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Category: Ducks

NHL Governors approve realignment to four conferences

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The NHL’s Board of Governors on Monday approved a major realignment that will divide the 30 teams into four conferences and ensure every team will play each other at least twice a season.

Under the current division-driven setup teams in the West and East often went years between visits, preventing fans from seeing favorites and hindering the league’s promotional efforts. Commissioner Gary Bettman used his considerable influence to persuade some reluctant governors of Eastern Conference teams to agree to extra travel for the greater benefit of the league.

The NHL Players’ Assn. must offer its input into the plan before it can go into effect. That's expected to happen before next season, though it might be delayed until 2013-14.

As recommended, the top four teams from each of the four still-unnamed conferences will qualify for the playoffs. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be contested within each conference, with the No. 1 team playing the No. 4 team and the winners then facing each other. The four conference champions would then play each other and the winners would advance to the Stanley Cup final.

“We like the fact that every team on the East Coast will come to L.A.,” said Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations and their representative at the governors' meetings in Pebble Beach.

“We think it’s a great thing for our fans and a great thing for us.”

A spokesman for the Ducks said they also voted in favor of the plan.

The realignment, the first major change for the league since it went to six divisions for the 1998-99 season, will abolish those divisions in favor of four conferences. The proposed new conferences are:

  • Kings, Ducks, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Phoenix.
  • Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville, Columbus, Winnipeg and Dallas.
  • Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, Florida and Tampa Bay.
  • Philadelphia, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey, Washington and Carolina.

In the seven-team conferences, teams would play each other six times, three home and three away. In the eight-team conferences, teams would play each other five or six times a season on a rotating basis.

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Ducks update: Another take on Jonas Hiller's blunt comments

Helene Elliott: Proposed NHL realignment is terrific improvement

--Helene Elliott

Photo: In the new conference alignments, Teemu Selanne (left) and the Ducks will still be a primary rival of Brad Richardson and the Kings. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

Ex-Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle: Experience was positive, firing wasn't

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Randy Carlyle, who coached the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007 but was fired Wednesday because of the team's prolonged struggles, said Saturday he has been traveling "an emotional road" since his dismissal and will take a brief fishing trip to Northern California before considering his hockey future.

"We'll see," he said when asked if he expects to coach in the NHL again. "I'm working on putting one foot in front of another for the next couple of days."

Carlyle's last game was a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, which ended the Ducks' seven-game losing streak. However, General Manager Bob Murray had decided that no matter the outcome, he would dismiss Carlyle and replace him with Bruce Boudreau, the former Washington Capitals coach.

Boudreau lost his Ducks debut when the team squandered a three-goal lead and lost, 4-3, in overtime Friday. It was much like many of the games Carlyle coached this season, in fact, with a team that lacks depth and discipline.

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Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau ready for more 'firsts'

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Newly hired Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau will experience a series of "firsts" while he settles in, and Friday brought the chance to check two more firsts off his list.

Boudreau, who conducted his first Ducks practice on Thursday, led players Friday through their first morning skate with him in charge. He will make his Ducks coaching debut Friday night at Honda Center against the Philadelphia Flyers, alongside new assistants Brad Lauer and Bob Woods.

His players enjoyed a first on Friday too: They were smiling and laughing in the locker room for the first time in a long time.

"Bruce has brought some good energy to the team. He's really an uplifting guy," defenseman Cam Fowler said. "He's positive, and he's made it fun to come to the rink every day."

Enforcer George Parros, who played for Boudreau in the American Hockey League when both were in the Kings' minor-league system, said he remembered Boudreau's positive attitude and honesty.

"What you see is what you get with him. We all watched him on the 24/7 shows," Parros said, referring to the HBO series last winter that featured an unfiltered Boudreau preparing the Washington Capitals to play in the Winter Classic. "We all got a good look at him. He's that person. There's no hiding how he is emotionally. He's a positive, upbeat guy, and he coaches to win. He's a good coach.”

