Hiring Randy Carlyle is a hilariously bad move for the Ducks

Above we can see where Randy Carlyle strikes a deal with Trevor Linden 
to help him succeed in the Pacific, by tanking the Ducks all over again.

Somehow, yesterday, the Anaheim Ducks decided to hire Randy Carlyle, as announced by John Buccigross:

Carlyle returns to Anaheim after coaching there for 5 years and winning the Stanley Cup on the coattails of a Hall of Fame defense. Since then, he has continued the same ill-advised decision making and tactics, leading to a collapse of that Ducks team, and then a collapse of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

How could this possibly go right for the Ducks?

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We can see in this graphic from Travis Yost how his career has seen continued and dramatic decline as the game changes around him, while he refuses to. 

We, as Toronto fans, know just how Carlyle’s tenure here went. It led to the inexcusable losses-without-return of the MGK line, a huge over pay to Dion Phaneuf that we barely negotiated out of, a contract to David Clarkson that we barely negotiated out of, and, nearly, re-signing Dave Bolland to what now seems like one of the worst contracts in the league.

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The Carlyle ERA (s/o to the SDP) was a hot pile of shit. As it was in the end in Anaheim. And now it begins again.


Once again, Dave Nonis finds himself as part of the management group that brings in Randy Carlyle. This culture of an old boys’ club has been criticized constantly among hockey fans, and yet it continues to breed jobs for unqualified personnel (Nonis included). 

You have to wonder just how much Nonis pushed for this. If he pushed hard, maybe you can forgive Bob Murray a bit. If this was Murray’s idea that was just supported by Nonis… that is going to look really bad on Murray in a few years.

Either way, this buddy-buddy networking system in hockey is a detriment to the game, and is unfair to the talented personnel out there looking to move up the ranks, but can’t because of the coaching carousel. Nonis is just one of many perpetrating management staff that need to be set straight or removed.


We saw many victims to Carlyle’s tomfoolery in Toronto. Who could be those players in Anaheim?

Vatanen and Lindholm – If the Ducks are in fact able to retain Lindholm and Vatanen, the likelihood that they see ice time over Kevin Bieksa is slim at best. We saw Carlyle bench Gardiner time after time, despite being the best defenseman on the team. The potential for Carlyle to mismanage Anaheim’s puck moving defensemen is great, and worrisome.

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Freddy Andersen or his replacement – I feel sorry for whoever backs up John Gibson. In Toronto, we saw Carlyle start Bernier, the then goaltender of the future, right up to his undoing. Despite having a supremely capable backup in James Reimer, Bernier was given the lion’s share of starts whether or not he was performing well. Look for whoever backs up Gibson to have a rough go getting playing time.

Ducks fans – Seriously, there’s no version of this that goes well for the Ducks. I can see it now. December is here and the Ducks are 2nd in the Pacific. Everyone is laughing at me and everyone else poo-pooing this. Then comes a rough January with only 2 wins. But February is here! A short win streak keeps hopes alive! But then you lose out in March and April… and suddenly you’re seeing the Calgary Flames or Arizona Coyotes in the playoffs in place of you. And you wonder how it went so wrong…


Maybe this will finally be the stint that puts the nail in the coffin of Randy Carlyle’s career coaching in the NHL. Either way, I don’t see any situation where the Ducks improve on their season next year with Carlyle at the helm instead of Boudreau. It will be interesting (in a “tire fire” way) to see just how this plays out for the Ducks.

Orange you glad we have Mike Babcock?

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  • DSP

    I think that despite the statistics, Carlyle wasn’t as bad in Toronto as people suggest. He didn’t have the right personnel in Toronto and he structured his systems to utilize what he was given. He himself stated on many occasions they weren’t playing the right way but if the players aren’t willing to adapt there is just so much a coach can do. We all saw what happened when Horachek tried to get that group to play the right way. Bobcock inherited much of the same core (with the exception of Kessel) and the Leafs came in last place (while playing the right way).

    • FlareKnight

      I agree with Kevin! You’re cherry picking your statistics. Carlyle’s teams have had consistently and statistically significantly higher save and shooting percentages than league average.

