Sticking by the wrong guy

Sticking by the wrong guy

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Well, folks, there we have it. Another bizarre chapter in Leafs history was penned today as it was officially announced Randy Carlyle is staying on a Leafs head coach despite all basic logic suggesting otherwise. And he’s not only staying, but receiving the vote of confidence and financial reward of a two-year contract extension for his accomplishments presence behind the bench.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Taking the fall, at least among the non-player personnel, are the remaining holdovers from the Ron Wilson era, assistant coaches Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin, as well as Carlyle hire Dave Farrish. In their place there will be an assistant with some head coaching experience hired, if we were to guess, who will be ready to take over the team at a moment’s notice. While it’s telling in the symbolic sense,  the extension itself doesn’t mean all that much given it’s likely Randy will be fired inside a month if next season starts poorly. What is gravely concerning is this:

  • Carlyle will continue to have input on roster decisions this summer as Nonis continues to try to mould the team in his image (think about McClement, Bolland free agent situations).
  • Carlyle, according to Nonis, will be involved in the hiring process of his new assistants, meaning the guy likely to replace Carlyle if the season starts badly is someone Carlyle helped pick.

Just like that, any promise we felt from Brendan Shanahan’s initial press conference, where he looked to be coming in with carte blanche to fix what ails this team, where he seemed to bring new ideas and some fresh perspective, has been zapped by this decision to stay the course behind the bench. And it was announced in a press conference that imbued considerably less optimism. Just like how Carlyle went under the hood during the Olympic Break to fix the defensive issues and came up with apparently nothing for a solution, Leafs brass has been meeting for the last couple of weeks and there was not a serious answer (not even in a general, not-getting-into-specifics sort of way) mustered by Nonis or Carlyle as to what happened, why it happened and how it’s going to change offered in today’s press conference.

Is this Tim Leiweke’s idea of culture change? There is a valid point to be made that letting the players off the hook entirely doesn’t beget a culture change, but how does hiring a guy to okay a decision to hold onto the head coach who was out of ideas (by his own admission), or having the GM justify an absurd contract renewal because of Carlyle’s Cup ring in Anaheim (Nonis mentioned it in the press conference) inspire such accountability? There was need for change on both fronts, of which Carlyle needed to be a part. It’s pretty clear to anyone reading between the lines that Leafs management is trying to hold the players accountable by refusing another fire and hire at the head coaching position, but talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face, metaphorically speaking. They’re sticking by the wrong guy.

Again, we’ll repeat: There’s talent here. There’s a good young core. There was a chance to course-correct what went wrong last season with the right coach and the right few personnel moves (which Anthony Petrielli has begun breaking down). Instead, Shanahan, Nonis and co. have doubled down on the man with no answers. The 3-line coach in a 4-line league (Carlyle was asked in the presser what happened down the stretch and he suggested the team was “just gassed”) with the remedial defensive system that sets embarrassing records for shots against to the point where even its great goaltending can’t keep the team out of the bottom five in goals against. The coach who hasn’t allowed the youth who show promise the minutes or opportunity to really make a difference. The coach that has been corrosive in this organization’s attempts to manage its assets properly.

Dave Nonis and Brendan Shanahan have decided that the image Carlyle describes for his team, an up-tempo team that can cycle, is what they want and they will continue iterating the personnel to make it happen. Anyone who has been watching hockey with a passing interest for past few seasons can identify this. It doesn’t make him a good coach if there isn’t an ability to properly deploy his lineup, to actually maximize what’s here, and to take steps toward achieving those end goals.

Were we naive for thinking it might have played out any differently?

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]
2314 comments
Darkwatcher
Darkwatcher

Gotta respect Shanahan's approach.  You can't assess all your resources in a few weeks.  Shanny needs to see exactly what  Nonis,Carlyle and the players can do for half a season at least. Besides the kind of GM, coach star players that would want to be with the the Leafs right now are not the kind of GM, coach or players we need.  Six months from now we should know.

