Leafs coach lightens up, opens his door

Leafs players say they appreciate coach Randy Carlyle's willingness to share a joke and listen to...

Leafs players say they appreciate coach Randy Carlyle's willingness to share a joke and listen to their concerns. (Veornica Henri/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:18 AM ET

TORONTO - At the end of Maple Leafs practice on Wednesday, coach Randy Carlyle took a verbal jab at Nazem Kadri.

It was a playful poke, with Carlyle reminding the Leafs’ top scorer that he nailed a post before Kadri did during a friendly drill that finished the workout at the MasterCard Centre.

“I told him he didn’t have to be embarrassed that the coach hit it before he did,” Carlyle said with a smile.

The back-and-forth illustrated the coach the Leafs have come to know since he took over from the fired Ron Wilson last March. Carlyle is a stern taskmaster, but he’s not an insufferable tyrant and he knows when to let up with the players.

Above all else, he has an open-door policy that many have used to their advantage.

With such a young team — at an average of 27.1 years, the Leafs are older than just the Columbus Blue Jackets, who come in at 26.9 years — it’s paramount that Carlyle, and the assistant coaches, be accessible.


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