Apr 1, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff hopes are essentially dead after dropping eight straight games in regulation. All the same, the team’s core players will probably be back next season, but will head coach Randy Carlyle?
With speculation about his potential firing at a fever pitch, his players are trying to deflect the blame away from him.
“We’re the ones on the ice, not him.”
Forward Dave Bolland echoed Gardiner’s remarks by saying that those looking to assign blame should direct it towards the players.
The public support of his players might not be enough to save Carlyle after overseeing the team’s worst regular-season collapse since, uh, 2012.
Given that the Maple Leafs are turning disappointing finishes into an annual tradition that predates Carlyle, it’s natural to wonder if this might also be a summer of major moves for the team.
There’s always some turnover, but Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, David Clarkson, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Dion Phaneuf are all signed through at least 2017-18 and many of them have at least partial no-trade clauses. Those six players also come with a combined cap hit of nearly $34 million annually, per Cap Geek, or roughly half of what next season’s ceiling is likely to be.
So while some of them — most notably Kessel — are players worthy of building a team around, the fact is that as the Leafs are set up right now, they have to be the go-to guys for years to come.
Without dismissing the possibility of a major offseason trade, as things stand, the Maple Leafs have to hope that eventually those players efforts breed different results. Likely with a tweaked supporting cast — and perhaps with a new bench boss.
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 40
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 10
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 39
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 40
- Penguins sign Fehr to three-year, $6 million contract 21
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening 54
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 58
- Wilson signs with Preds, leaving just four arbitration cases to go 5
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million 62
- He’s baaaaaack: Leafs pull a stunner, hire Lamoriello as GM (Updated) (84)
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (70)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening (54)