      His defensive systems are designed to take away those shots that require the goalie to move to have to make the save. They do this by taking away passing lanes at the expense of giving up the shooting lanes. That means that more shots get on net, but the goalie has more time to square up to those shots. Hence team SV% rises but team CORSI rises too. So long as the percent increase in save percentage is larger than the percent increase in shots on goal, the system results in fewer goals. But you need to have good personnel to make that happen. Which is what we saw the last time Anaheim won the cup.

      Remember Carlyle had the Leafs half way through the season, still in a playoff spot when he was fired, with a bad team to work with. You can’t blame Carlyle for Nonis’ bad GM decisions.

    • He did the exact opposite of structure his system to use what was given. Instead, he applied an outdated roster configuration to a team that wasn’t built for it, and told them to suck it up because he won a Stanley Cup that one time.

      • silentbob

        I don’t disagree with what you are saying. My point is that he didn’t have much to work with and his top players (Kessel) didn’t lead by example. Leaf management didn’t recognize what the team lacked and he did his best to at least get something out of the team. Even the best system wouldn’t have yielded anything with that group of players. At least the Leafs were able to end their playoff drought (8 years?).

    • Jeremy Ian

      “if the players aren’t willing to adapt there is just so much a coach can do.”

      Then why keep the coach? Isn’t the coach’s job to get the players to understand and do what he/she says?

      Been a Leaf fan a long time, but RC’s reign behind the bench was one of the worst in history.

      It’s too bad for the Ducks because they are a seriously formidable team now on track to become a train wreck.

      • silentbob

        I agree with the Leafs firing Carlyle and with the realization by upper management (Shanahan) that a total rebuild was necessary.

        All I am saying is that Carlyle should be given a little slack with what he did in Toronto. Management didn’t give him (or anyone) the right pieces for the team to be successful.

        • Jeremy Ian

          I dunno, man. Bernier, Clarkson, Bolland, Gleason, McLaren-Orr on a nightly basis, Jarred Smithson for heaven’s sake. Gleason and Ryan O’Byrne on D. Bernier (a season after Reimer posted .924% and Scrivens notched .915 — that had to be the most economical duo in the league). These were guys Carlyle wanted. Bye bye Colborne, buy-out Grabovksi (after re-signing him!)…

          Sure, we can blame Dion and Phil all we want for Carlyle’s woes. (Despite the fact that Phil still managed to be a league leader in goals). But why ignore Carlyle’s makeover?

  • CMpuck

    The Carlyle bashing is….. typical of ‘forward’ thinking bloggers, the diversity of PPP and TLN….. you’re all so above trite narratives.

    So if, huge if I know, Randy has success with the Ducks will it be accounted for? Insert rant about the limitations of advanced stats and Carlyle’s records vs all post Quinn coaches.

    Here is the response this comment will get… paint me as Carlyle fanboy while ignoring your own blind hate.

    • Jeremy Ian

      I am prepared to be wrong about the future. Hope so, for the Ducks’ sake. I don’t care about Carlyle.

      But who’s being blind here about the past? I have no idea how you turn him into a great coach on even with the embellishment of purely anecdotal evidence. That the Leafs won 3 playoff games?

      Game 2: Leafs 4, Bruins 1; SOG Leafs 32, Bruins 41

      Game 5: Leafs 2, Bruins 1; SOG Leafs 33, Bruins 44

      Game 6: Leafs 2, Bruins 1; SOG Leafs 26, Bruins 30

      And the killer game SOG, Leafs 28, Bruins 35.


      The Leafs got outshot 236:273 in that series. And what was Carlyle’s priority in the offseason? Getting a new goalie.

  • Kanuunankuula

    I so sick of people bringing up how the Leafs were in a playoff position before Randy Carlyle got fired. People must forget that before he was fired they lost 7 of 10, after starting the season with a 18-9-3 record which was completely unsustainable. They ranked second last in shots against per game with 34.4! You are not going to win (deservedly) when you get blasted with 34.4 shots against per game.

    Also, he was the reason they blew game 7 against Boston. After Kadri scored 5:29 into the third period to make it 4-1 they completely stopped attacking and allowed Boston to walk into their end of the ice. Toronto was out shot 13-1 after Kadri scored! That is idiotic to completely shut down your offense to protect the lead and allow that many shots. That falls on Randy Carlyle who gave them the orders to do so.

    • jasken

      Lots of teams go through slumps it happens regardless of how many shots are for or against. Even the teams with favorable stats go through it, and stats cant explain why it happens.

