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Murray: 'It's Unacceptable'

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

The potential silver lining of a fourth straight win over the rival Sharks was pretty much dashed in 27 seconds last night.

That was the time (in hockey seconds, that is) it took the Sharks to turn a 1-0 Ducks lead into a 2-1 deficit, and the Ducks never recovered. In a microcosm of how the 2011-12 season has gone for Anaheim, twice they had just-missed goals quickly countered by San Jose scores. 

There was Bobby Ryan's pretty spin move and cut to the net that was denied at the last instant by Antti Niemi, then compounded 30 seconds later by Brad Winchester's goal at the other end. There was Nick Bonino's clean shot in the third that loudly rang the very inside of the post, which was followed about 40 seconds later by Joe Pavelski's rebound goal that all but put the game away.

It was the seventh loss in the last eight for Anaheim, the only blip in that run coming in that day-after-Christmas win in San Jose.

And it was before last night's game that Ducks boss Bob Murray spoke to the OC Register and L.A. Times about the state of the Ducks. He made no bones about the fact he is incensed at the team's performance and is considering any and all options to make it right for the future. Murray said Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu -- both of whom have no-trade clauses -- are the only Ducks not available for trades. "And the rest of the players in the locker room," he said. "I thought they'd figure it out when we changed coaches. They (thought) that time was running, well the clock is running quickly here."

"I still believe we have some core players. Now whether we have to change a few core players, so be it. They're deciding who's staying and who's not staying at this point. They're the ones deciding."

Bottom line, the Ducks are not rebuilding. They will not trade core players for draft picks, but rather other team's core players. ("We will not go to draft picks. It's not my intention," he said.) And while Murray was hesitant to concede this season, he did indicate that they are looking at what moves they can make to ensure a return to playoff form in 2012-13.

"I think this team can be turned around to make the playoffs next year," he said. "I think it's going to be hard to do it this year but I do want them to make a run. But it's got to happen quick. Everybody knows that. … Let's start playing better hockey."

Through last night, the Ducks are 10-22-6 and 14th in the Western Conference, which remains a confounding position considering it's much the same group that surged to fourth in the ultra-competitive conference last year.

"Everybody in pro hockey knows we have good core players and explaining why they're playing the way they are and why we've had the year we've had so far it's just frustrating and unexplainable and it's not good enough," Murray said. "It's unacceptable."

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There was a touching moment prior to last night's game, when youth players from the Aliso Viejo Jr. Orange County Hockey Club joined the Ducks for the national anthem. Among those kids was Aleksandro Salei, son of the late former Duck Ruslan Salei. All of the players were announced to the crowd by PA announcer Phil Hullett, the last being Aleksandro: "And fans, please welcome the son of the late Ruslan Salei: number 24 , Aleksandro Salei."

That brought a loud ovation from the crowd, and players from both the Ducks and Sharks benches applauded and tapped their sticks on the boards. (Salei and his wife Bethann also had a daughter Alexis and a daughter Ava born in March.)

Here's a photo:

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