‘Carlyle 2.0 Era’ brings focus, quiet confidence to Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — For the first time in about four seasons, the Anaheim Ducks are entering the playoffs on a very quiet roll.

It’s somewhat amazing considering the last time the team lost in regulation is on March 10; their record from that point, including the playoffs, is 15-0-3.

The radio silence in large part is due to the fact that no one really knew what to make of this team for the beginning of the season.

In those previous years under Bruce Boudreau, the bar was set high (and rightfully so) with the Ducks always expected to contend for the Stanley Cup, only to fail epically each time. In Game 7. At home.

Boudreau was fired, and Randy Carlyle was re-hired. The focus shifted from ‘what the coach and team hadn’t done’ to, really, no expectations at all.

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Ilya Bryzgalov: full-time dad, mathematician, media member

Ilya Bryzgalov is a Stanley Cup champion. Many people forget that. In fact, he was pretty important to the Anaheim Ducks run for the Cup.

Before the end of the regular season, J.S. Giguere became a new dad. When his infant son experienced medical issues, Jiggy took time away from the rink. That’s when Bryz stepped in.

In the first round against the Minnesota Wild, Bryzgalov was 4-1, and Giguere returned to his spot as the No. 1 goalie in the second round.

Ten years later, Bryzgalov is still in awe – in his own Bryzgalov way – of all that the team accomplished.

“We’re going to walk for rest of life together,” said Bryzgalov at the Ducks 2007 reunion. “It’s a huge accomplishment to win the Stanley Cup. It’s nice.”

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Brian Burke on building 2007 Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup champs

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Brian Burke had been out of work for over a year when he heard the Anaheim Ducks were interested in interviewing him for the general manager position.

“After I went through the interview process I desperately wanted the job,” said Burke at the Ducks 2007 Cup reunion on Sunday. “Fortunately it worked out. They brought me in and things went really from the start.”

Burke was hired in July 2005. He inherited a good, but not great, roster from former general manager Bryan Murray. Before he started making changes to the roster, Burke brought in help in the form of now-Ducks general manager Bob Murray.

“We brought Bob Murray in,” said Burke in an interview with Puck Daddy. “Bob Murray is the key part of everything I did here, or we did here.”

Together, Burke and Murray got to work.

“We evaluated the roster, said we’ve got to totally upgrade the [defense],” said Burke, “the goaltending is fine with [J.S. Giguere] and [Ilya Bryzgalov]. Forwards there’s some pieces there that make sense, some that don’t. But No. 1 was that we had to upgrade the D.

“Bryan [Murray] left some marvelous pieces, but there’s not one defenseman whose name is on the Cup that was here when I took over.

“We brought in a whole new group: [Chris] Pronger, [Scott] Niedermayer, [Kent] Huskins, [Sean] O’Donnell. We brought in [Francois] Beauchemin.”

During the pre-game ceremony honoring the Cup winning team, Burke told a story about the team acquiring Beauchemin.

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‘Recharged’ Ducks benefit from late season bye

The locker room felt different after the Anaheim Ducks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Friday night and it wasn’t just because the team won.

First, there were kids everywhere. Two of Ryan Getzlaf’s sons, wearing their dad’s jersey, chased each other through the room. Kevin Bieksa grabbed Jonathan Bernier’s blocker and catching glove out of his stall to play an impromptu pickup game with his kids next to the media scrum. Behind the doors of the players’ lounge were more giggles from other kids (or Corey Perry, you pick).

Anaheim was the last team in the NHL to take their bye week. The odds weren’t in their favor for the first game back. The rest of the league amassed a 9-16-4 when they returned to action after the mini vacation.

Yet Ducks appeared recharged, and according to them, they have the five day bye-week to thank for that.

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Coyotes GM Chayka isn’t enjoying his first trade deadline

This is the first trade deadline for Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka and it hasn’t exactly been the most fun. After dealing Michael Stone to the Calgary Flames earlier in the week, the 27-year-old GM sent Martin Hanzal and Ryan White to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

“Today has not been an easy day,” Chayka said candidly on a conference call with reporters. “It’s kind of miserable, to be honest. And right now I’m just trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

The bad situation is the Coyotes sitting at 29th, and according to Chayka, he has no choice but to continue to prep for the future. That vision continued with the Hanzal and White trade.

