The Ducks held their annual Select-a-Seat event for season ticket holders on Saturday, the highlight of which was a panel that included Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray, Executive VP and COO Tim Ryan and coach Bruce Boudreau, who participated in Q&A sessions with the fans. Season ticket holders are allowed into the event in shifts, and those three took part in Q&As throughout the day. In the morning, they were joined on the stage by Ryan Getzlaf, and in the afternoon, Luca Sbisa.
The panel spoke on a number of topics, and then opened things up to questions from fans. A few highlights:
Murray opened by talking about Teemu Selanne: “Bruce and I happened to see Teemu yesterday or the day before. He looks great and is actually training already, which is a very positive sign. He's heading home next week, and he's coming in to see me Monday morning. This is all very positive, because it's the way we've done it the last four or five years. I'm very hopeful and very positive in Teemu coming back. I'm not positive, but I think he's thinking about it.”
Murray indicated that he is currently in talks with free agent Sheldon Brookbank (to whom he’s offered a contract) and will talk with fellow free agent George Parros next week. “George wants to play every night and every game, and we don't know if that can be the case,” he said. “We're committed to playing four lines. We're no longer going to be a team that plays 2 1/2 lines. We did win a Cup playing three lines, but I don't think you can do it anymore. Certain people are going to play some nights, and certain people are not. We want people who buy into that program. If they don’t buy into it, they’re not going be here.”
Added Boudreau, “We all love George. But if you look at the beginning of the season, the physical players are needed an awful lot more than at the end of the season. That’s just the way it worked this year. When you start the season, you’ve got to establish your physicality and protection of stars and all of that. But if you look at the rest of the league, come January and February, a lot of enforcers are being sent to the minor leagues or not dressing.
“As a team that needed to win almost every game in the second half, we had to go with four lines so we wouldn’t exhaust everybody. So there are going to be games where George didn’t play. He has to understand that, and if he does, then great. If he doesn’t and he wants to play a lot of minutes every night, then he’s a free agent and he has the ability to do so. It doesn’t take away from the fact that we really like George.
Murray also said that free agents Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman will most likely not be back with Anaheim next season. “I’ve already told Jason that I don’t think he’s coming back,” he said. “Nick Hagman is not coming back. In an attempt to get a little bit faster … we got smaller, and we need to get bigger again. You can’t do that unless somebody goes and somebody new comes in. So that’s the situation with a few of those guys.
Murray on the upcoming draft: “This is a funny draft, and I don’t think you’ll see a lot of movement during it. It’s one of those drafts where, if you’re picking 4 through 16 or 17, you have a chance of doing just as well at 17 as you do at 4. Right now, centers are at a premium as much as defensemen are. If we stay at the sixth pick, we’ll get a defenseman or a centerman, one of the two, which is very good because you build your team from those guys. But if you want to make changes to your hockey team, this is the point in time you do it. The next couple of weeks could be interesting.”
Murray On Emerson Etem: “Emerson had a great year this year in juniors. But the most impressive thing he did this year was when he went to Syracuse and joined them at the end of the year and in the playoffs. He came in as a 19-year-old kid taking a professional’s spot because somebody has to go out of the lineup for him to play. He got better, not just game by game, but shift by shift, and the night we got beat out he had two goals and an assist and was our best player. He has grown as a professional very quickly and he has a chance to make our hockey player next year. The plan is not to add many more than one young player at the beginning of next year, because we want to get off to a good start and it’s time to start moving forward. Emerson will have a crack at a top-six spot, and if he’s not in the top six, I don’t see him anywhere else in the lineup. He’s not going to stay here to play three or four minutes a night.
Murray on the Ducks signing goalie Niklas Fasth last month: “The last couple of years have been tough for our goaltenders, with Jonas going down two seasons ago and Dan Ellis getting hurt last year. Fasth had an unbelievable record in Sweden and he’s not a kid, he’s a veteran who has played. Jonas won’t have to play as many games and our goaltending is in a good situation.”
Murray on the Justin Schultz situation: “We’ve offered him everything we could have. This is not a money situation, because we actually offered Justin, before our last game of the year, we offered him absolutely everything we could to have him play for us. This is a situation where a young man wants to check out all 29 teams before he signs. It’s especially frustrating for us because last December when we were in Chicago, he sat with me and we discussed the rest of his career and him playing for us as soon as his season at Wisconsin was done. It would have been a great chance for him to come in and play 10 to 15 games for us and jumpstart his rookie season. He said to me, ‘Mr. Murray, I can’t wait.’ So it’s extremely frustrating, but we haven’t given up. We’re going to continue to try and sign him, and if we get to that 30-day point, we’re going to send another offer. We’ll just see where it goes. I’m not giving up on Mr. Schultz yet. If Justin doesn’t want to be here, we’ll move on.”
The speaking sessions weren’t all business. The always-engaging Boudreau talked about how much he loves the show Storage Wars and spoke at length about that show and another favorite, Pawn Stars. At one point, Luca Sbisa said into his mic, “You definitely watch too much TV.” Boudreau responded, “I could be watching game video instead, and saying things like, ‘Luca, you’ve got to protect the middle of the ice…’”
Boudreau continued, “It’s either that or get on the treadmill” and after getting a laugh from the crowd, he turned to Sbisa and said, “I knew you wouldn’t have the guts to say that one.”
“I can’t say what I’m thinking right now,” Sbisa replied.
And finally, with Game 6 going on up the road tonight, here’s what Getzlaf said about the frustration of watching the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final: “It’s hard because you want to be back there, especially when we’ve been there and won the Cup before. I know what those guys are going through right now, and I want to be back in that position. It’s hard, especially when they’re just up the road, and knowing the start we had last year took us out of that. LA snuck into eighth, and if we could have just gotten there, we could have been in the same position. It’s motivation for next year. They’re where we want to be right now. We want to be the elite team in Southern California, and that’s part of the mindset going into next season.”
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