All Ducks fans are waiting for something - anything - big to come from the Ducks. So far, the biggest move has been the sending of Brandon McMillan to Syracuse (totally warranted, by the way). Everyone is expecting/calling for Randy Carlyle to lose his job. I've been saying for a while that Carlyle hasn't been axed for financial reasons, but then I started to consider something else.
The Capitals will never admit it, but Bruce Boudreau was fired because of Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. (And suuuuree you were shocked by that, Ovi.) The Alexes (Alexi?) are superstar players being paid millions of dollars and are the faces of their team. Boudreau is a great coach, but the Caps would sooner trade a struggling Ovechkin or Semin than I would dye my hair back to its natural mousy-brown color (never happening). When the coach held out Ovie in the final minutes of the game versus the Ducks, it was the beginning of the end for Boudreau. Next up was the benching of Semin in a game versus the Devils. Following that, the team tuned Boudreau more each day finally leading to his firing. This had nothing to do with wins and losses. This was about keeping your stars happy, inadvertently showing their power over the organization.
What does this have to do with the Ducks? Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are the future faces of the franchise, in something I'll call PTE or Post-Teemu Era. The Big 3 are well paid and popular, like Ovechkin and Semin, but they don't have the same kind of pull as the Alexes. There was a time last year that the Ducks were struggling and I could tell that RPG was tuning out Carlyle on the bench, and Carlyle was taking to calling them out by name in the media. Had they been able to influence GM Bob Murray at all, Carlyle would not be our coach right now. Instead, Murray threatened to send one of them elsewhere - a threat he hasn't made this season. The Ducks started winning and all was right again in the world.
Here the Ducks find themselves in another downward spiral and the Ducks front office is silent. Everyone (except me) is expecting some massive earth shattering change. (When I say "everyone" I mean the entire hockey world. The Ducks are being covered more by the mainstream hockey media now that they're losing than when they were making their epic playoff run last year.) The first instinct is to go with firing the coach. Obviously, that hasn't happened. I've been looking for signs that the players are over Carlyle, but it's not there. Teemu Selanne says to the press that the room is "100% supportive" of Carlyle. When Teemu speaks for the group, I'm more inclined to believe. Selanne is a classy guy, he's not going to publicly support Carlyle and then throw him under the bus in private. If Selanne wanted Carlyle fired, he would have demanded it, and most certainly wouldn't have voiced his support.
Next up is a gigantic trade likely involving one of the members of RPG. I have to believe that there are more than just Columbus' GM salivating at the idea of getting one of those guys. It's more likely that none of them are being shopped or the deals just aren't good enough, but I think it comes back to Teemu. I read somewhere that Teemu said that the players in the room are the ones that the team is going to get out of this hole with, and there is no missing piece that will make everything better. Do you think that trading one of the most skilled players in league is going to make things better or is Teemu right in implying the guys on the team now are the ones that will turn it around and it's all mental right now? Teemu wants to be surrounded by people that will make the team better. Had he felt that getting rid of Ryan, Perry, or Getzlaf in exchange for someone else, it would have been done games ago. Also, Teemu said he'd "had an eye on" Nicklas Hagman for a while and BOOM he becomes a Duck. I don't think that's just a coincidence.
This is Teemu's last year (maybe, likely, sorta...), and no one is more embarrassed by the current state of the Ducks than he is. He didn't come back for this crap. I have to believe that if Teemu wanted to shake the team up for his final year, he would have more influence than most in Murray's decisions. He is the franchise. This is his team. Hell, once he does hang 'em up, he should go Mario Lemieux on the Ducks and buy a controlling piece of the team from the Samueli's. Remember, each time he re-upped for another season, Murray would mention that Teemu would talk with him about the current state of the team and what it needed to win. This isn't Teemu in training for a GM job, this is Teemu righting the ship. Just like the Alexes and the Caps, the Ducks will listen to his demands. Next year isn't his concern - it's winning right now.