One day after the Ducks were eliminated in a Game 7 loss to Detroit in the Western Conference Semifinals, Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray spoke to reporters via conference call from his office at Honda Center. Following is a transcript:
It’s a tough day today. This was a group of guys that played their heart out. It just didn’t work out quite right. A bounce here, a bounce there, it could have been different and we could have been in Chicago. But we’re not. Now, I start working on next year. This group, since we’ve been here, we’ve had three decent runs in the playoffs in four years. I see no reason not to try to continue that. I think we can do it. That is what I’m going to work on. I’m going to meet with the guys tomorrow morning individually. Randy will meet with them first. I’ll meet with them after that. Then, we’ll get to work.
On the priorities of the offseason,
The biggest one is definitely and let’s not kid ourselves, what and Scotty and Teemu going to do? I heard their comments last night and I chuckled to myself when they said ‘Well, we’d like to play, we’re going to see what Bob’s going to do?’ Well, Bob’s decisions are all based on what they do and where we go from there. Our veterans were outstanding from just before the trade deadline on – Scotty, Prongs was great, Todd Marchant was wonderful. You got the emergence of Hiller and Jiggy. We’re not that far away. We can have another good run again. But it all depends. Scotty is irreplaceable. He’s everything to this group. I’m going to have to see where he goes before I decide where I go.
The Bob Murray Effect
When Bob Murray took over as Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager on Nov. 12, the Ducks had we had 14 players on their roster who would be unrestricted free agents in the offseason. After a series of deals – including the trades of Travis Moen, Brendan Morrison, Kent Huskins, Samuel Pahlsson, Steve Montador, Brad May and Brian Sutherby) – the Ducks now have seven. In the process, the Ducks also saved $1 million in salary cap space, allowing for more financial flexibility.
The Ducks also got younger, bringing in 24-year-old defenseman James Wisniewski, 26-year-old Ryan Whitney and 23-year-old forward Mike Brown, along with standout prospects like center Nick Bonino, goalie Timo Pielmeier (from San Jose) and center Petri Kontiola (Chicago).
As of November 12, when Murray was named GM, the average age of the Ducks was 30.4, with 12 players under 30 years of age and three under 25. Today, the average age is 28.1, with 17 players under 30 years of age and 7 under 25.
The following players are unrestricted free agents: Francois Beauchemin, Josh Green, Bret Hedican, Brad Larsen, Todd Marchant, Rob Niedermayer and Scott Niedermayer. The restricted free agents are: Troy Bodie, Mike Brown, Erik Christensen, Brett Festerling, Petri Kontiola, Brian Salcido, Petteri Wirtanen and James Wisniewski.
Here are the players that have gone in and out since Murray was named GM:
Nick Bonino (21) – San Jose trade
Sheldon Brookbank (28) – New Jersey trade
Mike Brown (23) – Vancouver trade
Erik Christensen (25) – Atlanta trade
Petteri Nokelainen (23) – Boston trade
Petri Kontiola (24) – Chicago trade
Matt McCue (20) – Free agent signing
Timo Pielmeier (19) – San Jose trade
Dan Sexson (22) – College free agent signing
MacGregor Sharp (23) – College free agent signing
Ryan Whitney (26) – Pittsburgh trade
James Wisniewski (25) – Chicago trade
Conditional Sixth Round Pick in 2010 NHL Entry Draft (from Dallas in the Sutherby deal)
Conditional Sixth Round Pick in 2010 NHL Entry Draft (from Toronto in the May deal)
Kent Huskins (30)
Chris Kunitz (29)
Joakim Lindstrom (25)
Brad May (37)
Nathan McIver (24)
Travis Moen (27)
Steve Montador (29)
Eric O’Dell (18)
Samuel Pahlsson (31)
Brian Sutherby (27)
Eric Tangradi (20)
On giving Niedermayer a deadline,
We have talked about this before him and I. He knows where I am coming from. Right now, I’ll talk to all those guys tomorrow and then I’ll give them time to get away. But I need to know before the draft. The trade deadline is the time you can change your time. The next time you can change your hockey team is at the draft or start tinkering. I’ll need to know from both Teemu and Scotty what their plans are at that point in time.
