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Why the Toronto Maple Leafs are so much fun.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.

The new guy...Randy Carlyle.

Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle met the media Saturday and it was delicious.

Carlyle hit the sweet spot when he observed coaching the Leafs was a wonderful opportunity and then used a tone suitable for talk of palliative care to describe the conversation he had with his family about taking the job.

You could almost hear a trembling voice from the corner of the family’s big Amish-style kitchen table say ‘well, Dad, if you feel you must.’

Gloriously indiscreet, Burke said Marlies coach Dallas Eakins was strongly considered for the job but was undone by his lack of experience.

“We felt we were putting him in a tank full of piranhas and sharks where he would have no chance,” Burke said.

Piranhas and Sharks. Hmm. Wonder where he was going with that?

Star gadfly Rosie DiManno seemed to admit she missed the first part of the press conference.

A few minutes later Damien Cox’s mug appeared on my screen via the good folks at Twitter. According to Damien when Carlyle admitted mishandling Joffrey Lupul he displayed more humility than Wilson ever did.  Damien has spent a lifetime learning about humility second-hand.

First person to tweet that gets an A in this little experiment.

This blog is about the Leafs coaching change so it is by necessity about Brian Burke, Randy Carlyle and yes, Ron Wilson.

But it’s also about the always-entertaining Rosie and Damien and me and Mike Brophy, a longtime buddy at Sportsnet to whom I would gladly give a kidney.

It’s about who threw who under the bus. Did Burke throw Wilson under the bus by firing him or by not getting him a better team? Did Wilson throw Burke under the bus by not making the Leafs playtougher. Everything you read now seems to be about the bus; who threw who and why.

We live in the age of Twitter. There is no bus anymore. We are the bus. We, Burke, Wilson, the players, media, the fans, the ushers, we are one big collective conversation.  The Leafs aren’t a subject, they are a conversation that plays three times a week.

This is the wondrous, compelling circus that is the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012 and boy if you were tuning in for the first timeyou wouldn’t have known where to look Saturday morning.

For one thing, I’m not sure you’re supposed to disclose who you considered for a job. Burke confirmed the club researched TSN analyst Marc Crawford and assistant Scott Gordon as well as Eakins.

“He was disappointed but he understands,” Burke said of the Marlies coach.

Just when you think you have heard everything, Carlyle, the new guy, goes Maya Angelou. “They have to rekindle their spirit,” Carlyle said of the Leafs.

Really. Rekindle their spirit. Love the guy already.

Love him more after Burke went out of his way to point out how disagreeable Carlyle can be toward his players.

Burke sees hiring Carlyle as a chance to make some sort of run for the playoffs. The Leafs have 18 games to overtake four teams and make up five points. If not then Carlyle is in place for next season.

Francois Allaire stays as the goalie coach. Dave Farrish, a former Leaf, now handles the defence.

Pretty simple really but so much fun.

Listen to the press conference.  You can almost hear Burke’s mental processes: ‘My, God, she asked that?’
You can hear people positioning themselves. Check your phone; Damien and the boys from TSN are staking out Twitter. Reporters piled on ruthlessly when it became clear that Wilson was done.  Howard-I love Howard – sounded like someone had just choked his cat.

For his part, Burke makes the Leafs fall sound otherworldly. I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all but to a Leafs observer a devastating losing streak isn’t absolutely unprecedented.

In the middle of a winter that never was people want a little hope, a little entertainment, a little drama, a reason to care.

That’s no mystery to me. The wonder is how people live without the circus.

 

 

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About Mike Ulmer

Mike Ulmer has written 210 post in this blog.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. All opinions expressed by Mike Ulmer are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Toronto Maple Leafs or its Hockey Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Maple Leafs and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NHL accredited member of the media.



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