Could this be the end of the line for Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim?
Last Saturday, in the weekly Headlines segment during Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted the Ducks were about to start a five-game road trip. According to a couple of Friedman’s sources, Ducks GM Bob Murray wanted to “see how things go” on the trip. Friedman also recalled a conversation he had with Murray after the firing of Randy Carlyle, in which the GM said he believed “a firing is the last resort, because teams should be forced to try and work through their problems.”
Well, we’re now two games into the Ducks’ road trip and they’ve scored just once in two losses. After a 5-1 loss to Nashville Thursday and 3-0 loss to Minnesota Saturday, the Ducks have started the season 1-5-1. As shocking as that slow start is, the real head-scratcher is how cold the offence has been. How can a team with weapons like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jakub Silfverberg have just six goals in seven games?
Mike Santorelli, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm are the only Ducks players with more than one point.
Naturally, the focus has now turned to the coach.
Boudreau is in his fifth season as coach of the Anaheim Ducks after taking over part way through the 2011-12 season and he's been almost as successful as you can be. The Ducks have finished first in the tough Pacific Division for the past three years and though they haven't won a Stanley Cup under Boudreau, their playoff result has improved year over year. Last season, Anaheim was one win shy of knocking off the Chicago Blackhawks and reaching the Cup final.
But should the spotlight be on Boudreau, or the underperforming, and often invisible, stars on the team? After Saturday's loss to the Wild, in which the Ducks mustered a measly 15 shots on goal, Sportsnet's Damien Cox spoke about the situation brewing in Anaheim.
"Within the Ducks organization the sense is why look at Boudreau when Getzlaf and Perry are playing so poorly?" Cox noted during Hockey Night in Canada's Headlines segment. "Those two guys combined, combined Elliotte, for one shot tonight and both played less than 18 minutes."
So how long should the leash be for a coach who, while accomplished and respected, has never lead a team over the hump and to the Cup final? Would the Ducks consider a big trade before firing the coach?
"Bob Murray the GM was back with the Ducks tonight after a trip through Western Canada that was to scout players for Team Canada," said Elliotte Friedman in the same Headlines segment. "And Rick Patterson in the front office has seen a couple Sabres games this week, so wondering what they’re up to."
Interesting and frustrating times in Anaheim. What is going on with this team? With a roster like this, you have to believe it's just a slow start that's bound to turn around, but how long can you let this situation play itself out before you make some kind of a move?
Remember, since 2003-04 only five of 44 teams that were more than four points out of a playoff position on Nov. 1 turned it around to make the post-season, a stat Friedman tracks each season. After Saturday, the Ducks sit six points out.
So while it may still be early in the season, it's risky to let a struggle like this linger too long. Boudreau may be on the hot seat, but will his firing be the first move the Ducks make to try and turn things around, or is something else brewing behind the scenes?