Anaheim Ducks Require a Change in Team Culture and Identity

Anaheim Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Anaheim Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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Adam Henrique #14 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks Time For Action Is Now

Culture creates identity. Identity creates belief. Belief feeds into the culture. It’s cyclic. Yet, if the question was presented, could any of us answer what the Ducks ethos is in terms of player health? In terms of analytics? What style of game are they trying to play?

In a pinch, I’d argue most of us would answer that the Ducks do not buy into analytics to a great degree. I’d also argue that their attitude to player health and creating longevity of playing careers is as old school as it can possibly get.

“Play through the pain” because that’s “what real men do.” The culture around these variables is not a positive one. At least that is the outside perception.

With regards to playing style, the Anaheim Ducks dumped the puck in ~55% on the power play last season. This from the coach who was brought in to develop a “new school” approach, instead of the “old school” dump and chase. This past season, they shot so often from the point into defensemen that they had the lowest rate of shots on net from shot attempts in the league.

They also received the fewest points from their blue line, despite icing Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jamie Drysdale, and Josh Mahura, for differing portions of the season. If we discussed the LA Kings across town, I imagine most could say that they run a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap. Conversely, what system are the Anaheim Ducks trying to run?

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Two seasons after Dallas Eakins was brought in to create a new team identity, the team is still without one. It’s arguable that their identity is even vaguer now than it was prior. Most fans may not have been happy with Bruce Boudreau or Randy Carlyle, but each player knew what they were doing and every fan could see the big picture. Could anyone really see what the Anaheim Ducks game plan was this season?

The longer that the status quo is maintained, the longer it appears that this team has the culture, the identity, and the results that ownership desires. It isn’t too late to change that perception but the time to do so is now. It may take the hockey equivalent of the Red Wedding in order to commence this process, and if so, then perhaps that’s a cost the Ducks owners will simply have to pay.

The time to play coy has long since passed. It’s time to shift the Anaheim Ducks’ narrative. They need a new identity and to develop that, they need a thriving culture to underpin it. The first step in doing so might be to publicly admit that they’re going to embark on a rebuild.

The second may be to ensure no stone is left unturned. Be it upper management down to the training facilities, it’s time for the Ducks to get serious if they want to be a future force in the league.

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