The Randy Carlyle era of the Maple Leafs has begun in earnest…

5 03 2012

The Toronto Maple Leafs held their first practice under new head coach Randy Carlyle on Sunday. He’s already made some adjustments to the Leafs defensive systems, more than the tweaks that were done before the Leafs won Carlyle’s debut behind the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

From reading the story on TSN.ca, the Leafs appear to be buying in to the instructions put out by Carlyle. He, right from the start, has worked to put his stamp on the team, and at least to begin with, he’s got a very hands-on approach to coaching.

“I’m always that way,” he said. “Maybe that’s a fault. Maybe I’ve got too much to say some days, but I feel it’s important that the head coach conveys the message and allows his assistants to step in when they need to.”

Well, so far, the Leafs are listening to the message from Carlyle. Already they’ve put themselves back in the win column after a six-game winless slump.

With just 17 games left in the regular season, and the Leafs currently 12th in the Eastern Conference, making the playoffs this season will be a hell of a task. They might not make it. However, during that time, Carlyle will have made significant progress in making the Leafs play the way he wants to see them. So, instead of having the Leafs adjust to a new head coach during training camp next fall (a certainty if GM Brian Burke had stuck with Ron Wilson for the remainder of this season), they will already have a new coach and system in place. So this fall, the Leafs will be able to focus better on getting ready for the 2012-13 season, and hopefully, begin a full return to being a respectable, perennial playoff contender.

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