While the veteran bench boss did deliver the franchise its only Stanley Cup to date, that was a long time ago. And after a failed adventure in Toronto, there doesn’t seem to be much shine left on him – though clearly GM Bob Murray feels differently.
Randy Carlyle is coming back to Anaheim. That’s the news, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. The fact Carlyle got another NHL job is pretty surprising in itself, but back in Anaheim, with a team in its Stanley Cup window? Let’s see what one of his former players had to say on the matter:
This should work out well. No one could stand the guy when he got fired in Anaheim before and now he’ssssssss back https://t.co/3TIWik2Gzn
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) June 14, 2016
Yup, that’s pretty a clear statement by Ryan Whitney. To be fair to Carlyle, Whitney’s not exactly a neutral party here; he was traded away from the Ducks to Edmonton after just a year in the city – but it is interesting how open his vitriol was for his former coach.
Carlyle has always had a strong relationship with Anaheim GM Bob Murray, so the move is not surprising in that respect – go with a man you trust. But the Ducks are on the back end of their Cup window. Their most expensive players are all on the wrong side of 30 (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa – though 24-year-old Cam Fowler makes the same $4 million as Bieksa) and a combination of the flattening salary cap and a potential expansion draft next summer will be cause for some tough decisions on their two young goalies, John Gibson and Frederik Andersen, and two young blueliners Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. Only Gibson is under contract right now.
So Carlyle doesn’t exactly have a lot of time to get his mojo going. He takes over an Anaheim squad that clunked out of the playoffs in the first round, despite holding the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division. And based on the results of this year’s tournament, possession numbers mean almost everything these days.
During Carlyle’s most recent coaching stint in Toronto, his Maple Leafs squads finished last, last and fourth-last in Corsi For percentage during his last three seasons. You could say a lot of that was talent-driven, but Mike Babcock got a rebuilding Toronto group up to 13th in the NHL in his first year behind the bench.
Anaheim has the talent; we know that. But if Carlyle is coaching, will it matter? Dating back to his final full season with the Ducks the first time around, Carlyle oversaw a crew that ranked 19th in Corsi For percentage – and they had a pretty good lineup!
Carlyle’s ace in the hole is that he has won the whole damn thing before. Anaheim’s only Cup title came with him behind the wheel – though the presence of three future Hall of Famers (Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne) certainly didn’t hurt his chances.
So here’s where it gets dangerous for Anaheim: How much value do you place on a championship from nearly 10 years ago? Vancouver took the same chance on John Tortorella and look how that turned out. Actually, Columbus took the same chance on ‘Torts’ and completely imploded this season, so maybe this isn’t such a mystery.
Carlyle has won just one playoff round in the years since the Ducks took the 2007 Cup. Say what you will about Bruce Boudreau’s inability to win it all, but at least he got the Ducks to within a game of the Cup last season.
Perhaps the Ducks need a kick in the backside. Boudreau was supposed to be the tonic for Carlyle; a players’ coach if you will. But once that stopped working, Murray needed a new path and has apparently decided that Carlyle is the way to go once again. Will it work, or will Ducks like Getzlaf and Perry immediately see the coach that failed them the last time he was there?
With a Jack Adams winner in Paul MacLean already in town as an assistant coach and AHL darling Travis Green still out there, the Carlyle news is perplexing. Sure, I see the logic – I just don’t agree with it. If Murray is right, he’ll prove a lot of folks wrong. If not, he may have just signed his own walking papers.