Toronto Maple Leafs: 5 Reasons Randy Carlyle Is an Upgrade over Ron Wilson
Throughout the Toronto Maple Leafs collapse this season, during a game at the Air Canada Centre, fans serenaded the stadium with chants of, "FIRE WILSON! FIRE WILSON!" General Manager Brian Burke took notice, and within a few days he fired longtime friend Ron Wilson and replaced him with Randy Carlyle.
While Wilson couldn't bring the Leafs out of their collapse and into the playoffs this year, there are reasons to believe that Carlyle can turn the Leafs around.
Here are the five reasons that Carlyle is an upgrade over Wilson.
With the Anaheim Ducks, Carlyle plus Burke did equal a Stanley Cup. In 2007, with Carlyle as the head coach and Brian Burke as general manager, they led the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
While Ron Wilson did have success with the San Jose Sharks, he never won the Cup. Carlyle brings to the Leafs a winning attitude and history of winning big games. There is no reason to believe he can't do it in Toronto.
Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."
Carlyle is a winner and has always been a winner, hopefully, that won't change in Toronto.
If there was one thing that the Leafs lacked during Wilson's tenure as head coach, besides playoff appearances, it was toughness.
It became completely visible this season, especially when playing the Boston Bruins, that the Leafs were physically outmatched and simply not tough enough to handle a team like the Bruins.
One thing that Burke and Carlyle both enjoy is having a tough, hard as nails team. The two have shown that they can lead to a Cup, and hopefully, they can lead the Leafs to the playoffs.
Another aspect in which the Leafs were abysmal in this past season was in the defensive zone. Players were being out hustled, over matched, they were out of position and overall not defensively responsible.
This led to the Leafs being 29th in goals against this past season. It does't matter how many goals you score if can't play defence and give up a horrific 3.16 goals per game.
Ron Wilson did nothing to solve the problem and was subsequently fired. Carlyle is known for having defensively responsible teams. Players such as Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn and Jake Gardiner will greatly benefit from having Carlyle as coach.
Additionally, players such as Phil Kessel will learn to play defence and back check or will find themselves in the proverbial dog house.
If Carlyle does one thing in Toronto it will be lifting the Leafs out of 29th in goals against.
The Leafs penalty kill this season was down right putrid. The Leafs were again in the basement statistically ranking as the 28th best power play.
It's something that kept bringing the Leafs down and was directly responsible for losing games. Each goal deflated the team and made each game that much harder to win.
Carlyle will improve the penalty kill, the only question is by how much?
When the Leafs were doing a terrific job of killing penalties in January they were winning, a lot. When they were awful at killing penalties they lost, a lot.
Coincidence? I don't think so.
If there is one thing that Carlyle gives the Leafs and its fans base, it is hope. Hope for a better future, hope for playoff appearances, hope for a Cup.
At the end of Wilson's time as head coach, no one believed he could deliver, he had lost faith from the players, fans, ownership and even of his best friends, Brian Burke.
While this season might have been a train wreck, with a new coach and high draft pick, the Leafs have hope that next season will be a success.
With Carlyle, the playoffs aren't out of the realm of possibility. The New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators showed that lottery picks could become playoff teams. The Toronto Maple Leafs are hopefully next.
Carlyle, more than anything else, gives the Leafs hope.
Hope that next season will be different. Hope that next season will be better.
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