The phone rang late Wednesday afternoon, Pacific time, just as Randy Carlyle was preparing to head out to Anaheim’s Honda Centre.
Since being ousted as head coach of the team in November, the still-under-contract Carlyle had been doing some scouting, that night he was planning on taking in a game between his employer, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Buffalo Sabres. On the other end was Ducks GM Bob Murray, who told Carlyle that another team had asked permission to speak to him about a coaching position.
“That’s really when the process started,” Carlyle said.
Shortly thereafter, Carlyle spoke to his old friend and former boss with the Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke.
The Leafs were in Chicago that night, playing a game in which they would blow a 3-1 first period lead and lose for the 10th time in their last 11 games.
By then, Burke had arrived at an uncomfortable decision – he was going to have to fire his friend of nearly 40 years, coach Ron Wilson.