Randy Carlyle makes no bones about it: a win over the Anaheim Ducks
would be sweet.
That's because the Ducks, who he coached to the Stanley Cup championship in 2007, fired him two years ago. Carlyle's current club, the Toronto Maple Leafs
, hosts the Ducks Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
"It seems like a long time ago because it was two years ago, but it's the first time I'll coach against Anaheim," Carlyle said. "When you coach against your former team it's always special, but beyond that my worries are about getting our team playing at a higher level."
Carlyle came to town with the reputation of being a crusty and cantankerous individual, but has been quite easy to deal with for the media. And he has even become a little bit more of a players' coach along the way. The Sudbury, Ont., natives believes he has changed -- mellowed -- over the years and he's a different coach now than he was in Anaheim.
"I think so," he said. "There are things that you learn and that you take from your history or experience. There are things that you might do differently now than you would have back then. With a new group of assistants they have different ideas and we have been able to exchange ideas, which has changed my views on a bunch of different things."
Carlyle said he has paid special attention to how he reacts to certain aspects of the day-to-day life of being an NHL coach who pushes for perfection from his players. He is less likely to erupt in anger these days than when he coached in Anaheim.
"I think there are certain things that you do and I don't think the reactions that took place in my history should have taken place in that arena or for that many people to see," Carlyle said.
One player who has seen both sides of Carlyle is Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul
. He and Carlyle didn't see eye to eye when they were both in Anaheim, but Lupul's maturity and Carlyle's new-found patience and understanding of his players has been a good mix with the Maple Leafs.
"He has changed quite a bit," Lupul said. "I mean, he still expects the same things from his players, but probably the way he deals with guys on a day-to-day basis is a little bit different. The game evolves and people evolve. Obviously he has made some changes from Anaheim and I think everybody would say the same thing. You're not the same player or person you were 8-10 years ago."
Lupul gets that Tuesday's game will be a big one for the coach.
"It's just another game for [the players], but he wants to put his best foot forward against the team that fired him," Lupul said. "I think all players can relate to that, having to play against teams that traded them. You approach it like any other game, but I'm sure there's a little extra there for him."1 more for Clarkson
Right-winger David Clarkson
will sit out the 10th game of his suspension
Tuesday and then will be eligible to rejoin the Maple Leafs for Friday's game in Columbus.
"I'm excited to get back and be a part of it," Clarkson said. "It's been one of those things where every day goes by and you check it off. We were playing some good hockey for a while so it made things easier. When the team is winning it's always easier being at home, but there's nothing worse than sitting there watching your team playing and not being able to be a part of it or being able to help. That was tough. This was the hardest start I've had to a season so far."Carlyle vs. Gabby
This certainly won't be the first time Carlyle and Anaheim coach Bruce (Gabby) Boudreau have crossed paths. They played against one another in junior, Carlyle for Sudbury and Boudreau with the Toronto Marlies, and then played together in the Central Hockey League in Dallas.
"Gabby and I go back a long ways," Carlyle said.Not so fast
The Maple Leafs spent a good portion of Monday's practice working on their breakout from the defensive zone. While building a 6-3-0 record in the early going, a lot of the credit has gone to the Leafs' goalies for stealing games for them. The breakout has not been good thus far.
"I think at times we're just not playing fast," Carlyle said. "We think we're playing at a higher pace than we actually are. I'm just trying to reinforce that we move the puck and move ourselves at a higher pace. That's what our team is built on, speed, and right now we're just not fast enough."
Back to basics
The Maple Leafs, losers in their last two games after a 6-1-0 start to the season, kicked things off in practice Monday morning with a little ball hockey played on the ice. The team was divided into two with half the players competing at one end of the rink and the other half at the other end.
"When you have the lack of success that we had in the last game and then you have a day off, you're kind of feeling down," Carlyle said. "I think they were expecting to come here and get bag-skated. At times we feel that is counterproductive and that we have to change the mood of the group a bit to a positive one, so using ball hockey or wrong-handed scrimmages, those kind of things, make it fun for the first 10 minutes and then we seem to get a more enthusiastic workout from them.
"It's not just doom and gloom here. There were some good things that happened; just not enough of them."Injury updates
Left-winger Frazer McLaren
, who has been out with a broken finger suffered in training camp when he was slashed by teammate Carter Ashton
, could be available to the Maple Leafs this weekend. Defenceman Mark Fraser
and right-winger Nikolai Kulemin
will not likely play until the end of the month.
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