CARLYLE INTRODUCED AS NEW HEAD COACH OF MAPLE LEAFS
The Toronto Maple Leafs are counting on a coaching change to get them out of a tailspin and back on course for the NHL playoffs.
Randy Carlyle, who replaces the fired Ron Wilson, will try to get them there.
“I sense the club is very tense,” Carlyle said at a news conference in the home of the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens, against whom he was to coach his first game for Toronto on Saturday night.
“The confidence level is at a low. My responsibility as head coach is to pick these guys up. To get them feeling better about themselves.”
Carlyle, 56, who coached the Anaheim Ducks to a Stanley Cup in 2007, takes over a team that has dropped out of playoff position in the NHL Eastern Conference with a 29-28-7 record. Carlyle was fired by Anaheim on Nov. 30 in his seventh season with the Ducks.
The Leafs were 1-9-1 in their last 11 games when Wilson, general manager Brian Burke’s long-time friend and former college roommate, was fired on Friday night.
Fans chanted “Fire Wilson” during a loss to the Florida Panthers at the end of a homestand this week and Burke said it would be “cruel and unusual punishment to make Ron coach another game at the Air Canada Centre.”