Ducks welcome new coach to practice

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf compared it to the first day of grade school. Bobby Ryan said it was more like a first date.

Whatever the occasion, the Ducks had the look of a team beginning anew during practice Thursday, still mindful they were letting go of an important piece of the past.

Randy Carlyle, two months into his seventh season as coach of the Ducks, was fired Wednesday night within an hour of a 4-1 victory against the visiting Montreal Canadiens. He was immediately replaced by Bruce Boudreau, who was let go Monday as coach of the Washington Capitals.

The Ducks, who began Thursday with the second-worst record in the Western Conference, hope the move will provide a shot in the arm.

"It's going to be a bit of an energy boost for us, hopefully," Getzlaf said.

Thirteen losses in 14 games was the tipping point for Carlyle, and a lethargic 5-2 defeat Sunday night against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs sent him over the edge.

"It was time for this group to have a new voice in the locker room," said Ducks general manager Bob Murray, a good friend of Carlyle's who signed him to a three-year contract extension in August.

For players like Getzlaf, Ryan and Corey Perry, who comprise one of the league's most potent scoring lines, they've never heard another voice. Carlyle was the only NHL head coach they ever had, the one who led them to the Stanley Cup title in 2007.

"We felt like we let Randy down a little bit," said Getzlaf, the team captain. "We just weren't able to turn it around."

Getzlaf said he briefly spoke with Carlyle as they left the arena late Wednesday. He said Carlyle was "pretty broken up" by the news of his firing.

"Something had to happen, whether it had to be that drastic, who knows?" Getzlaf said. "[Murray] made a big decision with one of his best friends and a great coach. It shows he believes in our group."

Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli offered "heartfelt thanks" to Carlyle.

"In addition to being the longest tenured and most successful coach in club history, Randy led the team with unquestioned passion and character," they said in a statement. "We will fondly remember his leadership en route to the 2007 Stanley Cup Championship, along with thrilling playoff runs in 2006 and 2009.

"We wish him well and are confident he will continue his successful coaching career in the NHL. These moves are very difficult, but we respect Bob Murray's decision and are optimistic we can turn this season around, led by Bruce and his staff."

Teemu Selanne, who decided a few days before training camp to return for a 19th season, believing this team had a chance to be among the league's best, was shocked by the coaching change.

"I didn't see this coming," he said. "But obviously, with the situation, we were expecting something was going to happen."

Rumors swirled Wednesday about the impending trade of Ryan or another high-profile player. Murray said he fielded a number of calls from other teams looking to scavenge off the Ducks, but the departure of Carlyle should simmer the trade talk, Murray said.

"I'm hoping everything settles down right now, " he said. "I think it will."

Murray said he decided early Monday to fire Carlyle, the same morning Boudreau was let go in Washington. Murray and Boudreau had played together on the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1984-85 season and Murray kept tabs on his NHL coaching career.

Boudreau took his first NHL head coaching job with the Capitals in November 2007, stepping into a situation similar to Anaheim's.

The Capitals went 37-17-7 the rest of the regular season and won their first Southeast Division title in seven years. That season, Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the NHL. He would reach 200 career victories quicker than anyone in league history.

Boudreau, like Carlyle, was finding it difficult to get his message through to the players, however. He became particularly frustrated during his final two games against Buffalo and Winnipeg. Even before the Ducks called, Boudreau said he was actively seeking other employment opportunities within the NHL. Nothing compared to the chance to coach in Anaheim, however.

"If I didn't believe that this was a team that had the possibilities and the makings of something special, I think I would have sat home and waited," he said. "I don't think opportunities like this come around every day."

They sure don't in Anaheim, where Boudreau becomes just the seventh coach in franchise history. He'll take his spot behind the bench Friday night, when the Ducks host the Philadelphia Flyers. Whether the newness will signal a fresh start for the Ducks remains to be seen, but it seems clear the organization is ready to start from scratch.

Dan Arritt covers the NHL for ESPNLosAngeles.com.