On Wednesday, Carlyle said he understood the team’s decision to move in a new direction and didn’t take his firing personally.
"There’s a sense of relief,” he told the Toronto Sun.
“I’m going to the grocery store this afternoon and I don’t really care. I know the people at the grocery store. I know the people at the coffee shop. I know the people where I go. I’m not going to stop living. I’ll do what I have to do.”
Personal tragedy and health concerns also allowed Carlyle to put his dismissal in the proper perspective. Carlyle lost his brother-in-law to a year-long battle with ALS on Wednesday, and said he will undergo back surgery later this month. The former coach, who guided the Anaheim Ducks to a Stanley Cup title in 2007, is also dealing with some credit card issues.
“[Being fired] is part of the pro business,” Carlyle to the Toronto Sun. “We didn’t win enough. And obviously I don’t feel good about it. And I’m not looking at (management) and saying ‘Those rotten, ‘effin …’ whatever word you want to use. I’m looking at it and saying, ‘Hey, they made a decision.’ I was fortunate enough to work for some great people. [MLSE Chairman] Larry Tanenbaum is a friend of mine, [Director at MLSE] Dale Lastman is a friend of mine. I got to know [BCE President and CEO] George Cope a little bit. [Leafs President Brendan Shanahan] Shanny gave me an extra year on my contract.”
"There are a lot of things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to coach here.”
Carlyle’s firing came after the team won only two games in its last nine contests. The Leafs announced Peter Horachek would take over as head coach on an interim basis on Wednesday.
“It’s all about winning,” Carlyle said. “Winning makes your life easier and makes it better. The thing about when you lose here in Toronto, you don’t breathe for a couple of days. When you win, you can exhale.”
Carlyle admitted to the Toronto Star that he knew the end was near after the team’s 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 3.
“When I walked off the ice in Winnipeg, in my mind, I thought this could be my last game,” he said, adamant that he never gave up on the team.
“I coached to the last minute. I begged, borrowed and pleaded for a third period response. “I did not quit on this hockey team.”
On the day of Carlyle’s firing, former Leafs coach Ron Wilson ripped into Toronto sniper Phil Kessel.
“You can’t rely on Phil,” said Wilson old TSN Radio. “Phil’s problem, and I think it’s pretty much how Phil’s been his whole career, is that he is two weeks on and two weeks off."
Kessel wasn’t amused when reporter Dave Feschuk asked him if he was a difficult player to coach during a scrum, calling the Toronto Star columnist an “idiot.”
However, when asked about Kessel’s day-to-day commitment, Carlyle refused to criticize his former player.
“I’m not here to throw stones or throw mud at anybody,” Carlyle said. “I appreciate the players for what they are, they’re the best athletes in my mind. Phil’s an elite athlete. Obviously there’s deficiencies in us all,” he said.