AC Reactions: Randy Carlyle Fired, Bruce Boudreau Hired

He's no Gordon Bombay, but he's our guy.

[Ed. Note: This is a working blog as the AC staff gathers themselves and reacts. Don't forget! After the Ducks 11:00am practice, Bruce Boudreau will officially be introduced as the new coach. The team *might* be broadcasting it live on the website]

ROBBY:
As the newest Ducks fan among the bunch here at AC, I don't have quite the same attachment to Randy Carlyle. When I became a fan near the end of the 2008-2009 season, Carlyle was the bench boss that guided the team to a frantic drive through the last two months of the season that earned them the 8th seed in the Western Conference. By a year later, I felt that I'd seen enough games to identify a few important characteristics of a Carlyle-coached squad:

  • The team, while achieving success on the ice, never seemed overly gregarious or happy. Even after a win, the focus was always on what could be done better. I legitimately cannot think of many instances where Carlyle was unequivocally positive about something.
  • Leads were often more dangerous than being tied or trailing. I cannot tell you how many times the season ticket holders around me groaned as the Ducks elected to dump and change once they had a lead, instead of carrying the puck in and establishing offensive shifts.
  • When things weren't working, the bottom lines disappeared and players started shuffling around the lineup. This almost never worked.

I appreciate what Carlyle did for the franchise from a historical perspective, but in the 3+ years I've followed the Ducks, here's how they've fared:

  • 2008-2009: Probably the most exciting season still as a fan. I came aboard as the Ducks started their stretch run to the playoffs.
  • 2009-2010: Probably the most deflating season as a fan (yes, even more than the current one). We sent more players to the Olympics than any other team, but we could never find that consistency ourselves.
  • 2010-2011: After getting off to a very slow start, the team once again needed a spectacular run to get into the playoffs.
  • 2011-2012: We don't really need to say too much about this that we haven't already.

When you consider my experience, you might understand why I've been ready for a coaching change for some time now. I might not be in the majority here, but I've always believed that we had a core of quality players that failed to consistently deliver as well as I expected. I appreciate what Carlyle was able to accomplish in Anaheim, but I'm beyond thrilled that someone with Boudreau's track record will now be leading the team. His ability to develop young players will be key as the Ducks matriculate their prospects over the next few years. Boudreau is also known as a players-coach, which will be a stark departure from the stoic, business-only attitude of Carlyle.

I cannot wait to see how Luca Sbisa and Cam Fowler react to Boudreau's new system and I'm also excited to see what Bruce does with the top-line. Will he keep them together or will he give Bobby his own line to spread his wings? If he doesn't keep them together, will be split up Carlyle's sacred duos? After years of Getz-Perry and Selanne-Koivu, I'm actually extremely curious to see what could happen if they were separated.

In closing, I love this move for two key reasons. The first of which being that the team needs its mojo back. During the press conference today, Murray said that the team appeared to have lost all confidence, and a players-only coach like Boudreau should help them recapture their pride and play with some swagger. As for the second reason, it's obvious isn't it? Jen's shirt campaign appears to have paid off. My Bobby is safe.

SK:

I'll admit in the last 10 hours I've hardly been able to contain myself. If you can, imagine a 12 year old girl screaming at Justin Bieber concert - that was me last night when I finally decided to check my text messages containing the various tweets that I have sent to my phone.

I won't pretend to hide the fact that I was excited about Randy Carlyle's firing. I thought for sure it would not happen, even though it seemed warranted. I definitely didn't think it would happen after a Ducks WIN no less. A win I was actually upset about because I thought it meant Carlyle bought himself another day.

When it comes down to it I have what I'd call a "GM mentality" when it comes to team sports. That is to say, I have no problem looking at the business side of things and accepting them for what they are - business. I am not one to get emotionally attached to players on a team because when I feel it's time for them to move on, I feel it's time.

A few years ago I was berated by a friend after I posted on my own blog about how I was pleased to see the JS Giguere trade take place. It's not that I was unable to see what Giguere did for the Anaheim Ducks during his time with the team, but it was that I felt it was time for the team to move on without him. I made very few apologies about that.

The same goes for Randy Carlyle. I am not at all blind to what he brought to this Ducks team. He was given great tools from both his own experience and involvement in the game, to the players at his disposal when he arrived in Anaheim. Given those remarkable assets, he did what every hockey fan dreams bringing MY team the elusive and prized Stanley Cup. For that, I will never forget his name or his tenure in Anaheim and I am beyond grateful for that.

