Anaheim Ducks: 3 Takeaways from Bob Murray’s Video to the Media

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoff are in the rearview mirror for the most part. Yet, only now have the Anaheim Ducks deemed it necessary to release Bob Murray‘s annual post-season review. While it may seem late, it may have been somewhat necessary for Bob to take his time and perfect his spiel for this one, given the season underwhelmed in many facets. Thus, there should be a lot of ground for him to cover.

Alas, covering ground was not necessarily on the agenda, as the video they released was probably the biggest nothing burger I’ve seen in quite some time. To be frank, I’m astounded they bothered releasing anything at all. Given the Ducks presented with league-low television viewership this season, it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that if the Ducks had released nothing, very few fans would have noticed. Nonetheless, release something they did.

For those interested, the video in question can be sourced from the Ducks accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

1. Trotting Out The Same Old Tropes

“A key component of the plan for us has to be our group of core players, middle aged players, embracing what we’re trying to do, understanding it,  wanting to be part of it, and helping us. Because if you cant get moving forward quicker unless they embrace it and take part in it, take ownership of it themselves. And that has to, we’ve got to identify which of our core guys really want to be here.” (1:04)

Every year it seems, we hear about how guys don’t really want to be on the Anaheim team.

I don’t think it’s actually too big of a stretch to suggest that some guys might be tired of losing games and that other guys may want bigger opportunities. It’s professional sports and different players have different motives.

Franchise legend Teemu Selanne famously preferred to play under Randy Carlyle than Bruce Boudreau based on his role and usage on the team. It would in no way shock me if Anthony Stolarz came out and said he wanted the opportunity to be a starter in the NHL and asked for a trade.

Yet, this isn’t the context Murray continually makes these comments with. Each and every year, it’s underperforming players who are getting on in age who are targeted as “not wanting it enough.” Instead of getting older and slower, and having their roles taken by Troy Terry (or whoever), the narrative is always, “they didn’t want it enough to score 30 goals in 10 minutes a night from the 3rd or 4th line.”

Corey Perry was subject to it. Perhaps the once dumped Waiver Guy, Adam Henrique, will be the one this time around.

What is certain is that Murray is pinning his hopes on fans loving the youth movement and choosing to agree that the older players are the problem. In many ways, he’s in the right, as Josh Manson was often criticised by fans for Jamie Drysdale‘s defensive lapses. However, sooner or later the excuse wears thin.

Each year, there are players who “don’t want to be here” and at some stage, one has to question if this is the case, then who is out there recruiting these players and signing them? One would suspect that person should be both better at scouting and acquiring players who do in fact “want to be here,” and creating an environment in which players want to stay. Given that the person signing off on these players who “don’t want to be here” it’s quite the self-own by the man in charge.

As an aside, one has to wonder, what free agents and prospective draft players think when each year they here about how these players don’t want to be in Anaheim. From an outsiders perspective, it seems like an incredibly toxic work environment if everyone wants to leave each year.

2. How To Acquire NHL Players for the Anaheim Ducks

“Top six forwards, we have to add to that, and, there’s two ways to do that. Trade and draft.” (2:36)

Look, I love this. This right here is why Murray is in charge of a professional sporting franchise. Here I was thinking that forwards were like expandable water toys— you just pop a plastic egg in a water bowl and ‘POOF’ up pops a hockey player. But I was wrong and Murray has set me straight.

Seriously though, I think everyone is aware that the Anaheim Ducks offense is impotent and while a big portion of that is (likely age-related) declines from players like Ryan Getzlaf and Adam Henrique, there is a lot more to it than that. To Murray’s credit, he does go on to discuss the Ducks power play woes and that the team needs to change how they play the game.

Given the Anaheim Ducks are going to stick with the same head coach, however, the way they play the game is likely to remain the same. Though this comment does present an opportunity for an early sacking of the coach if/when things don’t change early in the new season. Whether that possibility is enough for fans to hold onto is uncertain.

Perhaps, and this may be going too far, but perhaps it would be worth turning over every stone in a search for ways to improve. So far, since they’re sticking with the coach, it seems reasonable that any drafted player won’t be asked to contribute right away, leaving only one avenue to improve.

Trading away the old underperforming guys who “don’t want to be here” for whatever they can get for them. Given players like Henrique are on substantial contracts, and Jakob Silfverberg is coming off of major surgery. It would appear that trade options will be limited. If anything, it appears at face value that the Ducks are angling for one of the top-three draft picks next season.

Additionally to Murray’s comments, what I find somewhat hilarious is that he’s been recorded (not on the video above) discussing the drafting of defensemen or goaltenders. Now, that discussion point isn’t a criticism in itself, as I am fully behind the Anaheim Ducks taking the best available player (hint: it’s Jesper Wallstedt), but the man can’t even keep his message straight.

If you’re going to bemoan the lack of offensive talent and say drafting it is one of the key ways to get it, then don’t discuss the drafting of other positions (and positions of relative strength already) instead of drafting that forward talent.

So, my takeaway from this is that they won’t likely draft a forward (welcome to Anaheim Owen Power), that it will be hard to trade for a top-6 forward given what they have at their disposal and thus, that there is no possible way that the Anaheim Ducks can improve their top-6 unless their older players decide they “want to be here.”

Welcome to groundhog day in Anaheim and their catchphrase of “It’s everyone else’s fault but mine.”

3. Making Trades

“We’ve got a bunch of good young defensemen coming, so that’s where it’s possible to maybe make a trade.” (3:32)

This comment follows on from the previous, but it does flag some intent on behalf of the organization. With Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jamie Drysdale in the fold, there are already five of six blue-line slots taken for next season. With players like Henry Thrun coming up, Simon Benoit making his presence felt, and names like Brendan Guhle and Josh Mahura on the books, it makes absolute sense to trade from a position of strength.

The question is then, why now and not at the deadline? Perhaps it makes sense in that the uncertainty surrounding this draft is higher than almost any before it. It may simply be that Murray would prefer to make trades for next seasons draft picks, and if that is the case, then I can’t say that I disagree with his thinking. Though it appears that he wants to make a trade for a forward.

That being the case, it could make some sense that teams who were in line for a player like Manson may not have been willing to alter their team overly much before going into the postseason. There were very few games between the deadline and the playoffs, and making big changes to teams is a key way to lack success.

There is also a case to be made that perhaps he didn’t think that the younger group he had were developed enough to jump into the NHL and that keeping them in whichever league there were in after the trade deadline was better than moving one of their NHL players and bringing up a prospect too soon.

Whether or not that holds water given Drysdale was brought in raw and presented one of the worst seasons by a rookie blueliner (statistically) in the past few seasons is debatable, but it is a valid rationale.

Nonetheless, it seems plausible that the Anaheim Ducks will make a change this coming offseason, and that we’ll see a once-beloved figure moved for some forward help. Whether that forward help is an underrated player like the Dallas Star’s Roope Hintz, a genuine star like Jack Eichel, or some old oft-injured guy like Patrick Eaves once was is… well actually we all know where this is going. At least Murray did flag, “young, fast, and exciting,” at least once in his rambling drunk uncle-style talk.

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