Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coaching Carousel claims another victim: Boudreau replaces Carlyle in Anaheim

The coaching carousel continued late last night when following a 4-1 win over the Canadiens, the Ducks fired Randy Carlyle and his entire staff. Taking over is Bruce Boudreau, who lasted a couple of days on the market after being relieved of his duties in Washington.

That Anaheim GM Bob Murray would make such a move 40 minutes after a game his team won stupifies. When the Habs made former Ranger assistant Perry Pearn the sacrificial lamb prior to a home game, that was disgraceful. But axing an entire staff that included a Cup winning coach following a game is classless. It's like when the Mets were on the West coast a few years back and fired Willie Randolph in a San Diego hotel after a game. I don't think I have to tell you what our resident Devil blogger, who also happens to be a huge Mets fan thinks. This was just as bizarre.

It's certainly understandable why Carlyle lost his job with a playoff team off to a dreadful start. Yesterday's win snapped a seven-game losing streak in which they entered with only one brownie point, sitting 14th in a deep West. They also happen to play in the league's most challenging division, the Pacific where every other team is ahead of them. It didn't matter that they won for just the third time in their last 15. The most successful coach in Ducks franchise history couldn't be saved.

It was only a few years ago that a group including Ryan Getzlaf, last year's MVP Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne went all the way for the team's first Stanley Cup. But that championship roster also included Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger along with Andy McDonald, Chris KunitzDustin PennerJoffrey Lupul, Sami Pahlsson, Travis Moen, and Rob Niedermayer. Only five are left from that team with tough guy George Parros and reacquired blueliner Francois Beauchemin the other two. In a Cap Era, this is what happens to great teams. Salaries increase for core players such as Getzlaf, Perry, much rumored Jersey native Bobby Ryan and struggling goalie Jonas Hiller. The overlooked spare parts get sacrificed or stripped down completely as the '09-10 Blackhawks show. All it takes is a mishap to throw things out of wack.

Is a team that boasts one of the most lethal lines in the game still good enough to compete? They should be. But the numbers don't lie with Perry and Getzlaf unable to match last year's output, while Ryan hasn't got untracked. In fact, only ageless Teemu has fulfilled expectations, pacing the club with 22 points (8-14-22). Perry leads them with 11 goals with Getzlaf's 14 assists tied with Selanne and 19 points ranking third. After second-year blueliner Cam Fowler, Beauchemin and vet Saku Koivu, it gets paper thin. Injuries to Lubomir Visnovsky, Jason Blake and Parros haven't helped the cause- further explaining the 7-13-4 start that has Anaheim in an early hole. The bottom six forwards aren't good enough and the back end misses Visnovsky, who put up nearly 70 points last year. After a solid start, Hiller has fallen apart getting pulled five times recently with his GAA ballooning to over 3.00. Dan Ellis isn't the answer despite good numbers. Tampa can vouch.

Is making Ryan available really the answer? He is all of 24 with three consecutive 30-goal seasons in which his production increased by seven points each year ('08-09-57, '09-10-64, '10-11-71). He has a cap hit of 5.1 million through '14-15 while Perry and Getzlaf can turn unrestricted following next season. You see the dilemma Murray has. Those are the franchise cornerstones who they can't afford to lose. So, Ryan is supposedly available for the right price. Is a team like the Rangers willing to pay up in players, prospects/picks? I've already suggested starting with enigma Brandon Dubinsky and Mike Del Zotto. Though I'm unwilling to part with Chris Kreider. They can have any other kid. Christian Thomas? Figure Anaheim to ask for a No.1 pick too. Of course, making such a blockbuster trade has risks when your team is going as well as ours. But the temptation to add another young, proven finisher is like seeing one of those Victoria's Secret models on the street. You just got to go over and talk to them.

If I were Anaheim, I'd hold off on giving up Ryan with Coach Haagen Dazs Bruce in the fold. One thing about Boudreau. He is an offensive mind who turned the Caps into a juggernaut before making players, including underwhelming captain Alex Ovechkin accountable. No wonder it fell apart. Boudreau will have just as much talent up front along with the young Fowler on the blueline. They may as well see what he can do before considering such a radical move.

It's December 1 and we've already seen four coaches given their walking papers. Davis Payne was fired by St. Louis last month and the Blues have responded under disciplinarian Ken Hitchcock by losing just once in regulation since. They were my sleeper entering the year. Business sure picked up after Thanksgiving with Paul Maurice and Boudreau sent packing Monday. Then two days later, Carlyle becomes victim No.4 with Boudreau landing on his feet. Guess he'll have to hold off on that Haagen Dazs franchise. It's part of the business. No matter how successful you are, things can change in a hurry. Ask Tom Coughlin, who probably is gone unless the Giants somehow beat Dallas twice. Nobody is untouchable. The Devils are one of the best run organizations and have gone through a plethora of coaches.

Randy Carlyle finishes with a 273-182-6 record- ranking first in Ducks history in wins. His teams made the postseason five of six years, including their run to the franchise's only Cup. That shouldn't be forgotten. A quality coach who will wind up elsewhere. Scott Arniel and Jack Capuano still have jobs. Either could be his next destination.

With the coaching carousel hitting victims at a frenetic pace that would make Freddy Krueger proud, who will be the next casualty? We're not even at Christmas.

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