Randy Carlyle talked to the Winnipeg Sun yesterday after getting a warm reception from Manitoba Moose fans who remember him as the AHL team’s head coach for six years between 1996-2005:
He received one of the biggest ovations of the night, and he wasn’t even on the ice.
Former Manitoba Moose head coach Randy Carlyle may have been in the province primarily for a fishing trip, but he found time to drop in on Game 1 of the Calder Cup final between his old team and the Hershey Bears.
“The support the people have shown me in this community, it’s respect to those people,” Carlyle said between periods of the game.
And when his mug flashed on the big screen above centre ice, the sellout crowd let him know he may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.
“It kind of surprised me,” admitted Carlyle, who finally waved to the crowd after a few seconds of face time. “It’s nice to come back and see a lot of familiar faces.”
Carlyle’s was the face of the franchise for most of its first eight years. He also spent time with the Winnipeg Jets, both on the ice and in the front office, calling Winnipeg home for 18 years, in all.
He left four years ago to take the head job with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2007.
To see 15,003 fans jam the downtown arena didn’t surprise him.
“For the Winnipeg hockey fan, any time you have an opportunity to play at the highest level in any league, it’s going to draw interest,” Carlyle said. “It’s good to see the hockey fans of Winnipeg being rewarded.”
‘Kitty’ was also thrilled for the organization that he helped get off the ground, 13 years ago, saying he was particularly happy for people like owner Mark Chipman and GM Craig Heisinger.
“It’s a lot of hard work over an extended period of time. It’s just an exclamation point for some of the things that went on behind the scenes.”
Carlyle said it also good to see his old captain, Scott Arniel, take the Moose to a Calder Cup final, something he never quite managed despite having some pretty good teams.
Of course, Carlyle can always flash his Stanley Cup ring as the trump card. Not that he would. He wasn’t even wearing the thing last night.
“That’s not my style,” he said.