Last time I checked the calender it said November, which means if your Ducks fan this time of the year you're usually running around like your heads cut off and saying the team is in need of a major rebuild. Trade Ryan! Trade Getzlaf! Trade Teemu....wait never mind that last one. Still, it seems like everyone is throwing around a different reason for why this team is incapable of winning games. Motivation, chemistry, line combinations, bounces, and the roster itself have all been used as reasons for this teams demise. Today I'm going to choose and analyze my personal number one reason why this team can't win: coaching.
Let me start by saying that Randy Carlyle is many ways a great coach. If he were coaching a team like the Boston Bruins or Los Angeles Kings right now, I have no doubt that they would be the best in the league right now. But the fact of the matter is the Ducks are not the Boston Bruins or the Ducks that won the cup, and they can't pretend that they are anymore. Lets start breaking down the three reasons why Randy Carlyle is not coach the Ducks need right now.
1) The Roster: Lets face it, in an ideal world this team has 2 future Hall of Fame shutdown defensemen, a defensive forward line, at least two faceoff specialists, 3 clear cut/talented rookies, and a veteran scoring line. We don't have any of those things. Randy loves to sit on leads, like the rest of us hate watching this team blow them. In order to do that effectively he needs to have 5 guys he can throw on the ice that will prevent the other team's elite players from scoring. Currently we don't have that and instead he's had to settle for a Cogs-Koivu-Teamu-Fowler-Beauchemin combination. There is one, MAYBE two guys there that are actually capable of doing that. When this team was at his peak under him, we had guys like Moen-Paulsen-Niedermeyer-Pronger-Odonell doing that work. And while he has guys who can win faceoffs and he has a veteran scoring line, they aren't on the lines that he would want them to be on. Over the course of Randy's career he has shown that he loves to lean on his veterans as his top offensive line. Unfortunatly RPG hasn't shown the maturity and consistency that he likes out of his veterans. So instead he often goes to the Koivu/Selanne line at the end of games or in tight situations. The problem is that RPG aren't rookies anymore, and they aren't a defensive line, and they aren't the veteran go to line either. So instead they are sort of stuck in this inbetween state until Selanne/Koivu leaves. Ideally Randy would put together a rookie/defense line to solve both of his problems with one stone, but there are problems with that as well. One, Randy doesn't have clear cut talents like he did with Getzlaf and Perry. Those guys were so far ahead of anyone else in the system that they had to play, there was no competition. This year there are about 9 equally talented forwards competing for 3 spots, and most of them are more offensive players than defensive. Throw in the fact that Carlyle hates leaning on rookies at the end of games or in tight situations, instead going with veterans, and there really isn't a chance that a consistent, defensive, rookie forward line is put together. Randy isn't gong to change, but I believe that there is too much talent at stake for Murray to make moves this year, rather waiting for Selanne to retire and give guys like Etem, Holland Palmari shots.
2) The Leadership: There has been much debate recently that who wears the C and the A's doesn't really matter to a team. I'm not exactly sure where I stand on that issue, but I do think that a coach and his on the ice leaders need to be on the same page. I don't see that with this team. Carlyle is an "old school coach", who likes physical hockey and guys who work their ass of and don't make mistakes. In previous years I think of Scott N, Pronger, Rob N, Marchant. Those guys exemplified Ducks hockey. Selanne has done his best, but he has to make mistakes and stay away from the physical game in order to be affective. Getzlaf doesn't play physical anymore and constantly makes on ice mistakes or seems to be "coasting". Koivu isn't overly physical and has been less of an impact on the ice as of late. Again this goes back to the roster, but there just isn't the type of guy that Carlyle can say "this is my guy". Outside of Koivu, Selanne, and maybe Perry who are the leaders on this team? Who are the Todd Marchants or the Rob Neidermeyers that are going to give it there all and help these young guys? I don't see it, and I think that's why this start is so scary. Because Selanne and Koivu can't play much better than they have, there's no other leaders on this team to step up and turn it around.
3) The Age: This is the biggest and most relevant point of this entire article. Randy Carlyle is not a teacher, he's a manager. With the exception of Corey Perry (which could be debated that he did it himself during the Olympics) there has not been a single Duck draftee under Randy's coaching that has improved significantly in his NHL time. He loves using veterans, and stays away from using rookies in any sort of meaningful way. Randy needs a veteran heavy team in order to succeed and the Ducks are instead one of the youngest. I think of all the young guys who have come through this organization and then been traded away (Chipchura, Michelson, Festerling, etc). He doesn't develop a player or teach a guy to better use his talents. I think one could argue that Getzlaf and Ryan have not gotten any better over their time, but rather have just received more playing time and experience. I think the same can be said for Fowler and Sbisa. Corey Perry is the only player I can think of that over his time under RC has developed NEW skills and become a more complete player. If anyone feels differently please comment as such, but when you look at guys like Babcock and Blysma vs all the other coaches in the league the one thing they understand is player development and teaching. They don't just tell guys what to do, instead explaining why they are doing it and involve them in the decision making process. Those coaches have a two way relationship with their captains, stars, and everyday guys. Everyone feels important, and everyone is trying to improve. Until we have a coach that understands that we will always be trying to play to our potential rather than capitalizing on it.
Now i should put this final disclaimer before I finish. I don't think Carlyle or Murray are going anywhere. Not with their contracts and their recent track records. Nor do I think that the Ducks will continue at this terrible pace, in fact they will probably find a way to make it into the playoffs again. But that doesn't mean that we could be looking at these problems again next year, and I wonder at some point will the organization catch on and make necessary changes.