The Ducks have extended the contract of Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray for two additional seasons. Murray is now under contract through the 2021-22 NHL season.
"Bob has created a winning organization with his commitment and expertise," said Ducks Chief Executive Officer Michael Schulman. "We are very pleased to be in a position where expectations are high virtually every season, thanks in large part to Bob and his staff. We passionately share a common goal - bringing another Stanley Cup to Orange County."
A three-time finalist for NHL General Manager of the Year (won in 2013-14), Murray has led Anaheim to the playoffs the last six consecutive seasons (only Pittsburgh has a longer streak) and five consecutive 100+ point seasons (NHL's longest active streak). The Ducks are the only Western Conference team to play in the Conference Finals in two of the last four seasons and have won a conference-leading 31 playoff games since 2014.
"It's an honor to work for a great organization, led by terrific ownership," said Murray. "Having a successful franchise is a group effort, and I'm grateful for the efforts of many, including my entire hockey operations staff."
Murray has spent the last 44 consecutive years in the NHL. He joined the Ducks in 2005 as Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations and was named to his current role on Nov. 12, 2008 (11th season as Executive VP/GM). Since Murray joined the Ducks, the club has been to the playoffs 11 times and Conference Finals four times. Murray played a key role behind the scenes in his first few years with Anaheim, helping the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007.
Murray is approaching 1,000 games as an NHL General Manager (975 games: 188 with Chicago and 787 with Anaheim). He is the longest-serving General Manager in club history.
Below are some quotes from Murray earlier today:
What was the process like leading into this extension?
We started talking in the summer. They wanted to know how I was feeling and if I wanted to keep going for a few more years or slow down a bit. I thought about it for a while. I love my job and really enjoy the people I work for. They get what we're doing. They understand the business. They're a pleasure to work for. We're in a great market with good fans. We talked about it. We still feel good, so let's continue. We took a little while to get an extension done. What age I'll be played into the extension. I'm excited. This organization is in a transition stage, so it's wonderful to have their backing going forward.
What type of vision did you have to lay out with ownership?
There's been ongoing discussions about where the organization is going, and how we're going to do it. The goal is to get back to a point where we're a true Stanley Cup contender. There are playoff teams and Stanley cup contenders. We want to get back into contention to win a Stanley Cup. That's what we're talking about. It's a little difficult because of injuries. That's not an excuse. You think you're going to wait until you get healthy to see exactly how certain things are fitting or not fitting. We may never get healthy, so it's the business these days in the NHL. Lots of teams have injuries. We have a game plan, and we're going to go about it.
Are you a playoff team or a Stanley Cup contender right now?
I don't think, at the moment, the way we're playing, we're a Stanley Cup contender. Every night you can't get out-chanced. We have a lot of work to do, on and off the ice.
Is the foundation there with some of the young players?
I think we have a good starting point. We have some good young players. I'm protective of them. The temptation is to bring them in and play them. The best way is to let them grow and get comfortable. Periodically during the year, you bring them up and give them a look so they understand what they have to do to make the next step properly. We've got a good base, but we need to work on it. We have some work to do.
Was there any point this season you considered making a coaching change?
No. I will focus more on the players, how we're playing, and worry about that at this point in time. I told the coaching staff in the summer some things I wanted to see changed. How we play the game. Some things worked and a lot of things haven't worked. I have to give them a little bit of time to figure some things out with our group. You can blame some of that on the coaching staff. Some of the things we tried early in the year didn't work. Some things just didn't work with our group. That's not always the coaches' responsibility, when things don't work. So they need to find a way to make things work with our group. It's a work in progress. We're in a transition stage at the moment.
How would you grade Carlyle's performance thus far?
We're over .500, but, in saying that, we all know goaltending is a huge part of a hockey team, and we have that going forward. You have no starting point without goaltending. Everybody knows that's big reason why our record is what it is. Some things have improved. Some things are better. We have to continually strive to play a more up-tempo game. There are lots of ways - and we won't get into the details of how to do that - but we have to get our players to do things to play a more up-tempo game. It's not there yet.
On injury updates to Fowler, Perry and Eaves
Cam is very excited. I think he started [working out] today. He's doing very well. He's been at the last couple of games. Doctors are very happy. He's excited. He's right on schedule to play about eight weeks [from the time of the injury]. Barring any setbacks, I think he's doing extremely well. He's really excited to start doing something. It's just the nature of the beast. When you get a guy like him who hasn't been able to do anything in three weeks, he's chomping at the bit. He'll do some stuff in the gym in about a week, and hopefully start skating in about a week to 10 days.
Corey is doing really well. Met with his doctor last night. He's doing really well. He's doing lots of work. They've had to pull him back a bit because you can't hurry some of the healing process inside the knee. He's pushed past that, so they had to back him off a little bit so that he doesn't re-injure anything. There could be a silver lining in this. He loves being around the rink. He's here all the time. This could be very good for him and his career.
Patrick has a broken rib. He has his shoulder. One went with the other. They both acted up a bit. We've had to back him off. I really have no timetable on him right now. I think he's feeling better. It's not one of the lower ribs. It's up higher, so it affects his back and his shoulder. We have to let that heal.
Scoring has been an issue with your team. Are you looking to improve on that front?
Definitely actively looking to improve. Scoring is up in the game again. It seems we're going through another era like in the 1980s where there were lots of goals. We brought in Daniel [Sprong] because he likes to shoot and score. That doesn't mean we're stopping there. We have to find ways to score more goals. It's a problem. The power play is an issue. Even as bad as we played last night, we had a chance to get back into the game, but the power play wasn't very good. It's on our minds big time.
Is there something that could trigger you to take action sooner than later?
Teams are staring to make deals earlier in the year now. I think that has to do with the trade deadline. Things were really quiet because of the Toronto-Nylander situation. Since that has been put to bed, there has been a lot more chatter since that time.
On how Seattle starting in 2021-22 affects the expansion draft
Once we knew it was probably going to happen, you have two different lists. You have the earlier year where you have some guys with no-trades and no-moves who would've had to have been protected. And you move one year later. Those guys are all up except for Kesler. Then you start looking at the young players. The lists are made right now, of who we might possibly have to protect and not to protect. But there's development time in here now. We have some good young players in our system, but I can't tell you which guys are or aren't going to come along. We will approach it differently this time, as will most other teams. We will be very well prepared when the time comes.