Are the Anaheim Ducks on the verge of making a coaching change?
It’s too early to tell but in the wake of comments made by general manager Bob Murray, Bruce Boudreau might not want to make any long-term commitments in the area.
The consensus in the aftermath of Anaheim’s Game 7 loss to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals was that, while disappointing, it was enough of a step forward to bring the coaching staff back for the 2015-16 season.
But given the opportunity to extend a vote of confidence to Boudreau after the team’s exit interviews on Tuesday, Murray demurred.
“I haven’t talked to the coaching staff one bit,” Murray said. “I thought the coaching staff made strides this year. But I’ve still got to talk to them. I’m not ready to talk to them. We’ve got to meet later.
“I’ve got to sort things out in my mind. I’m not one to do things quickly. I’m evaluating the whole hockey team. That’s not a yes or a no. I’ve got to evaluate everything.”
While that snub could be dismissed as a case of prudent management, it wasn't the only evidence of a possible disconnect between Murray and Boudreau. The GM was critical of Boudreau's inability to keep his team on point late in the series, particularly in Game 6.
“We didn’t react properly whatsoever. All structure went right out the window. I wasn’t impressed by it at all. This is a team. Everything we do is as a team. The unanswered question is still the structure when we get under stressful periods. When you’re not playing well, you have to fall back on your structure. It failed us at critical moments.”
Not much room to misinterpret Murray there. Criticize the structure and you’re directly criticizing the coaching.
There also seems to be some discord over the playoff-long benching of James Wisniewski. Murray acquired the veteran defenseman at the trade deadline at no small cost—prospect William Karlsson and a 2015 second-round pick—only to see him scratched for the duration of the postseason.
Wisniewski needed time to recover from a bone bruise suffered in his last game with the Blue Jackets after he arrived in Anaheim, but still managed to chip in five assists in 13 regular season games while learning a new system.
“We’ve got to take the blame —the coaching staff and I do —for hurrying him into the lineup before he was in shape,” Murray said. “He’s in great shape now. He worked his butt off. I wish he’d gotten an opportunity because I know he would have played well.”
Boudreau signed a two-year extension prior to this season that runs through 2017. After this, it's a toss-up whether he'll get the chance to honor his end of the deal.