Above the 49: Timing on Carlyle just right for Leafs

Randy Carlyle's arrival in Toronto may be too late to salvage the Maple Leafs' season despite general manager Brian Burke's optimistic outlook.

But give the Leafs plenty of credit for getting a jump on an individual who would have been at the top of the list in terms of the most highly sought- after coaches this summer.

The Leafs' announcement late Friday was undoubtedly an unwelcome one for a number of teams around the NHL that likely had Carlyle high on their short list of coaching candidates this summer, including potentially several teams north of the border.

The Montreal Canadiens, as much as they clearly would prefer bringing in a bilingual coach this off-season to replace unilingual interim bench boss Randy Cunneyworth, would certainly have given Carlyle some serious consideration especially since they're a team that views itself as being in re-tool mode rather than rebuild mode.

Montreal is just a year removed from coming within a single goal of knocking off the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins from the playoffs and the majority of the Canadiens' core from that near epic upset remains intact.

The Calgary Flames are another team that would have given the former Stanley Cup champion coach a long look, especially with current head coach Brent Sutter's contract expiring at the end of this season and all signs pointing to a change at that position. The Flames appear headed to a third straight season without a post-season appearance since Sutter took the helm.

Like the Habs, the Flames are another team that sees itself as being close to getting over that playoff hump and would benefit from having a bench boss with a proven track record working with a veteran-laden group as Carlyle did in Anaheim as opposed to their current coach in Sutter, whose success has predominantly been in the junior ranks.

Even the Winnipeg Jets might have been tempted to kick some tires on Carlyle, although that would have been highly unlikely given the admirable job Claude Noel has done in his first season there and with the Jets challenging for a playoff spot.

Carlyle's previous ties to Winnipeg certainly would have made him a popular figure there. He spent 10 seasons as a player for the first NHL incarnation of the Jets and spent time in a number of capacities with the now-defunct International Hockey League's Winnipeg Jets from 1996 to 2002 serving as coach, general manager and team president at various times.

He returned to coach the Moose in 2004-05 when they were serving as the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.

For now, the Leafs get their man and the much-anticipated summer game of musical coaching chairs has one less high-profile participant.

In parts of seven seasons behind the bench of the Ducks, Carlyle compiled an overall record of 273-182-61 and made the playoffs in all but one of his full seasons there. He also guided the Ducks to their first-ever Stanley Cup championship in 2007 and is the winningest coach in Ducks history.