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January 8, 2007

Randy Carlyle

DAVID KEON: Welcome, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. I'd like to welcome you to today's call.
With us at this time we have Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle who will be the head coach of the Western Conference All-Stars at the National Hockey League All-Star Game to be played January 24th in Dallas.
Thanks to Randy for taking the time today to answer your questions. Thanks to Alex Gilchrist of the Ducks public relations department for arranging the call.
His second season as head coach of the Anaheim, Randy has led the Ducks to the best record in the Western Conference and first place in the overall NHL standings with 64 points, 44 games, on a record of 29-9-6. It will be his first All-Star appearance as a coach after playing in four NHL All-Star games during his 17-year playing career.
He will be assisted by Nashville Predators head Barry Trotz. Thanks again to Randy for taking the time to join us and answer your questions.
We'll open it up for questions now.

Q. Can you offer maybe what your best memory would be from the four All-Star games that you played in?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think looking back, I would have to say playing in the first one, getting the opportunity to play in the very first one, actually in the L.A. Forum. I can't even remember the year it was, it was so long ago (laughter). I was a young player that hadn't experienced any of the success stories that do happen in professional sports. It was kind of like an eye-opener to come out to the All-Star Game, specifically participate in it, get to know all the other players in the league. Specifically in L.A. I can remember meeting Charlene Tilton from Dallas. That was quite an event for a kid from Sudbury.

Q. Chris Pronger, obviously you knew a lot about him as a player. Since he's arrived there, can you talk about what it's been like for you to coach him, maybe things behind the scenes that we wouldn't ordinarily know.
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, any time you have an opportunity to coach a player like Chris Pronger, obviously there's really not a lot of coaching that does take place, per se, because of the status of the player.
Obviously with us, we tried not to put a tremendous amount of pressure on Chris Pronger. He puts a tremendous amount of pressure on himself. For a coaching staff, we just try to direct him as little as possible and allowed him to get his feet wet, get comfortable with our group.
The pressure that comes with the trade, the acquisition of that player fitting into your system, at times that can be more difficult than it needs to be. We felt that it was necessary for us to give him his time and space and allow him to do the things that he does well.
Obviously, he's made a huge impact on our blueline. There's been a lot said about Pronger and Niedermayer. Obviously we feel there is some form of psyche that we have two of the top defensemen in the league able to play on our blueline. Our mandate is actually to have those two players play at least 50 to 55 minutes of the hockey game. That usually spells out one of them is going to be on ice at most times. We think that's a huge advantage for us.

Q. Sort of a general perception around the league that Teemu Selanne, post lockout, has come back and been more of an all-around player, more aggressive. Do you think that's true? What sort of impact has he had on your good group of young forwards?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think that with Teemu, he always was a dynamic player. I think the most important thing in his return to Anaheim was the lockout. He definitely was a different athlete before the lockout. He took the year, had his knee reconstructed, his conditioning of his body was at a much higher level. He really made a commitment that he didn't want to be labeled as having a poor year in his last or latter years of finishing up his career. He's had an illustrious career.
He's come in and really solidified our leadership core. There's been a fit with Teemu Selanne. It goes back when we talked to him and entertained actually signing him. Our message to him was: The expectations, if it's your turn to be first on the back-check, you got to be first on the back-check. If it's your turn to be first on the forecheck, you'll be first on the forecheck. If he did those things, made a commitment to be part of our leadership core, we would in turn give him his prime minutes.
He has not disappointed us in any category. The new rules I think are another issue that have allowed a player with that speed and skill set to, again, show those or display those night in, night out. He's a dynamic player, an extremely gifted scorer, and he's fit into our group as one of our leaders. I don't think we can really ask any more of the individual.

Q. Getzlaf and Perry, you seem to be breaking them in at your own pace. Getzlaf is getting more minutes than Perry, but put a lot of points for the minutes they play. What is your feeling on that? And what do you feel as a coach in the All-Star Game? How is it different than when you're a player?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, first with Getzlaf and Perry, we've tried to make a conscious effort of trying to provide them with more minutes against higher-level opposition. Last year we basically tried to protect them in a sense where they didn't have to play against the top two lines of the other teams we were playing against. This year we felt it was time to start to give them more minutes and play them against higher-level lines.
We've had some issues as far as finding the proper winger to play with them. With our hockey club, we find we're better suited to go in twos, then have the interchangeable part be a left or right winger depending on the line situation and the opposition we're playing up against. Specifically since the injuries to Todd Marchant, it's kind of given us an opportunity to do a little bit more experimenting.
Getzlaf plays a little bit more in his minutes because he does play penalty killing. Corey Perry doesn't play the penalty killing yet, but he plays the second power-play unit.
I think as we go forward into the second half of the season, their minutes are going to continue to rise because we think we've found a little bit of a fit with Chris Kunitz there. If we take Chris from there, we're searching for a left winger to play with McDonald and Selanne.
As far as playing versus coaching, the showcase of the players' skills, I don't know if I had any skill to showcase when I played. We had fun. It's an event that you enjoy the camaraderie there. I would predict it would be very similar. The only thing is, it's a little older and a lot less hair.

