Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray took time out during the first day of training camp to talk about the state of the team:
On the compacted season, Bruce’s teams have a tendency for getting off to fast starts, which is important because he’s taken over a team that’s notorious for slow starts. So, that will be interesting to watch there. We don’t have a lot of time. This is a sprint and you’ve got to be ready to go and compete every night from the beginning.
On how the Ducks got better in the offseason, We set out to change our defense after last year. We weren’t happy with how small and pushed around we were in our own zone. That created a lot of our problems. So you bring in Bryan Allen and Sheldon Souray, and you’re bigger and stronger, you have more experience, you have leadership. So, the back end has been addressed.
As far as goaltending, Hillsy [Jonas Hiller] struggled at the start of last year. The heads thing just hadn’t gone away. We brought in Viktor Fasth, a very sought-after free agent, and we won on that one. So, the goaltending and back end has been addressed.
On relying on young players this season, There are some very interesting debates in the coach’s room right now, I’ll tell you that. There is lots of talk about having young legs and being able to skate. The third line and fourth line will be very important this year because the schedule is condensed for everybody. We’re going to have to skate every night, so it’s being discussed. We have a lot of good young players. You’ve got Holland and Palmieri up. This is a big camp for them. You’ve got Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem. Patrick Maroon had a great year last year in the minors and a good year this year so far. He’s a big, strong left winger and an offensive player. We want to see where he fits. We have some options with young guys, for sure, and we want to give them the opportunity.
On making any moves before opening night, You always want to see what it’s like out there. We feel Nick Bonino deserves the opportunity to have a bigger role. He’s done a lot of work off the ice. When you see him, you’ll know the work he’s put in. You want to see that first, but you don’t have a lot of time. We’re hearing of things happening already, and there have been some phone calls made. Nothing is going on yet. We’ll have to see what opens up in the next little while.
On bringing in Scott Niedermayer as an assistant coach, We’re very fortunate. I’ve been trying to get Scotty on the ice for a couple of years, and it’s just him being around. It’s not just for defenseman. It’s great for Cam, Luca, Beauch, those guys. But it’s great for everyone in that locker room because he’s the best winner of our time. He’s just a winner. He’s got such a unique perspective on things. He’s wonderful to talk to. So, it’s for everyone in that locker room.
On re-signing Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, It’s my priority. They’ve been Anaheim Ducks. I love those guys. They’re winners. I’m going to do everything in my power to sign them. We’ve talked to both their camps already. Their agents are coming in within the next couple of weeks. That’s my biggest priority. It’s not rocket science. I’ll try everything I can to get them signed.
On the importance of a strong start, It’s critical for all 30 teams. I remember (the work stoppage) in ‘94 and ’95, and believe me, you’re gonna blink and the season is going to be gone. It’s going to be great because every game is a playoff game, but we have to get off to that good start.