In the wake of the news that Randy Carlyle was relieved of his head coaching duties, Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray spoke with members of the media on the reasons behind the move, his decision to become interim head coach and what he wants to see from his players.
Why did you choose to become the interim head coach? Is [Gulls head coach] Dallas Eakins a candidate?
First of all, yes he's a candidate. He's done a very good job in San Diego. Secondly, in that sense, I didn't feel it was right to bring anybody in at this point in time. I had to be here. I had go downstairs and live it with these guys. I have to find out everything going on down here. It's more problematic than I thought a while ago. The only way I felt it was fair was for me to get down there. I touched base with a lot of people I respect in this business a while ago. I felt this was the right time. The other part of that is, there's a good thing going on in San Diego. That's one part of our organization that's good right now. I want to leave that just the way it is, and I want the young players to have Dallas there. Hopefully they'll be a good end-of-the-year run.
What concerns you the most about this team? Talent? Work ethic? Combination of everything?
It's probably a combination of everything, but what bothered me the most was the lack of emotion. The lack of pushback. This team has always been a pride team. It's gone away. It's not there. Nothing else works if there's not hard work, emotion and passion to compete and win. It hasn't been there.
What do you think will be the toughest part of being an interim coach?
It was tough putting skates on again, trust me. It's my job. We've got problems here. It's got to be fixed. The trade deadline is on [Feb. 25], so it's going to be a little tough right now. Years ago, some real wise [general managers] told me, you should go down behind the bench for a while just so you know what coaches go through. These are really intelligent, good hockey people. In a sense, it might be too late, but it's my job. I'm looking forward to figuring out what the issues are.
Is there concern with the leadership group because of the lack of passion?
That's why I'm here. I have to figure out why. Not everybody has leadership capabilities. There are leaders and followers. I have too many guys following. There should be people leading here. One of the biggest things I have to determine here is if I have people that can do that. I thought we did. I haven't given up on them yet, but I'm very worried.
By stepping in, are you taking on responsibility for how things have gone thus far?
I'm the general manager. This is the only way for me to determine what all of the problems are. It's on all of us here. I'd like to get the players feeling good about themselves and playing hockey. There is no passion or emotion down there. Got to find a way to get it back. I'm looking for people to lead the team and get it back. Who knows what can happen. This team can lose 12 in a row, but they can also win 12 in a row. Nothing is out of the question. One day at a time. We've got to get better every day.
What was the mindset behind making yourself the interim head coach instead of anyone else on the coaching staff?
I don't think it would be fair to put anybody else in this position right now. It's two-fold. I don't think it's fair. I haven't liked the experience before when I've done it. I felt I needed to be in the trenches. I felt strongly that way. I talked to enough people, and talked things through. I know this is the right move for our organization right now.
How has the news been received by the team?
I thought they were good today. Good practice. Let's see how it is two weeks from now.
Is there anything you can share in terms of Carlyle's reaction to the news?
We met at Honda Center earlier today and had a talk. It was no surprise. He's been around a long time like I have. We're going to continue to talk. He wants to help this organization get better as much as I do. We're going to talk about some things and some players, and which direction we should go with some things. It's never a good day. It's not fun, but he and I will continue to talk and get this organization back to where we've been for a while.
Does Carlyle have a defined role as of now? How much did you want to avoid having to make this move?
He's going to talk with me and my senior guys. We're going to talk things through about the players. He has unique insight into it. Some people thought I waited far too long, but this team has had a history of charging late. I knew it wasn't going to happen this year, a few days ago, so I went to ownership.
Looking long term, do you anticipate having any discussions with players who have no-movement/no-trade clauses and asking them to reassess their future?
That's one of the things I'll figure out in the next 20-or-so-games. I'll look at it then, and then I'll assess the situation. If I have to go talk to them, I have no fear doing that myself. But let me look at this for a minute.
Does becoming an interim head coach change your thought process regarding the trade deadline?
This is the hardest part. We have good players, just not a good team right now. I've been listening a lot lately. It doesn't change anything. We have to change some things. If opportunity arises, where we can be younger and faster, I'm going to have to look long and hard at it. That's where we're at with this organization. I don't think we need to do a four- or five-year rebuild where you get the No. 1 or No. 2 picks all the time. There is enough in the system. There are enough good players. A few good moves and we can be back to being a good organization.
What was today like for you?
It was different. You still get nervous. Wednesday night [vs. Vancouver] is going to be interesting. It's never bad to be nervous, and I'm sure I'll be very nervous. But I'm very focused on watching my players. Just observing. I think I'll be able to do that.
What do you think you can learn of the players from a coaching perspective?
As a player, you go through different things in your career. I don't want to make light of this, but winning is much easier than losing. When players are losing, you learn a lot about them. The cream tends to rise to the top when it gets ugly, which it is. I'm going to be right there with them, seeing who takes that step forward, or who doesn't take a step forward. In order to win, you have to have people not afraid of the adversity. That's what I'm looking for.
Do you anticipate doing a full coaching search once the season ends?
As soon as [the season] is over, that's the first thing on the list.