      His mistake was not giving orders to attack not the opposite, he allowed them to not attack because he didn’t see a point they were up 3 goals. Does it fall on Randy sure the same way it would for me not going to get a new package of toilet paper when I had 3 rolls left, I couldn’t for see 3 rolls going in less than a day. It’s did so I had the privillege of going to get more lesson learned, things that can go wrong sometimes do.

  • jasken

    The idea for stats nerds to even assume the worse based on past is as hilarious. It’s human nature to learn and change yet you have not learned anything. Bozak still produces, Kessel couldn’t score with Crosby and Malkin despite their eliteness, Anaheim despite having a stacked team couldn’t produce or get by first round of playoffs. Carlyle is a successful coach because of his winning history despite your stats saying he shouldn’t be. Winning a Stanley Cup is just the icing on his cake.

    What defines Carlyle is that he has 364 wins 260 losses and 80 ties that alone makes him successful and a winning coach.

    I am more curious how those Anaheim players are going to feel going from scoring an average 2.5 goals a game to over 3. Not only is this team stacked and couldn’t produce but now they are going to be scoring at will.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Well, at the very least this will be a fun experiment to watch. I’m just glad the experiment isn’t happening with the Leafs.

    In fact, because it’s another team, I think I’ll rather enjoy watching. After all, it’s kind of fun to cheer on disaster when it’s not happening to your team.

  • FlareKnight

    Hmm “winning the Stanley Cup on the coattails of a Hall of Fame defense” yeah… because teams that win the Stanley cup don’t have hall of famers on their roster? Last time I checked, I’m pretty sure those are the teams that win.

    I don’t understand all the Carlyle hate STILL, he did what he could here and you know what the Leafs were garbage before he got here and weren’t in rebuild mode at the time, the management then were lying to fans and themselves about this team. Burke had a chance to wipe the slate clean and he didn’t. Through his shortcuts the process was delayed heavily. If you want to dump on someone, start there. Randy just executed a terrible, terrible delusional plan that was already in motion before he took over. Good luck to him in Anaheim, from what I read some of the core players were lobbying for him to come back according to McKenzie. So take that for what it’s worth.

  • Bob Canuck

    Carlyle did a poor job as coach of the Leafs. Partly because of the players but also because of his systems and use of personnel. Using War-On-Ice data, I think an interesting period to look at is Carlyle’s 40-game tenure in 2014/2015 and Babcock’s first 40 games as Leafs coach.

    At 5v5, the Leafs ranking in high danger scoring chances for per 60 minutes was better under Babcock than Carlyle; they improved from 5 to 3. The Leafs ranking in high danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes was much improved under Babcock, moving from 30 to 16. Under Babcock, the Leafs Corsi For improved from 28 to 16.

    The powerplay under both coaches was similar. In shorthanded situations, the Leafs ranking in high danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes improved from 22 under Carlyle to first under Babcock. As far as scoring chances against per 60 minutes, the Leafs went from 26 under Carlyle to 5 under Babcock.

    This data demonstrates that Babcock took largely the same players and had them playing much better defensively than they did under Carlyle. Also, the Leafs improved their ability to generate scoring chances under Babcock compared to how they did under Carlyle.

    Furthermore, if you look at possessions stats subsequent to Anaheim’s Stanley Cup win, you will see that the Ducks possession rate steadily declined under Carlyle and then improved under Boudreau. With respect to the Leafs, under Carlyle’s leadership, their possession rate was worse than it was under Wilson; as noted, the Leafs are a better possession team under Babcock than they were under Carlyle. Even if you just want to apply the eyeball test, the Leafs under Babcock looked much more in control in their own end than they did under Carlyle; the data supports this observation.

    Carlyle performed poorly as the coach of the Leafs.

  • silentbob

    If you’re going to take away from Carlyles past success by saying – “winning the Stanley Cup on the coattails of a Hall of Fame defense” – then you have to be fair and acknowledge the poor team he had in Toronto when talking about his time here. Seem’s wrong/unfair to give all the credit for his success to the players, while laying all the blame for his failures at his feet…..no coach will look good if you apply that logic across the board.

