Bob Murray’s resignation as general manager of the Ducks will not be a setback to a team that has made substantial strides back toward playoff contention and won’t adversely impact an organization that has strong personnel in place to provide guidance, interim general manager Jeff Solomon said Thursday.
Murray resigned Wednesday, a day after the Ducks had put him on administrative leave based on preliminary results of a law firm’s investigation into allegations he had verbally abused team employees, players, and coaches. He was the third-longest tenured NHL general manager at the time of his resignation, at a few days short of 13 years. The Ducks also said Murray would enroll in an alcohol abuse program. His treatment will be paid for by club owners Henry and Susan Samueli, the Orange County-based philanthropists who bought the franchise in 2005.
Speaking to reporters in Seattle on Thursday before the Ducks’ game against the expansion Kraken, Solomon acknowledged the “truly extraordinary and difficult circumstance for me sitting up here today. This is not what I envisioned when I joined the team six months ago.” He added, “This was not part of my plan and is truly unfortunate, but this is where we find ourselves today and as a team we will get through it. We’ll move forward and we will have a very productive season moving forward, too.”
Solomon, a graduate of the University of San Diego Law School, joined the Ducks last May as their vice president of hockey operations after spending 15 years as an executive with the Kings focusing mainly on salary-cap issues and negotiating contracts. Before that, he was an attorney and an agent for players.
He said the job with Anaheim was attractive because it provided him an opportunity to share and promote the Samuelis’ strong family values and allowed him to complement the varied backgrounds and experiences that Murray, player personnel director Todd Marchant and assistant general managers Martin Madden and David Nonis brought to the Ducks’ operations.
“All of these values and family values, they haven’t changed. And the reason why I decided to come here in the first place, those reasons still exist. Nothing’s changed. And nothing will change as far as the plan moving forward,” Solomon said. “So, we’ll continue to execute it really in the vision of not just Bob and I but overall ownership as well.”
Solomon said he had no personal knowledge of any incidents involving Murray and said he couldn’t comment on the allegations because an investigation might still be taking place. However, he has addressed the need to ensure a safe and comfortable work environment.
“It’s truly unfathomable that in this day and age we really need to have these constant reminders about fostering inclusion, treating people with dignity and respect. We shouldn’t have to be reminded, yet we find ourselves dealing with unusual and unfortunate circumstances and situations that are constant reminders for us,” he said. “As a league, as players, as staff working for this organization, we’re privileged and honored to have the ability to serve the people, and these are the very people that deserve our respect and our trust. And our commitment and our, I think our vision of treating everyone equally fairly and with compassion. And so I just talked to the guys about the standard that we set in the league, in the organization.
“The league was really good about sending a memo basically reminding everyone about the overriding objective to foster inclusion, but honestly, I didn’t have to read the memo. We shouldn’t have to read it. It’s unfortunate that we even need these reminders. Because these are things that we should already set our standards to. And we have a high set of standards and bar of excellence with this organization and that’s going to continue to be that way.”
He also said decision-making will be collaborative with his top executives. “Character means something,” he said, “and everybody in this group stands for dedication, experience, knowledge, and character. And these are the people I want to work with.”