Tuesday, 23 January 2007

I Preferred The Weekend

I used to enjoy the NHL All-Star Weekend. The Skills Competition and Future Stars game was held on the Saturday, and the All-Star Game was held on the Sunday. It was a great way to showcase the NHL's talent over two days.

The NHL used to close shop on the Wednesday to allow players to get to the city where the All-Star Game was being played. The NHL would hold their FANtasy event for the fans during the Thursday and Friday, and the weekend would be a showcase for the players. I liked this set-up. Now? I'm not such a fan of the "All-Star Week".

No one seems to care anymore about the game. The players come up with convenient excuses not to go, the fans don't go because their favorite players aren't there, and the "corporate sponsors" show up just to get wined-and-dined by Gary Bettman and his travelling show.

Now, I'm not saying the game isn't fun. This Owen Nolan goal versus Dominik Hasek at the 1997 All-Star Game was certainly one to remember. And watching Mario Lemieux score 4 goals at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh in the 41st All-Star Game is another piece of hockey history. But the list of names not at the All-Star Game in Dallas is astounding: Jarome Iginla, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Jason Spezza, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya. How is it that the biggest stars in the game can be overlooked? Granted, some are injured, but others are not. Justin Williams? Do people in Carolina even know he plays for the Hurricanes? Lubomir Visnovsky? I'll wager $5 that people in LA don't know he exists, let alone plays for the Kings.

I'm not saying that Williams or Visnovsky don't deserve to be there. On the contrary, if you're having a great season, you deserve to go. But how is it that Yanic Perreault, 25-point man for the Phoenix Coyotes, gets to go while Paul Kariya, 53-point man for the Nashville Predators, gets to watch the game from home? Something is wrong with this picture. Very wrong. I would have loved to see Selanne and Kariya play together again at this year's All-Star Game, but since that won't be happening, I'd be better off watching PBS.

I want star power. I want an NHL "All-Star" Game. Nothing else will do.

Following up on my profile of the two head coaches at this year's All-Star Game, today we look at Randy Carlyle, head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.

Randy Carlyle was born April 19, 1956 in Sudbury, Ontario. His junior hockey career took off in the OHA, playing for the Sudbury Wolves from 1973-1976. He played 139 games over three seasons, scoring 32 goals and 119 assists for 151 points. He also racked up 265 PIMs. Carlyle was drafted in the 2nd round at #30 overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976. He was also drafted by the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA in the first round, 7th overall, in 1976.

Carlyle spent his first two seasons moving between the CHL and the NHL. In the CHL, he played with the Dallas Blackhawks for 47 games. In those 47 games, he scored 5 goals and 21 assists for 26 points, to go along with 94 PIMs. With the Maple Leafs, he played 94 games, scoring 2 goals and 16 assist for 18 points while picking up 94 PIMs. On June 14, 1978, Randy Carlyle was traded with George Ferguson from the Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dave Burrows.

Randy Carlyle's NHL career with Pittsburgh established him as an NHL defenceman. In 1980-81, Carlyle won the James Norris Memorial Trophy for being the league's best defenseman. He also posted his best stats of his career that year. Playing in 76 games, Randy scored 16 goals and 67 assists for 83 points while picking up 136 PIMs. In six seasons with Pittsburgh, Carlyle played in 397 games, scoring 66 goals and 257 assists for 323 points while spending 582 minutes in the penalty box. However, on March 5, 1984, Randy Carlyle was traded again, this time from Pittsburgh to the Winnipeg Jets for future considerations and a first-round pick in the 1984 Entry Draft (it turned out to be 9th overall, and Pittsburgh selected Doug Bodger).

In Winnipeg, Carlyle established himself as a fan favorite, and played 10 seasons with the Jets. He never came close to his career-best season of 80-81, but he did equal his highest goal output of 16 twice in Winnipeg (1985-86 & 1986-87). He was regarded, later in his career, as more of a defensive defenseman, and was quite vocal as one of the Jets' alternate captains. In 1055 NHL games, Randy Carlyle scored 148 goals and 499 assists for 647 total points. He also spent 1400 minutes in the sin bin. Randy Carlyle retired from the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets in 1993.

