Coach Dallas Eakins and general manager Bob Murray will return to the Anaheim Ducks next season, according to The Associated Press.
The Ducks went 17-30-9 this season, finishing last in the eight-team Honda West Division and second-to-last in the NHL behind the Buffalo Sabres. Their .384 points percentage is the worst in Ducks history.
Anaheim has missed the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, the third time since joining the NHL for the 1993-94 season that Anaheim has not qualified for the postseason in three consecutive seasons.
“A lot has been said about this being a lost season, and I don’t agree with that totally,” Murray said Friday. “Some of the young guys have got along really well, and a couple didn’t. A couple of the middle-aged guys have had a couple of lost years. But whenever you’re going through this — call it rebuild, retool, remodel, reset — whatever you want to call it, it’s a plan. … We want to make a team that’s faster, younger, and they play an exciting brand of hockey that our fans want to come and see play.”
Murray has been the general manager in Anaheim since Nov. 12, 2008 when he replaced Brian Burke. Eakins was hired on June 17, 2019, replacing Murray. Murray coached the final 26 games of the 2018-19 season after firing Randy Carlyle. Eakins is 46-63-18 in his two seasons.
Murray said the optimism comes from a young core of forwards, which he plans to complement during the offseason through free agency and trades.
“A couple of these young players in our organization are going to be top-six forwards,” Murray said. “I think our young goaltenders in the organization played very well. … You’ve got boxes you fill as you build a hockey team, and I know some of those young guys are going to fill those boxes now.”
Max Comtois, 22, led the Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points. Troy Terry, 23, scored 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists). Rookie Trevor Zegras scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 24 games. The 20-year-old was Anaheim’s first-round pick (No. 9) in the 2019 NHL Draft. Anaheim is also high on defenseman Jamie Drysdale, its first-round pick (No. 6) in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in 24 games.
It is unclear if captain Ryan Getzlaf will be in a position to mentor the new Ducks. The 36-year-old, who joined the Ducks for the 2005-06 NHL season, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The forward scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 48 games this season.
“He’s obviously at the point in his career where he needs to take a little step back and see what’s best for his family and what he thinks his role can be,” Murray said. “We discussed roles on the hockey team. Ryan and I discussed a whole bunch of things, and we will continue to have discussions.”