The Anaheim Ducks fired head coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday.
The Ducks were eliminated from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Nashville Predators on Wednesday in seven games. Boudreau is an inexplicable 1-7 in Game 7s in his career, including six consecutive losses in the decisive game since 2009.
“I just think the last four years, the way they’ve ended, all very similar, that I didn’t think it would be a good situation to go forward in,” Murray said. “In no way, shape or form is this pointing a gun at Bruce’s head. Let’s make that perfectly clear. But you’ve got to start somewhere.”
The Ducks struggled to start the 2015-16 season, prompting rumours of Boudreau’s dismissal. Anaheim was able to turn it around, however, and Boudreau led the team to a 46-25-11 record and the Pacific Division title — their fourth straight.
The Ducks had the NHL’s top power play (23.1 per cent), penalty kill (87.2 per cent) and also allowed the fewest goals per game (2.29) this season.
Murray pointed more of the blame on his players than Boudreau, who replaced Randy Carlyle in November 2011 and led them to a 208-104-40 record since.
“It’s the way we went out,” Murray said. “Let’s face it: I’d like to know where the heck they were in Games 1 and 2. The players are going to have to answer that the next four or five days. Where were they? They showed up in Game 7, but where was that passion, the controlled emotion? Where the heck was that? They’re going to have to be held accountable, too.”
Murray is in no hurry to replace Boudreau, he said. The Ducks will hold organizational meetings before getting to work on what’s already a busy off-season with several key supporting players up for new contracts.
“I’m going to meet the players, and then take a deep breath,” Murray said.
The furthest Boudreau was able to guide the Ducks in the post-season was the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks last year. The Blackhawks went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Boudreau previously coached the Washington Capitals where he won a Jack Adams Award for the NHL’s top coach in 2007-08.
— With files from The Associated Press