The Toronto Maple Leafs retention of Randy Carlyle as head coach may have come as a surprise to many fans, but to a pair of Leafs players it wasn’t.
Forward Nazem Kadri and defenseman Morgan Rielly are playing for Team Canada at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk and both players anticipated Carlyle sticking around as Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press shared.
“I wasn’t too sure how to react,” Rielly said. “I personally like Randy, I think he’s a great coach. I think we have a pretty good relationship. I didn’t really know what was going to happen with him either here or if he’s gone and then obviously all the other coaches. So you just have to keep an open mind about it.”
Kadri shared Rielly’s sentiments. With the seemingly contentious nature of his relationship with Carlyle, he put the blame of the Maple Leafs collapse this season on himself and his teammates saying, “I think the players got to be a little better and a little more prepared.”
Carlyle signed a two-year extension on Friday while his three assistant coaches were fired. Toronto ended the season going 2-12-0 falling from third-best in the Eastern Conference to out of the playoffs in 12th.
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.