Photo: Neil Davidson/Canadian Press
Randy Carlyle has not been with the Leafs for long, but he’s beginning to put his stamp on this team.
Hired on March 2nd 2012, the former Ducks bench boss inherited a team on the decline and wound up finishing with a 6-9-3 record to close out the season in his first 18 games as the Leafs head coach. Questions and attention were given to things such as whether or not Carlyle, a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, could turn around Luke Schenn’s game, how he was using Connolly-Steckel-Crabb as a shutdown line, whether he and Joffrey Lupul could get along, if Phil Kessel could produce with him, and the intrigue of the looks he was giving Matt Lombardi and Matt Frattin on the top line.
The NHLPA has ratified the new CBA, now the NHL and NHLPA will sign off on the pre-CBA document known as a Memorandum of Understanding. Two hours after the ink is dry on the MOU, player signings and trades can begin in preparation for the new season.
For the Leafs’ part, they are expected to announce the signing of defenceman Cody Franson to a one-year deal for a shade over a $1 million: A cheap one-year re-up to bring the right-hander back from Sweden in time for camp and have him compete for the spot vacated by Luke Schenn. Failing Franson’s ability to crack the lineup, this is still a win as the Leafs retain possession of a tradable asset.
The NHL lockout has ended, rejoice! After a long-fought battle between the players’ union and the NHL owners, fans will finally see a season. It will be a shortened one, sure, but I doubt many care right now. Once again, the Stanley Cup will be raised and to the fans, for now, it’s all that matters.
As the season finally nears, there are a few Leafs for whom the resumption of an NHL season is a continuation of 2012-13 campaigns that started abroad. While it does seem like a paradox, quality hockey was indeed played – mostly in the KHL. Below are short notes about the progress made by Leafs players who decided to spend the lockout in Europe, as well as their stories from far away.