Randy Carlyle hasn’t yet made his mark on the Maple Leafs, but hopes to do so by putting his imprint on the Air Canada Centre dressing room.
After replacing Ron Wilson as coach for the final 18 games of last season — too late to stop a seventh consecutive year out of the playoffs — Carlyle thought the club’s quarters needed a makeover.
When, and if, the 2012-13 season commences, Carlyle and some interior design experts will have a say in many “cosmetic changes” to the sprawling facility. Always a coach protective of his dressing room and its environs — from his AHL days with Winnipeg and later with the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks — Carlyle sees a link between atmosphere and attitude.
“I just thought the room looked dark and tired in places,” Carlyle said on Wednesday in a phone interview. “A lot of things had to be updated, such as the carpets, but we’ve also added some art work (murals and photos). It’s going to be partly a nostalgic tribute to the past of this team, but there will also be some changes to things such as the stalls that a modern day player in Toronto is going to appreciate.”
The Leafs room was largely unchanged since the team moved from Maple Leaf Gardens in February of 1999. Plaques commemorating Leafs teams since 1917 were placed around the ACC room, but there were no eye-catching pieces that spoke to the franchise’s 13 Stanley Cups and many Hall of Famers. Carlyle played at the historic Gardens under coaches Red Kelly and Roger Neilson and certainly knows the allure the place holds for players and fans.
“We called in some design people and talked to a lot of those around the team about what they wanted to see,” said Carlyle. “But I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, yet.”
Bob Hunter, executive vice-president for venues and entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, says new ceilings, lighting and carpets are part of the changes, but the project is at least a couple of weeks away from completion.
It’s expected Carlyle will include some personal motivational messages on the walls throughout the two change rooms, player lounge, medical room and coaches offices.
The Leafs have used ‘Defeat Does Not Rest Lightly On Their Shoulders’ in bold letters in the main room, going back to the Conn Smythe era, though The Price of Success Is Hard Work popped up, as well.
At both Winnipeg Arena, the new MTS Centre and the Honda Center in Anaheim, Carlyle had a list of messages that included:
“Maintain a positive attitude, expect a lot of yourself and only expect your best.”
“Don’t sulk or point fingers, stay positive when things get tough.”
“Every player is a leader in his own way.”
“Play with self-disciplined aggression. Control emotions when playing aggressively or you will be controlled by opponents or situations.”
“Avoid making excuses. Admit mistakes, errors, lapses in discipline, accept defeat without excuses. Learn from mistakes, focus on improvements.”