Once Scotty makes his decision, I can tell you about everybody else. There is some wiggle room in there. We’ve got ourselves out of the hole a little bit here this year. We’re in better shape that way than we have been in a few years. Again, I have to see what he’s going to do and we’ll go from there.
On keeping the defense intact,
I don’t think you can keep them all. It all depends how contract negotiations go like with Scotty. We’ll have to talk about that. Lots of things can happen in that. Then, I’ll have to make some decisions. It’s going to be a busy time for us come mid-June.
On talks with Wisniewski and Beauchemin,
If Wisniewski gets an offer sheet, we’ll match. We’re in a good spot to do that. We’re not where we were before. There will be negotiations with Wisniewski. Adding Whitney and Wisniewski, we rebuilt our defense pretty quickly there. Instead of getting draft picks and starting all over, we didn’t do that. We went at it midstream. I intend to keep Wis. I like Wis. I have no problem.
Beauch, that is the horse of a different color. You have to admire what he did here. I’m just so impressed. He’s going to want to test the free agent market. That is a variable that is out there for sure. I have a good relationship with him, so we’ll talk again. Scotty plays a factor in it and lots of things play a factor in that one.
On if Beauchemin can get signed before July 1,
I haven’t really talked with Bobby Sauve (his agent) about that yet. Once he came back, I didn’t think it was right to talk about while the playoffs were on. I don’t think that is right and fair during playoffs. If Beauch didn’t come back, maybe Bobby Sauve and I would have sat down. But he played. You have to admire what that guy did.
On the need for offensive depth,
You saw what happened to us. We have three top-two line forwards under the age of 24. They had to carry a lot of the load. You saw some of the things that happen when you do that. They were outstanding. We have to get better on that second line. This is no criticism to people that were playing there for us, but we just have to get some secondary scoring. We have to take the pressure off the other line. Something that was key two years ago when we won was that second line and we haven’t had it since. We’ve tried to find a centerman on that second line twice and let’s face facts, we’re 0-for-2. I can’t go 0-for-3.
On the team’s goaltending situation,
First of all, I have to have a heart-to-heart with Jiggy and see where he’s at. He had a tough year mentally and the other guy comes in and played great. We have two great goaltenders here. A lot of teams can’t say that and we can have that situation all of next year. I want to talk to Giguere and I want to see where his head’s at. We’ll go from there. Obviously, Jonas is unrestricted at the end of next year. I’m aware of that. We’re in a lot better shape than a lot of other teams.
On the possibility of Scotty taking less money to stay in Anaheim,
I have not even talked to Scotty about that. I don’t know. I just want Scotty back. Let me get to that point first. I have no answer to that because we haven’t even gone there.
On being given a budget for next season,
We’ve talked. (Ducks CEO) Michael Schulman and I are going to meet next week here. We’ll look at things. The way they do it here is they’ve talked about it and then we’ll see what the final numbers are from this year, then we’ll go forward for next year. They have always been more than fair here. July 1 is going to be interesting this year. With the fact that I think the cap will be a little less this year. Say it’s 55, 54, I really truly believe from the numbers we’re hearing around the league and the sales of tickets for next year that revenues will be down next year and that the cap will drop maybe below 50. It’s going to be really interesting to see team’s maneuver here on July 1. I’m anxious to get to that point. I guess that is a roundabout way of saying, they have never cut me back on salary here. They have always been very fair. We’ll see where Scotty is at and we’ll go from there. He’s the key to everything.
On if he thought the trade deadline moves would work as well as they did,
I had no idea. I knew way back at Christmas time that the way things were going, if it didn’t start moving and it kept being stale, that it would be irresponsible if I didn’t do something. Give the power to the veterans. They took on a bunch of kids. They took on some younger players and different players. Our veteran took the ball and they ran with it. They should be applauded for that.
I never thought about rebuilding. Rebuilding means you go back and you sell off everybody for draft picks. You look at Chicago, it can work. But I don’t think we have to do it. We have some very good young hockey players in this organization. We don’t have to do it. We’re going to try to go at it again next year. I see no reason why we can’t. Again, Scotty is critical obviously. Rebuilding in not in our vocabulary right now. I don’t like that word.
