In all things hockey, it seems, Randy Carlyle is about moving forward. The Maple Leafs’ head coach hates the rear-view beyond addressing it briefly and carrying on. But for the big one that got away Monday night in Boston, the blown 4-1 lead in Game 7 of the franchise’s first playoff appearance in nine years, it is clear that Carlyle won’t be able to let go, just yet. And in the endless loop of the game replayed in his head, the coach admitted at Thursday’s season-ending press conference that there were regrets. No. 1 was questioning who he had on the ice when Patrice Bergeron tied the game in the final minute and No. 2: If only he had implored those he did have out there to stay aggressive, perhaps they would have been on the Air Canada Centre ice on Thursday night in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. “What we could have done out of (the Bruins) timeout with the centre ice faceoff, we could have done something more aggressive, just to get ourselves going instead of receiving,” Carlyle said as the team gathered one final time at the ACC on Thursday. “We didn’t really move and attack at all and we’re an attacking hockey club.” The blown lead in Boston was so dramatic, so traumatic, that Carlyle’s cardinal rule of forgetting the past immediately won’t quite work here. “The situation we were in right after the game, the frustration — you are hurt, you are stunned, all the words used to describe living that,” Carlyle said. “It’s almost like you go into a state of depression. “You don’t feel good about it. I still don’t feel good about it. I don’t have an answer for it. I wish I did.” That said, there was plenty for Carlyle and general manager Dave Nonis to discuss on locker clean out day, much of it dealing with the future. And it was clear from both men that the work is just beginning. “We need to get better, add more pieces,” Nonis said of what he hopes can be a productive off-season. “We took some significant steps, but we’re not there. “I think the challenge is going to be improving individually. Each player has to raise his level a little. Get better, get stronger. Off-season work is going to be paramount for this group.” So, how does the team improve to be competitive in a realigned NHL playing against opponents that, in Carlyle’s words, won’t allow the Leafs to “sneak into any building,” because “everybody’s going to know what we were about.” Though there is a core group he’d like to maintain and Nonis is loathe to deal young talent and picks, Brian Burke’s successor stuck by his edict that no one is guaranteed to return.
Leafs' Carlyle can't let it go
Toronto Sun | May 19