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Randy Carlyle adapts, coaches Ducks to conference final

Demanding but more understanding style has Anaheim ready for Predators

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- So there's been all this talk about a changed coach, a kinder, gentler Randy Carlyle behind the Anaheim Ducks bench.

Truth or myth?

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf took charge at the Western Conference Final news conference at Honda Center on Thursday. Game 1 between the Ducks and Nashville Predators is here on Friday.  

"Do you want to take that, Cam?" Getzlaf asked.  

An amused Getzlaf was sitting at the podium with Cam Fowler on one side and Ryan Kesler on the other. Kesler stayed out of the fray.


[RELATED: Ducks vs. Predators series preview]


Getzlaf and Kesler go back with Carlyle more than a decade. Kesler played one season for Carlyle with Manitoba of the American Hockey League in 2004-05, and Getzlaf played for Carlyle during Carlyle's first run with the Ducks, including their Stanley Cup championship in 2007. Carlyle, fired by the Ducks in 2011, returned this past season. 

But it was Fowler who answered the question.

"All the fundamentals and everything he believes in are the same," said Fowler, who also played for Carlyle during his first stint in Anaheim. "I think he's softened a little bit just based on some of the things with the rookies and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, he's a demanding coach who brings the best out of his players. He's always going to be that way.

"That's how he's been successful. So I've noticed a little change in that, but for the most part he's pretty much the same."

Carlyle, 61, may have had the best quote about himself during the season when he told the Winnipeg Sun: "You can't be old and crusty all your life."

His ability to make in-game adjustments has always been instrumental to his success and was a talking point the day after the Ducks beat the Oilers 2-1 in Game 7 in the Western Conference Second Round. Ducks general manager Bob Murray said that the second round was a "great duel of bench coaches" between Carlyle and Edmonton's Todd McLellan.

Video: ANA@EDM, Gm3: Kesler bangs home puck at the doorstep

Murray also felt Carlyle benefitted from his time in Toronto. Carlyle, hired by the Maple Leafs on March 2, 2012, was fired 40 games into the 2014-15 season.

"I think we've all had to make that learning transition, myself included, to younger players because the [Ducks] team that won the Cup was an older team," Murray said. 

Carlyle compared coaching the Maple Leafs to being in New York and coaching the New York Yankees.

"It's probably an equal, where everything you do is either deemed positive or negative," he said. "There's not too much in between those type of environments. The team that we had was not a team that was constructed to say that we're going to wait."

The climate changed once the Maple Leafs got ahead of schedule.

"As soon as we made the playoffs, expectations went up to a level that I don't know if our lineup was at the same level," he said. "Those are difficult situations. 

"It's a great market to play in, great people to work for. I look upon my time in Toronto that it was a positive. I'm born and raised in Ontario, maybe 300 miles north of Toronto, grew up as a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, played for them for two years, got to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. All those things are positives in life."

Murray said injured defenseman Kevin Bieksa is "very, very close" to returning to the lineup. He has been skating every day.

Forward Patrick Eaves, injured in Game 3 against the Oilers, is not close to returning. He had been on crutches and earlier had his right foot in a walking boot.

"For a while I just thought that was it," Murray said. "But I have hope now that we're going to see him again at some point."

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