After weeks of speculation, several losing streaks and inconsistencies at both ends of the ice, Leafs GM Dave Nonis has sacked head Coach Randy Carlyle. The decision came in the midst of a massive road trip for the Leafs in which they lost five of seven games.
Nonis made the decision Tuesday and hopes it will help stop the slide down the standings while his team still hold a playoff position. The Leaf’s currently hold eighth in the Eastern Conference standings but the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers are both within striking distance.
Something had to be done in order to shake this team up and try to get them back on track. However, firing the coach may have more of a negative effect in this case. Now the players have to re-adjust and learn a new style of play as Assistants Peter Horachek and Steve Spot take over. If anything, this move could knock them out of a playoff spot instead of keep them in.
Yes, Carlyle has to take some of the blame for his team’s recent results, but the players and Nonis have to take some responsibility as well. Nonis has put this team and himself in a nearly impossible situation.
The expensive, lengthy contracts that were given to Leaf’s Captain Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, and David Clarkson have made it very difficult to trade players and improve the roster. The Leaf’s are in desperate need of some stronger defensemen and some more consistent secondary scoring options. But because of these contracts, trades cannot be made. The only good thing Nonis has done so far this season is bring in forward Mike Santorelli. So I’m quite surprised that he still has his job.
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Players have failed to step up
Phaneuf has been average at best in the defensive zone throughout the first half of the season. He only has two goals to his name this season and only recorded one shot in the Leafs' 5-1 loss to Winnipeg. Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner have been sloppy and undisciplined. This team has blown two three goal leads in recent weeks and have got blown out on several occasions. That isn’t due to one coach’s tactics, that’s due to some players being lazy, making poor decisions and lacking the desire to compete and win games.
Regardless, the quest of finding a new head Coach for this team has begun and Carlyle becomes the fourth coach to be fired this season. That being said, Pete Deboer, who recently lost his job in New Jersey is said to be a consideration for the job. Other notable options would be Dallas Eakins, Paul Maclean or John Tortorella. I would love to see Tortorella come in and try and wake up Phaneuf and get him shooting the puck more. Tort’s no nonsense attitude is just what this team needs to snap out of this slump. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with this team in the next few days.