Aug 25, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
“If you’re worried about optics in this market, it’s going to be a disaster. I think you have to make a decision based on what you think is the best decision for the organization, and this in our minds was clearly the best option.
“He was a guy we believe can get the job done for us. Whether optics are that it’s the wrong thing to do or not doesn’t really matter to us. If you’re looking at trying to please people, you’re probably going to make some poor decisions.”
That was Toronto GM Dave Nonis this past May, talking about the decision to extend head coach Randy Carlyle. The move came under heavy fire as the optics of retaining Carlyle, who presided over a Leafs team that went 2-12-0 down the stretch and collapsed out of playoff contention, left many scratching their heads. Several other coaches that whiffed on the playoffs met their demise — John Tortorella, Adam Oates and Barry Trotz, to name a few — and Nonis made it clear there was some issue at the coaching level by turfing all three of Toronto’s assistants.
Yet when the dust settled, Carlyle remained. One of the few constants in an offseason filled with change.
The Leafs really shifted course this summer. They hired a new president, Brendan Shanahan, then emerged as progressive club on the advanced analytics front — first, with the hiring of 28-year-old assistant GM Kyle Dubas, known as a fancy stat advocate with OHL Sault Ste. Marie; then, with the creation of an advanced numbers department, spearheaded by the guy that used to run Extra Skater.
Change happened on the ice, too.
Gone, it seems, are the day of trotting out truculent bottom-six forwards like Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. Toronto had itself a Moneyball-esque summer, signing (slightly) flawed veterans on the cheap in the hope of striking gold — guys like former 30-goal scorer David Booth (signed for $1.1M after getting bought out of a disastrous situation in Vancouver), skilled center Mike Santorelli (inked for $1.5M after last season was cut short by season-ending shoulder surgery) and power forward Daniel Winnik (who fell out of favor in Anaheim, remained unsigned ’til August, then came to Toronto for $1.3M). These additions, along with Finnish forwards Petri Kontiola and Leo Komarov, should give Toronto the most depth it’s had up front in the Carlyle era.
As such, the pressure is on.
By keeping Carlyle after last year’s collapse, the message was loud and clear — this was on the players, not the coach. But from that point forward, the challenge was put on everybody to achieve more, coaches included. Expectations have been heightened and there is a demand for improvement — for example, Toronto could have a wildly competitive training camp, as there are 15 forwards on NHL contracts fighting for 12 spots.
All of this, of course, comes back to Carlyle, who has now been given tools to succeed: new players, new assistants and a new, fresh look at the managerial level. If that pressure wasn’t obvious enough, Nonis ensured it in May by saying his coach needs to get through to this group.
“If you’ve seen it being done before with most of the same players, or a lot of the same players, and with that coach leading that group, I know it can happen,” said Nonis. “I know it has happened with this group before. I know that (Carlyle) has reached them before, reached them at times this year.
“For me it’s not that we’re guessing whether or not he can have success or he can get through to them. We’ve seen it. I know that it’s there and we feel he is the guy that can get through to this group.”
Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
It’s another arbitration win for Ottawa.
Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.
Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT
Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”
Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT
In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?
Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT
This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.
Aug 3, 2015, 10:17 AM EDT
Ron DeGregorio rounded out the group.
Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The worst should be behind them.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?
Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?
Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for
Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.
Aug 2, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Will all of them play in 2015-16?
Aug 2, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
That will eat up his first year of UFA eligibility.
Aug 2, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
Can they close to final gap between them and the Stanley Cup?
Aug 2, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
They avoided an arbitration judgment.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
They’re in win now mode.
- It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT 23
- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 24
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 62
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 41
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 44
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (71)
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)