A New Twist
Nobody thought Bruce Boudreau would end up sitting for a terribly long time on the NHL unemployment line.
But three days off, well, even Boudreau might have liked a week or two longer to decompress. But in that world, you take the work when it's there. So Boudreau is off to Anaheim to take over from Randy Carlyle today and doesn't this suddenly produce a rather intriguing dilemma for Leafs GM Brian Burke?
Burke has stood loyally behind head coach Ron Wilson over the past three seasons - wasn't it interesting how it wasn't Wilson's fault when things were bad, but now we're told Wilson deserves credit now that things are better? - but today things are certainly a little different than they were yesterday.
First of all, the Leafs looked awfully leaky in a 6-3 loss to the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins last night after winning four of five. Second, Carlyle, the coach who delivered a Cup to Burke in Anaheim, a coach that Burke recruited and hired and admires, a coach who preaches the gritty, punch-first-ask-questions-later, tight defensive style that Burke loves, iis now available. Carlyle's Ducks beat Montreal last night, but that didn't stop GM Bob Murray from dismissing him and bringing in Boudreau.
A wild 24 hours, to be sure.
Enjoy the speculation now in Toronto, folks. Of course, Burke can quiet it all with one announcement, that being that he has awarded Wilson a new two- or three-year contract extension. That would kill any Carlyle-to-Toronto chatter immediately. Until then, well, let the rumours fly.
(Ed. Note: Burke, it's clear, woke up this morning more than aware the Carlyle dismissal would fuel speculation about Wilson's future. Through his Twitter handle @LeafsBB20, Burke tweeted soon after this blog was posted "Sad to hear about Randy Carlyle. But our coach isn't going anywhere!" Guess that's the 2011 equivalent of a vote of confidence.)
You do have to wonder that if Carlyle had been available last spring whether Wilson would have made it into this season given his record with the Leafs. It certainly didn't hurt Wilson that there weren't any great alternatives out there for Burke, who wasn't about to go the rookie route when it came to a coach.
But now Carlyle is sitting there, a stark alternative to Wilson, the coach who brought Burke his greatest success in the game. Just as Dale Hunter was very different than Boudreau in Washington and Boudreau will be promising a new style of hockey in Anaheim, so too would Carlyle offer a change of direction in Toronto.
This certainly isn't a guarantee that Burke will can Wilson and turn to Carlyle, or even a suggestion that he should. But it's an available alternative sitting in plain sight for Burke, and it will have crossed his mind.