From Helene Elliott:
Randy Carlyle, who coached the Ducks to the Stanley Cup title in 2007 but was fired Wednesday because of the team’s prolonged struggles, said Saturday he has been traveling “an emotional road” since his dismissal and will take a brief fishing trip to Northern California before considering his hockey future.
“We’ll see,” he said when asked whether he expects to coach in the NHL again. “I’m working on putting one foot in front of another for the next couple of days.”
I started this article with that quote to make a point. Randy Carlyle and Terry Murray are very different coaches. Murray is an apathetic and stoic coach. He is unwilling, by his own admission, to motivate. He is inflexible, refuses to adapt and evolve from the game he used to coach and teams, pre-lockout, played. He is what you have seen each of the four seasons – a coach without a greater success despite greater talent and one, with the exception of seemingly random and illogical line shuffling, that perpetually does the same thing with the expectation of a different result.
Randy Carlyle is intense. He is a disciplinarian. He commands the best from his players. He coaches a style that has proven itself capable of winning the Stanley Cup in the post-lockout NHL. He took a Ducks team that should have finished no higher than 11th in the Conference last season to the playoffs and damn near past the first round. In his career coaching a young Ducks team with a mixture of proven veterans, he led them to this (from Wikipedia):
Six full seasons post lockout, five playoff appearances, three of those past the first round, one of those a Western Conference Finals appearance and one Stanley Cup.
He didn’t play a run and gun style. He wasn’t a defense first, defense last coach. He wasn’t an “extreme” and therefore ineffective anything. His teams played a fast, hard, forechecking style with a creative offense that emphasized the high percentage scoring areas and a punishing defense that, when the game required, activated the defensemen.
Nothing about Randy Carlyle was soft. Similar to the best Flyers’ teams, something that Dean Lombardi of all people should understand and covet, and last season’s Boston Bruins, he coached a rough and menacing style that balanced the skill.
How would you like that style and playoff success for our team? How would you like to hand Carlyle, a proven winner in the new NHL era, the keys to our stacked defense and goaltending with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Andrei Loktionov, Jarret Stoll and captain Dustin Brown? How would a player like Kyle Clifford do with Carlyle as his coach? You know, as I do, the Ducks were an awful team the past two seasons, without any offensive or defensive depth and it was Bob Murray, not Carlyle, who failed Anaheim.
The L.A. Kings hiring a winner like Randy Carlyle won’t happen because Dean Lombardi probably doesn’t have the courage to make it happen. It should. If Lombardi is happy with his L.A. Kings, the team he has been “rebuilding” for 6 years, continuing with the same struggles, being an average team with average results, then he should do nothing. If winning and contending for the Stanley Cup matters as much as he claims, pick up the phone and make the call before or after Randy Carlyle returns from his fishing trip. Opportunities like this are rare. Winners strike fast.
Finding the right coach isn’t a “skill”. It is 1 part intelligence, 1 part luck and 1 part timing. Despite his polar Marc Crawford and Terry Murray mistakes, I know Dean Lombardi has the first and has been handed the second and third by Bob Murray’s mistake. If, as the L.A. Kings marketing claims, the “time is now”, there is no better time than now to bring in a coach that can take the L.A. Kings to the Stanley Cup. The other option is to do the same thing and nothing and expect a different result.