Boudreau was often heard yelling “Move it!” during drills to remind players to maintain a fast pace.

"Look at all the good teams. They play an up-tempo game," he said. "You've got to be able to move the puck. Not just necessarily your legs but moving the puck quick can make slow teams look fast, and if we can get that in our repertoire, I think we’ll be better."

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Ducks update: Coaching change puts trade talk on hold

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There may not have been a reprieve for Anaheim Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle, who was dismissed late Wednesday night, but his firing meant at least a temporary halt to trade talk.

The larger meaning: Forward Bobby Ryan can resume exhaling and playing hockey and stop worrying about a possible relocation. He called the recent trade speculation "a nightmare."

Ryan said his girlfriend was the one who told him about the coaching change, calling him in his car when he was driving home from Wednesday's game.

"To be honest, right off the bat, I was thinking it might be a yard sale or a fire sale, a lot of things might be changing," Ryan said on Thursday after the first practice under new coach Bruce Boudreau. "I immediately kind of looked around to see if I had any other texts or missed calls.

"It's almost like there's a little relief on my part. Hopefully, this isn't meaning that I'm going to be moved too in the future. You almost feel like you let Coach down, you let all three coaches down."

Ryan said Ducks General Manager Bob Murray let him know that the organization would let things settle down after the coaching change.

"A lot of times players are left in the dark and it is tough," Ryan said. "I appreciate Murph being honest with me and letting me know ahead of time, so I could focus on one thing and that's wins for the Ducks."

Ryan had one of the better lines about the transition from Carlyle to Boudreau.

"There's a little nervousness, what kind of impression you are going to make on your first day," he said. "It's almost like a first date. But I think it went well."

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Ducks will play first game under Coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday vs. Philadelphia

-- Lisa Dillman

Photo: Bobby Ryan shoots past New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto on Nov. 3. Credit: Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

Ducks had tuned out Randy Carlyle as coach

Randy Carlyle is out as Ducks coach.
Randy Carlyle didn’t know it, but when he told reporters the Ducks’ 4-1 victory over Montreal Wednesday might be "a steppingstone for us in the right direction," he was already their former coach, no longer a part of "us" or the direction they’ll take.

Carlyle was fired and replaced by former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau about 40 minutes after the Ducks ended a seven-game losing streak and won for only the third time in 19 games. Carlyle’s voice had become too familiar, his barked threats empty and his motivational tactics flat. Boudreau was fired by the Capitals on Monday for similar reasons, to a degree an occupational hazard.

Carlyle, hired in 2005, guided a powerful team to the Stanley Cup in 2007 but the Ducks’ talent level has plummeted and they haven’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs since. It’s worth noting that of the last 10 Cup-winning coaches, only one — a guy by the name of Scotty Bowman — was with that team more than four seasons when he won.

Players tune coaches out after a while. Carlyle, gruff and old-school and able to get a lot out of not much raw material for a while, ultimately was tuned out too.

General Manager Bob Murray resisted firing Carlyle for as long as possible — maybe too long, though the timing enabled Murray to hire the sometimes profane but never boring Boudreau, who is scheduled to run his first practice Thursdays at Anaheim Ice.

Murray and Carlyle are close, and Murray last summer gave him an extension through 2013-14, but Murray had to be feeling pressure to dismiss Carlyle or lose his own job. Club owners Henry and Susan Samueli aren’t meddlesome but they aren’t stupid. The team was going nowhere with Carlyle behind the bench.

The Ducks are 10 points behind the eighth-seeded Kings, a huge gap even for a team known for second-half surges. They’re too thin to be a Stanley Cup contender but they were fourth in the West last season with much the same group and should be better than 29th.

Other general managers have been calling Murray and offering to “help” by taking underachieving forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan off his hands. Murray has listened, as he should, while hoping teams force each other to up the ante.

In the meantime, Getzlaf has shown signs of life — he scored a goal Wednesday for the first time in 14 games and has points in seven straight games — so Murray might decide the coaching change was enough of a jolt. For now, anyway.

