I had this smart-alecky little post all set up in which I noted that Ron Wilson was an ex-Leaf defenseman who came up in the ’70s on those well-coached Roger Neilson teams. He’d gone on to some pretty good success as an NHL head coach and had a good personal history with Brian Burke. If any or all of that were important to Brian, all he had to do was hire Randy Carlyle and it would all still be true.
Of course, I ran out of time today and didn’t post it. No matter, nothing was going to happen on a Friday, right? Right.
Anyway, we now have a new head coach and it’s the aforementioned Mr. Carlyle.
In my mind, it’s already too late to save the season. I think we’re done. Still, it will be interesting at least to see just how they play under a new coach and this will help distract me from spring training for a little while.
Randy Carlyle, as suggested by the card here, was dealt from the Leafs to the Penguins in 1978. This was one of those deals (there were many) that left Leafs fans shaking their heads. He was a young defenseman with offensive upside, sort of the Jake Gardiner of the Neilson teams. He didn’t progress as fast as everyone (probably Harold) wanted and was sent off for veteran Dave Burrows. He’d win the 1981 Norris Trophy. To top it off, Burrows would be sent back to Pittsburgh with Paul Gardner for Kim Davis and Paul Marshall. Bet you`ve never heard of either of them. This is why folks got bitter.
So this is a homecoming of sorts. Carlyle remains the only Norris winner the Leafs have ever drafted. Hopefully this go-round turns out a little better and maybe he can work some magic with the young d-men he inherits on this roster. He also needs to get along with Lupul. Joffrey has been a big part of this team, particularly when it was winning – or sort of winning, at least.
I saw a note that Randy Carlyle is the first Leaf coach with a ring since Punch Imlach. That`s a long, long time.
Note that if things don’t work out with Randy, all those things I mentioned above (except for a history with Brian Burke unless there is something I’m not aware of) are true of this guy, as well:
I am sorry for Ron Wilson, perhaps more than any other fired Leaf coach. Maybe I`m just old enough now to have seen enough job losses and I don`t wish them on anyone – or maybe it`s just a symbol of the hope of this season fading and a new batch of uncertainty beginning. We`ll see. All the same, good luck, Ron. Hope it works out.