Randy Carlyle's coaching tenure started in the NHL as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96. Randy's NHL coaching days would soon be numbered as the Winnipeg Jets packed up the franchise and moved south to Phoenix. Carlyle was not retained as part of the move, and he decided to take an assistant coach's job with the IHL's Manitoba Moose under Jean Perron as a result. The Moose never responded to Jean Perron's hard-nosed coaching tactics, and played poorly through their first 50 games, going 16-26-8. Perron was removed as head coach, and the reins were given to Carlyle for the remainder of the season. The Moose ended up last in the IHL's Midwest Division, going 32-40-10 for 74 points, and placed 16th out of 19 teams. However, Carlyle went 16-14-2 in 32 games, and the players appeared to respond to Carlyle's coaching strategies.

The Manitoba Moose made the playoffs for all four years that Carlyle was the head coach for the entire season. They never made it past the second round of the IHL playoffs, but finished with no less than 85 points in any of the four seasons. Their best season in the IHL came in 1998-99 when the Moose finished with a record of 47-21-14 for 108 points. However, after the 2001 season, the NHL came knocking on Carlyle's door once again.

In 2002-03, Carlyle found himself behind the bench for the NHL's Washington Capitals. They made the playoffs in his first year, ending up sixth in the Eastern Conference. In 2003-04, the Capitals failed to make the playoffs.

In 2004-05, Randy Carlyle returned to Winnipeg to take over the head coaching duties of Vancouver's AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Carlyle was given the opportunity to guide the Moose after the Stan Smyl experiment failed. Carlyle's coaching proved to be a wise move as the Moose posted 44-26-7 for 98 points. He guided the team to a Western Conference Finals showdown with a longtime IHL rival, the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves prevailed, but it was this showcase that allowed the NHL to see that he is a wise and talented coach.

After Mike Babcock left for Detroit, Brian Burke hired Randy Carlyle to coach the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. In his first season, Carlyle guided the Mighty Ducks to a 43-27-12 record for 98 points and the 6th seed in the Western Conference. In playoffs, Carlyle proved his mettle by guiding the Mighty Ducks to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 1.

To date this season, the Anaheim Ducks are third overall in the NHL with a record of 30-12-8 for 68 points. Randy Carlyle has the Ducks playing sound defensive hockey, and a strong forecheck has proven to be a highlight for the Ducks. Teemu Selanne has also responded well to his old Jets' teammate, currently 10th in NHL scoring with 30 goals and 29 assists. Never one for the spotlight, Carlyle lets his actions speak louder than his words.

Lindy Ruff and Randy Carlyle shared a conference call on Monday. You can read the article here. Sounds like both men are prepared for a little more fun than their intensity normally shows.

Until tomorrow, keep your stick on the ice!

1 comment:

Jonathan Goupil said...

I remember havin a blast during the All-Star Week-end. Being then 10, I started watching the All-Star games in 1990. So much fun. On saturday night, you got to watch the skill competition and the game was early afternoon on sunday. That's how I remember it. We're games also played on saturday nights? I might remember wrong. Anyway, I don't like the fact the game is held on wednesday at all. For one, working from 4 to midnight, I miss both events, as opposed to if they we're held onsaturday and sunday. Sucks.

The Nolan goal was awesome. Wasn't the game held in San Jose?

I think Yannick Perreault is a good choice. Of course, if all the other "stars" had been there, Perreault would have indeed watched the game from home. He earned one of the spots by scoring important goals when Phoenix nedded them the most early in the season. In my opinion, Perreault is the top reason the coyotes are "back in the race". Plus, he is the league's leader in face-off win percentage.

I like the fact they reward less talented, hard working players like this, as opposed to bringing in a talented player not having that good of a season. That is, of course, when so many "Superstars" don't show up.

This brings me to the Rory Fitzpatrick issue. Though, like I said, I dig the fact that hard work is rewarded at the ASG, but I don't think I would have liked to see a player who scored his first season goal a week before start the game.