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It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day on PHT

Aug 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

Randy Carlyle AP

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

For better or worse, the Toronto Maple Leafs rarely have been boring.

The short version of the 2013-14 season was a lot like the last: what started with promise (and maybe a few rather lucky breaks) ended in a stunning collapse. This time around, they didn’t even make the playoffs, as the Maple Leafs lost 12 of their last 14 games as they spiraled out of the playoff picture.

One might say that the advanced stats community laughed the Maple Leafs’ way out of the postseason – at least the more vindictive among that community – but the narrative took a surprise twist as Toronto eventually hired some of those howling critics.

While the executive structure of the franchise remains in flux, the Brendan Shanahan era seems to have begun with some surprising changes, even if head coach Randy Carlyle remains … at least for now.

Last season, it seemed like the onus was on Toronto’s two stars who were seemingly about to enter contract years in Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. Those two are back and will remain on the hot seat like usual, yet the people who run the team will likely feel the heat more than anyone in 2014-15.

That’s not to say there aren’t quite a few players with quite a lot on the line next season, though. James Reimer may very well push Jonathan Bernier for starts even after he seemed like he was out the door. Players like Bernier, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson and even new additions like David Booth have a chance to earn (or lose) a lot of money this season.

It’s a stretch to say that the “nerds won” in Toronto, but a transition seems to be happening — or at least is being considered. That’s a big reason why the Leafs should be fascinating to watch next season. As usual.

  1. bsaures - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    Anyone want to take an over under of how many games before carlyle or nonis is fired? 35 games is the bar.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      Leafs save their blunders for the end of the year… I’d go with the over 35.

    • 19to77 - Aug 25, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      Agreed on the over. Still, Carlyle’s not making it to the end of the season either way.

  2. imgoingtowichita - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    At 35 and only needing 1 to be fired, under please.

  3. withseidelinn - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    If D/posession improves and top six can build on last year, they will push for a 6-8 spot. Top line is set to produce well. Kessel is essentially a lock for 80+ points, while I think JVR will most likely match or improve on his 61 pts. Guys like Lupul and Kadri need to step up. If they are notching 60pts + each then this team is an offensive force. Bozak will need to stay healthy and hopefully he can put up 45-50pts. I think the possession stats will get better with guys like Komarov, Winnik, etc. However the D is still suspect and I think that will be the make or break. I can see Bernier regressing this year if he has to face that many shots again, and I just don’t think Reimer will be able to relieve the pressure at a high enough level. Looking forward to October.

  4. skunksprayjim - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    I hope this scum team from this scum city never wins another game

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      So you want one win for every brain cell in your head?

    • jason9696 - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      You sound like you’re from Vancouver. I doubt the Canucks are going to make the playoffs either.

  5. blomfeld - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    NOT ALL’S LOST YET …

    I concur friend, though ‘scum’ may be a bit harsh. Rather, I would tend to describe this franchise as a ‘shameless’ disgrace and a ‘perverted’ injustice to the notion of professional sports everywhere. How the leadership of a ‘1.5 billion dollar’ team is allowed to continually offer up garbage like this is completely beyond comprehension ? I suppose what it all boils down to is the fact that MLSE has a ‘monopolistic’ hold there in the southern Ontario market and therefore they are ‘not’ accountable to their paying customers … much like in the former Soviet Union where you were obliged to buy the ‘state made’ car, regardless of whether or not it had four wheels or even a functioning motor ? The one sliver of hope for them however is Jonathan Bernier and on that score they had better not blow it. No sir ! Because he was a ‘gift’ from us SC Champion LA Kings and if handled right, he could very well turn out to be their knight in shining armor who rides in to save the day ! :)

    GO BERNIER !!!

    GO SAVING THE LEAFS !!!

  6. Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I don’t mind what they did this offseason.

    The defense was the biggest problem last year. Allowing 40+ shots way too often. It needed an overhaul, they did that. Gunnarsson, Gleason, Ranger are out, Polak, Robidas are in, Gardiner, Rielly get bigger roles. Depth on D could be an issue this year. Any injuries and it’s nothing but prospects to get the call. I’m ok with that, but it’s risky if injuries pile up.

    The offense was fine last year, but the lack of depth caught up to the Leafs last year. Losing Bolland all year hurt the most. I think they addressed the depth issues with Santorelli, Winnik and Booth. Bringing Komarov back is good too. He was a beast 2 years ago.

    I like that the Leafs didn’t commit to anyone with big multi-year deals. If it works out this year and they win games, Good! Re-sign them. If the team bombs the season, they can ditch all these 1 year contracts and revamp the roster right away. Having all these 1 year deals this year could work out well. A bunch of players playing to get new contracts will be hungry to win.

    I just hope it’s a good enough team to make the playoffs. They finished 5th during the lockout year and were up with Montreal and Tampa in the standings before ‘the collapse’ last year, so I’m hoping they can get back to that level… and NOT screw it up.

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