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Two Ducks on a Pond

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The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim continued their dramatic makeover yesterday with the hiring of Randy Carlyle as head coach. Carlyle (right) comes to the Ducks with seemingly acceptable credentials (anyone seen the Manitoba Moose play recently?), and the promise of an up-tempo style of play.

The up-tempo style comes under the orders of new GM Brian Burke (left), who is trying to turn the Ducks into Vancouver Canucks South. In theory, it sounds like a nice idea. LAist likes up-tempo hockey, and with the NHL trying to open up the game this year, the new Ducks could be well prepared.

But we questioned the Brian Burke hiring from day one. The Ducks had the opportunity to hire Neil Smith, the architect of the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup team, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly called new owners Henry and Susan Samueli and recommended his old friend Burke. How Bettman had the time or the inclination to actually recommend individual teams' GMs while he was working feverishly on a new labor deal is beyond us.

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Burke did a decent job in Vancouver, building a slightly above-average offensive minded team that never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. Burke also became known as a loud-mouthed abrasive GM, who tries to come across as a bull more than a bear. His attitude was on display yesterday when he told reporters: "I don't like to lose, and in fact, I hate to lose. [Carlyle] hates to lose as much as I do."

Grrr. Now that's good rhetoric. We know Carlyle will work out now. It's a good thing that Burke didn't hire one of those coaches who likes losing, since so many of them do.

In order to create an open spot for Carlyle, Burke first had to run Mike Babcock out of town by low-balling the coach who took the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup final. Babcock rejected Burke's paltry one-year contract, and showed how desirable he was, by signing on to coach the Detroit Red Wings.

In the meantime, LAist can only hope that Carlyle is as good as other past Ducks coaches, like Babcock, Ron Wilson, and Gordon Bombay. Maybe he can get the Ducks flying.