Earlier today, Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray introduced Randy Carlyle as the club’s new head coach. Carlyle, who last coached for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2011-15, returns to Anaheim as the team’s all-time winningest head coach, earning a 273-182-61 record from 2005-11. He also won a club-record 36 playoff games during his Anaheim tenure, made two trips to the Conference Finals (2006 & 2007) and become the first coach to lead a California team to the Stanley Cup (2007).Opening remarksBob Murray:
Six weeks ago we talked, and since that time we set out in search of a coach. What we were looking for over that time was somebody to come in that has a winning record and a winning background. Somebody that will hold players accountable, and knows how to hold players accountable. Somebody that will have instant respect the minute he walks into the room. Going forward, we kept looking for that. We worked long and hard on this. We analyzed and did background checks on all the people I talked to, and everything came back to Randy in the end. He’s going to have immediate respect when he walks into the locker room. He’s well-known as an excellent bench coach. He will hold people in the organization accountable, and that’s just not on the ice during the games. He’ll do it in practice and in the weight room. He’ll hold everyone accountable. As I said before, it all came back to Randy. As a result, here we are today. I know, in my heart, this is the right move at this time for this hockey team. Randy is back, and I welcome him back.Randy Carlyle:
I’d just like to say thank you to Henry and Susan Samueli, Michael Schulman and the ownership group that has shown the confidence to bring me back. Secondly, I’d like to thank hockey operations starting with Bob Murray, David McNab, Rick Paterson, Dave Baseggio, Todd Marchant and Dave Nonis for them to trust me and bring me back to coach this hockey club. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to come back and coach a quality hockey club. I’ve touched base with a few players and feel very comfortable and confident with their commitment that we can take this hockey club to the next level. I just want to say this again – my family and I are very, very happy coming back to Orange County and working for the Anaheim Ducks.
Q: Randy, in your time away from the bench, was there ever a time when you thought a moment like this was possible?
I wanted to get back into coaching. My experience over the years, both as a player and coach, and in a management capacity, as a director of player personnel, and even as a media individual at one point in my career … I was taught to be patient and pay your dues, and sometimes keep your mouth shut and listen to what’s going on versus always being the first one to say I know everything. I know I don’t know everything. I know there are opportunities that are continually evolving. If you’re not prepared to evolve as a coach, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. I paid close attention and have done my homework on what’s going on in the league. I’ve been afforded that luxury by coming to this building for the past six months.Q: Randy, how have you studied the way the game is being played now? How will your system mesh with the direction the game is going?
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a dramatic speed game. They moved the puck and skated off the puck. You’re going to see a lot of copycats following that lead. From a personal standpoint, I’ve always taken on the attitude that the least amount of time you can spend in your own zone the better off you usually are. Your chances of having success are going to go forward. There are things I did 10 years ago that I wouldn’t do today. Simple as that. Today’s athlete is a much different athlete than it was 10 years ago. The players of today want to be heard. They want to have a voice and participate. You have to be willing to let them have their say. You have to listen and filter. That’s one thing about having a quality staff. We have people in place that have worked a great number of years in the game and understand that the game is always changing. This was a fit for me. I felt it would be a very seamless fit for me to come back here. This is a very high-level, quality NHL hockey team.
Q: Randy, you talked about taking this team to the next level. What can be done to get them there?
There is going to be some sort of turnover with the hockey club. There always is. Teams never really seem to stay the same. There’s always going to be an infusion of youth into the group. That’s the trend. When you have a salary cap era in which every team has to abide to, you have to add youthful players, speed and exuberance into the lineup. With the hockey club that’s in place, and the blueprint that’s been created here, with the number of quality players available to you, the defense they have – a highly mobile defense – all those things seem to fit, from my perspective, that this is a quality group that’s ready to take the next step. I’ve talked to three prominent players in the lineup, and they’re looking forward to that.Q: Randy, from the first time you were with Anaheim to now, how do you feel you’ve changed as a person and as a coach?
There are a few more miles on the body and a few less hairs, and the ones I got are a lot whiter. It’s partly because of the game. When you don’t have success, and when you live the life of a professional as both a player and a coach, you win and lose, and that’s how your emotions go. It’s no fun when you’re not having success in the NHL. It’s simple, but that’s pro sports. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been involved in the game from a professional standpoint for close to 40 years as a player, coach and in management. I feel very fortunate that I’ve had a chance to evolve with the game, to stay with the game, and to work for some great people.Q: Bob, how much does your job change this offseason in terms of tweaking the lineup to fit Randy’s style?
It doesn’t change. Now I can get to business because every time I thought about the players and certain situations we have here, I had to get back to the coaching situation first. As Randy has said, and we all saw what happened with Pittsburgh, [Penguins head coach] Mike [Sullivan] did a heck of a job with those forwards. They worked, they skated, and made the game very difficult for every team they played against. You have to skate. We’re going to have to look at that. No team can change it overnight. We talked about speed here last year. We tried to do things with speed, but it didn’t work for us. It worked for the team that just won. Explain that to me? We know what we have to do. We know what seems to be the modern trend. The good thing with us is we have a defense that can skate and move the puck.Q: Randy, have you thought about your coaching staff?
The staff that’s in place, with the success they’ve had, they’ll be under consideration going forward. Bob and I really haven’t had a lot of time to discuss which direction we’re going to go in, but I’m very comfortable with the people they have in place. I’ve played with Paul MacLean in Winnipeg for a number of years, and I’ve known – and respected – Trent Yawney over the course of my career. We’ve coached against one another, played against one another, and I’ve sat in the press room inside this building and discussed hockey on numerous occasions over the last six months. With the people I’m coming back into the fold with, this is a very comfortable fit with myself.Q: Bob, when you parted ways with Randy the first time, you said it was a hard decision. What made it easier bringing him back this time around?
