Boudreau for a few years, so they don’t entirely abhor hockey knowledge, and I guess things just fell into place from there.
CD: So now that you’re locked in place for this coming season, do you have any thoughts on Bob Murray‘s comments regarding them becoming a playoff team this season?
BL: To be frank Ciara, I think they’ll have a tough time of it. The proposed changes to the Pacific Division look to lump the Anaheim Ducks in with some really good teams like the Avalanche and Golden Knights. It’s certainly not an insurmountable task and it’s one we’ll be aiming for like the team would be every year. We just have to be wary of succumbing to that self-imposed pressure and maybe trying to do too much.
CD: Sorry Benny, what do you mean by trying to do too much?
BL: Ah, well I think the Anaheim Ducks have some really good younger players that we should be wary of pushing into the senior team too early. I had to read up on the Ducks’ prospects a little when I was learning all of their names and it seems like players such as Trevor Zegras are going to have a lot of hype about them. Whether those young players are worthy of that hype will all become apparent down the track, but for now, I think we need to be aware that these young players are the future backbone of the team.
What they could achieve over ten or fifteen years shouldn’t be impacted on what the Anaheim Ducks need this coming season. For instance, is Trevor going to come into this team right now and be a 70 point player dominating among the top 6 forwards? If he isn’t but we think he could be that player down the track, we may be better off ensuring he gets the right amount of game time down in San Diego. It’s incredibly difficult to work on your game in the pro leagues, as it becomes very much a “win now” proposition. Whereas the development leagues are for exactly that. Development.
Circumstances change and maybe as the year goes on Trevor or his peers become ripe for the picking and they are genuinely ready to take on those roles with the Anaheim Ducks. I just think we should be careful exposing them to that level, maybe before they’re ready.
CD: Speaking of the younger players, are there any that you’ve got your eye on for roles with the Anaheim Ducks this season?
BL: The short answer to this is no. Of course training camp can always through up some surprises, however, I think we need to keep in mind that many of the players the Ducks have brought into the team over the past few seasons are still in their early 20’s. Bob Murray hasn’t traded them away yet, and that shows that he still believes they have more to offer. It’s my hope that we can get an extra level out of some of these players.
Of course, there are always surprises, and we’ve seen a number of young players jump straight into the NHL directly after the draft over the past few years and more. I don’t necessarily think that will be the case this season for us.
The Ducks’ number 1 selection would be essentially fighting for the 6th defenceman’s slot on this roster, given the strength and depth the Anaheim Ducks have in that position. I haven’t spoken to Bob (Murray) about this, however, I suspect that he would agree with me when I say that Jamie is going to be better off getting a ton of minutes with his junior hockey club.
Jacob Perreault is one we’ll have to monitor closely. He simply has some tools that we think could work wonders with the Anaheim Ducks club. We already have some great playmakers and two-way forwards, but we do recognize that we’re missing that highly skilled goal scorer. Perreault is advertised to be all of that and more. We just have to be careful that we don’t push him to be more than what he is right now and perhaps short change ourselves in the future. A player with a shot like his…. we may have to hold ourselves back from pushing him too hard.