Until Sunday, things got more brutal by the day for the Anaheim Ducks. The team lost all five games on this most recent road trip which mercifully ended Saturday. During their current seven-game losing streak, the Ducks have scored eight goals and their playoff hopes have evaporated as fans have jumped on the #loseforhughes train. That was unthinkable back in October. Luckily, there are silver linings to this season. For Ducks fans, the announcement Sunday morning that Randy Carlyle had finally been fired as Ducks head coach was a major one. There are more, you just have to look hard enough.
Randy Carlyle Has Finally Been Fired
The moment Ducks fans have been calling for has finally arrived.
Ducks have fired Randy Carlyle as coach, GM Bob Murray is assuming duties as interim head coach.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) February 10, 2019
The Ducks’ play has sunk to such a dysfunctional level that general manager Bob Murray had no choice but to fire Carlyle. In an interesting but logical move, Murray will take over as interim coach until the season ends. Murray is taking over (temporarily) in order to avoid disturbing the success of the San Diego Gulls by promoting their head coach, Dallas Eakins, to the Ducks bench mid-season.
This will maintain developmental consistency in the organization until the offseason when Murray can promote Eakins and facilitate a smoother coaching transition for both the Ducks and the Gulls. The coach, whose rehiring was questioned from the jump, is finally gone. For Ducks fans, it’s the biggest cause for celebration since winning 11 of 13 games in December.
Ducks Will Get a Rare Chance in the Draft Lottery
Starting with the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the first as general manager for Murray, the Ducks have only been in the lottery three times. It’s happened twice due to missing the playoffs and once as part of the return for trading Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators. Those three picks yielded Nick Ritchie in 2014 (10th overall), Hampus Lindholm in 2012 (sixth overall) and Cam Fowler in 2010 (12th overall).
Murray has demonstrated a strong ability to draft players that not only play in the NHL but make an impact. In spite of all the grief he has taken from fans for not firing Carlyle, he actually deserves credit for his drafts.
This season, the Ducks have a strong chance to secure the highest overall pick they have had since they selected Ryan second overall in 2005. With the Ducks’ ability to pick and develop talent, the odds they select an impact player in what should be a deep draft, is high.
If the Ducks can swing a trade that includes an established player like Fowler, Jakob Silfverberg or Adam Henrique, they may have more than one first-round pick this year.
Los Angeles Kings Aren’t Good Either
As a sports fan, there aren’t many things worse than your favorite team playing like a dried-out dog turd while your rival lays waste to the rest of the league. Luckily for Ducks fans, their rival, the Los Angeles Kings, have stunk up the NHL at a similar level as the Ducks.
So, when a pesky Kings fan asks you how long it’s been since the Ducks have even led a game (more than five games), ask them how many goals their $6.25 million Russian right winger has. That should take care of the problem.
For those of you lamenting the decline in intensity of the Freeway Face-Off, it’s about to get a lot more interesting, both on the ice and in the draft room.
The two teams face each other three more times in the span of less than a month, including the final game of the season. For the first time in a very long time, both teams will be battling for a higher spot in the lottery and not in the division. Two frustrating seasons culminating in a game with confusing motivations played by proud professional athletes is a recipe for it to get weird. The Freeway Face-Off could become the freeway ‘tank off.’
Crossing a Year off the Contract Calendar
Following the conclusion of this season, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will each be in the penultimate year of pricey and restrictive contracts. The team will be one season closer to offloading $16.875 million of cap hit off their roster and the two no-movement clauses that come with them. While the Ducks may negotiate new contracts for them, the production from both players would dictate a much lower asking price and much shorter contract term.
Retiring Niedermayer’s Number Means Happy Memories
The Ducks will be retiring Scott Niedermayer’s number 27 on Feb. 17 before the Ducks play the Washington Capitals. There’s no better remedy for a depressing season than reminiscing about the glory days. There is sure to be video tribute with a fair share of 2007 Stanley Cup celebration highlights during his jersey retirement ceremony, especially for the man who won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
On top of that, there will be plenty of former players on hand, including Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Paul Kariya, Brad May, Travis Moen, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne. Old teammates getting together is a recipe for funny stories and light roasting, like this moment from Kariya’s jersey retirement when Selanne made fun of Kariya’s boyish looks.
So, if you’re down in the dumps about the 2018-19 Ducks’ ability to continuously set the bar lower and lower, just take these silver linings out of the season and get ready for the draft lottery, which is sure to be much more exciting.
Anthony Ciardelli grew up in Vermont and New Hampshire but now lives in Los Angeles. Though he was raised a Bruins fan, he quickly came to enjoy the hockey culture in Southern California and the rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. He covered USC Athletics while pursuing his journalism masters there. He also enjoys doing play-by-play for USC Trojan Hockey.