Despite being 21-16-3, and holding down the last Wild Card spot in the East, the Toronto Maple Leafs have let Randy Carlyle go. The team said assistants Peter Horachek and Steve Spott will handle the duties for tomorrow’s game versus the Washington Capitals.
“I want to thank Randy for all of his hard work and dedication,” Leafs general manager David Nonis said in a statement. “It’s never an easy decision to make when changing your leadership but our team was not trending in the right direction and we felt an immediate change was necessary.”
Over the last ten games, the Leafs have gone 3-7-0, allowed 34.4 shots per game, which is the second highest total in the NHL over that span.
Carlyle was hired in 2012, had a 91-78-19 over his tenure with the Maple Leafs, and was given a contract extension last season. This was despite the fans clamoring for a change, and the team hiring Brendan Shannahan to oversee the team. He came into the season on maybe the shakiest ground of any coach, that includes all of the coaches that were fired before him. Carlyle coached the Anaheim Ducks before coming to the Leafs.
Carlyle was the coach of the Ducks when they rebranded themselves, distancing themselves with the Disney film franchise that they were named for. He coached the team to the 2007 Stanley Cup beating the Ottawa Senators. But, when the team got older, changes to the core of the team, he was let go following the 2011-12 season, replaced by current head coach Bruce Boudreau.
The expectations being the Toronto Maple Leafs coach are high. They are a team that demands greatness, and have been dying for their team to hoist their 12th Stanley Cup, having not hoisted the trophy since 1967. Carlyle seemed like a coach that could get them back to the promised land. He was the coach during the 2012 playoffs that held a three-goal lead over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the opening round. Unfortunately, the Leafs had exerted all they could give, and eventually fell short, when Patrice Bergeron scored in overtime.
Last season, the Leafs faithful were hoping for a return to the playoffs, but Carlyle went 38-36-8, finishing sixth in the Atlantic Division and missing out on the playoffs. Carlyle only made the playoffs once.
Carlyle’s Leafs team were extremely helter-skelter. So much so that the media and the fans were wondering when Carlyle would be let go. When Brendan Shannahan took over, they were stunned that he did not make a coaching change. Paul McLean (Senators), Dallas Eakins (Edmonton), and Peter DeBoer (New Jersey) were all let go before the team made a change.
Yours truly made a prediction this season: The Leafs will make the playoffs, but Carlyle will not be the coach. I stand by it. The team has Tyler Bozak, James van Reimsdyk, Phil Kessel, Cody Franson, Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Mike Santorelli, Morgan Reilly, Jonathan Bernier, and more. The Leafs have the pieces in place to be a playoff team every year. What they desperately needed, since maybe the middle of LAST season, was a change in voice from the man leading them.
There comes a point when the team gives 110%, and their coach’s direction just is not the way to go forward. The team is either stagnant, or they are inconsistent. The longer you wait, when this happens, the tougher it is for the team to turn it around. The change has finally been made, and I believe that you will see a motivated and hungrier Leafs team.
Dan Bylsma (Former Penguins coach)
Paul McLean (Former Senators coach)
Dallas Eakins (Former Oilers coach)
Peter DeBoer (Former Devils coach)
Guy Boucher (Former Lightning coach)
Wayne Gretzky (Former Coyotes coach)
Kevin Dineen (Former Panthers coach, current Hawks assistant, won Gold for Canada Women’s Hockey)
Scoot Arniel (Manitoba Moose coach)
Joe Sacco (Former Avalanche coach)
Glen Gultzan (Former Stars coach)
Mike Folign0 (Former Carlyle assistant)