From analytics to patience with young players, has Randy Carlyle ‘evolved’ as a coach?

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There was a common trend with the Toronto Maple Leafs when Randy Carlyle was behind the bench.

Based on Stats.hockeyanalysis.com, the Maple Leafs were at the absolute bottom of the league in Corsi For percentage at five-on-five play in his two full seasons he coached there.

Yes, they made the playoffs in 2013. But did so with a league-worst Corsi For rating of 44.1 per cent. The following season, they didn’t make the playoffs, finishing 30th at 42.9 per cent. In the 2014-15 season, Toronto finished 27th in that category. Carlyle lasted just 40 games that season.

The analytics don’t paint a favorable picture of Carlyle’s time in Toronto.

In addition to low possession numbers, his teams from the 2013 and 2013-14 seasons had some of the highest PDO ratings (shooting percentage plus save percentage) in the league.

Carlyle told reporters on Tuesday, as he was officially introduced as the next head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, that there is a place in the game for analytics and, “It’s proven that there are positives that come from it.”

“The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a dramatic speed game. They moved the puck and skated off the puck,” Carlyle told reporters.

“You’re going to see a lot of copycats following that lead. From a personal standpoint, I’ve always taken on the attitude that the least amount of time you can spend in your own zone the better off you usually are. Your chances of having success are going to go forward. There are things I did 10 years ago that I wouldn’t do today.”

Known for being a demanding coach, Carlyle said he’s mellowed “dramatically.”

“There’s a time and place to be somewhat volatile. There’s a time and place when people need a kick in the pants or a pat on the back. They need support,” he said.

Another key point from Carlyle’s press conference? He suggested on more than one occasion the possible injection of youthful players into the lineup, as well as showing patience with young players.

He used the development of Cam Fowler in Anaheim and Jake Gardiner in Toronto during his tenures as examples. There were times when Gardiner seemed to find his way into Carlyle’s doghouse, but he has said, at least publicly, that he was just fine with Carlyle’s tough approach.

Among the youthful players that appear ready to make an impact in Anaheim is 20-year-old defenseman Shea Theodore, a former first-round pick. He appeared in 19 regular season games in 2015-16, scoring three goals and eight points. They also have 20-year-old forward Nick Ritchie, the 10th overall pick from 2014, who appeared in 33 games this past season, scoring twice with four points.

“You have to show patience with young players,” said Carlyle. “They are a big part of today’s game. In the salary cap era, every team is going to add two or three young players. That’s the reality of the business.”

A number of Ducks players — Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Fowler, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa — have played for Carlyle before, either in Anaheim, or in the case of Kesler and Bieksa, with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose during the second lockout.

Ducks GM Bob Murray said he eventually reached out to a few of those aforementioned players about Carlyle, adding the response he got was “unbelievably supportive.”

Time will tell if that sentiment continues.

“If you’re not prepared to evolve as a coach, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle,” said Carlyle. “I paid close attention and have done my homework on what’s going on in the league.”