The NHL world is still digesting Brian Burke’s dismissal of coach Ron Wilson. With the Toronto Maple Leafs threatening to miss the playoffs, Burke took preemptive action.
His buddy Randy Carlyle looked like an ideal coaching candidate for the Washington Capitals, where the Dale Hunter Experiment has earned just mixed results.
But Burke landed Carlyle before Capitals GM George McPhee could go there.
Let’s here what the experts had to say about all that:
Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun: “This time around, those playing the Blame Game in the Maple Leafs offices didn't wag an accusing finger for the team's slippery slide at the media, a bad schedule, mediocre goaltending, global warming, whatever spin they could conjure up. This time around, the Toronto organization looked within it's own doors and took responsibility for what stands to be a seventh consecutive season without post-season hockey, a disgraceful run in front of a loyal fan base that deserves much better. They did it by doing what you wanted. You e-mailed those of us privileged enough to be in the sportswriting biz. You called the radio talk shows. You chanted your displeasure so loudly, the words echoed throughout the Air Canada Centre right through to the national highlight reels. And in each case, the message was clear. ‘Fire Wilson.’”
Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star: “Leaf fans will be happy, probably over the moon at Wilson’s downfall. The players — not so much, I reckon. But this outcome is as much their doing as Wilson’s. Burke’s determination to stand by his guy — who was never really his guy because Wilson got to Toronto first — obviously crumbled under the scathing, withering fury of Leaf Nation and, more significantly, a coach spinning his wheels under the deluge.”
Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun: “Well, the majority of Maple Leafs fans and Brian Burke's bootlickers in the media are going to be happy today. The worst coach in hockey history (or so we're lead to believe) has been fired. Wilson, the man everybody seems to hate, is gone, replaced by Randy Carlyle, who was fired by the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season. And that's fine. The Leafs are going nowhere -- again. Burke -- the man with the great rebuild plan, a plan supposedly taking them to the Stanley Cup in the near future -- had to do something, and firing the head coach is always the easy way out.”
Mike Brophy, Rogers Sportsnet: “Now, once and for all, the spotlight is on the GM. It is his team. Burke didn't hire Wilson in Toronto and the longer he held on to him as coach, the longer he could deflect the team's lack of success away from himself. The Leafs -- Burke's Leafs -- have lost six in a row. They have won just once in their last 11 games. They don't have a bona-fide No. 1 goalie. They are soft in their own zone. They lack leadership. They don't have a bona-fide No. 1 goalie. They can't kill penalties. They are easily intimidated. And they don't have a bona-fide No. 1 goalie.”
Michael Farber, SI.com: “If the Leafs players ever chafed under the clever and sardonic Ron Wilson, well ... that was just the warm-up act. Three nights after the crowd at the Air Canada Centre chanted 'Fire Wilson' -- a stunning display because usually the only time the swells in the platinum seats get exercised is if their Chablis has not been properly chilled -- Burke dismissed Wilson and hired Randy Carlyle, a grind-them-down-style coach who wore out his welcome in Anaheim early this season and was replaced by the light-stepping Bruce Boudreau.”
Eric Duhatschek, Globe and Mail: “Carlyle's job is to push players to make them better - and it is not his style to mince words either, which occasionally let to disagreements with players. There was friction at times with Ryan Getzlaf, the team captain, and with Teemu Selanne, who was a teammate back in the old Winnipeg Jets’ days. I always figured with Getzlaf and Carlyle, who were together for five years, they’d just come to a grudging peace, agreeing to disagree on some issues. In Anaheim, last year, Carlyle and Joffrey Lupul were not on the same page either, one of the reasons Lupul ended up in Toronto, playing for the Leafs. Being reunited in the Centre Of the Hockey Universe could make for some interesting times. Hatchets will need to buried, and not in each other’s skulls. If the Leafs want to get out of this tailspin, they’ll need to start working together. Fortunately, Carlyle is an adept defensive coach and the 1981 Norris Trophy winner as a player.”
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! Sports: “One of the knocks on Carlyle is that he's not adept at developing young players. (Yes, even though The Kid Line of Dustin Penner, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry won him a Cup ring.) The Leafs are going to have a great number of them moving up the ranks as the team reloads. Carlyle, meanwhile, is the kind of coach that likes to keep his bench short and his veterans on the ice. This might have been one of the more compelling arguments for Marlies Coach Dallas Eakins to take over, giving that young core someone to grow with rather than finding a disconnect with Carlyle. But let's see how that reputation plays out in Toronto before judging the new guy's work with the youngin's.”