When the Inmates Run the Asylum

The writing was on the wall; if not for sometime now, certainly recently. Promises of culture change were made, and by firing Randy Carlyle today the Maple Leafs brass has followed through with that to a certain extent.

 

While a good man lost his job today, it’s important to look at why the Toronto Maple Leafs made the change.

 

“Our team was not trending in the right direction. We felt at this point this was the right time to make the change” – Dave Nonis

 

“I think we’d all agree we’ve had some good periods, good stretches, but I don’t think I can stand here and say that we’ve been consistent.” GM Dave Nonis said during the team news conference. “Our team was not trending in the right direction. We just felt at this point this was the right time to make the change and move ahead and try to get this team back playing like we have played for periods this season.”

 

Essentially, Nonis still thinks Randy Carlyle is a good coach.

Randy Carlyle coach
The Toronto Maple Leafs went 97-78-19 with Carlyle behind the bench. (John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE)

 

“I think he’s an excellent coach. You don’t coach over 700 games without being good at it. Good coaches let go and unfortunately today we had to do that.”

 

There are some key stats that would support the dismissal of Carlyle. The Toronto Maple Leafs outshot by 1254 shots under Carlyle’s tenure. And even though his record behind the Maple Leafs bench was 97-78-19, it was Randy who was at the helm of some surreal collapses.

 

Old issues and flaws were coming to a forefront in the Leafs play on the ice, especially over the recent road trip. Carlyle’s demise was in the inability to get this group to play the right way night in and night out. As Nonis said, the group hasn’t been consistent. But Nonis also said something I found particularly interesting.

 

“It’s been too much of a roller-coaster. It’s not that players are not capable, because they are. It’s not that they haven’t done it before, because they have. That’s probably the biggest reason, or one of the biggest reasons, for the change today.” – Dave Nonis

 

The inmates have chased the warden out-of-town

Maple Leafs can improve
With Carlyle fired, Dave Nonis has issued a challenge to his players. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

Nonis believes that the group of players currently constituted is capable of a higher level of play, and in firing Randy Carlyle the players no longer have a scapegoat to hide behind. The inmates have chased the warden out-of-town. If the group fails now, it’s squarely on them.

 

Unless Shanahan and Nonis can coax a coach with pedigree, someone like Dan Bylsma, to finish the season, the Leafs players will continue to flounder in mediocrity. The core group of this team is the problem. How do you get the core of this team to play a style that is more conducive to success and consistency? That will definitely be the challenge for Peter Horacheck and Steve Spott, who take over the coaching duties on an interim basis.

 

A culture change was promised, and the first part of that change has been delivered. Steve Spott and Peter Horacheck are, most probably, not the voice needed to turn around this leaking ship. Assuming Nonis is correct, and this group of players is indeed capable of a higher level of consistent success, the burden to adopt such a style will be incumbent on the players themselves. However should the players, and specifically the core group, prove they’re not capable of such, Maple Leafs fans can expect more culture change in the form of roster alterations.

 

One thing is certain, as on this day, James Reimer gets the last laugh.

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