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.”
Sep 2, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Bakersfield and Stockton will play in West Sacramento, Calif. on Dec. 18.
Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
As many as five teams are reportedly interested in acquiring the 26-year-old.
Sep 2, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT
He was expecting a two or three year contract.
Sep 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
The 26-year-old refuted an Ilta-Sanomat story.
Sep 2, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT
The 23-year-old appeared in 38 games with Chicago last season.
Sep 2, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT
“I’m a realist. If nothing happens, that’s the way it is.”
Sep 2, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
Can he beat out Cam Talbot and Ben Scrivens?
Sep 2, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
“I know that it’s not just me that feels I can be a lot better and be the player that I know I’m going to be and I want to be.”
Sep 2, 2015, 11:47 AM EDT
Another diamond in the rough?
Sep 2, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT
He also wanted them to get swept in the opening playoff round against Nashville, apparently.
Sep 2, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT
After missing most of last season with a back injury.
Sep 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
It will be raised before the home opener on Oct. 10.
Sep 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Sep 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT
They were near the bottom of the league in that regard last season.
Sep 1, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT
“The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is.”
Sep 1, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT
They had strong attendance numbers last season too.
Sep 1, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
The Blues have a vacancy with Patrik Berglund out for at least four months.
Sep 1, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT
A few players have leapfrogged Steven Stamkos.
Sep 1, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT
He played through the injury in 2014-15.
- Ex-‘Hawks goalie Raanta tees off on former club 30
- Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls 114
- Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane? 81
- Hall of Famer Al Arbour passes away 22
- Poll: Who will be San Jose’s next captain? 24
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance 95
- Gio won’t go: Flames extend Giordano for six years, $40.5M 13
- Pens’ plan for now: Crosby starts as Kessel’s center 25
- O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem 31
- Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal 27
- Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls (114)
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance (95)
- Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane? (81)
- Lucic jokes about running through Rask ‘like I did (to) another goalie’ (42)
- It’s Chicago Blackhawks day at PHT (39)