The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that Steve Spott and Peter Horachek have been appointed as Randy Carlyle’s new Assistant Coaches.

It’s interesting that Dave Nonis has said since the announcement that he is looking to reduce the media scrutiny on Randy  Carlyle and anticipates the two new assistant coaches doing more interviewing throughout the year than Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin did during their time here.

Steve Spott is a well spoken individual. He speaks in full sentences, directly and with candor. He has the communication skills of a good teacher, which was his profession prior to hockey. There doesn’t seem to be any ulterior meaning to any of what he says; he’s direct and honest. He seemed to develop a rapport with the Marlies team in quick order.

Steve Spott will definitely make a case for playing time for some of the Marlies who helped him earn this promotion. It’s doubtful he comes in without a few ideas of his own or that he simply meshes into the background knowing his personality.

Same goes for Horachek, who is well known for his outspokenness and passion. He’ll be bringing a little head coaching experience to the bench along with a long history as an assistant coach in Nashville under Barry Trotz. Most importantly, he’s bringing an outside voice and perspective.

From Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck, on Horacheck’s time in Nashville:

[quote_box_center]Peter Horachek did a little bit of everything, but during games I believe he usually coordinated the D pairings. Folks here love Horachek, he was very popular for being outspoken and passionate. His intermission interviews were required viewing…[/quote_box_center]

That was a successful defence in Nashville for many years under Trotz and Horachek.

There was an excellent breakdown in the Sun Sentinel about Horachek’s successes and failures in his brief interim role as head coach of the Panthers last season:



  1. Throw out the first two games of his tenure when he wasn’t able to conduct a full-blown practice to incorporate his systematic changes. Then discount the 7-15-1 post-Olympic break mark when injuries, especially to rookie phenom Aleksander Barkov, and the trading of several veterans, had his lineup consisting of mostly 10 rookies and AHLers, then Horachek’s record would’ve been 19-19-3.
  2. Under Horachek, forward Scottie Upshall, who was buried in Dineen’s doghouse because of injuries and an apparent personality conflict, thrived with a career-best 37 points while evolving as a team leader. Horachek’s handling of castoff defenseman Tom Gilbert (25 assists) and oft-injured forward Jesse Winchester (career-high 9 goals) also paid off in resurgent seasons. Veteran forward Sean Bergenheim, who was out for more than a year with injuries, finished strong with 16 goals in 62 games.
  3. Under Horachek the Panthers were instantly more organized skating in and out of their zones, as evident by their respectable 17th-place standing in scoring when at an even-strength 5-on-5.
  4. Horachek had the uncanny ability to motivate players via benchings at the right time and then get the most out of them. A prime example is when he sat veteran winger Brad Boyes on Dec. 8 for not pursuing the puck hard enough. Boyes came back strong and revitalized a stagnant career by leading the Panthers with 21 goals. Horachek and Boyes were also the primary reasons for Florida’s franchise-best 8-6 shootout mark. Horachek could’ve lost veteran center Scott Gomez after scratching him in 35 games, yet by the end of the season, played him in 17 straight games and often on the top line, while praising his leadership.
  5. The Panthers never quit as evident by their double-digit comebacks from two-goal deficits to at least tie before winning or losing. The Panthers had 78 goals in the third period, tied for ninth-most in the league.
  6. Horachek, who was largely responsible for developing Predators’ draft picks from 2003 to 2012, put several Panthers rookies and young players in positions to succeed, specifically Barkov (24 points in 54 games), Jimmy Hayes (11 goals), Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad (team-leading 38 points), Quinton Howden, Brandon Pirri (14 points in 21 games with Panthers) and to a lesser extent Vincent Trocheck.
  7. After a month on the job, the Panthers won 7-of-8 from Dec. 5-19, including two wins over the perennial playoff powerhouse Red Wings, and a 3-1 trip through Canada.




  1. The special teams were awful under Dineen and not much better under Horachek as both the power play and penalty kill finished a league-worst 30th. The power play was a franchise-worst 10 percent efficiency, while the PK was at 76 percent, second lowest in team history. That said, once Horachek put the 6-foot-6 Hayes in front of the net on the power play, the Panthers had 10 PPGs in their last 24 games, compared to 17 PPGs in their first 58 games.
  2. The poor starts continued under Horachek as the Panthers were 29th in the league in fewest goals for in the first period (45) and tied for 30th in most goals allowed (84) in the opening period. The Panthers were a league-worst 6-28-4 when trailing after one, but on a positive note were 15-0-1 when leading after two.
  3. The Panthers’ defense didn’t improve under Horachek until they reacquired goalie Roberto Luongo. They were ranked 29th in goals against (3.2 per game), but only allowed 2.46 with Luongo in net.
  4. The offense was ranked 29th overall (2.29 per game), but again, Horachek was coaching mostly rookies and AHLer over the final 23 games.
  5. No matter what line Horachek placed reigning Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau or veteran Tomas Fleischmann on, neither player could ever get untracked. Also, young defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov were maddening inconsistent while veteran blue-liner Brian Campbell seemed to lose interest once the playoffs were out of reach.


Also worth knowing re: Horachek:

Florida Pathers 5v5 Fenwick Close
Credit: @Hope_Smoke / Extra Skater

By going from three main assistants down to two, it would seem to suggest Leafs management is trying to reduce the amount of white noise in the room. Some of the info that leaked following the conclusion of exit interviews suggested that there were some mixed messages and perhaps too much variety in the voices in the dressing room.

It’s not even clear to Horacheck and Spott themselves yet what their individual responsibilities will be in terms of special teams, defence pairs and the like, so we’ll wait to hear more on that front.

We’ll also wait to hear who steps into the Marlies head coaching role. Do recall that there were rumblings of DJ Smith, former St. John Maple Leaf and current head coach of the Oshawa Generals, interviewing for the Marlies head coach job a month or so ago.

Steve Spott on the Assistant Coach nod

Dave Nonis on hiring Steve Spott and Peter Horachek as Assistant Coaches

Peter Horachek Post Games (Playlist)

Peter Horachek Coaching Record

1987-88Saginaw HawksIHLAssistant
1988-89Flint SpiritsIHLAssistant
1990-91Nashville KnightsECHLHead642931040.484Out of Playoffs
1991-92St. Thomas WildcatsCoHLHead602429700.458Lost in Finals
1992-93St. Thomas WildcatsCoHLHead602727060.5Lost in Finals
1993-94Flint GeneralsCoHLHead643223900.57Lost in round 2
1994-95Flint GeneralsCoHLHead743434600.5Lost in round 1
1995-96Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1996-97Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1997-98Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1998-99Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1999-00Orlando Solar BearsIHLHead8247230120.646Lost in round 2
Jan-00Orlando Solar BearsIHLHead824728070.616Won Championship
Feb-01Trenton TitansECHLHead7246160100.708Lost in round 3
Mar-02Milwaukee AdmiralsAHLHead8032271470.531Lost in round 1
Apr-03Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Jun-05Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Jul-06Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Aug-07Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Sep-08Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Oct-09Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Nov-10Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Dec-11Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2012-13Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2013-14Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2013-14San Antonio RampageAHLHead763037090.454Out of Playoffs
2013-14Florida PanthersNHLHead*
Peter Horachek Coaching Record