But it was time for him to move on. It was time for a new voice to be heard and a new regime to take over in Anaheim for the benefit of the players in their prime, the veterans on the verge of retirement and the rookies starting out fresh. The business end of this deal said Carlyle's voice was no longer the loudest in the room when it counted most.

Ultimately, I feel Carlyle lost his job when he lost his team. Sure, there are plenty of arguments to suggest that Carlyle no longer had those assets and tools that made him initially successful with the Ducks, but his inability to retool his own style to adapt to such changes is disturbing as well. Perhaps that's what every coach suffers from eventually, the inability to change their own style to those around them. But that will be what defines a great coach, the ability to make a dollar out of 15 cents.

So to that, the Ducks look to find a new voice. A new man of reason. I am beyond excited about having Bruce Boudreau join the Ducks team. I think we saw great things from him while in Washington and more importantly I think he's getting just the type of fun offensive team he enjoys coaching.

Finally, I think we have to step back and thank both Joffrey Lupul (for probably the best thing he's done for this franchise) and Aaron Ward, who's sharp words may have just been the nail in the Randy Carlyle coffin.

No more dwelling on the past, it is time to move forward, Anaheim!

GO DUCKS!!!

CHRIS:
I have to start by saying that I agree with everything Daniel wrote below about Randy Carlyle. I appreciate everything he did for this franchise. I was a proponent of his contract when he signed it in the summer. I was probably one of the last Ducks fans to jump on the "Fire Carlyle Bandwagon," but nearly two full days of hysteria over a Bobby Ryan trade convinced me that this had to be done.

Given the choice between trading a 24 year old three time 30 goal scorer just to shake up the roster and firing a quality coach who brought us the Stanley Cup, I had to side with the player. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the talent is there with this team, but it wasn't being realized. Whether that was because Carlyle couldn't adjust his system to the players that he was provided or they had tuned him out after six plus years of the same message, it became increasingly clear to me that firing Carlyle was the only option.

Trading Bobby Ryan is a sexy concept to 29 other teams, and that is why it would have been a mistake. We don't know what would have (and still could, although it's MUCH less likely now) come back in a Bobby Ryan trade, but the known entity of a 30 goal scorer in the prime of his career is something I wouldn't give up for a handful of pieces that are theoretically equivalent. It's similar to that which logic Brian Burke uses to defend the Kessel trade, but I think it works here. I can't imagine another team willing to blow the doors off of the second worst team in the league in a trade. The reason that the star players of bottom feeding teams are targeted is not because they need help. It's because they appear desperate and vulnerable to pillaging. The Ducks got fleeced for Teemu Selanne in 2001; I don't want to see that happen again.

That was a lot of ranting about something that didn't happen, though. As for the actual coaching change, I am sad to see Carlyle go, as I was with every member of the '07 team that is no longer with us. I wish him, assistant coaches Dave Farrish and Mike Foligno as well as video coordinator Joe Trotta, who also lost their jobs, the very best in the future; still, I am very excited to have Bruce Boudreau aboard.

When he was fired from Washington, I texted my friend Brett, half-jokingly, to ask if he would hire Boudreau to replace Carlyle. It seemed pretty farfetched, considering I didn't think Carlyle would be fired because of his contract. Even if he was, what are the odds of Boudreau coming here? He would certainly demand a high price, and could probably wait for the summer to have his choice of several NHL jobs. Now that he's been hired though, it seems like a perfect fit for what's been ailing the Ducks during this dismal month of November.

In the words of Bob Murray, "a new voice was needed." Naturally, after six plus years of Carlyle's stern manner, the Ducks would have to go to a players' coach like Boudreau. Just ask Aaron Ward .

The Ducks are currently 29th in the league in goals per game, they need a coach who will motivate/allow/inspire them to create more offense. Boudreau did exactly that in Washington, letting the reins off their forwards and turning them into a goal scoring machine. It backfired on him and cost him his job when he tried to pull them back in. Perhaps with a team that has been more restrained for the past six years or so, and with lessons learned, the change won't be as drastic in Anaheim, but they'll almost certainly become a more offensively minded group.

