I don't have to remind anyone how much it sucks to be a Ducks fan right now. In a way, this is a new territory for the post-lockout Anaheim fanbase. I've been following the team since 1996. I'm somewhat used to these awful streaks and underachieving teams. Yet, what I'm not used to is horrible losing streaks for teams that I know should be much better. In the Mighty Ducks days, we had maybe one or two mega stars (like Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya) surrounded by a team of lesser known players (Marty McInnis and Pascal Trepanier, anyone??). The fact that the 2003 Mighty Ducks made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals was a miracle in itself. This season's team isn't built fully on superstars, but we have substantially more talent than that 2003 SCF team. That's why it's so frustrating. We should be soooo much better, BUT I'm not ready to completely blow up the ship. I fully believe that's going to happen next off-season when Teemu does hang them up and Saku Koivu decides on his future.
One thing I've learned throughout my history with the Anaheim franchise is that big changes aren't necessarily for the better. Remember when Teemu Selanne was traded to the Sharks? How about when Sergei Fedorov was acquired? Or when Chris Pronger was traded to Philly (marginally OK because of Sbisa)? Or sending Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner to Toronto for Francois Beauchemin? For a fickle fanbase, massive change is bad unless it brings a significant and instantaneous payoff (i.e. hello Chris Pronger, hello Stanley Cup!).
Every horrible team has its rock-bottom and the Ducks have hit theirs. Fans are freaking out and have called on several changes that should be made to better the team. To this I say: SIMMAH-DOWN-NAW. I am fairly certain the Ducks won't do the following three things to right the ship: Fire Bob Murray and/or Randy Carlyle; trade Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and/or Corey Perry; and strip Ryan Getzlaf of his captaincy.
Did I make your head explode with those declarations or are you just seething with rage? Take my hand as I explain the reasoning behind all three.
Declaration #1 - GM Bob Murray and/or Head Coach Randy Carlyle will not be fired
Murray and Carlyle are a package deal. Carlyle IS Murray's guy - there is no disputing that. For Murray to fire Carlyle would have to come directly from owner Henry Samueli. Samueli was the one that green-lit Carlyle's extension as Murray explained on the conference call following the announcement of 3 year deal
On contract talks
We started right after the year. We talked a little bit right after the season. I went to Europe for a bit and we were talking all along. Then, when we decided on the years and I brought Henry (Samueli) into the picture. It evolved over time...
The Ducks may have jumped too soon in re-signing both Murray and Carlyle to multi-year extensions prior to the final year (this season) of their then current contracts. I guess we have the drafting of Cam Fowler, the trade for Lubomir Visnovsky, and the MVP-earning run of Corey Perry to thank for that.
Henry Samueli has shown that he's no longer willing to spend up to the salary cap limit with the Ducks. Even though coach and general manager's salaries don't count towards the cap, they will continue to be an operating expense for the internal payroll of the organization. Without the second income of a basketball team at Honda Center boosting revenues, the Ducks will be pinching pennies. Part of that budgeting is not having to pay a new and old GM and/or coach at the same time. It just doesn't make sense. Extra money should be spent on players.
If you're not ok with that logic, then I hope you're happy when Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry sign with other teams after next season because the Ducks couldn't give them the big contract they will be expecting.
Declaration #2 - None of The Big 3 will be traded
As I said in the opening, the team is likely to implode next season when Teemu Selanne finally hangs 'em up. Emerson Etem is The Future Flash, with the key word being "future". He's not going to step in and automatically fill the void left by Teemu. Jason Blake likely won't be re-signed and Saku Koivu's future is up in the air. See what I just did? I just destroyed our second line - the only line that is scoring right now - and Andrew Cogliano isn't going to be able to salvage that by himself. Not only will Teemu's talents be missed, but the Ducks will be missing the face of their franchise.
No matter how much they suck right now Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry are the future of the organization. The Samueli's and Murray affirmed as much when Bobby was signed to his new contract. Sending one of those three out of Anaheim is ridiculous. What are we going to get in return? I need someone to name me that one player that equals the possible talent of any of those three that could adapt to the system quickly to turn the team around? If anyone says Jarome Iginla, I'm going to punch you in the face. He's old.
A drastic move like this is certain death for the Ducks. It starts with alienating the fanbase. We are the die-hard Ducks fans that will see the team through thick and thin (even if it's painful). We aren't where the team makes its money - it's the bandwagoners and casual fans that support the team financially. I go to games, pay for parking and if I didn't eat dinner beforehand, maybe a beer and food. I don't buy many concessions or merchandise. Season ticket holders buy their tickets at a discount, and if I buy single game tickets it's never at full price. The bandwagoners come to see (at times) the best top line in the NHL. They come when the team is winning constantly. Which leads me to the next point...
Bringing in a new player in place of one of the RPG guys equates to basically starting over. This new player (or players) will have to acclimate and produce quickly. From there, that player would have to be worth the future potential we're giving up. Again they may suck right now, but future potential far outweighs the current need. We would be getting rid of the reigning MVP or a consistent 30+ goal scorer or one of the best set-up guys in the NHL.
Carlyle has said that as RPG goes, so goes the Ducks. Get rid of one of those and then what? That would shake the very core of the organization and not in a good way.
Declaration #3 - Ryan Getzlaf will not be stripped of his Captaincy
I don't believe the Ducks will have what I'll call a "Patrick Marleau situation". The players voted on their captain at the beginning of last season and the decision was Ryan Getzlaf. (Although, I would be curious to see what the players would vote now. My vote is for Perry.) Randy Carlyle would be hardpressed to come in and strip the 'C' after his team made the decision. That would be the ultimate act of power mongering by a desperate coach. There is no possible way his team would respond positively to that.
Getzlaf infuriates all of us. You can count me as one of those who thought he shouldn't have received the 'C' just yet, but I am slightly encouraged. I have seen Getzy mature from when he was first designated the captain to right now (game against Phoenix notwithstanding). Everyone needs to realize that he's not, nor will he ever be, Scott Neidermayer. Leaders like Scotty are rare. Getzlaf is Bizzarro Scotty. He's loud, obnoxious, not at all media savy, and immature. He's also the leader of a group of kids (plus a couple old guys) that are younger than himself. He, plus Perry and Ryan, are the cool kids and the rest of the lineup (minus the old guys) are the minions wanting to follow. Remember, as goes RPG, so goes the Ducks.