As I said back then, for that team at that time, and where we were as an organization ... and, again, I agonized over that one longer than any decision I’ve made in hockey yet, it was a decision for them that I thought was at the right time. This was a heck of a lot easier right now.Q: Randy, was your time in Toronto a humbling experience?
I look at the Toronto experience as a positive one. You always try to go through life and pick some of the things you agreed with and learned from. It was a learning curve. In that market, everything you do is judged. You have no idea how much scrutiny you come under. There is a lot of talk being said. As far as the analytics issue, that was never an issue from my perspective. I feel there’s a place for it in the game. It’s a place for us, as a hockey department and coaching staff, to decide what analytics you want to use. There are different statistics made available to you. Analytics in my name is just an expanded view of stats. It’s proven that there are positives that come from it. I’ve never been against using analytics, and the people in Toronto will tell you that.Q: Randy, you were instrumental in the development of Kevin Bieksa and other defensemen over the years. When you look at some of the defensemen coming up in this organization, what do you see? What’s the most important process in developing young defensemen?
Patience is number one. I’ll use Cam Fowler as an example. He was an 18-year-old when he walked into our training camp. We were at our draft table. When he fell to where we were going to possibly get him as a selection [No. 12], the scouts and everyone else at our table were ecstatic. I didn’t understand why. Usually when a guy falls there’s some kind of red flag that’s attached to him. But when I saw how Cam Fowler was able to have a presence at the NHL level as an 18-year-old, and to watch his development to where he is today, he’s a prototype NHL defenseman. He has great qualities. He can skate, move the puck and get involved with the rush. He’s a joy to coach. But when you see the development of an 18-year-old to where he is now, there are some people that need to take some credit along the way. I’d credit the assistant coaches and the strength and conditioning coach. Cam was basically a 185-pound string bean that can skate. Now he’s a 215-pound man that can dominate the game with his skating ability. Those are the things you look back on and reflect on.
There was another player in Toronto by the name of Jake Gardiner. There was always this myth that I didn’t like him. It was the furthest thing from the truth. A decision on a young player like that should be made after 300 games to find out what kind of player that player really is. There are a lot of young defensemen that come into the league and get spurned by one hockey club and get another opportunity someplace else and develop into an everyday player or sometimes better than an everyday player. You have to show patience with young players. They are a big part of today’s game. In the salary cap era, every team is going to add two or three young players. That’s the reality of the business.Q: Bob, how much did you consult the leadership players and gauge how much they’d be on board with the hiring?
Once I got far enough in the process, I reached out to them. Randy has known Cam, Corey [Perry] and Getzy [Ryan Getzlaf], and way back in our Winnipeg days, he had Kes [Ryan Kesler] and Kevin [Bieksa]. When it got to a certain point, I probably wouldn’t normally do that, but I reached out to a few of them. The feedback was unbelievably supportive. I wouldn’t normally do it, but I did it, and it was good.Q: Randy, when you spoke to the players, did you feel like you had to re-sell yourself to them? What will it be like working with the leadership group and the new players?
I talked to three of the five players you mentioned, and there was no sell at all. There was none of that. The conversation was welcoming. I hope I was opening the door. They were more than receptive in their responses, saying they were very excited I was coming back into the fold. We’ve had personal and team success when you were here before. Q: Randy, there’s always talk in coaching that when you’ve coached players for a long time, the message can get stale. You’ve had some of these guys for a few years in Anaheim. How do you re-freshen that message? Do you think the perspective you got from Toronto, and from your time watching the game, has changed it to some degree?
If you’re not willing to make changes in the things you thought were so important in your coaching career, and you don’t pick up and learn from other people and pay attention to the young athletes and what their demands are, you’re going to get pushed aside. I have two older sons and a daughter. I have a son that’s 32 and a daughter that’s 20. The raising of the 20-year-old daughter is much different than the 32-year-old son. If you take that into perspective, you can get a grasp of how different it is. That’s life. If you’re not prepared to evolve, you’re going to get left by the wayside.Q: Randy, this will be the 10th anniversary of the 2007 team that won the Stanley Cup. What are some things this team can learn from what that team did even though the game has changed a great deal?
The largest factor will be their commitment to doing what’s necessary, not for the individual, but for the team. That’s going to put pressure on some people. That’s going to be front and center from day one. When I leave the podium here today, that’s going to be the message. There will be some changes in the way things are done, but they’re not going to be drastic. We welcome your input, but your commitment is going to be required. Your role might change. Some might change more dramatically than others. It’s going to be about what’s best for the Anaheim Ducks to achieve their goal. Our goal is to obviously win the Stanley Cup.Q: Bob, were there any other candidates you were looking at, or was Randy your guy?
There were lots of candidates. There were some really good ones. I’m very happy I went through this process because it’s been so long. It was really good. I got to talk to some pretty good hockey people. It always came back to Randy. There are some really good people out there, more than people think.Q: Randy, do you feel like you’ve mellowed out over time? Does that even matter?
I think I’ve mellowed dramatically. There’s a time and place to be somewhat volatile. There’s a time and place when people need a kick in the pants or a pat on the back. They need support. In reality, coaching is all about developing relationships. If you can develop a relationship within your group that everybody is satisfied with, and everybody understands their role and they’re comfortable with your relationship, you have a chance to do something special.