With the Anaheim Ducks in the midst of their worst start since the 1996-97 season when the Mighty Ducks went 1-9-2 through their first 12 games, speculation about the future of head coach Bruce Boudreau has been a major talking point in the local and national hockey media.
Fresh off returning from the first five-game road trip in franchise history where the Ducks earned less than two points, general manager Bob Murray released a statement through the Ducks website:
"I really don't like commenting on rumors, but I will say this: We were one game away from the Final just five months ago. So while this has been a terrible start, I'm not inclined to make rash changes. I'm going to be patient. That said, we are severely underperforming as a group. I can't recall a time where a vast majority of our players have underachieved simultaneously, and I fully expect a turnaround."
Various NHL insiders have tabbed Murray as looking for a potential deal to help things, though this response is in line with his modus operandi of caution is making major moves. Firing the most successful regular season coach in franchise history surely would be major.
Players Show Support
Perhaps the most interesting part of the response is that the players came out and directly spoke on the fact that they support Boudreau. Considering unattributed reports from NHL insiders like Darren Dreger and Elliotte Friedman in recent days saying the locker room supports the coach, it's good to see players put their name on it, in particular captain Ryan Getzlaf:
In talking with a few of Ducks leaders, they strongly insist that they're responding to Boudreau. Last three games they say is proof.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) October 30, 2015
Getzlaf said he knows the feeling when some guys aren't listening anymore and he doesn't have that feeling with Boudreau.— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) October 30, 2015
More Getzlaf: 'The locker room isn’t divided. We’re not against our coach or anything of those matters. We’re just trying to, as a group— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) October 30, 2015
stay together and find out what we need to do to turn things around. The coaches are doing their job. The players got to do ours.' Getzlaf— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) October 30, 2015
"We have guys fighting for their jobs. No better time to come together and start doing the things we want to do." https://t.co/ZyRBH4iaCL— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 30, 2015
"You have to go out and make yourself fit, because we don't have any time to waste." - Cogliano https://t.co/l3Nv4CCXD3— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 30, 2015
Cam Fowler and Andrew Cogliano's words echo what has been the consistent sentiment in the locker room presented to the public. Coming in to tonight's action Anaheim is seven points clear behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final guaranteed playoff spot out of the Pacific Division, and nine points clear back of the final wild card spot.
Boudreau for his part is taking it as in stride as possible:
Boudreau on if he wanted Murray to address his job status publicly: "I'm fine. All I can do is do what I've done. Work as hard as I can."— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) October 30, 2015
Injury Progress Updates
An interesting part to come out of the media availability today is that Getzlaf knew that the appendix was an issue heading in to the road trip, and delayed surgery as long as possible:
Getzlaf said he knew going into road trip he'd come home for appendix; doesn't know his return date but "I don't imagine it being too long."— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) October 30, 2015
Getzlaf also said he had experienced four episodes of intense pain before scheduling appendectomy. knew it would be during this last trip.— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) October 30, 2015
It's clear that he's been playing through pain in the early going of the season. Previous reports noted that the appendix was an issue as much as six weeks back, which would be before the start of exhibition season. Now with what hopefully has been the issue taken care of, it will be a much closer to 100% Getzlaf leading the charge for the Ducks.
Meanwhile on the backend there is some encouraging news regarding Josh Manson, while still no word on Simon Despres:
Boudreau didn't have an update on Simon Despres or Josh Manson but did say Manson was "getting better quicker."— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) October 30, 2015
Both players have been out with upper body injuries, Despres since suffering a hit to the head by Tyson Barrie against Colorado on October 16, and Manson since the first game of the road trip in Nashville on October 22.
The sooner Manson can return to the lineup the better; he's third best on the team in relative scoring chance percentage, both overall and against high danger chances. Meanwhile the lack of an update on Despres remains a concern with Anaheim sorely missing his shot-suppression; his shot attempt differential percentage is best on the team, while he's second in overall and high danger scoring chances percentage.
We'll have a month of October wrap up during the week, exploring some of the early season issues for the Ducks. Look for the Monday Report to kick off the coming week as well, as we'll give a quick run down of the upcoming week's action.
Anaheim has tonight and Saturday off before facing Nashville on Sunday. The three-game home stand sees visits from Florida on Wednesday and Columbus on Friday, before the team heads up to San Jose for the Ducks' fourth Pacific Division game of the season.