Decision on Randy Carlyle coming soon

Decision on Randy Carlyle coming soon

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According to Damien Cox, the decision on the futures of Randy Carlyle and his staff is expected to arrive sometime this week as Brendan Shanahan is on the verge of his first big decision(s) as Maple Leafs President.

Shanahan wasn’t going to begin clear cutting in haste without a thorough evaluation, top to bottom, of the organization he’s newly seized the reigns of. Indeed, as expected, he was seen meeting with many Leafs players in various spots throughout the city before they took off to their off-season locales. He’s also worked his way through the management and coaching staffs and took some days off to recover from a knee operation.

The vast majority of us cannot see a way bringing Randy Carlyle back could be justified. If the reports are to be believed the Leafs were – still are, one imagines, until Sharks ownership agrees with Doug Wilson and deems him safe – very interested in Todd McLellan after Pete DeBoer before him, so surely now it’s just a matter of time.

Many a novel have been written about the issues Carlyle created himself or failed to resolve. 84 points with 29 ROW, record-setting shots against totals, bottom five status on the PK and in goals against, this team handily underperformed relative to its talent level in a mostly-mediocre Conference, and the few things that kept it afloat throughout much of the year – great goaltending, Kessel and JvR’s big offensive years, a good PP – were all things that can’t really be credited in any serious way to Randy Carlyle’s coaching performance.

Worse yet, all three of those lifesavers deteriorated down the stretch and Carlyle owns some responsibility for that, too. Bernier was ridden hard in his first year as a starter, allowed (or, rather, given the option) to play hurt in Los Angeles, and Reimer was barely mixed into the rotation in the middle part of the season; Kessel and JvR were similarly ridden like rented mules while Carlyle routinely played forwards under 5 minutes, or didn’t dress a 12th at all. The Leafs have lost their 2nd round pick at the draft next month in order to barely use Peter Holland in more than a few of the games he played.

While Holland is a promising piece, let’s not forget part of the reason Holland was acquired in the first place was due to the discarding of Joe Colborne after a poor training camp, while Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr continued to occupy roster space. Ideally, the Leafs would’ve had both to provide some depth in the form of young centers with upside, Holland never would’ve had to have hit the threshold of games, and McClement wouldn’t have played so many minutes.

If Nikolai Kulemin walks this summer, a distinct possibility given reports of his desire to reunite with Mikhail Grabovski, Carlyle’s deployment and treatment of MacArthur (scratched in the playoffs) and Grabovski (we all know the story here) ensures that one of the best lines in hockey from 2010-11 may well end up entirely gone from the organization with the net return of exactly negative one compliance buyout.

Nonis owns a bigger share of all of this, given he is – or was – the ultimate decision maker. Among this litany of dubious asset management there’s also little doubt Carlyle and his version of roster management has been a chief actor. We can debate the ins and outs and order of things in each one of the above points as subjects of their own, but it’s difficult to argue with the general conclusions that a) the results have not been there in the short term, and b) he has waged damage to this organization long term and must be prevented from further turning any dials.

It’s possible Leaf management decides that, with two coaches with long track records of success in Wilson and Carlyle failing to get improved results out of this squad (especially defensively), it’s time to stop scapegoating the coach and instead opt for a serious personnel overhaul. Maybe we’ll just see a replacement of his assistants. That is to ignore a damning body of work by Carlyle, any way you slice it.

In the meantime we wait.

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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]