Toronto Maple Leafs: Randy Carlyle Fired as Head Coach


Toronto Maple Leafs: Randy Carlyle Fired as Head Coach

After Team Canada set off fireworks at the Air Canada Centre Monday night following their Gold Medal victory over Russia, the Toronto Maple Leafs set off their own fireworks this morning. The Leafs announced that Head Coach Randy Carlyle was relieved of his coaching duties and that Peter Horachek and Steve Spott would handle the coaching duties Wednesday against the Washington Capitals.

Nov 20, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle talks to his players as assistant coach Peter Horachek listens during a timeout in the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs had a 91-78-19 record with Carlyle in 188 games, earning one playoff appearance albeit in shortened season. GM Dave Nonis had this to say about the decision to let go Carlyle in a press release, “It’s never an easy decision to make when changing your leadership but our team was not trending in the right direction and we felt an immediate change was necessary.”

The Leafs currently sit one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the last wild card spot with a 21-16-3 record, after losing seven out of their last nine games. It comes as no surprise that Carlyle was let go – it was just a matter of when Brendan Shanahan was going to make the decision.

Now it remains to be seen whether they will bring in someone else, or leave either Spott or Horachek as the interim head coach. There are a number of head coaches who are without a job like Dan Bylsma, Pete DeBoer, Paul MacLean, Guy Boucher, John Tortorella (that would be fun for a little), and Ron Wilson (couldn’t resist).

Feb 11, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Canada head coach Mike Babcock during an ice hockey training session for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If the Leafs do pick a new coach to take over until the end of the season, DeBoer would be a good selection because of how well the New Jersey Devils played defensively for him. However it seems unlikely that the Leafs would bring in a new coach to close the season. However all the talk has been on the Leafs waiting to see what happens in Detroit with Mike Babcock. It seems unlikely that the Detroit Red Wings will let him go, but if the Leafs have a good offer on the table then it may allow Babcock to look over his options.

Will this be the only move the Leafs make? Considering that the same core of players have played through two head coaches (Carlyle and Wilson) without any significant results, it could be possible that players are moved. It all depends on what the goal is for management – do they want to make a move to the playoffs or settle for a high draft pick?

Right now the Leafs are not good enough to win the Stanley Cup, but they are not bad enough to get Connor McDavid unless they tank as bad as the Edmonton Oilers, which I don’t think is possible. In his press conference addressing the media, Dave Nonis was insistent on not putting all the blame on Carlyle, stating the players still need to find consistency.

Even if the Leafs could get a coach like Babcock, they still need core parts to their team, like a number one center and number one defenceman. We see it against elite teams, when this team does not have the talent to play the right way consistently and be successful.

The ball (puck?) is now in Nonis’ court and if he does not realize that changes are needed to this core, then firing Carlyle was all for nothing.

Jan 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle talks to referee Jean Hebert in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Look for more updates on this developing story, including evaluating where the Leafs need to go moving forward.