Nonis’ expectations, an “exhaustive” Carlyle review

Nonis’ expectations, an “exhaustive” Carlyle review

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Have the goal posts started to shift?

Listen here:


VS.

For those that didn’t want to listen through the full Dreger segment, here’s a quote: “Nonis told the board that there could be another tough year or two ahead.”

Now, this is either intentional PR face saving (i.e.  spin courtesy of the ‘cous) or at best Dreger malarkey.

The simplest example: Does Nonis sign Clarkson in the first place, let alone commit 5.25 mill/year for 7 years, under the pretence that he was “worried about Year 1” if the real idea was that he would be a part of an ongoing rebuild?  If the thinking wasn’t playoffs and beyond, or why the Leafs didn’t get the job done against Boston in round 1?

This could be a preview of what’s to come in terms of management’s approach to responding to the recent mess. “We’re in the long game,” which to be clear isn’t totally devoid of merit, but let’s not for a second take what this season has turned into as anything short of a failure for which management must be accountable, for which a few heads should roll and some big changes considered.

What I’ll give Nonis, in terms of my patience, is that he has a collection of still-fairly young forwards — all prime aged — two promising up-and-comers on the blueline (along with some promising prospects for a little further down the road), and a young goaltender of the future in Jonathan Bernier. There’s some pieces here and he can make the argument he’s been a significant part (having been in management since December of 2008) of assembling a nucleus of good, young-ish talent, even if he is going to have to get damn creative to continue to add to/redefine the core with limited cap flexibility this off season.

Another thing Dreger mentioned as far as a coaching change wasn’t that it was expected or even probable, but that there will be an “exhaustive review” of Carlyle’s performance as head coach of the Leafs this season.

Let’s do a five-point, brass tax version of what that review should reveal:

  1. The team took a step back from fifth place in the East to non playoff team over a larger sample size this season.
  2. Team underwent two epic collapses, one in the span of 11 minutes in game 7 last May and one in the span of 8 games this March, under his leadership.
  3. Carlyle’s philosophies were described (hilarious now in hindsight) as defence first. He’s had essentially two full seasons with the roster and the team is breaking records for shots against and is 26th in goals against. And while it’s fallen off along with pretty much everything else in the last 8 games, he has received top-10 goaltending (.914).
  4. Special teams: the penalty kill, an accomplishment Randy could hang the hat on last season, has fallen off immensely from 2nd to 28th. The PP has improved from 14th to 4th, but has fallen off when needed down the stretch and also wears the dubious distinction of allowing the second-most shorthanded goals in the League (which I’d attribute to the choices in defence pair-ups). Do we give a checkmark for sustained success on the powerplay in terms of the overall conversion rate, though? Yes (Keep in mind it runs through a top-3 goal and point producer since 2011).
  5. The team’s offence has fallen off from 6th to 12th, despite Kessel/JvR/Bozak’s great seasons, as secondary scoring has taken a significant hit this season. (The Leafs are where they are in this category because of their top line, and “ride one of the league’s best lines like a rented mule, at the cost or without much success in terms of defensive system buy in” doesn’t really seem like a coaching masterstroke).

Now, the stuff outside the brackets is a simple listing of  objective information about the team’s performance under Carlyle this season. We could get into a whole slew of more opinionated stuff like lineup management (wearing down line 1, failure to use a 4th line to the detriment of the likes of D’Amigo, Holland, Ashton), his systems,  individual player deployment/usage, the fact that this is more of “his” lineup with Grabovski/MacArthur jettisoned and the Bolland/Clarkson adds, but we’ll stick to this for now.

The thing is, if the Leafs are to aspire to the gold standard of the San Jose’s and St. Louis’ of the world — very deep teams in all areas with mobile defences and fast, aggressive forwards who can forecheck, cycle, sustain possession  - the roster is going to have to change in  few significant ways, too. That’s the type of team Carlyle wants, but he can’t be the only one to see the way the dominant teams of the League play the game and aspire to a similar goal.  It’s pretty difficult to imagine how an exhaustive review reveals much if any evidence of good coaching or a harbinger of good things to come. The Leafs are clearly punching below their weight.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
739 comments
Uncle Otis
Uncle Otis

Who does Randy dress to feed McGratton tonight?

If nobody,sure hope SuperDave doesn't throw on the cape and hop the bench

#splat

Bruffins
Bruffins

anybody else excited to see the comments on here if we are losing early?

The_Polish_Cannon
The_Polish_Cannon

This is a quote from an article in 2011 titled Should The Ducks Fire Coach Randy Carlyle?

"Something isn't clicking. The team looks depressed and confused. The entire system appears out of sorts, and the weaknesses of the team that stormed into the playoffs last year have become utter cruxes which have been so far insurmountable." 

sounds familiar 

mcloki
mcloki

Kipper says Trotz might be available as a coach? 

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

so just gonna fire it out there...we do an annual playoff hockey pool for my son- in pic with Phil Kessel...its 10$ an entry and goes towards his Cerebral Palsy needs. with my soccer buddies ill be creating them soon ...not a draft pool.  if interested let me know guys!

mlclearwater
mlclearwater

I'm now officially more excited for the AHL Playoffs than the NHL ones, Leafs Fan

mlclearwater
mlclearwater

Maybe Toronto should get a 2nd hockey team, ours keeps sucking

PEIleafnation
PEIleafnation

earlier today there was a post that the leafs messed or tampered on Clarkso deal...was that april fools? or?

Cloud09
Cloud09

@Bruffins  People still have hope?? Win or loss the Leafs are done like dinner.  

Leafs rule
Leafs rule

@mlclearwater more excited for the AHL   Yea go marlies ,The brolldozer and biggs will make it lots of fun to watch

lister
lister

@Murph2417   Check the date. Of course I think planking should be an April Fool's joke too. Kids nowadays! "GET OFF MY LAWN!!" :-p

Bruffins
Bruffins

@PEIleafnation  

we have the option of losing our 1st pick this year or next. Nonis will decide at the end of the year

mcloki
mcloki

@Gilbey93 @mcloki  And he mentioned Babcock as a possible. That would be very interesting indeed.

mcloki
mcloki

@JMAC17 @mcloki  Could be his contract is up . He's been there forever. Bring Weber with ya.

Bruffins
Bruffins

@4evrblue @wiski  

he probably got a ton of followers with his first Leafs tweet and now he thinks he has to be funny

ingy56
ingy56

@mcloki @ingy56 @Gilbey93  Yeah, total longshot. I really like Doug Armstrong as a GM too. Funny thing is both were available not too long ago. I remember Armstrong's name being mentioned before they hired Burke but was dismissed as being not "sexy" enough of a profile for Toronto. Hitch was sitting around Columbus being paid as an advisor after getting fired there as coach. Meanwhile we were wallowing with Wilson.