When the going got so extremely tough late in the forever infamous Game 7 in Boston last spring, Randy Carlyle must have looked down the bench and winced.
When his eyes stopped on the No. 84 worn by then Leafs’ Mikhail Grabovski, his stomach must have turned.
To be fair, the enigmatic Belarusian probably felt the same way.
Just as Carlyle knew the risks of putting Grabovski on the ice to stifle the Bruins surge that began to build when they pulled to within 4-2 in the third period, it didn’t look like the player wanted much of it either.
So much of the Carlyle-player relationship that dictates ice time is built on trust. It’s the same, to a degree, with any coach, but in Carlyle’s case if there is no interest in playing some defence, there’s not much reciprocal interest in the player.