While the last few seasons the Ducks have had a penchant for leading the league in news material, the team has astutely limited those distractions and kept its focus on winning hockey games.
The latest chapter in the Anaheim
saga is yesterday’s announcement that Brian Burke would step down as the team’s Executive Vice President and General Manager and be replaced by Bob Murray. Serving as a special consultant for the time being, Burke sat in the stands with Murray
during Thursday’s practice at Honda Center. Once a GM with Chicago (the team he played for 15 seasons as a two-time All-Star defenseman) from 1997-99, Murray
received a contract through the 2011-12 season in his new opportunity with the Ducks.
“It wasn’t a complete surprise to me,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, who credits Murray (formerly the team’s Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations) as a big reason to him being in Anaheim
. “I knew at some point in the near future that a decision was going to have to be made. For our part, we’re trying to make this seamless. From the coaches’ standpoint and players, it’s pretty much been that way.”
Even as Wednesday’s events unraveled at Honda Center and press conferences were being held in adjacent rooms, the Ducks were back on the ice for the first time since suffering their second straight defeat at the arena last Sunday, a 3-1 loss to Florida. With his team returning from two days off and two days of practice on the docket, Carlyle was pleased the announcement came when it did.
“I think the timing of it was important,” Carlyle said. “We had some time off. It was done on a Wednesday and we practiced yesterday. Today is another day that you move forward.”
The Ducks have grown accustomed to dealing with circumstances beyond their control. Last season, the team endured questions about a Stanley Cup hangover, the trip to London
and the status of Teemu Selanne
and Scott Niedermayer for much of the season. Through it all, the team still rolled to 102 standings points and their third straight playoff appearance.
As new inquiries mount this season, the team strives forward once again with the understanding they must remain focused on the game while the other things around them play out.
“We have to go out and produce on the ice and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself,” Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. “We have a guy in place that is going to be here and keep things moving forward.”
In welcoming Nashville
to the arena on Friday night, the Ducks face an opponent that they have dominated in Orange County
’s all-time record at home against the Predators is 15-1-2, including wins in the last six games dating back to November 2005. Continuing that streak would be a good way to usher in a new era of Ducks hockey.
“They can’t control what is going on around them,” Carlyle said. “The thing that they can control is how well they play, how much effort they put in and their level of execution and passion. Because of what has transpired off the ice, to me that should have no effect on their ability to bring their ‘A’ game.”Notes
Brad May (right knee) and Brad Larsen (sports hernia) both appear to be heading in the right direction in their returns from injuries. Each Brad participated in practice (the first full one for Larsen) and reported different degrees of progression on Thursday.
“It’s coming along, but there is no timetable set for it with these things,” said Larsen, who has yet to make his Ducks debut since being acquired from Atlanta
(with now former Duck Ken Klee and prospect Chad Painchaud in exchange for Mathieu Schneider) on Sept. 26. “It feels better than it was a week ago. I’ve been skating for the last eight to nine days. Every day I’m just trying to ramp it up.”
Said May, “I feel better now. I’m not sure what is in store for me tomorrow, but I’m definitely ready to go.”