Saying The Right Things

Photo: The Daily Courier/Gary Nylander

By George Casner

“There’s a numbness that’s kind of subsiding now. After the run and the season-long trials and tribulations that you go through, you get to the playoffs and win out and get second place in the division, and four games later, a week later, you’re out of it, which is really numbing.” – Randy Carlyle

“We have to play faster, and that’s a team thing. Some teams have started to play faster, and they look faster. We have a couple guys that, let’s face it, were never great skaters. How do we improve that? We have to watch how some of these other teams play. New Jersey did a great job of it. We’re well aware of that. We know we have to make some changes.” – Bob Murray

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What do these quotes have in common? They’re both acknowledging that Anaheim is facing a problem that they didn’t expect, change. As Randy says, ” you get to the playoffs and win out and get second place in the division, and four games later, a week later, you’re out of it”. That was beyond unexpected for this team even from Sharks fans (who thought the Sharks could win in 6 or 7). But why this unexpected upset? The answer is a simple six letter word, change.

The game has changed.

Teams are now playing all four lines, all three defensive pairings, and have gotten much faster; and after an embarrassing first-round exit, it seemed like Bob Murray realized it too. “We just played a team that was way faster than us and they played the game faster than us.”
The point really seemed to stick with Bob Murray because he also mentioned, “In today’s hockey you can’t just play four or five defensemen and nine forwards.”

It seemed that he realized Anaheim needs to adapt to the new hockey style, so he obviously made all the right moves to do this, right? No. Let’s look at what’s happened so far this offseason. The Ducks first round draft pick likely won’t make the team and obviously, the other picks won’t be playing with them either. So let’s just skip straight to free agency.

Who have they grabbed?

Left wing, Brian Gibbons. He’s scored 48 points in 125 games. Decent choice for the fourth line left wing.

Forward, Carter Rowney. Scored 12 points in 71 games and signed a $3.5 million deal for 3 years. This is the typical Murray move.

Goaltender, Jared Coreau. He’s going to be going to the Gulls.

Right wing, Anton Rodin. Played in the Swiss league last year and did alright. He’s signed to a one year deal and is a decent choice for the fourth line but isn’t anything to write home about.

Center, Ben Street. Who has played 428 games in the AHL and scored 357 points. An interesting move, maybe hinting at keeping Steel and Jones out of the NHL for another year?

Defenseman, Luke Schenn. Played 64 games and got a total of 13 points. Another typical Murray move.

Defenseman, Andrej Sustr. The most recent signing from the Ducks. 318 games played, 63 points, and a lot of playoff experience.

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What do these signings show? That Murray is only filling holes. He potentially solved the inconsistent fourth line and third defensive pairing issue, assuming everything works out and the team is healthy. But has completely skipped the speed issue.

Unless Murray is making everyone eat pounds of spaghetti during training camp before losing weight for the first game, this team will remain slow. It seems that Murray will continue to say the right things but not make any progress in changing it.

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July 7th, 2018


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