Despite the success of having led the Anaheim Ducks to the postseason two consecutive years, General Manager Bob Murray has not necessarily been the most popular in the organization at times; but then again, isn’t that just something that comes with the territory?
When the Ducks organization announced they had extended Murray’s contract to the year 2020, questions from critics arose as to whether or not Murray was deserving of such good faith. While Murray has no doubt lifted the Ducks from the post-Stanley Cup slump the team fell into, the questions arising from Murray doubters have more to do with his ability to take this team to a more competitive playoff level rather than his choices of past. Many wonder if Murray, much like the recently released GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ organization Ray Shero, has gone stale.
To add fire to the burning flames of question, Murray was nominated for GM of the Year, along with Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens and Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings — either a complete surprise or a complete given depending on which side of the aforementioned Murray argument line you fall on.
With everything the Ducks accomplished this year, it seems silly that Murray’s credibility to the organization should even be in question. But a hiccup at the trade deadline left many with a bitter taste that seems all too hard to bypass as human error. Yes, the whole Ryan Kesler, Dustin Penner, Stephane Robidas debacle can be debated over and over and over again, but what’s done is done.
Did the Vancouver Canucks dangle Kesler as bait to opposing organizations until one minute before the clock deadline struck? Yes. But while every other organization in the running to snatch up Kesler’s talent was able to quickly run and find another to fill the void, Murray failed to do so. In fact many stated that was the day Murray single-handedly ruined the Ducks’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup; you determine if they are right or not.
However, the talent Murray has filled the Anaheim organization with is now flourishing, made fact by the growth of defenseman Cam Fowler over the course of this past year. Murray has also made sure to lock down contracts for Anaheim’s two leading men, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. And it is with no doubt that Murray has the ability to work on the Ducks’ weaker blue line over a summer of re-signings and trades to make it strong enough to push this team through for a more durable Cup run next season.
Should Murray win General Manager of the Year? No, that right belongs to Bergevin and the Canadiens for so many other reasons. But questioning the validity of Murray’s contract extension is a moot point. Sometimes it takes a few years to build the all successful empire; patience is key. And comparing who the Ducks were in the years before Murray as the GM and who this team is now only further proves Murray is the right man for the job.