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Ducks GM Murray says taking over for fired coach Carlyle necessary

Sees it as 'only way' to get to root of problems with last-place Anaheim

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

Bob Murray wasn't going to find solutions for the struggling Anaheim Ducks in the press box or the management suite.

"I felt I needed to be in the trenches," the Ducks general manager said Sunday.

His solution: Step in as coach to replace Randy Carlyle, who was fired earlier in the day, for the rest of the season.

 

[RELATED: Carlyle fired as coach of Ducks]

 

Murray has accomplished a lot in the NHL. A rugged, throwback defenseman, he had 514 points (132 goals, 382 assists) in 1,008 NHL games, all with the Chicago Blackhawks. He is 509-374-130 in 1,013 games as GM for the Blackhawks and Ducks, and the fifth person to both play and manage 1,000 NHL games.

But he has never coached professional hockey.

"I didn't think it would be fair to put anyone (else) in this position," the 64-year-old said.

Murray said he considered Dallas Eakins, coach of the American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego. But he likes the way Eakins is developing players there and didn't feel it was right to tear him away this late in the season.

"I think this is the only way for me to determine what all the problems are," he said.

Video: Grimson and Reid discuss Ducks firing Randy Carlyle

The most distressing of those was the absence of enthusiasm from his players. 

"What bothered me the most was the lack of emotion, the lack of pushback," Murray said. "This team has always been a pride team, and that went away. It's not there. Nothing works if you lack hard work and emotion, and the passion to compete and win."

The Ducks (21-26-9) are 2-15-4 in their past 21 games and have been outscored 37-8 during a seven-game losing streak (0-7-0) that includes a 6-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. They had a 12-game losing streak (0-8-4), the longest in their history, from Dec. 18-Jan. 15.

Murray is determined to find out the roots of Anaheim's moribund play.

"It's my job," he said. "I'm looking forward to figuring out what the issues are. One of the biggest things I have to determine is if we have people who can (lead). I haven't given up on them yet, but I'm worried."

Murray informed his players of Carlyle's firing prior to practice Sunday, then voiced his own concerns to them. He also had some about himself, namely his lack of experience. Murray admitted to having butterflies when he then stepped onto the ice to run practice.

"It was tough putting skates on again, trust me," he said. "[But again] it's my job. We've got problems here. It's got to be fixed. I don't look at one area more than the other.

"Years ago, veteran hockey people I very much respect told me, 'You should go down to the bench so you know what coaches go through.' I should have done it then. These are good, intelligent hockey people.

"We've got too many people following and not enough leading."

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said he understands Murray's logic for replacing Carlyle with himself.

"He wants to come in and understand how it works on a day-to-day basis, help understand what our locker room needs and what direction we have to go," the 33-year-old center said. "Hopefully he can implement some things that he wants to see and hopefully he can give our group a little bit of a spark."

Getzlaf, in his 14th season with Anaheim and ninth as captain, knows he will be under the microscope in the final two months of the regular season. 

"I'm not exempt from anything that's going on in this room," he said. "... He's going to evaluate me down to the next guy who gets called up, so it's an opportunity for our group to get their eyes open a little bit, maybe, and push in a direction we want to go."

After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past six seasons and reaching the Western Conference Final in 2015 and 2017, Anaheim is last in the conference. The Ducks are eight points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the playoffs from the West. 

They begin a three-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN1, FS-W, NHL.TV).

"I'm sure there will be some nerves for me, but that might be a good thing," Murray said of making his debut.

The same can't be said for his players, who will be monitored by Murray both on the ice and in the dressing room. Having a GM with no pro coaching experience take over might not be conventional, but for Murray, it's necessary.

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