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?

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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]
  • Cameron19

    Is this really happening????

  • whalz

    What a joke. I guess we all will have to be patient and hope a trade or two can change the culture as out coaches philosophy isn’t going to change.

  • whalz

    The question I see is why did Nonis extend him. He could see the team failung and the system not working aswell as the coach not playing the right players.
    Ugggggh
    We are in for a long season

  • MaxwellHowe

    Oh Alec, the “Carlyle is Toast” headline will have to wait until the fall

  • Ydargo

    Extension is just a severance package for Randy

  • DWCMLHS

    Wow. The Nonis interview right now is unbelievably painful. He is a blithering idiot. More so than I had ever imagined, even after the Grabovski buy-out and Clarkson signing.

  • whalz

    If Nonis resigns Bolland for anything over 3.5ml for 3 yrs I’m fkn done with team.

  • whalz

    Garbage, looks like he had his blue and white goggles on.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    MaxwellHowe  “Carlyie is mouldy old toast that got thrown out way too late” doesn’t have the same ring

  • MaxwellHowe

    Like I say, I think the Leafs have decided to go full Costanza 180 vis a vis the fans.  Most of us wanted Clarkson. Fail.  Most wanted to let Bozie walk.  He played fine.  Few thought much of acquiring Bernier.  He was great.

    So now the Leafs mgt. are going to glean the mood of the fans – and do the opposite of the general consensus.

    Who knows? In 2 years this might look like genius.  But I doubt it.

  • whalz

    Next announcement;
    Leafs sign Ron Wilson as an asst. coach p

  • MaxwellHowe

    Alec Brownscombe MaxwellHowe The headline will be “Told you so, morons.  Told you so.”

  • MaxwellHowe

    Ydargo pay for the team of therapists he will require

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/Hope_Smoke https://twitter.com/Hope_Smoke/status/464523218066210816
    Nonis “we felt we needed to change the mix, get some different defensive schemes and new relationships with players”

  • cryptotho

    FUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

  • cryptotho

    WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYY

  • whalz

    Is Farrish gone?

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy pure genuis

  • DWCMLHS

    This can’t be real. Has to be some sort of sick joke.

  • whalz

    Perfect, didn’t he look after the d?

  • whalz

    I hope Oates or Mueller come in as asst coaches or Atleast an up and coming ahl head coach.

  • ShiftyD

    Hahahahahaha I told you guys it wasn’t  a given that he was gone. At least the Wilson hold overs are gone. Too many of the same guys whose fingerprints are on this mess are still employed. JOKE

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    DWCMLHS  
    I keep on thinking that Nonis is some sort of idiot savant and will pull off some brilliant move, but in reality he’s going to undo any good Burke did here and sewer this franchise. 
    Can’t wait until he adds some more shitty players and improperly identifies talent on the team.

  • ShiftyD

    Also sorry, didn’t mean to be that guy. I just heard this on the radio on my way back from work and it was either laughter or tears. I went with laughter

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    ShiftyD  Everyone disagreed with you because a Chimp could properly understand that the Coach was fucking the team up that should be in the playoffs right now and tearing up a weak Eastern Conference.

  • MaxwellHowe

    DeclanK DWCMLHS not an idiot savant. just an idiot

  • cryptotho

    maybe this is a calculated maneuver to get lottery picks for the next 2-3 years…

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    MaxwellHowe DeclanK DWCMLHS Left the door a wee bit. Fuck this is bad.

  • ShiftyD

    DeclanK ShiftyD   Don’t get me wrong. I’m not happy about it. I just had a feeling the guys in charge would rather fiddle while Rome burns. These guys do not remotely see in this team what we do. That is for certain

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Going to go over to TSN and read some comments. Wish me luck. Keep the eyewash center free for when I come back.

  • ShiftyD

    So does this mean we might as well say good bye to Naz and Gards then?

  • http://theNHLarena.com/ leafersutherland

    I figured this wouldn’t be a popular decision among you guys… and while I would never have guessed this outcome, I believe this sends the right message. 

    Kudos to Shanahan for not making this about him and making a decision that may not earn him immediate accolades.

    Kudos to Dave Nonis for showing the type of patience and calmness he has built his reputation around.

    And Kudos to the Leafs for succeeding where the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals are failing… by giving their inexperienced stars stability with their head coach and not setting back their development with a rotating cast of AHL retreads.

    It is very easy for us fans to break down stats to support the idea that Randy Carlyle got stupid overnight. But what we really need to focus our attention on his how to give our young players the courage needed when facing adversity to hammer the final nail in a team like Boston’s over a 7 game series.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    leafersutherland  He didn’t get stupid overnight, he was never a good coach to begin with.

  • ShiftyD

    They sure are putting a lot of stock in the 48 games season and being in a playoff position in January. Underlying play be damned

  • Burtonboy

    ShiftyD  Sure didn’t sound like it from what Nonis was saying in the Fan. You don’t just give up on young talent because they make a few mistakes.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    ShiftyD  Anything is possible.

  • daniel marois

    Simmons and Feshuk are at each other’s throat right now on TSN Drive….

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ DeclanK

    Burtonboy ShiftyD  It was also a foregone conclusion that Carlyle was gone. Look where that got us.

  • BingoDabber

    Unfortunately, this post is 100% correct.

    It’s almost hard to believe how stupid this team can be some times. You almost assume it’s not possible for them to be, only to be proven wrong, time and again.

  • Gozo

    They kept him for a reason. Who can run a team with only three lines?

  • http://theNHLarena.com/ leafersutherland

    DeclanK leafersutherland  Yeah, just like Ron Wilson before him. And yet, between the two of them, over 2000 NHL games under their belts. Quite impressive for two morons that can’t coach in this league.

  • ShiftyD

    Burtonboy ShiftyD  I haven’t listened to it yet but that wasn’t what I was getting at. Has me wondering who are they moving to bring in the big pieces that are missing? Or are they. I think these guys (running this team) are…….well……..fucked to be brutally honest.

  • Burtonboy

    DeclanK Burtonboy ShiftyD  Lets see what he does with the line up this summer. That will tell the true tale .

  • DWCMLHS

    You can’t just “compete harder” or “change the culture”. That’s not how you win in the NHL. Toughness doesn’t win games. Good hockey players, when used properly by their coach, do.
    Anyone who thinks players aren’t “competing” is a fucking dunce. These guys worked their asses off their whole lives. You’re not born with NHL-caliber talent. All players want to win. Some may appear to try harder than others, but that’s a stylistic thing. Players have to play to their strengths.

  • ShiftyD

    Gozo    The Randy man can. The Randy man can

  • http://theNHLarena.com/ leafersutherland

    Willing to bet money that both Kadri and Gards will be Leafs next season.

  • Burtonboy

    ShiftyD Burtonboy  Could be . We are gonna find out one way or another.

  • ShiftyD

    Burtonboy ShiftyD  I don’t have another 47 years my friend LOL

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Burtonboy ShiftyD  I don’t think Carlyle dislikes either player. I really really don’t like Carlyle but I’m not sure there was a tonne of basis for those narratives this season.
    Then again, I’m a little tired of giving anyone associated with this organization any form of benefit of the doubt.

  • Burtonboy

    leafersutherland  I agree .