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

In my best attempt to explain the anger at Carlyle coming back,
it's that with how embarrassing the team finished off the season,
and, let's be serious, with the way they have been playing for the past two years,
i simply resolved "well, it's good that they're playing like this, because now we can get fire Randy".

So, when news came in that Randy was back, it just made the whole past two years utterly - 
especially the end of last season - a waste. Ultimately, we were a playoff team that didn't make the playoffs.

Now, i understand that RC can at least manage the roster better next year, with or without his system,
but it seems like we're just throwing a whole 'nother year away...

I honestly don't care who the coach is, what his system is, who the players are...
i just wanted to watch playoff hockey in Toronto. Now, i have serious doubts that we can
get to the dance again next year...

ShiFty_D
ShiFty_D

Did I hear correctly Canada lost to France in a S.O. earlier today?

mike_84
mike_84

Jerry D 3rd line or 4th line next year?

Cameron19
Cameron19

I don't think Shanahan should allow Carlyle and Nonis to dictate the trading of Kadri and Gardiner. It seems like we're almost certainly heading for a tear down after next season, and I would prefer the next GM be in charge of that.  Unless there is a sure fire home run to be made, Nonis should have a short leash on our big assets. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Darkwatcher  I predict that the team will have a decent start, but most of the problems will persist. This time, before the deadline Shanahan will step in and force Nonis to fire Carlyle (one of the assistants will take over as interim coach), and tell him to sell off assets at the deadline. So Bozak, Lupul and Gunnarsson will go at that point, plus anyone else of reasonable value on an expiring deal heading to UFA. After the season is over, Nonis will be let go, and Shanahan will bring in the GM/coach combo he wants. The new GM's first order of business will be making decisions on Kessel, Phaneuf and Kadri, and what to do with the assistant coaches. 

mike_84
mike_84

@Yan28  They have us drafting Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Ritchie, Nikolaj Ehlers.

RandomScrub
RandomScrub

@wiski  1st pick (Seguin), 1st pick (Hamilton), 2nd pick (Knight)

Cameron19
Cameron19

@wiski @Reversethecurse13  Like reversethecurse just said, we aren't throwing it away in that we will tank - we're throwing it away to be mediocre. 

ShiFty_D
ShiFty_D

@wiski @Reversethecurse13       Yeah but the Leafs would end up tanking the same way the Raptors did this year. By making the playoffs. LOL

Reversethecurse13
Reversethecurse13

@wiski @Reversethecurse13  yea, the draft is supposed to be very good. But i think this team is too good to properly bottom out, even with Carlyle. Maybe if Kessel or Phaneuf were injured, it could happen.

My two-bit prediction:
1. Leafs start out well, and either sneak into the playoffs or just miss out.
2. They start the year off horribly, Carlyle gone by the all-star break, the team becomes rejuvenated and gets close to the playoffs.

I just do not see a scenario where we even come close to the bottom 5. Look at where our stars took this team this year in spite of the system...Next year we'll probably fix the bottom six and other issues (like Franson/Ph9 on the same PP)

loomx
loomx

@wiski @Cameron19  If had to pick a big fish that the Leafs want to make a statement with that they're after, I look at Eric Staal. I think he's the guy they're looking at.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@wiski @Cameron19  What players though? Spezza? Yuck. Or worse, salary dumps. P.A. Parenteau to the rescue. 

Jordan29
Jordan29

@[BBirde] @wiski  ya knight, the guy who everyone bitched about and is now 22 doing fuck all in the AHL. We have too many of them

mike_84
mike_84

@Chris Jay @mike_84  Holland won't get a shot if Bozak Kadri and Bolland are still here.unless they move him to the wing

loomx
loomx

@wiski @loomx @Cameron19  Considering other teams would be interested, I think that's what it would take. Edmonton would be interested and would likely offer Eberle+ right away. We get a #1C without giving up our top player or our top prospect.

loomx
loomx

@wiski @loomx @Cameron19  If I was the Hurricanes I'd be asking for Rielly+. Realistically, I think Kadri+Gardiner+8th could get use close.

