Sunday, March 4, 2012

Welcome Back, Carlyle

Sunday March 4, 1:09 p.m.

Yup, I can't help but hum the theme from "Welcome Back, Kotter" when I think of the return of a prodigal Ontario son behind the bench of the Toronto Maple Leafs....which is why I've got John Sebastian above singing away (with fortified 70s blow-dry hair!).

The analogy is almost scary-similar. A former fiery troublecausing Norris Trophy-winning Sweathog of a defenceman who played for the Leafs in the late 70s before going onto the Penguins and then the Jets before becoming a fire-and-brimstone Stanley Cup-winning coach...and then coming back to Toronto years later to teach his brand of tough love to a new generation of Sweathogs (the players, the media, the Leaf Nation....Grapes). There's even our version of the crochety Mr. Woodman (hellllooooo, Bryan.....or Grapes).

The story over the past 24 hours in Canada's largest and losing-est city has been the arrival of Randy Carlyle. And what a game to start out on....against another once-proud, currently pathetic team, the Canadiens. Heck, both coaches even have the same initials...and Randy Cunneyworth is in an even more quixotic situation...he knows that the Sword of Damocles  will fall on him at the end of the season.

The Leafs won last night 3-1, putting the brakes on a 6-game losing streak. There were some of the defensive lapses at the blue line that finally put that last nail in Ron Wilson's coffin but there were some glimmers of hope as well. And of course, this morning, I spent several more minutes than I usually do reading The Sun since there was so much analysis of Randy Carlyle. I'm sure The Star did the same thing. In fact, I hope Carlyle is accustomed to being vivisected for every one of the last 17 games...he and that Area 51 alien now have that connection. Even with that one win, though, his arrival has already started even bigger: the Leaf Nation is now chittering and chattering away on their blogs and in their tweets, instead of eulogizing.

Welcome back, Carlyle.

courtesy of hockeymedia of Flickr