Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

A solution found to the Carlyle-Phaneuf complex?

03/30/2014 at 6:00am EDT

George here on the late shift...

The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa's notebook covers a myriad of topics, and its thrust involves the roles Rob DiMaio and Tim Taylor play in the St. Louis Blues' organization, but this quip about the Toronto Maple Leafs coach's relationship with his captain...Is probably a more astute analysis of the ways in which a coach can manage a team's most meaningful player's play than anything coming out of Toronto over the next six months:

Phaneuf isn’t a bad defenseman, but he’s not a smart one. As captain, Phaneuf recognizes he’s surrounded by deficiencies. So he tries to do too much — pinch low in the offensive zone, sprint into center ice to throw a big hit, pursue the puck carrier in the corners. None of that helps his team.

It is Carlyle’s mandate to keep Phaneuf collared to his position. If he played a simpler game, Phaneuf would be a much better defenseman. Phaneuf is strong, fit, and mobile. Those attributes benefit a stay-at-home defenseman.

Instead, Phaneuf chases the game. This isn’t lost on his teammates. The captain sets the example. His teammates fall in line and chase the puck instead of controlling it.

Carlyle could have stopped this a long time ago. A coach’s best tool is ice time. Carlyle could have stuck Phaneuf on the bench after each positional gaffe. Phaneuf would have shaped up quickly. He didn’t. Carlyle might have to pay the price for that.

Shinzawa continues at length, and frankly, that's some profound stuff up there.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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