Decision on Randy Carlyle coming soon

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle talks with his team during the practice at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence January 15 2013 DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR

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, 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]
  • MLHS_Luke

    The decision on weather or not I watch the Leafs next season is coming soon..

  • Great Dane

    If they keep Nonis, keep  Carlyle and keep most of the players, what is the purpose of bringing in shanahan.

    The message from Shanahan most be loud and clear: Fire Carlyle and trade at least one or two 2 core players. That would include the captain – as much as I like him on the Leafs

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    I have to disagree Alec. Naturally I respect your opinions and they are valid but I honestly think its time to settle down and stop this merry go round of trainer changes when 1 bad season happens. By that token we should get rid of the entire team.
    Carlyle is a stanley cup winning coach, simple as. The difference between Anaheim and here is that Anaheim has adequate management and an eye for players and prospects.
    After Wilsons departure we see the players put in place for a long reign of Wilson (as dictated by his extension) come into the fould. Wilson gone and now the “change of style” coach has players that no longer fit. Is that Carlyles fault. I dont think so.
    As far as Im concerned the issue is this.
    Like you said the fantastic Grabbo Kuli and McArthur line was destroyed and we paid for the destruction. As far as Im concerned even an imbecile would attempt to get a bag of pucks for that, not pay for the privilege.
    A third/second line player on a NJ team catapulted to the first line due to the exodus and the inevitable Zajac injury meant knee jerk Nonis overpays for a plug. (for those who dont get it its Clarkson).
    Due to zero ability to chose players that havent as yet been in all the newspapers Nonis was unable to spot an up and coming dman, not affording or willing to trade for a decent stay at home guy he opts to let 2 young, defensively unaware (natural they are young and still learning) man the top two defensive pairing. He carries on giving all the minutes to Phaneuf, over working him. Now many would say that is Carlyles fault – he allocates minutes. But he can hardly be blamed when experienced players liek Liles are dumped, Kostka thrown away, Holzers development retarded (thats stopped not mentally non-proficient) Fraser thrown away. What is the option? Give more PK minutes to Gardiner? Throw Rielly to the lions?
    Letting Kamorov walk back to the KHL for a measly extra million on what we were prepared to give him is bordering on plane stupid and mental illness. Prepared to throw over an extra million on Clarkson on what hes worth and take it off Komorov so they fit under the cap is mental.
    Now had Nonis signed Komarov for 2 million and told Carlyle to put Gardiner on the wing for a year, then even the signing of Clarkson and the wash that is Bolland (this one not Nonis fault) I believe over 82 games we would be in the playoffs and probably still in it.
    Its been obvious to everyone that a No1 center and stay at home guy is paramount to any sort of success. This is Nonis job. Carlyle cannot be expected to polish a turd in the hope elbow grease turns shit into diamonds.
    My take.
    Carlyle stays
    Nonis is shown the door, laughed at and have cake thrown at his fat dinner munching face as he leaves the building. All Nonis managed to do all year was sit in the press box, dream of the after match meal with dignitaries and have a fat and carb induced heart scare. All at the expense of our passion for the game and our team.

  • Zep2

    Thanks Alec . Good early morning reading after which the choice seems simple, fire Carlyle

    Unless Shanahan thinks after his interviews decides its a leader ship or character issue

    If thats the case ,Lupul or Dion could be sent packing, perhaps to Florida for their #1 

    Ive been solidly on the fence re Dion, but leadership goes beyond  turning up the volume on the Boombox.

  • Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs

    Im staying in the keep Carlyle camp. It doesnt mean I would respect Shanahans decision should he fire him. That totally depends on whether Carlyle fits into Shanahans idea of how hockey should be played OR if he fits the transition between the lacklustre way we play now and the end goal. I really dont think its fair that Carlyle is sacked for not having the players that suit his style to do what is asked of him.
    Everyone seems to shit on Carlyle but he is infinitely more decorated than any of the Leafs the past 40 odd years and do we really have the right to say hes wrong.
    What is wrong is the knee jerk reaction to sack coach to save the GMs face in the eyes of the media. It seems we have a plan but the press and the fan base continually force the hand of team management to make changes when the job is only half done. We were all expecting a transition period when Burke took over BUT he was unceremoniously dumped because he didnt bring play off hockey during the early years of transition. So what do we do – blow up the ship. 
    Is it our fault, hell no. We have a right to criticise, we pay the wages. The fault lies with ownership in being so weak minded and lilly livered that they cant hire a guy with an opinion. A guy with strength who can handle the pressure and face up to the press, They sacked that guy and replaced him with a puppet.

  • Zep2

    Zeus_WilliamMapleLeafs Zep2  
    Shanahan has too make a decision on what caused the 14 game collapse

    Did the players quit on Randy, or did Randy ride too small a group until they collapsed

    Bolland / Bozak  Back to back injuries put enormous pressures on this team. 
    The team played about 16% of their games with the centres they broke camp with

  • peterbleafs

    First off I want to make one point clear, I do not want to go to work!!!!  Okay next, the last several years we have watched really dumb coaching, roster and positioning decisions all the way through the lineup.  It was stunningly consistent in the on ice presentation.  Therefore, fire BOTH Nonis and Carlyle.  And then watch Phaneuf scamper frantically, in the sights of your high powered trade rifle.

  • Loric76

    Well happy fucking Tuesday morning to you too Alec.  You’re spot on with the article but there’s no need for this much doom and gloom first thing in the morning lol.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Poor Alec, just waiting with the “Carlyle is TOAST” headline in his back pocket.

  • Uncle Otis

    haha..Alec’s “hating” on Randy again
    I love how we can’t give Randy ANY credit for the three amigos he’s points out as having won games,but we can BLAME him for their failure during the stretch run. The fact he helped transform JVR’s game/net presence doesn’t count I guess.
    According to our boards,Randy must be the worst coach in the history of our franchise.
    Bring back Mike Nykoluk