    • Jeremy Ian

      It was a lame team — but in part built to suit the temper of the coach. All that call for grit and “compete” (morphed from verb to noun). That kind of rhetoric landed us with Bolland, Clarkson, Gabrovski buy-out…etc etc.

      In January, 2012, the Leafs gave John-Michael Liles a 4-year, $15.5m extension. Two months later, RC arrives. By the following fall, Liles was dispatched to the Marlies and by January 2014 was traded for Tim Gleason, who’s salary (I think) is still on the Leafs books! It was not that big a deal, but a good example of RC shaping the roster.

      So while the players share some of the burden for the debacle, a lot of those players were RC’s. It’s totally fair to call him a bad coach.

      He was bad.

      • silentbob

        I didn’t say Carlyle was good, I said its unfair to give all the credit for his success with the Ducks to the players, and then give all the blame for his time to him.

        That “call for grit and compete” was started by Burke (someone many Leaf fans hold in very high regard) not Carlyle. And beyond the style of players (and for some reason Burke wanted those tough players, and then traded for “soft” players……) Carlyle just didn’t have talent. Kessel is inconsistent and Phaneuf isn’t a #1 D-man (both were mis-cast here), Bozak wasn’t a #1 centerman etc… What coach could compete with that roster?

        • Jeremy Ian

          Honestly, I don’t get this revisionist history. All I quarrel with is the view that Carlyle had a crap roster that dragged down his coaching acumen. The talent he did have was wasted, the developing talent (Gardiner, Kadri) he debased, and when slots did open up, he advocated for the kind of players that made the team worse, not better. And in some cases opened the coffers for players we didn’t really need (Bernier). That revamping in the summer of 2013 calibrated the roster to his style. And 2013-14 the Leafs got shellacked with shots, night after night. Were it not for the goaltending, things would have been much worse.

          Burke was no saint and cut too many corners. But Nonis-Carlyle made the team worse, not better, and turned a pretty sound fiscal franchise into an accounting disaster that makes Greek fiscal policy look brilliant.

          • silentbob

            Again I wouldn’t say the crap roster dragged down his coaching acumen, I wouldn’t argue he is a good coach. BUT its unfair to only blame him for the bad and give all the credit to success he has had to the players.

            Burke also made the team worse and set the team on the course that Nonis and Carlyle followed.

  • DSP

    He always had a great team under him until he came to Toronto. This was his first test as a coach and well… He didn’t make the cut. Even if you did a pass/fail on him it was the latter. He no longer has the D he had the first time and let’s watch them get dropped fast unless he somehow learned what he is doing. I doubt he did.

  • Gary Empey

    As soon as I saw Travis Jost quoted in here I knew it would be a garbage article. As more and more people from the analytics community are receiving legitimate jobs in the NHL there is reason that the biggest mouth on that subject hasn’t received a job offer. How exactly can you compare shot advantages on two separate teams is beyond ridiculous. Yost is a fraud and no idea what he’s talking about.

  • FlareKnight

    In the end Carlyle isn’t a good coach and this move isn’t going to help the Ducks accomplish what they want to accomplish.

    I think the arguments in the article is fine here. Carlyle’s systems and style isn’t good no matter what, but a fantastic pair of hall of fame defencemen can cover for that. A good/great team without that (like the Ducks before he was fired the first time) couldn’t cover for that and a worse roster really couldn’t cover for that. He wasn’t the only problem in Toronto, but he was one of the big problems. Particularly because Nonis tried to adjust the roster to give Carlyle more players that he wanted to have.

    This is the move that will get Murray fired. Maybe they still make the playoffs, but not sure they can hope for anything more than the second round.

  • Gary Empey

    Here is a list of Toronto’s coaches for the last thirty years.

    How many great ones do you find ?

    John Brophy† 1986–1988

    George Armstrong

    Doug Carpenter 1989–1990

    Tom Watt 1990–1992

    Pat Burns* 1992–1996

    Nick Beverley† 1996

    Mike Murphy 1996–1998

    Pat Quinn 1998–2006

    Paul Maurice 2006–2008

    Ron Wilson 2008–2012

    Randy Carlyle 2012–2015

    Peter Horachek

  • CMpuck

    How can the biggest failure of an organization ever criticize another. Look how the leafs fans laughed that Pitt traded for Kessel. The coach was not the problem in toronto, it was the incompetence of the organization to actually build a team with NHL caliber players.