The transition from Carlyle to Boudreau can be summed up as going from Grumpy to Gabby, from the crotchety Carlyle to the personable Boudreau, the rumpled breakout star of last season’s HBO 24/7 series.

Formerly a coach in the Kings’ minor-league system, Boudreau earned a cult following for his bit part in the iconic movie "Slap Shot." He’s No. 7 on the Hyannisport Presidents in a couple of scenes, and the apartment he lived in while playing for the Johnstown Jets — the model for the movie’s Charlestown Chiefs — was used as Coach Reggie Dunlop’s apartment.

He coached in the minor leagues for 15 seasons before he arrived in Washington and had immediate success, winning the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2007-08. He won four straight Southeast division titles and the Presidents’ Trophy for the best overall record in 2009-10. He also won 200 games faster than any other modern NHL coach.

But there’s also that matter of not getting past the second round of the playoffs four times with a high-payroll team and his rocky relationship with superstar Alexander Ovechkin, whose production declined as Boudreau boomeranged from a run-and-gun style to defensive diligence. Ovechkin won that battle, not surprisingly. Boudreau shouldn’t have to fight that battle in Anaheim with low-key stars Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry.

Carlyle exited with a win, appropriate for the coach who won California’s first — and only — Stanley Cup title. It might be the steppingstone he hoped for, but it’s up to Boudreau to guide them toward the success that Carlyle could no longer achieve.

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Ducks win, then fire Carlyle.

NBA can learn some things from the NHL.

Video: Ducks discuss their win over Canadiens.

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Randy Carlyle. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press

Ducks fire Randy Carlyle, hire ex-Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau

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The Ducks fired Randy Carlyle as their coach Wednesday and announced the hiring of former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

The Ducks made the announcement after their 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. The victory snapped the Ducks' seven-game losing streak.

Bruce1Boudreau, 56, who was fired Monday by the Capitals and replaced by Dale Hunter, led Washington to the best record in the NHL in 2009-10. He compiled a record of 201-88-40 with the Capitals and was the 2007-08 NHL coach of the year.

Carlyle, 55, led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup victory in 2007. He compiled a 273-182-61 record in six-plus seasons behind the bench, guiding the Ducks to five playoff appearances.

"This was an extremely difficult decision,” said Bob Murray, the Ducks' executive vice president/general manager, in a written statement. "Randy is a terrific head coach and did a tremendous job for us for six-plus seasons. We thank him greatly for his hard work and dedication to our franchise, not the least of which was a Stanley Cup championship. At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed. Bruce is a proven winner with a great track record, and we are optimistic we can turn this season around under his leadership."

We'll have more on Carlyle's firing and Boudreau's hiring soon at latimes.com/sports.

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Top photo: Former Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle. Right photo: Former Capitals coach and newly named Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Ducks update: Slumping and sleepless in Anaheim

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One win in the last 11 games is not the ideal way to get a good night's sleep.

Just ask Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle.

"There’s a buzzer that goes off in my brain somewhere around 3 in the morning and it’s always about what’s going on at work and what’s going on with the hockey club," he said after practice Tuesday at Honda Center. "Then there’s a toss and turn for sometimes two hours, sometimes it’s three hours and sometimes it’s one hour.

"And then you want to sleep till 10 because you’re tired and you’ve just gotten back to sleep at 5. Those are the things that happen. Part of the stress and the pressure that comes with not having the success you feel you’re capable of."

The Ducks have been in a deep and prolonged slump. They have not been a consistent team since getting off to a 4-1 start, and the season just hit the one-quarter mark. Forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are a combined minus-18, and the bottom six forwards have lacked scoring punch.

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Ducks go shopping: Claim Niklas Hagman off re-entry waivers

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Struggling teams = changes.

Thus, the Ducks and Kings were in action Monday morning, looking for solutions to their current struggles. 