ShiFty_D
ShiFty_D

@wiski @ShiftyD@Cameron19No you were right as far as I can recall. He hasn't changed his stance on trading youth for vets that I heard him speak to.

ShiFty_D
ShiFty_D

@wiski @Cameron19  Yes, he stayed consistent there. One change was that he acknowledged there may be some Veteran Free Agents that may interest them and by veteran he indeed meant older and it didn't seem like he meant 29-30 the way he put it.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @loomx @Cameron19  "Much less the best two way player ever to don a blue and white uniform" Where did I say this. I said he was our best two-way centre. You think Kadri and Bozak are better? Not even close. Grabovski was just as good defensively when he played an offensive role. lol you think it's one and not the either? When he was producing points, he forgot how to play defense? and vice versa?

NotSince67
NotSince67

@leafersutherland @loomx @Cameron19  And in Clarkson's defense he's not as bad as he was last year, but he's not as good as he was in NJ. He's somewhere in the middle and I think we can all expect a better season from him.

NotSince67
NotSince67

@leafersutherland @loomx @Cameron19  In all honesty, Grabo isn't a BAD player, but realistically how much different is he than Kadri in his skillsets, disregarding that Grabo is more polished and has more NHL service time. It's not the mix we needed. We needed a #2 centre with more emphasis on two way skill than offense and puck distribution.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @loomx @Cameron19  So we're just ignoring his 144 points in 214 last year and the two season before the 48 game season? Nice to see a GM make such a knee-jerk reaction based on 48 games,


....and then bring in Clarkson.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @Cameron19  Really? 5.25 for 7 years for dead weight is better than 4.25 for 5 years for dead weight?


Nonis isn't responsible for not addressing the defense, and instead bringing in Raymond, Clarkson, another goalie, and buying out our best two-way centreman?

RandomScrub
RandomScrub

@leafersutherland @[BBirde] @wiski  I like Kessel but that stat is a little unfair. Seguin was on fire this year playing in a role that allowed him success. Hamilton is a defenseman so you can't expect him to put up crazy points. Personally that trade was fair in all aspects. I like what we got and Boston seems to be doing fine with what they got. 

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @loomx @Loric76 @Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski @Cameron19  The Blackhawks were Maple Leaf bad though at one point. To the point where they almost folded. But the got smart, and built a good team. There's not reason to not expect that from the richest franchise in the league who can outspend anyone for coaching, drafting, and management.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @loomx @Loric76 @Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski @Cameron19  lol everybody keeps bringing this up. You need both high drafting and smart trades to build a good team. Oilers haven't made smart trades. Leafs haven't done either. Chicago drafted high, drafted smart, and made good trades and signings. You need all three. Leafs failed to do step one when they were at their worst.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @Loric76 @loomx @Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski @Cameron19  How am I a revisionist. Every body and their uncle could see that the Leafs were going to be bad for a while until they got good. If the Leafs were going to finish in or just outside the playoffs, then it would've been a good trade. It didn't take much foresight to see that just was not the case.

loomx
loomx

@leafersutherland @loomx @Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski  And look how that paid off. By the team this team is going to be good(I mean good good, not 48 game good), having Seguin, Hamilton, and Saad(even without Saad) would be better than having just Kessel. I like Kessel, I want him on this team, but that doesn't mean we didn't get fleeced and that Burke completely misjudged where his team was at.


@Cameron19 True. I have zero faith that management would have drafted Saad. But if we're living under that assumption, then just trade all our picks because then we can turn around and say "well we probably wouldn't have drafted that guy". sighhh

Cameron19
Cameron19

@loomx @leafersutherland @Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski  That's all a moot point anyways when you start including Saad into the equation. With our scouting team, we never would have drafted him anyways. We can't even be sure we would have landed Seguin. We might have got Hall, or Gudbranson. 

loomx
loomx

@Jordan29 @[BBirde] @wiski  Yeah Knight, the guy who was picked with a pick that we got from Chicago for a pick that turned out to be Brandon Saad.