Change swept through Anaheim shortly after its 4-1 victory over Montreal on Wednesday night with the Ducks firing Coach Randy Carlyle and replacing him with Bruce Boudreau.
Carlyle, who led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007, had received a three-year contract extension in August. Boudreau, who had been coaching the Capitals, was replaced in Washington on Monday.
The coaching change was made despite the team’s first win in 19 days. The Ducks beat the Canadiens using a rare combination of two power-play goals, flawless penalty killing and a reawakened Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
Also, there was probably some genuine terror of what the Internet mob would say regarding player trades had the Ducks lost again, especially with Montreal backup goalie Peter Budaj getting a rare start.
The final buzzer, wrapping up the Ducks’ first win in eight games and third in 19 games, didn’t give Carlyle a reprieve. The club also dismissed assistants Dave Farrish and Mike Foligno. The Ducks had only won one playoff series in the last four years under Carlyle.
“This was an extremely difficult decision,” Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said. “Randy is a terrific head coach and did a tremendous job for us for six-plus seasons.”
Murray and Carlyle had an especially close and long-standing relationship, and Murray had given the coach his public backing in recent interviews. But there was a growing suggestion that a fresh voice was needed in the Ducks’ dressing room and recent form indicated that the players were no longer receptive to Carlyle’s message.
Boudreau, 56,. had some of those same problems, in fact, with the Capitals. He clashed with his star player Alex Ovechkin, at times, and quite publicly. He benched him late in the game against the Ducks on Nov. 1.
One of Boudreau’s earlier associations was with the Kings’ organization. He coached their minor-league team in Manchester, N.H., before getting the head coaching position with the Capitals.
He was the NHL’s Coach of the Year in the 2007-08 season and put together a 201-88-40 record with the Capitals.
The burden of losing was weighing heavily on the Ducks’ marquee players, of course. Perry and Getzlaf, who were playing on a line with Matt Beleskey, each had a goal and two assists. Nik Hagman, scoring a late empty-netter, and rookie Devante Smith-Pelly had the other Duck goals.
Smith-Pelly showed impressive net presence in front, first batting down the puck with his glove and scoring with a quick move, on the power play, at 6 minutes 6 seconds of the second period to make it 2-1.
Getzlaf, the team’s captain, had endured a career-high 14 games without a goal. He said he didn’t realize how long it had been until his linemate and buddy, Perry, informed him of the fact.
“It wasn’t really weighing me on the goal side of it till Perry told me this morning,” Getzlaf said. “It’s nice to get on the scoresheet and get our line playing the way we want it to play.”
Was it something on his mind, constantly, as he carried out his daily non-hockey activities?
“If I said no, I’d be lying,” he said. “It’s a frustrating thing. It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re working and working and working and not getting the results that you need.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been through something like that.”