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Ducks evaluating if Boudreau will return as coach

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said Tuesday he is evaluating whether coach Bruce Boudreau will return next season.

Murray said he was digesting Anaheim's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, the third straight season the Ducks lost a Game 7 at home. Whether that is enough to consider changes was left open after Murray was asked if Boudreau would be back.

"With everything, I'm evaluating the whole hockey team, and that's not a yes or a no," Murray said. "I'm evaluating everything. I've got to talk to some players. I've got to evaluate everything, I would assume. I'm not thinking about anything right now. Again, I may sound slow to you guys (reporters), but it takes me a while to sit back and replay everything.

"I do think the coaching staff took some strides this year. I will say I was fairly happy with the overall performance of my coaching staff this year."

Murray said he will talk to Boudreau, who said his status as coach through the 2016-17 season is unchanged as far as he knows, and the staff in the coming days.

"We haven't actually had our meeting yet," Boudreau said. "I'm sure that's coming tomorrow or the next day. You need some time to just cool off as far as both of us being happy about not winning. We had our team dinner last night, which was very casual, but I'm sure we'll chat about the year and everything else."

Murray, who doesn't speak with the media often, offered his view of how the Ducks reacted in Game 7, when they unraveled after the Blackhawks scored first and lost 5-3, much like last season's second-round loss to the Los Angeles Kings played out.

"That's why I wanted to get it done in [Game] 6, because Game 7 worried me," Murray said. "I'm not going to lie, especially the team we were playing and the type of players we were playing against. The scenario that you least wanted to happen, happened right away, and we did not react properly whatsoever. All structure, all everything, went right out the window. I wasn't impressed by it at all."

Ducks players said they need to get mentally stronger.

"Learn from this, get hungry, [angry]," center Ryan Kesler said. "This group was good enough this year."

Wing Corey Perry said, "I woke up this morning and kind of thought I should be coming in for a practice instead of this. Those are things where's it's happened too many times over the last couple of years, and hopefully we'll figure something out."

Murray has roster decisions to make because he said the Ducks have tagging issues, a complicated equation based on the combination of expiring contracts and room under the NHL salary cap. The Ducks "have a lot of players whose contracts are expiring who don't equal a lot of money," said David McNab, senior vice president of hockey operations, which would restrict their ability to re-sign players.

Anaheim has nine players who can become restricted free agents at the end of the 2016-17 season, including goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, and Kesler can become an unrestricted free agent that summer.

Murray sounded unlikely to re-sign both of the Ducks' pending unrestricted free agents, forward Matt Beleskey and defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

"It's going to be hard," Murray said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it."

Beleskey set an NHL career-high in goals (22) and points (39), the bulk of which came when he played with captain Ryan Getzlaf and Perry.

"It's a different feeling, for sure," Beleskey said. "I've always loved being here in Anaheim and I still do. I'm always optimistic and hoping for the best, but we'll see what happens."

Beauchemin scored an NHL career-high 11 goals and mentored partner Hampus Lindholm. Beauchemin said he wants to be a part of Anaheim's future.

"That's no secret to anybody," he said. "I've said it all year. I hope to come back. We haven't discussed anything yet. Hopefully it will happen in the next few weeks."

Beauchemin turns 35 on Thursday.

"So I don't have 10 years left," he said. "I'm hoping those last few years will be here."

Left wing Emerson Etem and right wing Jakob Silfverberg are pending restricted free agents, and each expressed a desire to return.

Murray said center Nate Thompson's shoulder injury, sustained in the regular-season finale, will require an MRI exam; two other players have issues, Murray said, but he declined to elaborate.

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