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Randy Carlyle focused on present, not past

Prefers to turn page entering second tenure as Ducks coach

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- There was a brief feeling of familiarity for Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle when he took his place behind the Ducks' bench for the first time since November 30, 2011 in Anaheim's preseason opener at Honda Center on Tuesday.

Everywhere he looked, Carlyle, who coached the Ducks from 2005-11, was reminded of the past.

"There's some of the same people that are here, like those season ticket holders that are banging on the glass and saying hello and welcoming me back," Carlyle said following Anaheim's 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. "The feel of the building hasn't changed. It's a building that I'm very comfortable with."

But not too comfortable, Carlyle said. He still had that same nervous energy, the same adrenaline that drives every coach and makes them just uncomfortable enough to keep them on edge.

Nostalgia, Carlyle insists, hasn't crept in. He said he isn't basking in the past, reminiscing about winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 or any other Ducks team because his focus is solely on the present.

This group that took the ice Tuesday was exceptionally young, devoid of current stars but heavy on future stars, such as forward Max Jones, the No. 24 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. It's a small sample size but based on the first game, Carlyle sees the makings of a fast team able to get out in transition with the toughness that has become the Ducks' signature.

"We didn't create enough from an offensive standpoint, but I thought the speed of our hockey club was evident," Carlyle said. "When we transition the puck, we can skate and get on people."

The Ducks didn't see the results they wanted, but the game helped establish a foundation for the type of hockey Carlyle wants them to play and showed them the type of coach he is in game situations.

"He's a little more vocal," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "He definitely likes to get his point across when guys aren't doing something right, which is good because I think we need some good accountability. When guys aren't doing the right things, they've got to know on the bench, and Randy is going to do that."

Defenseman Cam Fowler, who played for Carlyle as an 18-year-old rookie, saw the same type of teaching and successful on-the-fly adjustments previously seen under Carlyle.

"It felt like he didn't miss a beat at all," Fowler said. "He was engaged, he was helping out the young guys that needed help. It was just nice. I've always been a fan of his and found him to be a very intelligent coach, and I liked having him back."

Fowler said it felt like Carlyle's sense of urgency has extended past the preseason and is already well into the regular season. It's a key intangible the Ducks have said was missing last season. There's no taking a game off under Carlyle, even if the game doesn't have any standings points on the line.

"His competitiveness behind the bench kind of resonates with the group," Fowler said. "His message gets across, and everyone back there has respect for him and listens to him when he talks."

Only Cogliano, Fowler, captain Ryan Getzlaf and alternate captain Corey Perry remain from Carlyle's previous tenure in Anaheim. Those core four and a friendly building are enough familiarity for Carlyle, because he prefers to turn the page on a new team.

"I think it was a good start just to get to know him a little bit more," Cogliano said. "We'll go from there."

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