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NHL: Ducks’ Front Office Mindset Could Set Team Back

Entering the 2015-16 season, the Anaheim Ducks were expected to be one of the top teams in the NHL. Many even felt they were a legitimate choice to win the Stanley Cup in June.

However, things have gotten off to a slow start (to say the least) for the Ducks. They can currently be found at the bottom of the Western Conference with a 1-7-2 record and a measly 4 points in 10 games. Not surprisingly, the slow start has put Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau on the hot seat.

It’s still unclear as to whether or not the Ducks will fire Boudreau or give him time to right the ship this season. Fortunately for Boudreau, his resume will be a factor in helping him keep his job – at least for now.

While it’s no secret that Boudreau has a history of coming up short in the playoffs that goes back to his days as Washington Capitals head coach, he does still have a history of doing well in the regular season. One thing that will also help Boudreau is the mindset of the general manager, as well as everyone in the Ducks front office.

There are many things that differentiate good teams from bad teams, but one thing in particular that has been a huge factor in a team being either good or bad is the team’s owner(s) and front office. This doesn’t just go for hockey, this goes for all sports.

One way to gauge whether or not a team is really good or really bad is by taking a look at a team’s owner and their history of head coaches and general managers. Obviously it’s not the only way to determine a good team versus a bad one, but it certainly speaks volumes towards what side a team falls on.

Let’s shift gears for a bit and look at the NFL. One one side we have the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. On the other side we have the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. First, let’s take a look at some numbers:

Stats from 1999-2015 (Courtesy: Pro Football Reference)


# of GM’s: 7 (3 also head coach) 7 (1 also head coach)

# of Head Coaches: 4 16 (one interim)

# of Playoff Appearances: 22 4

# of Division titles: 19 2

# of Conference titles: 7 0

# of Super Bowls: 5 0

Now why these four teams? There are other teams that could have been used for the stats above, but these four teams have front offices that are on one side of the extreme or another as it pertains to their head coach/GM history. Of course, the teams’ respective owners have also been a huge part of this.

Both the Eagles and Patriots have had coaches serving long tenures (Bill Belichick has been the Patriots head coach since 1999 and Andy Reid spent 14 seasons in Philadelphia before being fired and replaced by Chip Kelly). Now has every year been amazing for the Eagles and Patriots since 1999? No, but the two teams were routinely in the playoffs and routinely contending for conference championships and Super Bowl titles.

The Browns and Redskins on the other hand, have a history of regularly firing coaches every several years. In fact, the longest tenured head coach of either the Browns or Redskins is Norv Turner, whose 7-year tenure began before Dan Snyder became the Redskins owner and lasted until 2000. The Browns longest tenured coach since 1999? Romeo Crennel, who lasted four seasons from 2005 until 2008.

Shifting back to the NHL, the same rings true in regards to the number of GM’s and head coaches.

For example, the Edmonton Oilers are on their 7th head coach since their last playoff appearance in 2006, a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, and have been reuilding for the last several seasons. Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs every year since 2006, winning a Stanley Cup and two Western Conference Championships, all under one head coach (Mike Babcock – who left to become head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to this season).

The common thread here is that the more consistency a franchise has year after year, the mroe successful they are. That consistency begins in the front office and trickles down to the head coach and to the players.

Now, the Ducks are a team that has been more consistent than inconsistent. Boudreau is just the eighth coach in the franchise’s 23-year history. In addition to their relatively low amount of head coaches in that span, the franchise has also had a pretty good amount of success on the ice. In the last 13 years, they have a Stanley Cup title, 2 Western Conference titles, and four division titles.

There is no question that their slow start has put Bruce Boudreau on the hot seat. However, Ducks GM Bob Murray has stated that he is going to be patient with Boudreau and not make any rash decisions in regards to a coaching change.

Things could change from one day to another as far as a GM evaluating their coach, but for the Ducks, it may be better for them to stick with Bruce Boudreau for now and see if he can fix things.

Boudreau better start now though. He may still be coaching this team, but he’s now doing so on a short leash. Patience runs out of even the most patient front offices at some point.

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