I became a devoted Ducks fan during the 96-97 season, but it came at a cost. I was a traitor.
I grew up with Kings fans. My father listened to Bob Miller on a transistor radio, and my brother is still a devoted Kings fan. I remember standing in the hallway of our house and listening to my father's new stereo system as Marty McSorley was called for that infamous penalty.
After some 15 years as a Ducks fan, I do not regret my betrayal. I watched the then Mighty Ducks trade for Teemu Selanne in an attempt to get Paul Kariya some scoring help, only to watch us fail time and again at building a second line. I watched Kariya pummeled again, and again with no enforcer to protect him.
I saw veterans roll in on their last legs as shadows of greatness. Kurri, Sandstrom, and Oates. I saw us trade away Selanne. I endured the tenure of Pierre Page, and I watched Jack Ferreira go around and around, putting the same product on the ice.
I saw the hope of 2003, and the glory of 2007. Arthur and I have been friends for over a decade, and I think the 2007 Cup was the closest we ever came to hugging. I watched Burke pursue bigger fish in Toronto, and entrust a Stanley Cup core to Bob Murray. I watched Bob Murray go in circles. I watched his inability to provide depth, watched the parade of Boyntons and no-longer-desired first-round castoffs. I watched, helplessly, as Francois Beauchemin left without a phone call. Then as Beauchemin returned at the expense of a recently returned Joffrey Lupul and a promising Jake Gardiner. Recently I saw Murray sign Sheldon Souray to an unmanageable contract.
Anaheim was once a wasteland of the NHL. No one wanted to sully themselves with a joke organization based off a kids movie. But that Cup core came with a promise that those days were behind us, that we would no longer be the dregs of the Western Conference. Instead, we would be a formidable contender. We had all the pieces to go back except for a GM who lacked the ability to build around that core. I am not going back. I will not settle for mediocrity. I will refuse to settle for a General Manager who aims low and still misses.
As a sports fan, we are rarely in control of our own team's actions. However, there are opportunities where a voice can generate the impact necessary to move an organization to action. Right now, we do not have to accept Murray's slow crawl to mediocrity. We can sign this petition and let the Samuelis know that we take our team seriously, and that we demand a better product. Murray resigns himself to defeat before he even tries. It isn't the deals Murray doesn't make; it's the ones he doesn't try to make or for which he refuses to fight.
As a smaller market team, we need a GM who can think outside the box and recognize a chance to make the deal that will propel us to the realm of the contender because we are not going back. We will never return to the days of being the league's doormat, devoid of respect and ambition. We have the core players to be a contender and we want a General Manager who shares that vision, rather than cower in fear of losing his job. Even if you don't agree that Murray is a bad GM, we should all be able to agree that he is the wrong GM for this team.
I encourage you all to speak out, and let the Samuelis know that we will not sit idly by while Murray spirals us toward a fate similar to Chicago's. Sign our petition. Be heard. We will be your microphone. Seize this chance to affect change on the team that you have become connected to in your own unique way. You are implored by a traitor.
[Ed. Note: Still not convinced? See the old posts that help send the point home: While I Have the Conn, Indicting a Ham Sandwich, Collateral Damage, and To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild, or Should We Fire Murray?]