The Anaheim Ducks fired Randy Carlyle -- again.
For the second time, Ducks general manager Bob Murray has made the decision to remove Carlyle from the bench. He was also fired in 2011 during the seventh season of his first stint as head coach of the Ducks. The move comes on the heels of a seven-game losing streak by the Ducks (each defeat came in regulation).
The Ducks have won just two of their last 21 games (2-15-4), an unfathomable run for a squad that's qualified for the playoffs six consecutive seasons; it's a streak that's likely to conclude in April.
Murray announced that he'll step down from the press box and coach the team himself for the remainder of the campaign's 26 games. The Ducks sit in last place in the Western Conference.
"We thank Randy for everything he has done for the organization," said Murray, who will make his NHL coaching debut Wednesday when the team returns to Anaheim to host the Vancouver Canucks. "Leading the team to a Stanley Cup and three conference final appearances, he has accomplished so much in Anaheim.
"Difficult decisions need to be made when times are tough, and our play has clearly been unacceptable. We have a tradition of success in Anaheim and we need to get back to that."
The Ducks were in the throes of a 12-game losing streak last month when Murray told reporters he wasn't considering a coaching change. With each mounting loss that sprung up following the All-Star break, it appeared Murray would live up to his word.
But with the team struggling to even compete over this new batch of setbacks, Murray had little recourse even in a lost season.
Murray will now be afforded a closer look at which players are part of the solution going forward, and who should be moved at the upcoming trade deadline. The decision to act as GM and interim coach simultaneously is not without precedent. Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello has made the same move twice with the New Jersey Devils.
Dallas Eakins, who once coached the Edmonton Oilers, is a popular choice to replace Carlyle. Eakins is the coach of the Ducks' AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. It's likely Murray didn't want to alter the development of the youngsters right now with the Gulls thriving.
Murray, a longtime defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, has been with the organization since 2005. He signed a two-year contract extension in December that brings him through the 2021-22 season.
The decisions he makes over the next few months will likely help decide if he realizes the end of this new contract with the team at a critical juncture.
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