Monday, March 05, 2012

Welcome to the Randy Carlyle era.

Interesting what is coming out now that Wilson is gone. 

Carlyle's immediate assessment is that the Leafs are not fit enough to play to their strengths, which are speed and forecheck. Allegedly, Wilson's practices were quite light, giving the players Sunday off every week so long as there wasn't a game. His gameday skates were optional and about 15 minutes (can you imagine driving to the rink, getting dressed, tying up your skates, for 15 minutes of shoot-around?).

Carlyle cancelled the Sunday "day off" and took the players through a 45 minute hard skating practice. He also wants to change the defensive system, which, according the what I've been reading, under Wilson the d-men were coached to cheat to the outside in order to pick up pucks and transition to offense faster. If anybody was reading, this was my issue with Wilson just days before he was fired, that the d-men seemed set-up to go on offense instead of focusing on defence. Excuse me while I shine my knuckles on my shirt!

Also, Burke admitted in the outgoing press conference that him and Ron Wilson had their differences on how gritty the team should be, that Burke preferred a more rough and tumble style than Wilson, a brand of hockey that Carlyle prefers. It has also been reported that former norris winner Carlyle has focused much one on one time with his defenceman, namely Phaneuf, Komisarek and Schenn. What has been said in those aside scrums, who knows, but if I had to take a shot in the dark, it might be Carlyle reiterating his tough defence-first strategy and asking these players to do what they all do best, which is to play meaner back there. All three of these players have that skill and it would be welcomed by this particular Leafs fan. 

So, the major questions that remain:

1. Does Carlyle have enough time to implement a new system or at least change some aspects?
2. Is Jay Rosehill really enough added toughness to get this team meaner as Carlyle would like?

My 2-cents on those two questions is 1. Maybe and 2. No.

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