When Brian Burke fired Ron Wilson in early March, you could see it coming. Burke was in full panic mode trying to salvage the season and the make the playoffs for the first time in his tenure. He brought in Randy Carlyle who he won with before in Anaheim. I mean if it worked before it should work again right?
Carlyle is very similar to Wilson in many respects. Both are more old school than black and white television, and each rules with an iron fist mentality. Burke essentially replaced one loud message that never stuck with a slightly different one. Yes let’s give Carlyle a bit of credit, as he did coach a team to a Stanley Cup victory. However, players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, and Scott Niedermayer may have had more to do with it. You know the old saying, “The key to good coaching is having good players.”
It seems like as long as you’ve won at any point during your coaching career you are set for life. Mike Shanahan hasn’t done anything in well over a decade, but since he won two Super Bowls in the mid 90’s with some guy named John Elway at quarterback, he will probably have a coaching job somewhere until he is 100.
Heaven forbid that a Toronto sports team, other than Dwane Casey with the Raptors, would make a progressive coaching change. I mean, its not like they have anyone sitting right in their own backyard or anything. Or someone that has guided their AHL affiliate to a 114-91-12-19 record behind the bench in two seasons. Or someone who led the Marlies to the Calder Cup final and the league’s best penalty kill, which is something the Leafs definitely could improve on. No, Dallas Eakins would be too easy of a choice.
The Leafs are actually fortunate to still have Eakins in their organization as he is one of the more sought after young coaches in the game today. Now, I’m not saying Burke should have fired Wilson and hired Eakins right there on the spot, but why not let an assistant finish out the year and let him start fresh in 2012-13. Or, with the Leafs chances of making it to the playoffs only alive in the most naive fans minds, and possibly Burke’s, it may have made sense to just let Wilson finish the campaign out and then bring Eakins in during the summer.
The AHL is now a trendy place to snatch coaches from. NHL teams are realizing that the development and the systems that are being played down there are forward thinking. I’m not trying to rain on Carlyle’s parade because he is an accomplished coach, but Eakins was the better choice here. Hopefully someone in the organization realizes that before it’s too late.