This week, the Ducks held their third Fan Forum Teleconference. For those who missed it (or who lack the patience to sit with an hour long podcast), I've put together a recap of some of the major points the fans discussed with General Manager Bob Murray and Executive Vice President Chief Operating Officer Tim Ryan.
Ed. Note: All quotes are from Bob Murray unless noted otherwise
On James Wisniewski:
Murray met with Wiz's agent the weekend before the Olympic break and tendered an offer the following Tuesday. Wisnieski rejected the offer, and the two sides have not discussed anything since. Murray had this to say about their respective negotiating positions:
"I think he's looking for a long term deal. We have differing opinions of where he belongs in a lineup, and what that person should make. I'm not embarrassed about the offer we made him, but I'm not going to put this team in a position where we're overpaying for somebody and he doesn't fit in that position."
It's good to hear that Bob Murray isn't buying Wisniewski's argument, here. Murph suggested that, as this is Wisniewski's last year of restricted free agency, keeping him around for one more year (either on a one year deal or through arbitration) wouldn't be out of the question, but it sounds as if there is very little interest, at least on the general manager's part, to restart discussions before the offseason.
On Sheldon Brookbank:
Brookbank also received an offer and rejected it. Murray said he was comfortable with the offer he made, and it was, again, a situation where he wasn't going to create a bad contract. I'll agree with Murray here. Ideally, Anaheim can get to a point where it doesn't need Brookbank, where it isn't sending out five offensive defensemen every night. At that point, giving Brookbank seven figures would be a bad contract. However, if Murray doesn't rebuild with some quality physical defensemen in the offseason, he will sorely miss a guy that plays smart and does what he's told.
On Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer:
Murph says that no serious talks have taken place, and he doesn't plan to talk to them until after the season, maybe a month after the end of the year.
On Bobby Ryan:
Murray expressed no real urgency here. He emphasized, for about the millionth time, that Hiller was re-signed because he was an unrestricted free agent and that Bobby is a restricted free agent. On that point, Murray sounds almost eager to have someone else negotiate this contract for him:
"We're in good financial shape. There won't be anywhere where a team feels like they can do what they did with Dustin Penner-- walk in here and floor us with the thing and have us make tough decisions."
I have to disagree with Bob's approach here, as it sounds like he's not all that interested in getting back to the table with Bobby Ryan until shortly before Ryan can entertain offers. Murray may not be the contract magician that Burke was, but his willingness to have someone else write the thing is disconcerting.
The AHL Situation
Resolution in the works:
For those worried about the Ducks' minor league situation, Murray intimated that David McNab was dealing with it forthwith, getting on a plane to negotiate a deal as the teleconference was going on. Where did that plane land?
"The AHL is helping us to be-- [to] get our first choice as to where we want to go."
There are a few options. SB Nation has been covering the impending shakeup in the AHL after a great recap by Derek Zona, and I'm not exactly sure which organization qualifies as the Ducks' 'first choice.' However, after a year of sending key prospects to the ECHL, it's good to know the Ducks won't be settling.
On the prospect of having prospects closer to home:
Murray addressed the idea of having a next-door minor league franchise, and emphasized that it was something that had to be done as a group with other west coat GM's. They would all have to commit to creating their own division, or even their own league, for it to be feasible.
"It wouldn't work if we took a team and brought it out to San Diego. If no one else was out there, it just wouldn't work. So, we need partners. We are talking about it."
Murph said he would be meeting with other Western GM's for a beer at the next General Managers meeting, and it was a topic for discussion on the table. But he also noted that it was something that Brian Burke had wanted to get done in his time in the Anaheim chair. It's a long process.
Mistakes In Constructing This Year's Blueline
Soft corps defense:
I've been rather critical of Murray's vision of the defensive corps this year, and it's good to hear that the GM is quite critical of himself:
"I think we used a little different strategy this year. We saw Pittsburgh/Detroit win Stanley Cups with a little more offense. And we felt that the game, maybe, had gone a little bit more-- because of the rule changes --a little more on the offensive, forward-- scoring more goals and stuff. And we may have taken a step backwards in that respect. I definitely agree with the fact that we are not physical enough on defense. That being said, it's gotta be corrected. It's not-- it's not gonna be easy. We may have to give to do that at some point in the near future. Again, the defense has been a great concern of mine. And i think we thought some people would do a little more of that [as far as being physical], and it hasn't happened."
The last line seems like a dig at Wisniewski. I don't think anyone expected game-changing physicality out of Ryan Whitney, and we're probably getting a little more than expected from Eminger. If it is a dig at Wisniewski, I have to disagree. In asking him to stay healthy this season, the primary request is that he put away childish things in blocking shots and getting overly physical. His body clearly can't take it, and most smallish offensive defensemen in the NHL don't throw their bodies around haphazardly anyways. If anything, Wiz should be working on his smarts, his angles, his strength along the boards. No one can step up and be the hitter when Murph didn't hire any, though based on the blueline goals scored this year, he didn't necessarily hire offensive guys either.
"I don't know if we'll see him before the playoffs this year"
According to Lupul's blog, the blood infection cleared out of his system before the Olympic break, he would be focusing on strength training during the break and would have a clear idea of his schedule for return after the break. Murray's comment would imply that Lupul will need another entire month.
Murph was very sympathetic in discussing Joffrey, pointing out that this operation was something considered routine in the business and it was very unfortunate for him to get a blood infection, which essentially laid him up and reversed his conditioning.
"We're not sending him out there to fight one-handed anymore"
Parros is apparently getting bumped from the lineup to give his right-hand time to get to 100%. Big George has been gunning it southpaw this season, and the coaching staff and front office thought that was unfair to him, especially with extra bodies in the lineup. Murray implied that once he can start throwing that right cross without fear of re-opening the old wounds, he'll see his regular time again.
How it all came together:
Surprisingly, it was Calgary's interest in Toskala that got the ball rolling. It was an interest that Murray was confident he could pique after acquiring the netminder. After that, it became easier to deal Pogge, who Murray says was not working out well with goaltending coach Pete Peeters or the other coaches. Moving Pogge allowed him to get Ward without giving up a 2nd Round pick, and the money freed by moving Toskala allowed him to look at the bigger Visnovsky deal. The only real hole created in moving Toskala was finding a seasoned third goaltender, which they got in Joey MacDonald.
Tim Ryan On Non-Televised Games
Tim Ryan fielded a couple if important television questions. First, he noted he was crossing his fingers on KDOCHD for next season. Second, he reassured (or disappointed?) Ducks fans by saying that they plan to have around the same number of games air next season, and it's a decision making process they will continue to work on, not a money issue.
"I think Center Ice has done a good job [of airing the non-televised games, but] we're just gonna continue try to get as many games on the air as possible. And we've done some experiments with games on the Internet and we're gonna probably continue that next year as well" - Tim Ryan
So, no hope in getting every game to television, but there's an endorsement for Center Ice and the likelihood of Internet broadcast there.