Anaheim made the bigger move, grabbing left wing Niklas Hagman of Calgary on re-entry waivers. The Ducks will pick up a prorated amount of Hagman's salary, about $1.1 million. For the Ducks, it's not a big gamble and could offer the vision of an all-Finn line: Hagman possibly playing with countrymen Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.

The Ducks, with two wins in their last 12 games, need help up front in a big way and the change of scenery could help Hagman, who seemed overwhelmed by pressure and expectations in Calgary after arriving there in the Dion Phaneuf trade.

He was off to a slow start this season with four points in eight games with the Flames, leading Calgary to assign him to its American Hockey League affiliate on Friday. Hagman, who turns 32 on Dec. 5, had 11 goals and 27 points in 71 games last season with Calgary.

“I met with Nik last Thursday, when we placed him on waivers, and told him we have been trying to trade him," said Flames GM Jay Feaster in a statement. "While some teams expressed interest, no one was willing to take on the contract. I advised Nik that upon clearing waivers we would place him on re-entry waivers and I gave him permission to speak with other teams."

Meanwhile, the Kings recalled forward Andrei Loktionov from the Ontario Reign of the ECHL. He had been sent to the Reign by Kings' minor-league affiliate in Manchester on Sunday but did not play any games for Ontario. He had a team-leading 14 points in 17 games for the Monarchs.

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Ducks get four-goal second period, then hold off Canucks

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Photo: Niklas Hagman. Credit: Ron Chenoy / US Presswire

Ducks update: Devante Smith-Pelly's unusual first NHL goal

DevanteThere was near cyber silence when Ducks rookie Devante Smith-Pelly checked in Thursday morning. 

He figured to hear something about his first NHL goal, which came against Nashville. But ... nothing.

"It was kind of weird just looking at my phone and no one really said anything and no one really knew," he said after practice.

Not even his parents.

What happened was that Smith-Pelly wasn't awarded the goal until after the game. He didn't even know when reporters entered the dressing room for interviews and only found out when he was about to leave Honda Center.

The goal had originally been credited to Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, and it turned out the puck had glanced off Smith-Pelly's knee and gone in. Smith-Pelly thought it was his goal, at first.

“I guess you can kind of tell by my reaction. I was pretty excited," he said. "I turned around and everyone was at Cam, so I just kind of skated over to him. It was weird.

"After the game, guys were asking if it touched me and I said yeah."

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Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller unveils new mask

Hillermomask03On Wednesday, Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller received the new mask he will wear during games next month in support of “Movember.”

“Movember” is an annual charity event during the month of November in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and other cancers that affect men.

The mask depicts various members of the Ducks and how they would look with a mustache.

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Hiller's new mask. Credit: Airxess and GoalieGuild.

Ducks road trip starts with milestone for Coach Randy Carlyle

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Randy Carlyle said he didn't know Tuesday's game at the Chicago Blackhawks marked his 500th as Anaheim Ducks coach until an autograph-seeker at the team hotel congratulated him en route to the morning skate.

That's what two straight losses and Tuesday's start of a critical, seven-game trip can do. Along those lines of tunnel-vision focus, Carlyle met briefly with both the defensemen and forwards to review recent slippages in play before the Ducks took the United Center ice to prepare for the Blackhawks.

"We just went over some of the things that transpired over the last couple of games, some of the things that ail us as a hockey club," Carlyle said. "We won’t have a chance at success unless we correct them. It wasn’t pointing any fingers. I wasn’t hard on anybody other than the fact that this is what’s happening and what we see.

"You tell me any different. If I’m providing you something you disagree with, let’s talk about it. That’s what we did -- very short, seven or eight clips for the defense. There were 10 clips for the forwards. Just a refresher of what’s going on out there."

As is his custom, Carlyle wouldn't reveal whether Jonas Hiller or Dan Ellis would start in goal. He wouldn't say whether left wing Patrick Maroon, recalled from Syracuse on Monday, would see any ice time.

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