139504519When Randy Carlyle was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night, replacing Ron Wilson, one of the most immediate questions was about the professional hell into which left wing Joffrey Lupul was about to descend.
Lupul played for Carlyle in Anaheim before being traded with defenseman Jake Gardiner for Francois Beauchemin in early 2011; he's in the midst of a career year with 66 points in 64 games for the Leafs.
He couldn't find his game with the Ducks, rehabbing from a pair of back surgeries. But when asked last November about his time with Carlyle, Lupul said he the coach never gave him a chance to prove himself as a top left winger.
"In my conversation with Randy, he said he didn't think I had the skill to play left in wing in this league being on my off side," Lupul said. "So he wasn't going to give me that opportunity here. And I'm not going to knock Corey Perry or Teemu Selanne off their right wing spot. So pretty much after that conversation, I realized that I probably wasn't in their plans here."
At the time, Carlyle said "if we probably erred, we probably erred in that we didn't play him consistently enough at left wing."
Now that Lupul's back on his roster — and an integral part of star forward Phil Kessel's success — Carlyle took it one step further at his introductory press conference and said he made a mistake, putting over Lupul's skill in the process:
"Lupes made a comment when we were in Anaheim that he didn't feel like I used him correctly. And he was right. I made the mistake, and I said it at that time, that we made the mistake of not putting Joffrey Lupul on left wing in our top six group. But you have to remember that he was coming off dramatic back surgery. He had a number of infections. And we didn't think he'd play again.
"It's a mistake that I made and I take full responsibility for that. I've talked to Joffrey Lupul about that. It's water under the bridge. He's a top six forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs."
So that hatchet's buried. Until, of course, Carlyle decides to break up and Kessel/Lupul duo and we revisit all of this again …