Despite pending UFA signings, transition should be smooth in Anaheim

November, 12, 2008
New Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray better roll up his sleeves. He's got work to do. He inherited a contending team from his friend Brian Burke, but now he has to keep it together.

No fewer than 12 players are slated for unrestricted free agency July 1 -- Scott and Rob Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin, Kent Huskins, Todd Marchant, Brad May, Travis Moen, Steve Montador, Brendan Morrison, Samuel Pahlsson, George Parros and Brian Sutherby.

"Is it that many?" Murray joked when we reached him in his Honda Center office Wednesday night. "Sounds about right."

It's not as if Murray just realized it. Along with assistant GM David McNab, he and Burke had already begun the work of preparing negotiating files for some of the players above.

Whether Burke was still in charge or not, the idea was to wait until late November before tackling those pending UFAs.

"Listen, Brian and I had a plan here," explained Murray. "We had talked about this since we got beat out last year. We said, 'Let's get going and get to Thanksgiving and see where we are as a team.' Then you start talking to some of them. You don't do it at the start of the year because it's a distraction to the players. Brian has always taught me that.

"We're going to go forward the same as we would have before."

On the flip side, inheriting a roster with so many UFAs may not necessarily be a bad thing. With the NHL still bracing itself for the possible effects the crumbling world economy and lower Canadian dollar will have on its revenues, the possibility of a lower salary cap means the Ducks will have more flexibility than many teams.

Plus, among the few players who are locked up, they are some very important ones, including Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

"Brian has been wonderful," said Murray. "He's included me in everything, I've been in on every decision. That's our team down there."

Murray addressed the players Wednesday and told them much of the same.

"I told them I'm moving forward with the same game plan," Murray said.

From that perspective, this should be a fairly smooth transition. Murray and McNab did a lot of work under Burke. He wasn't the kind of hands-on GM who needed to handle every detail of the day-to-day operation. He delegated a lot to his staff, so Murray, in many ways, may have a leg up.

Murray signed a four-year deal (including this season) to be the new Ducks GM. Burke will leave town knowing he took care of his friend. (Last summer, the whispers coming out of Anaheim were that it was not a done deal that Ducks CEO Michael Schulman would automatically replace Burke with Murray.) But, over the past few weeks, Burke encouraged both Murray and Schulman to get to know each other better.

It worked.



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