If you’ve followed this site and/or read the program we used to do back when I wasn’t completely dead inside, you know exactly how I feel about the Anaheim Ducks. While the conjecture of recent years has been to move/fold the Coyotes or Panthers or Hurricanes, I would offer up Anaheim as simply the worst hockey market imaginable and not only would I fold the Ducks but I would then implode the Honda Center, then light the remains on fire, then light the ashes on fire, and then essentially neuralize every hockey fan everywhere so we could forget they ever existed. This is one of the dumber fanbases in one of the more terrible places in the country, despite the “happiness” contained just down the street from the Ponda Center, and quite frankly their one Stanley Cup should be erased from the record. A Cup that essentially convinced far too many hockey fans, and basically everyone in the O.C., that the Ducks won the Cup because they fought a lot and turned Brian Burke into a goddamn folk hero which we’re still fucking plagued with. Luckily, one result of that was the Leafs spinning their tires for a good few more years when they bought into that bullshit, so silver linings are always there if you look hard enough. Still, really all Burke did for that champion Ducks team was have the ingenious idea of acquiring two of the greatest d-men of all time in Neidermayer and Pronger. How brilliant.
And why yes, I was in the building in 2007 when Teemu Selanne scored a hat trick against the Hawks, which in no way will be the central point of my note when you find me hanging from a ceiling beam down the road sometime. Also, while we’re on the subject, if a player had the same production curve at the same age as Selanne in baseball, wouldn’t we be all chanting, “H-G-H!” at him? Just a question. But I guess when you’re white and good with the media we don’t do that type of thing, huh?
Anyway, one of the more annoying side effects of having to take the Ducks “seriously,” is that somehow, Bob Murray is considered one of the better general managers in the league. Which might actually be, saying far more about the state of the front offices around the NHL than it does about Murray himself. If you’re a Hawks fan near or over 30, you can’t believe that Murray is trusted with making the fucking coffee much less building the roster. Sure, he was hamstrung by the usual Hawks idiocy back in the day, i.e. Bob Pulford always lurking/stumbling/preparing to puke on him in the back. It was Murray who was forced to face the media when the Hawks traded Roenick, Chelios, and Belfour, even though he wasn’t always the one pulling the final trigger. Still, it was under Murray’s tenure that Dirk Graham was hired, and you know how that went. Basically just above Alpo.
Murray skedaddled to Anaheim, where he was allowed to bask in the shadow of Burke’s hair (because seriously, how do you avoid it?) And then took over when Burke left. On the surface, Murray’s teams have been among the most successful around. They missed the playoffs in two of his first three years, but have reeled off four straight division titles until this year. Of course, those never managed to amount to anything when Bruce Boudreau was coaching in the playoffs with either both hands around his neck, or a tub of pudding, or both. But when Murray decided Boudreau wasn’t ever going to get over the hump–think Private Pyle trying to ascend the obstacle–Murray had already borked this team’s future more than you can fathom.
Let’s start here… both Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa were given extensions before last season, at the combined age of 64. Not only that, both were given NMCs, which leaves the Ducks completely fucked for the expansion draft. There’s simply no way they can protect all of Fowler, Lindholm, and Vatanen, all because they have to hold on to Bieksa thanks to his no-move. Imagine trying to sell that to any conscious fanbase. Luckily, Murray isn’t burdened with that. He could also lose Silfverberg or Rakell if he’s not careful.
Murray has risen above some of his colleagues in that he hasn’t fallen in love with middle of the roster wingers on his own team. Patrick Maroon was allowed to walk (and don’t be fooled by the miracles that McJesus is performing with him), as was Matt Beleskey who will never reproduce in Boston what he did in Anaheim. But Palmieri was entering his prime at 24 and is now looking at his second consecutive 25+ goal season in offense-allergic New Jersey. Somehow they couldn’t find a spot for Carl Hagelin, who has since become a major weapon for Pittsburgh. Did we mention Nick Bonino was part of the Kesler trade? Hmmm..
And this might be it for the Ducks, too. There ain’t shit in the system much past Shea Theodore–they’ve been waiting for Nic Kerdiles for so long Beckett has written a play about it AND HE’S DEAD–and Getzlaf and Perry have already entered Check-Cashin’ Bitch! mode. Gibson looks like he’ll be at least good enough in net to keep the Ducks from becoming chum, but this team should pretty much get dusted by the Oilers and Flames for the next few years, and assuming anything goes right in Arizona too.
It’s something for sweet vengeance for us over here who still remember that press conference in the summer of ’96.