There are some who say that the worst of Randy Carlyle was exposed during the 24/7 series as well as the Winter Classic, which shed more light on the locker room of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Carlyle was shown reaming out Nazem Kadri during both the 24/7 series and the Winter Classic. One can only conclude that Carlyle is definitely the kind of coach who does not let people off the hook without giving them his personal opinion of their performance. Kadri has been the subject of trade rumors recently and may find himself out of town if he does not play better.
Though Kadri has been productive (23 points), he has not been responsible with the puck, and he is not performing up to par given the amount of talent that he posseses. The No. 7 overall pick has definitely been in Carlyle’s dog house of late, and his treatment at the hands of Carlyle have some wondering if he is the right coach for the job.
I would say that Carlyle’s style is just what the Leafs need. Carlyle is dealing with a team that has a bunch of underachieving forwards. When that happens, you cannot just sit back as a coach and say that your team put forth a good effort and should be able to turn things around.
Proactive coaches such as John Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau are known for a similar hard-knocks, high-profanity style. Although not all players work well in this atmosphere, Carlyle and the two aforementioned coaches have achieved success at every level that they have coached. Carlyle did in the cup in 2007 with the Ducks, so he knows what it takes to win.
Though the Leafs are winners of three straight and sit in fifth in the Eastern Conference, I would say that they were in position to win some games in the third period and were not ultimately able to come through. The onus is on Carlyle to light a fire underneath his team and get the most out of his players.
The Leafs have gotten excellent play in goal (Bernier appears to be the starter going forward) and have a good PP (fifth in the NHL). These are two very valuable assets come playoff time. Carlyle’s Ducks were known to be excellent defensively, and hopefully he can help the Leafs to improve their weakest point, which would appear to be their 27th ranked penalty-kill.
I would say that the Leafs have a good chance to make a deep playoff run (Eastern Conference Finals?) this year if they can play the way they should the second half of the season. With Bernier playing well, Kessel and JVR locked in, Lupul improving and offense from the blueline clicking, Toronto has the capability of beating any Eastern Conference team in a seven-game series.
I think that there is reason to see the Leafs as a young team on the rise that may seem a bit inconsistent in the short run, but ultimately will be able to produce in the postseason. Randy Carlyle is, at this time, the best coach for the job. He shouldn’t change his style one bit.