In Washington, and Hershey of the AHL before that, Boudreau cultivated the talents of young players like Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleichmann and David Steckel. Here he'll have the chance to do the same with Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa, Devante Smith-Pelley, Peter Holland, Kyle Palmieri and in the future, Emerson Etem.

People think that Ovechkin made Washington a hockey town, but he was there for two full years before they started to "Rock the Red." I saw it first hand in the fall of 2007. I was in DC for an internship and the Verizon Center didn't draw flies for hockey. Looking at it today you would think it was a different building. Back then, the purple seats overwhelmed the space, after Boudreau was hired in late November it became a sea of red jerseys. He will probably not be able to bring this team to the top of the division in his first season like he did with the Caps, but there will be changes and it can't get much worse.

Boudreau has some big shoes to fill, in replacing the franchise's all-time winningest coach. We can only hope that he does it as admirably as Carlyle did in replacing Mike Babcock.

Thank you, Randy.

Welcome, Gabby.

JEN:

I shrieked when the news came across my computer screen. Here I am trying to write a game recap, worrying about Bobby Ryan and then the bomb drops. When I heard that Bruce Boudreau was fired by Washington on Monday, I thought to myself, "Damn. If the Ducks would just axe Carlyle, maybe Bruce could coach here." Right when I thought the Hockey Gods had turned on me, they give me a Ducks win and the coach I wanted. I am completely stunned. Just this morning I was telling the Backhand Shelf guys that I was a billion percent certain that Randy Carlyle wasn't going anywhere. Document this for the masses because it may not ever happen again - I am admitting I was wrong.

The Ducks needed a massive overhaul, and one that didn't include shipping out a star. I am really excited about this change. After watching Boudreau in Washington, I think the Ducks are going to be a different looking team over the next few weeks. Think about it. He had Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom. We have Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and (hopefully continue to have) Bobby Ryan. To me, Boudreau is much more of an offensive focused guy. Carlyle was much more about the defense. We have some of the most prolific scorers in the NHL. It's time they are used the way they are meant to be used. My only concern is the defense. The Caps were a run up the score team for a very long while, and bristled under the reformed defensive approach of Boudreau. The Ducks have been in a defensive lock for years, and have enough veterans on the blueline to keep the stability as the team transitions.

I do want to thank Randy for coming in and using the pieces he had to win a Stanley Cup. He will forever be remembered for bringing the first Cup to California and to its rightful place - Anaheim.

DANIEL:

I'd like to start by saying this is the first time I have 100% agreed with a move that Bob Murray has made. I don't think firing Carlyle was necessarily a good decision, as much as it was the right decision. It was becoming more and more apparent that Murray was not going to get the elite defenders and defensive forwards that were needed for Carlyle's system to succeed. When the GM isn't interested in building the team in a manner that will allow the coach's system to succeed, it is the responsibility of the GM to replace that coach. That is exactly what Murray did, and it was definitely the right decision.

People will say Carlyle lost the room, but they forget that he kept Niedermayer, Pronger, and Selanne on the same page for a Cup victory. They will say he couldn't get the most out of his youth, despite winning the Cup with a second line composed entirely of rookies. Carlyle was a great coach, and there is a reason he is the winningest coach in Ducks history.

I feel sorry for Randy; he is the scapegoat for terrible moves by Murray. Of course, that's what happens in this business. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that the buzz about Bobby Ryan was a smokescreen for firing Carlyle. I can't help but think that Carlyle deserved better. Those early Brian Burke constructed teams that he coached were so much fun to watch. They paid the price for everything, and made the opposition pay an even higher price. His critics will say it wasn't creative, but it was hard nosed and beautiful to watch. It might not have been electric, but it was beautiful hockey that I loved watching.

I want to thank Randy Carlyle. It was during his tenure that I gained my greatest appreciation for the nuances of the game. It was watching those post-lockout Ducks that taught me how to see more than a stat sheet. Maybe, Carlyle was coaching me and I didn't even notice. The '07 Cup Victory is an irreplaceable sports memory for me, and I have Carlyle to thank for it. I wish he could have stayed, and I wish Murray could have given him a roster full of the players he needed instead of the players that were available. Still, all things must end, and I refuse to be bitter about these losses and I refuse to have anything bad to say about him as he goes. Thank you for everything Carlyle, I hope you find success wherever you land.

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