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Twisting in the wind: Oates, Carlyle, Torts still facing uncertain futures

Apr 21, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

FILE - This Feb. 6, 2014 file photo shows Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates on the bench in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, in Washington. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are fading. Ovechkin has gone without a point in the last four games, and his team has lost five of its past six to drop to 10th in the Eastern Conference. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) AP

Three head coaches on three high-profile teams that missed the playoffs have yet to receive a vote of confidence or, failing that, official word that their services are no longer required.

Adam Oates, Randy Carlyle and John Tortorella all faced extensive criticism this season in Washington, Toronto, and Vancouver, respectively. The Caps missed the postseason for the first time since 2007, the Canucks for the first time since 2008. The Maple Leafs suffered an epic collapse, winning just twice in their last 14 games. Suffice to say, expectations for all three teams were considerably higher.

Granted, not all the situations are the same. The Canucks, for example, still need to hire a new general manager after Mike Gillis was fired. The Capitals may need to hire a new GM as well, with George McPhee’s seat arguably as hot as Oates’. It may be those decisions are made before the coaching ones.

Earlier this month, Washington owner Ted Leonsis promised to “conduct a comprehensive review of what transpired this year,” after which the “necessary adjustments” will be made.

In Toronto, meanwhile, Brendan Shanahan was only just hired as the club’s new president. And that move came just days after Trevor Linden took over hockey operations in Vancouver. Both those two will need to get fully up to speed before they make a decision as big as the coaching one.

Still, there’s something to be said for not letting the process drag out. If the decision is to keep the coach, fine, then time will need to be spent making adjustments for next season, because obviously adjustments need to be made. If the coach is fired, then time will need to be spent hiring a new one.


Has McPhee’s ‘adversarial relationship with player agents’ cost the Caps?

Leafs rise to coach Carlyle’s defense

Torts calls Canucks ‘stale,’ says it’s not 2011 anymore

  1. patthehockeyfan - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    I voted for Oates. I’ve written before that Torts will stay only if Jay Feaster is hired as GM. Failing that, he’s outta there.

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 22, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Oates or GMGM won’t be fired until the Wizards are eliminated from the playoffs. Ted wants his darling Wizards to be on the front page of the WaPo. Not his money making Capitals where the tickets are hard to get and it’s $210 for a jersey, $9 for a large bottle of water, and $7 for a Chick-Fila-A Sandwich…. Whereas the Wizards give away most of their tickets to inner city organizations.

  2. lowenni - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Can’t really figure out Oates. He made the Caps look really good at the end of last season, but his systems and coaching decisions are often inexplicable. From playing Kuznetsov and Wilson on the fourth line while he was having Beagle centering Ovi, to sending Schmidt and Oleksy to the minors in exchange for Carrick and Erskine…just a lot of questionable decisions. He also tries to get the Caps to switch systems every other game, playing a dump and chase style one game, defense with no offense the next, and then offense with no defense. This team still has a good roster, and Oates isn’t ready. I think a guy like Laviolette would be a great fit for the team.

    • gunnyhighway88 - Apr 21, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Hold on a second, the Caps do not have a great roster. It’s average at best. You have Ovechkin leading the charge with goal scoring and then who else? Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer are second and third with 24 and 25 goals. Those are career highs for them. The Caps lack a one/two punch. Backstrom is great for assists and setting up Ovie, but he isn’t scoring much. When the Caps were a scoring machine, they had Alexander Semin scoring 30+ and 40 goals a season. Ever since they let him go, they haven’t been the same. Aside from guys like Wilson, Kuznetsov, Carlson and Alzner. Who else do they have? Grabovski may not even be with the team next season. The rest are expendable in my book.

      I’m just counting down the days till George McPhee gets fired. Hopefully…

      • gunnyhighway88 - Apr 21, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Actually, I’d keep Ward and Brouwer too. Everybody else, can go.

      • lowenni - Apr 21, 2014 at 8:14 PM

        I didn’t say great. I said good. It’s not a championship roster, but it’s definitely more than capable of being a playoff roster if everyone plays to their strengths.

  3. ntvd7 - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Torts is gone

    The days of constantly screaming at players has worn thin

  4. mrpinkca - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    I feel like Tortorella is the safest. That team was a mess, and some of that is on him; but more of it is on the trading away 2 starting goalies and failing to get back any good players.

    Oates probably gets to twist in the wind a little while McPhee is twisting in the wind, and he might get to twist in the wind a little while McPhee’s replacement is figures out what direction to take the team. He got my vote, because I just can’t see him staying.

    Carlyle is probably the most deserving for a multitude of reasons. The thing is that the Leafs front office pre-Shanahan was absurdly unwilling to address the obvious flaws in the organization. Does that change now? Who knows.

    • beergold - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Agreed! With the team that the Leaf brass have put on the ice, Jesus H. (Homer) Christ couldn’t make that team a contender. Nothing to work with in Laff land!

  5. imleftcoast - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Oates is the most likely to get blamed with those players. He has my vote Carlyle is the best coach of the group. He probably doesn’t deserve to be fired, although calling out Reimer when the team was depending on him was a huge mistake. Torts sucks, but the Canucks priority now is to be ready for draft day. They’ll fire Torts in August.

  6. JoeAvg - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    If they don’t get at least to the Conference finals again – Dan Bylsma.

  7. Andee - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Oates *should* be fired. People generally dislike Tortorella, but Oates sold his star player down the river for no good reason. I don’t envy any Toronto Maple Leafs coach, so I voted Oates.

  8. joey4id - Apr 21, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Considering the on ice talent, I would say Carlyle is the safest. Shanahan/Nonis need to make on ice changes before the fire a SC winning coach.

    I agree with ntvd7, and I’ve said before. Coaches today have to teach more (like Roy in Col) than they are confrontational. Torts has coached himself out of a job. Time to devote all his time to his dogs.

    Oates…. Caps…. Ovi… All are enigmas. The team is in disarray as made evident by multiple quotes made by players and Oates. Each one demonstrated that the players and coach were not in sync. Fire GMGM, Oates, and move 8.

  9. 7mantel - Apr 21, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    Oates is plan and simple not a nhl caliber coach !

  10. jaguar0413 - Apr 21, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    What would be awesome is if the Caps hired Torts to coach the offense, Carlyle to coach the D, and Oates to coach the goalies. Knockout combo right there!

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      Knockout. Double meaning there, jaguar?

      Can you see the three of them going at each other when they disagree? LOL!! Now, THAT’s a picture.

  11. skr213 - Apr 21, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    I think the order of who *should* be fired is: Oates, Torts, Carlyle.
    I think the order of who *will* be fired is: Torts, Oates, Carlyle.

  12. Hard to BeLeaf - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    I’m not 100% sure Carlyle is a problem in Toronto.

    I AM 100% sure Phaneuf is a problem in Toronto. Start by moving him, see what Carlyle can do with a less inept defense and team captain, and go from there.

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