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Ducks contemplate changes after missing playoffs

The Sports Xchange

Changes will certainly happen within the Ducks and they must after limping to the finish line and missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

How significant those changes are will be the question that general manager Bob Murray mulls over as he looks to fix the problems that afflicted his underperforming team.

The Ducks will be able to replace aging free agents like Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman and they figure to continue their plan of bringing along their talented prospects like current players Devante Smith-Pelly and Nick Bonino and future performers Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland and Emerson Etem.

But are core players like Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, Jonas Hiller and Cam Fowler the ones that will bring the Ducks back to prominence?

Murray acknowledged that while this group helped trigger a 17-3-4 run that got them back into playoff contention, they also were part of a horrific first half that dug too large of a hole to dig their way out of.

"I'm not disregarding what happened in the first half," he continued. "That's two of three we've missed the playoffs. And the same sort of guys have been here four of those years. So I have to look at that."

One thing Murray doesn't have any regrets is not trading any players at the Feb. 27 deadline in order to get assets to use later.

"I was really impressed with how they came back," he said. "I'm not going to second-guess that whatsoever. They earned it. For a while there, nobody was better than us. And we were beating good teams. We were beating all the best teams.

"And my gut told me I had to trust them. A few of them let me down, I have to be honest."

Does that mean Murray would consider trading either Getzlaf or Ryan to shake up the Ducks? One wouldn't rule out that possibility.

Starting with a Jan. 6 win over the New York Islanders, the Ducks ripped off a two-month stretch in which they went 17-3-4 to pull themselves from 29th place in the entire league into the playoff picture. They finished off a 5-2-1 road trip with a victory over Carolina, which got to within four points of eighth place. And they seemed to be in position for a final push after a nationally-televised Feb 26 home win over Chicago right before the trade deadline. But the Ducks lost to Colorado the next night, which began a 3-7-1 swoon that effectively knocked them out of contention. An individual highlight was Teemu Selanne's emotional return to Winnipeg, where he began his storied career and was greeted with multiple standing ovations by Jets fans.

The Ducks were already slumping badly in November when they faced Chicago in their annual matinee home game the day after Thanksgiving. It was truly a Black Friday as they blew a 4-2 lead in a matter of minutes early in the third period and lost 6-5. Two nights later, the Ducks were a flat-lined group in a dreary 5-2 home loss to Toronto. General Manager Bob Murray had made his up mind to replace longtime coach Randy Carlyle and immediately sought out Bruce Boudreau the moment he was fired by Washington on Nov. 28. Two nights later, Carlyle was fired after a win over Montreal and Boudreau was announced as the new coach. Boudreau went 27-22-8 after taking over.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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