On the importance of maintaining a veteran presence on the team,
We have to. I have to talk to them. Todd Marchant, he is so influential in that room. He’s an important factor. You see this team get down 3-1 and everybody said ‘Well, they’re done’. That group was never done. A lot of that comes from those guys, from Scotty and Prongs. That is going to be very important. Getzy, Corey, Bobby Ryan, hopefully that will will translate to them. I think it is. You listen to Corey Perry talk. I think he’s a little hard on himself. Both him and Getzy, they have come so far, but they are going to look back at some point and say ‘God, we were lucky to play with Scotty, Chris, Jiggy and Todd Marchant’.
On if Robby and Marchant will need to take pay cuts to stay,
They are going to have to or else it’s not going to work because it’s not like it was before. We have Corey and Getzy who have now moved up. You’re going to see a lot of older guys all around hockey are going to have to come down a bit because of the young guys, and this is why we were mad when these offer sheets happened. It’s going to be interesting to see what team’s do with their young stars because they just jump now. They jump from entry level to let’s just say 5 and above. It affects older guys in the grand scheme, especially with the cap going down.
On Mike Brown, who is due to be a restricted free agent,
I thought Mike Brown filled his role perfectly. I think the guys like him. I think they like the energy he brings.
On injuries that may have been present on the team,
I think Nokelainen broke his hand during his second shift yesterday. I know be broke his hand. We’re getting him an MRI early next week. Christensen has a shoulder that has to get looked. Nokelainen had the groin thing going on. Getzy fought the flu. He was banged up, nothing serious. He played a lot of minutes, too many minutes. That is my fault. He didn’t have somebody behind him. Getzy just had to play too much to get where we got. You get banged up, you get tired and you get sick. Bobby Ryan had a hip pointer way back in the San Jose series. One little thing bounced off the hip. He was a little sore. He’s fine now. He had no issues in the Detroit series.
On Bobby Ryan,
We talked to him. Bobby tends to get down on himself. He tends to be his own worst enemy at times when he thinks everybody is watching him. We just had to let Bobby know, ‘Hey Bobby, this is what happens. This is the playoffs. You’re playing against one of the best teams, probably the top team in the league. This is what happens. You get checked tighter. It’s tougher, it’s harder. You learn from this. You don’t get down about it.’ Nobody was upset with him at all. We just kept telling him that and he finally believed it. He came on.
On where the series with Detroit ranks,
That was a hell of a series. You could see it coming. We had two real good series. That is why we’re so proud of them. They had two tough series in a row and they hung right in there. It was great for the league. I thought Mike (Babcock) was very gracious. That series became very intense. I was impressed how his team hung in there.
On Nick Bonino,
David McNab went and had a good chat with him during the series. If he wants to come out now, I’d be very happy and we would be very pleased with that. But if he doesn’t want to, that is fine too. I think he’s ready. He’s accomplished a lot. They won the championship. He’s a top-two line player and on the ice as much as anybody. If he wants to stay in school, that is fine too. We’ll know soon on him. He is not the solution to the problem at No. 2 center next year. I would never suggest that and I would never put the kid in that position.
On the minor league situation,
We have some things going on. I’ve been trying to work at this. There are a few things in the American League that there is a chance that something could break our way, which I would like. The other scenario is five guys here, five guys there. We could do that for a year if we had to. It’s not my preference.
On the Ducks' reputation,
When Brian and I came, we were trying to get interest back in the team. People like the physical play and it should never go away in our game. I’m not talking about fighting. I’m talking about good, hard hockey like you just saw. There were a couple of fights in there and our emotions broke out the one night, but that happens in hockey. I don’t think I want to change the style of how we’re going to play. I like how we play and the certain style of how we play. That does irritate me when people call us goons. When you have people like Scotty Niedermayer, that is really disrespectful and Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne. It’s a label we’ve had. We created it ourselves. Would I like it to disappear? I would like it to change around a bit. We have some good players here. If Teemu and Scotty come back, let’s count how many of every team’s players go to the Olympics. I think people will be quite surprised, ‘Oh geez, there are a whole bunch of Anaheim guys. How did those goons get that?’ It’s enough. Enough.