Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
We're not a fan of itchy trigger fingers to fire coaches here at Anaheim Calling, but we did assume Randy Carlyle would be fired more than once last season. It's just the nature of poor performances in the NHL, especially poor starts. And that prospect may be rearing its ugly head again as Anaheim capped off a historically bad opening two games to its season with an atrocious third game that finally got Jonas Hiller pulled after the Ducks left him to field 34 shots before the end of the 2nd.
There are certainly excuses: injuries, a tough schedule, the forwards not listening to their coach and the fact that many experts called the Ducks blueline a question mark even after Bob Murray's rebuilding efforts, meaning maybe Carlyle doesn't have enough to work with on the back end. Unfortunately, those excuses are starting to sound like echoes from last season.
So, Daniel, I won't ask if Randy Carlyle should be fired. Lord knows there are almost always better options to shake up a team than firing the coach. However, do you think he will be fired, and if he is fired, do you think he got a fair shot?
As I said in the last post, I've been a huge supporter of Randy Carlyle, but I can't understand what he's doing anymore. I think that's a clear indication that a coach has lost his touch and is scrambling. Ultimately, that will get him fired.
Ryan Carter has been a promising player for a couple of seasons, but hasn't been able to crack Carlyle's line up since that freak injury two seasons ago that took him out of regular playing time. Dan Sexton only saw a few minutes on a fourth line in the first game of the season. Luca Sbisa got 11 minutes on the blue line against Nashville, was a -1, and took a late roughing penalty that didn't hurt the team. If I was a borderline guy on the Ducks team, my psyche would be on the verge of collapse. Guys work hard, don't get rewarded and can't succeed on Carlyle's timetables. Even a mistake-free, but not overly productive, ten minutes can get someone taken out of the lineup, while Carlyle's go-to players make mistakes with impunity. Beleskey was practically assured a top line spot with the twins, and he's had to step aside and watch that line operate at various levels of ineptitude.
I'd also like to say that while I do think Carlyle will eventually be fired, and I think that it is primarily the fault of Bob Murray's inability to get/keep quality players, I hope that will not happen until after Carlyle will be given time to coach a fully healthy roster. I can't say he got a fair shot until then. I hope he turns it around, gets an extension and leads the team to many successful seasons. I believe that he and Burke orchestrated a clear identity for the team. I also believe that Murray completely forgot about that identity and threw the team to the wolves. It's a little unfair that Carlyle would have to pay for those mistakes, the biggest in my opinion being the loss of Beauchemin, but that's just how professional sports plays out sometimes.
I hate saying that Carlyle should be fired, and I hate that I can't help but see him get fired by Bob Murray, perhaps for Murray to save his own job. This is definitely one of those situations where my head says yes, he will be fired, but my hockey heart wishes he could pull it together.
I think he will be fired, and I think the most telling signal of that is that we saw these problems last year and heard these excuses last year. That leaves an opening for Murray to say that he, at least cosmetically, gave Carlyle a fair shot. The only thing that might stop the general manager from pulling that trigger would be finding a replacement, as I don't think either of the assistant coaches are really the man for the job, and you have to have some level of faith in your new coach to make this call.
And the thing is, I DO think Carlyle has had a fair shot here. I'm not a fan of firing coaches when the players aren't listening to him. I'm not a fan of firing coaches who aren't getting the right players from their general manager. And I'm not a fan of firing coaches who are trying to coach a shorthanded team. And maybe that was true for a lot of last year, and I could say that even an entire bench of players not listening to Carlyle was more a sign of their coachability as players than his capabilities as a coach. But after a year, it's time to accept that this just isn't going to work, regardless of whose fault that is.
The working conditions of being the Anaheim Head Coach are not going to change any time soon. We're not trading Getzlaf and Murray's not putting two premier defensemen on Carlyle's blueline the way Brian Burke did. So if Carlyle can't get through to these players and can't make do with what Murray gives him, then he's just not the man for the job. Now, that's not an indictment of Carlyle's abilities as a coach. I'm sure he will be a great coach somewhere else; he's just not the man for this job. And it's a hard job, maybe too hard, maybe hard enough to get Murray fired for not making it easier. Ultimately, I think it's become clear that Carlyle will not be able to make this work-- for whatever reason, his fault or not --and I really can't see him hanging on for another year unless his players or his general manager surprise him.