Perhaps, all general managers should consider stepping behind the bench when making a coaching change.
Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray did exactly that when he decided he didn’t like the way the team was playing under coach Randy Carlyle during a seven-game losing streak and a stretch of 19 losses in 21 games. He named himself interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Yes, a coaching change can bring a turnaround. The Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues are the league’s hottest teams after making moves earlier in the season.
But a general manager behind the bench adds pressure on the players. They’re not just trying to impress someone for playing time. They’re trying to impress their boss to hang on to their jobs.
Murray, who had never coached an NHL game before Wednesday, had complained that the team wasn’t playing with emotion. And in the 1-0 victory against the Vancouver Canucks, the emotion was evident.
Jacob Silfverberg, a potential unrestricted free agent who could be traded by Murray, gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead after Anaheim’s forechecking forced a turnover.
That was the first time since Jan. 23 that the Ducks had scored the opening goal.
And then there were the fights. The Murray-led Ducks seem more willing to drop the gloves.
Ryan Kesler and Vancouver’s Josh Leivo fought in the first period.
Later in the first period, captain Ryan Getzlaf bowled over Jake Virtanen, who earlier had checked Getzlaf’s teammate, Corey Perry.
Early in the second period, Getzlaf fought Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who was retaliating for Getzlaf’s earlier hit.
Heading into the game, the Ducks had nine fights, a pace well below last year’s 30 fights.
But the boss is now watching from ice level instead of from the press box. And the Ducks are showing the intensity that had been missing during their recent blowout losses.
Goalie Kevin Boyle, making his NHL debut, made Silfverberg’s goal stand up with a 35-save shutout.
Even with all of the losing under Carlyle, the Ducks are only six points out of a playoff spot after winning in Murray’s debut.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Brehm on Twitter @ByMikeBrehm.