The Coyotes sent fourth round pick in 2017 to Minnesota along with Hanzal and White. In return Arizona gets a 2017 first round draft choice, a 2018 second round draft choice and a 2019 conditional fourth round draft choice plus prospect Grayson Downing, who was assigned to the Tucson Roadrunners.

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Wayne Simmonds returns to LA, leaves as NHL All-Star Game MVP

LOS ANGELES — It’s been six years since Wayne Simmonds received a rousing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.

Simmonds been back plenty of times since the trade that sent him from LA to Philly, but he’s had his Philadelphia Flyers teammates along with him. That tends to make the pro-Los Angeles Kings crowd a little less cheerful.

All that was forgotten for a couple hours as Simmonds took to the ice during player introductions and received one of the loudest, positive reactions from the crowd. He didn’t predict this would come in his first ever NHL All-Star Game of which he’d eventually become the MVP.

“You know, it meant a lot. I haven’t been here for six years,” said Simmonds. “When you leave a place, you don’t expect to come back and get all the cheers as I did today, but I must have did something right when I was here. I know I had a lot of die-hard fans here, and I really appreciate those people. I just appreciate everything. It made me feel good today.”

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Boudreau honors Ducks, team ignores his return

ANAHEIM, CA — On Sunday Bruce Boudreau returned to Honda Center for the first time since he was told to clean out of his office by the Anaheim Ducks.

While in Anaheim, Boudreau accumulated a 208-104-40 record. He lead the team to four straight Pacific Division titles. In 2013-14, he set set franchise records for wins (54) and points (116).

Yes, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Game 7 losses will be a part of his legacy in Anaheim forever.

But playoff disasters aside, one would assume the franchise that benefited so much from his presence would at least give the fans a chance to say ‘thank you’ when he returned.


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NWHL vs. players: An avoidable situation turned ugly

On Friday, the National Women’s Hockey League confirmed reports that the league was cutting player salaries in order to keep the league afloat for this season.

With few exceptions, a majority of the players in the league stayed relatively silent following the official announcement. Saturday a group of players released a list of demands from the NWHL.

Mostly legitimate questions raised by the players, especially the insurance one. The only slightly eyebrow raising demand is the audit of the books. Who is going to pay for that? Accountants don’t like to do comprehensive business audits for free.

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Six questions surrounding NWHL after salary cut announcement

It has been a rough 24 hours for women’s professional hockey.

Late Thursday night, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period broke the news that the National Women’s Hockey League – the first paid professional women’s league – would be cutting players salaries in half.

NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan held a conference call with reporters on Friday to discuss the announcement. We wrote a quick recap of what was covered; however, there is so much more to unpack.

Here are six questions surrounding the NWHL as we try to make sense of what happened.

1. How did this catch everyone off-guard a month and a half into the new season?

According to Rylan the league ‘fell short on some projections’ and ‘had to pivot and make a business decision.’ The decision appeared to come down to folding the league entirely or cut the salaries of the players in order to stay viable; the NWHL chose the latter.

General managers were informed first of the change, followed by player representatives from each team, and finally the group as a whole.

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NWHL cutting player salaries in half: Report

The second season for the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) appears to be off to a rocky start, financially speaking.

Reported by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period the first professional women’s hockey league to pay their players is allegedly cutting salaries to remain afloat:

As per information obtained by TFP, the NWHL informed its players on Thursday that they will be receiving a pay cut — believed to be 50% — in order to sustain the longevity of the League.

In an email sent out to athletes and league staff, [NWHL Commissioner Dani] Rylan notified everyone that players will be paid on a game-by-game basis. Players’ insurance will still be held up, and the 2016-17 schedule will still be played.

It’s believed Amanda Kessel is the NWHL’s highest paid player, earning $26,000 per season, while most players receive between $14,000 to $17,000 per year. The minimum salary is $10,000. Well, that all gets cut in half.

The season is already well underway and for most players, finding an alternative is next to impossible.

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