ANAHEIM, Calif. — On Friday, Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray called out his players for forcing his hand when it came to firing Bruce Boudreau.
It was a move that didn’t appear to catch anyone on the Ducks roster by surprise.
“I think losing that Game 7 was, you know, the nail in the coffin,” said Ryan Kesler at the team’s breakout day. “It’s obviously tough to see your coach fired. I think the onus goes on us. It was a tough year. It was a tough year for everyone I think.”
Ending his first year on the Ducks, Kevin Bieksa concurred.
“There’s always change,” he said. “When there’s disappointment, when there’s high expectations there could be change right away.”
Added Bieksa, “I think with the way the season went and you hear all of the rumors and you hear that it was going to be tough for Bruce to survive this … you certainly don’t point the gun at him, like [Bob Murray] said. You feel responsible, the players feel responsible and bad. Everyone knew Bruce was a good guy and he had to take the fall this time.”
Ryan Getzlaf agreed that the players deserve “lots” of the blame for Boudreau losing his job. As was pointed out during Murray’s press conference, it’s easier to fire the coach than replace 20 players.
“Coaches can only do so much. They can only put so much on the ice. They have a responsibility like everybody else here. As do we,” said Getzlaf. “We have to absorb a lot of that, when you’re talking about going on the ice and playing and performing at the level that we should have been this year, throughout the whole year.”
Added Getzlaf, “The speculation and the media coverage on Bruce, the scrutiny he’s been through the last two, three years since he got here, has been tough. When you’re talking about winning the division and going into the playoffs and everybody saying it’s Stanley Cup or you’re fired is not an easy situation. As players, we’re not immune to reading those things and seeing those things. The expectation was kind of there, so to speak, at the end of the year. I think we kind of figured Bob was going to make a move after all that.”
Andrew Cogliano saw the change in coaching as a way forward to break the vicious cycle of the past playoff exits: “At the end of the day it might be time for a different voice in terms of getting to the next level. We just haven’t been able to get to that next level … Sometimes you just need to hear someone different or have a different perspective.”
Yet, Cogliano went back to the players, specifically ones like himself at the core of the organization, with some very pointed comments,”Questions about the core are fair. We haven’t gotten the job done.”
“We’ve made some good strides during the year … Bob’s right. This isn’t on Bruce. I think a lot of guys need to know where they’re at and figure out where we went wrong. A lot of them have been here for a while. I’m not just talking the captains.”
“Myself, Cam [Fowler], guys like Hampus [Lindholm] and Sami [Vatanen] aren’t young anymore. Not singling them out, but we’ve been here for a while now. We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. Like i said, guys have to figure out where we’re gone wrong. Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink. In those years there’s been a sense of hope. Today there’s zero feeling like that.”
Quite the emotional response from a usually reserved player.
While they expected the termination of their coach, the players had nothing but good things to say about Boudreau’s time in Anaheim.
From Corey Perry, who took the Game 7 loss particularly hard, said, “He did a lot of for this organization. He was a guy that – if you needed a friend, you could talk to him at any point in time. His door was always open … I can’t say enough about him. He did a lot for my game. It’s tough when you know that the reason somebody got fired is because we, as a team, as individuals, didn’t perform to where we needed to perform. That’s the hardest thing.”
The Ducks originally brought Cogliano in as a center. Boudreau thought it wasn’t the right fit, and moved him to the wing. From there, his career flourished.
“Just speaking individually in terms of Bruce, he gave me a very good opportunity … His trust in me brought my career to another level in terms where I needed to be. I’m thankful for that,” Cogliano said.
Kesler was announced as a finalist for the Selke prior to Boudreau’s firing. The center was quick to attribute the nod to his coach, “It’s a tribute to Bruce and him trusting me in those situations and throwing me out against the other team’s top line from Christmas on and giving me that challenge. He trusted me and I relished that.”
“I think he was a coach who really cared about you as a player and as a person,” added Kesler. “I think that’s rare to find nowadays, a coach who cares about you as a person and every day ask you how your day was the day before. I think he’s a quality guy. To see him fired, it sucks. At the end of the day, he was our leader and our coach and he took the fall for us.”
Boudreau witnessed the evolution of Cam Fowler and played a role in his development. “My personal relationship with Bruce and how positive he’s been towards me and the opportunity he’s given me,” said Fowler.
“It’s extremely disappointing to see him go and I wish him all the best. I guess to be totally honest it wasn’t a major surprise based on some of the things that happened early in the season and some of the talk with expectations we had as a team, that’s how the business works sometimes. As disappointing as it is, that’s how it goes sometimes.
“I know he’ll land back on his feet somewhere because he’s a great coach and he deserves another opportunity.”
Outside the coaching search, Murray has indicated that changes were going to be made to the roster. However, the Ducks aren’t looking to go into full rebuild mode.
The quest is still to win, and win soon.
“I’m not into rebuilds, so …. I haven’t met with Bob yet,” said Kesler. “This team has a lot of give. As a team, we don’t want to lose players, especially young players with a lot to give … I think ‘Murph’ has always done a good job about that and given us the best chance to win.”
“I think he knows our window is three or four years and then it closes, so I think he’ll do the best job he can do and he’ll give us the best chance to raise that Cup.”
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