The Anaheim Ducks have been in a serious tailspin for nearly two months, and it has finally cost coach Randy Carlyle his job.
After a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the team’s seventh straight and their 19th setback in their last 21 games (2-15-4), Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle seemed like a man who had no answers left. On Sunday, Carlyle was fired and it was announced general manager/executive vice president Bob Murray will step in as interim coach for the rest of the season.
During their recent seven-game losing streak, the Ducks have been outscored 37-8. After the 11th of what would become a franchise record 12-game losing streak last month, Murray gave Carlyle a vote of confidence. But things have just been too bad for too long for a move not to be made.
Anaheim has scored a league-low 127 goals this season, with a league-worst (by a big margin) -55 goal differential. Going back to Dec. 18, when this dismal run started, the Ducks’ goal differential is -48.
The Ducks are not in good position to become a significant seller over the next couple weeks heading into the trade deadline. Winger Jakob Silfverberg is drawing some interest, in part because he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent, but after that Anaheim’s trade assets rest on the blue line (Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Montour, Josh Manson, Andrew Welinski).
Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are aging, expensive and reportedly not inclined to waive their respective no-move clauses if the Ducks could find a taker in a trade. Getzlaf and Perry both carry cap hits above $8 million for two more seasons, and Kesler has a cap hit close to $6.9 million for three more seasons. Goaltender John Gibson, the lone bright spot this season, has a new contract that will kick in next season with over $4 million added to his current cap hit.
So the Ducks may be stuck with an aging big-name trio, along with at least one other bad contract (Patrick Eaves) and a goalie that’s set to be paid well. But that doesn’t mean Murray has been sitting on his hands in an effort to reshape the roster, as noted by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, making eight trades since Dec. 3.
In terms of permanent replacements for Carlyle, Joel Quenneville stands out. Dallas Eakins, who is coaching Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego and has had a lot of success, might be the most obvious option given his familiarity with whatever young talent is in the Ducks’ pipeline. But promoting Eakins was not in the immediate cards.
Carlyle was in his second stint as Ducks’ head coach himself, and the way the NHL recycles coaches a more proven name than Eakins may become the full-time guy for 2019-20. But it was clear something had to give with the way things have gone lately, and dating back to before Christmas. Add in their next five games coming against teams currently in a playoff spot, and Carlyle couldn’t be behind the Anaheim bench any longer.