Bruce Boudreau might not be the only casualty of the Anaheim Ducks‘ disappointing season.
The Ducks fired their head coach Friday, after falling in seven games to the Nashville Predators in their first-round matchup. It was the fourth consecutive season for Anaheim in which they held a 3-2 series lead only to be eliminated on home ice in a Game 7.
According to general manager Bob Murray, Boudreau’s dismissal might not be the only change in store for the Ducks.
“I just think that the last four years the way they’ve ended, how very similar, that I didn’t think it would be a good situation to go forward in,” said Murray. “And in no way shape or form is this pointing a gun at Bruce’s head, let’s get that perfectly clear.
“But you gotta start somewhere.”
Anaheim was expected to be one of the league’s top teams this year, and they shook off a brutal 1-7-2 start to finish the season holding the top spot in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.
It wasn’t enough to please Murray, who’s been the Ducks GM since 2008.
“Regular season success is OK, I’ve told you all many times, for me, making the playoffs is the most important thing and then anything can happen,” he said. “I just felt for this group going forward whatever we have it wasn’t going to work going forward.”
In their two previous Game 7s against the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, they Ducks came out flat giving their opponents a first period lead. Wednesday night against the Predators was no exception, as goals by Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad put Anaheim in a two-goal hole going into the second intermission.
It’s something Murray thinks his players will have to answer for.
“Where were they? They showed up in Game 7 but where was that passion, the controlled emotion, where the heck was that?” Murray said. “So they’re going to have to be held accountable too.”
Whether that means moving players out or bringing in a hard-nosed coach to whip his players into shape remains to be seen, though Murray did say to expect a different roster next season.
“Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time,” he said. “Obviously I have some contractual situations that will dictate some things, but it won’t be the same team (next season), that’s for sure.”
According to General Fanager, the Ducks are expected to have over $52 million of cap space tied up to 30 roster spots next season.
That doesn’t include restricted free agent Rickard Rakell, who’s due a raise after the 22-year-old put up his first career 20-goal season this year.
Ryan Kesler‘s six-year extension, which he signed in July of 2015, begins next season and carries a $6.85-million cap hit. The physical centre will be 37 by the time his deal ends.
If Murray wants to make a big move, he does have several young assets on the blue line.
Josh Manson, Simon Despres, Cam Fowler and Shea Theodore are all under the age of 25 and are signed to reasonable deals past the 2017-18 season. Sami Vatanen, 24, and Hampus Lindholm 22, are both restricted free agents.