Q. You were many years in Manitoba as a coach for the Moose. Were you always convinced you were going to get a head coaching shot?
RANDY CARLYLE: No, I don't think you could ever say you'd be convinced of that. I think when I made the change to go to Washington as an assistant, I thought it was imperative that I do that to give me an opportunity to get back into the NHL only from the standpoint of not having been there as an assistant in seven or eight years, how much the NHL had changed, the dynamics of it, the players, the attitude, the whole lifestyle of the new NHL player, I thought it was important to get back to it at some point.
I wasn't happy with the role I was given or taken on in Manitoba. I'd left the coaching, I went to the president's chair, general manager's chair. I really didn't enjoy the job for the time that I was in it. I said I had to get back in coaching, and I wasn't going to be afforded that opportunity in Manitoba. I sought out other opportunities. I found an opportunity in Washington. Thankful to George McPhee, Ted Leonsis and especially Butch, Bruce Cassidy, was the head coach at the time. I knew him from the IHL days, coached in Grand Rapids, I coached in Manitoba. We actually coached in the IHL All-Star Game together. That was our first exposure together. I had a strong relationship with his general manager in Bob McNamara. Seemed like a good fit. Big step.
I spent 18 years in Manitoba, in one place. Nine years as a player, another nine years in management of some form. There's strong ties there. But it was a big move. It was a step. Obviously now the way things have worked out, it was a step that was -- a decision that was wisely thought through. It was difficult for myself and my family, but we couldn't be more excited with our opportunity here now.

Q. Brian Burke many times said Crawford was his best hire in Vancouver. He told us your hiring was similar in Anaheim. Talk about your relationship with him.
RANDY CARLYLE: With Burkey, it's pretty black and white. Not a lot of gray areas. We seem to be able to understand that. Obviously with Brian, he has a strong personality, he provides leadership. With any good organization, you have to have strong leadership at the top.
We're fairly transparent. I'm very fortunate that Brian has went out and provided us with the players that we have here. There's not a lot of, as I said, gray areas. We know where one another stands. We communicate on a regular basis on which direction we're going to go in. There's a lot of things that are similar in Brian through the course of his time in Vancouver and now transferring that on here into Anaheim.

Q. It was Brian Burke who actually bounced you out of the Manitoba job and brought Stan to coach that team. Turns around, gives you your first NHL job. Do you find that a bit ironic at all? What changed? Why weren't you good enough to coach Manitoba but you were good enough to coach the Ducks in the NHL?
RANDY CARLYLE: That's a question you'd have to ask to Brian. There was a commitment made to Stan, he was the coach of their hockey club. In order for the Manitoba franchise to become a part of the American Hockey League, they needed to have an affiliate. That was a negotiation that went on between Brian Burke and Mark Chipman. I participated in it. We thought this thing through. I felt that I would be standing in the way of the Manitoba Moose becoming part of the American Hockey League, part of the Vancouver Canucks affiliation.
Those things happen in business at times. I knew that I could always go back to coaching in my mind, and I thought I'd give this a try. Having thought about it over the course of probably three or four months with Mark Chipman and Brian, we were going to go in that direction.
I didn't look at it as a snub. I looked at it in order for the Vancouver Canucks and the Manitoba Moose to have a relationship or build a relationship, I would have to assume another role. I took that role on not begrudgingly at that time. Just I found I didn't enjoy it.
When I got back into the coaching, I went to Washington for the two years. There was an opportunity to go back to Manitoba. I chose that. Those are the things that -- the twists and turns that coaches go through, decisions you make. Sometimes they work out for the better, and sometimes they don't. This one seemed to have worked out for the better.

Q. It looks like the Rory Fitzpatrick thing may not happen now. Is that a relief for you? How would you handle a situation where a player is voted on to the team by fans? A lot of people have been criticizing that.
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I'm a traditionalist. I had a plan that I don't think I'd like to commit to or tell you guys actually about it. Rory Fitzpatrick and the situation, it would have been voted in. We would have had to make a decision as a coaching staff on how much he would have had to play or how much we would have played him.
The bottom line is, if he does play, he's been selected, and that's the format that the league has provided. Depending on us, how much he would have played. That's the only thing I can say about it. I don't think the player shouldn't be there because if the fans -- if that's the format that's put in place, he deserves -- he's deserved of the votes, he gets the vote, he's going to be there. How much he plays probably would have been a conference between Barry Trotz and myself.

Q. You must have played a lot of shifts against Lindy Ruff over the years. Both retired in '93. What do you remember? Any good stories, scraps?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think back when Lindy played and I played, he was in Buffalo, I was in Pittsburgh for the start of my career. We were somewhat rivals in the sense Buffalo was a bus ride. That was the only team we bused to, Pittsburgh. There was lots of camaraderie that went on on ice. The competitiveness of both sides was at the forefront.
Lindy Ruff, as a player he was a competitive individual that went out and worked hard, committed to his team night in, night out. Obviously in his coaching aspect of it, he's done a tremendous job in Buffalo. Just look forward to at some point talking about it. We've got a mutual friend that has a strong relationship of him in Mike (indiscernible). I played with Mike in junior and played a little bit with him in summer hockey.
There was always that Buffalo mentality. Being with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time, it was one of those things we were competitive, but there was an understanding we respected one another.

Q. His team is pretty high-flying. Your team scores quite a few goals as well. Do either of your teams reflect the kind of players you were or is there a lot of each of you in your teams or have times changed too much?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think times have changed. The one thing, it's your responsibility as a coach, again, to always provide the player with the opportunity or the environment to have success. There's no kidding, you know, the coaches, the X's and O's don't change dramatically. It's the quality of players and the level of competitiveness that your players and team plays to. That's the most important thing, day in, day out, there's a common goal, and they do play as a group.
We're playing a team sport. The individuals that do have success, it's because of their teammates. We're no different as coaches. The reason that we're being recognized is because your players went out and committed to a game plan that you've been able to put in place, and your staff has worked extremely hard. That starts at management. If you don't have the quality players, it's going to be difficult to be competitive.
DAVID KEON: Thanks, Randy, for your time.
RANDY CARLYLE: You're welcome.
DAVID KEON: See you in Dallas.

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