Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
If GM Dave Nonis decides to fire Carlyle (perhaps with a little pressure from Tim Leiweke), and he hasn’t played his fire-a-coach card yet, that might give James Reimer a second (third?) life as a Maple Leaf. A new coach coming in could wipe the slate clean. If Carlyle stays, well, then Reimer and his agent will no doubt be looking for a trade out of town.
The irony here is the same landing spot is a possible destination for either Carlyle or Reimer: The ‘Peg.
After a hot start, the Jets under interim coach Paul Maurice have cooled off faster than that one beer you put directly in the freezer. Maurice has won just three of his past 14 games, including Monday’s five-goal collapse in Anaheim. Ted Nolan is looking more and more like the the only guy who’ll get his NHL interim tag lifted this season. The Jets, 22nd in goals allowed, can’t be thrilled with Ondrej Pavelec (.901 save percentage).
more plus additional NHL topics...
"Our spirits are up, our morale is up. That's the way you have to conduct business."
-Dion Phaneuf, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, via a tweet from Chris Johnston.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
An entirely unscientific survey of several NHL pro scouts, who are paid to watch and dissect other teams, and general managers (who were promised anonymity for their frankness) produced no one who thought there should be major changes. But all think some change is necessary to fix the biggest problems on the team – a lack of leadership and hockey smarts among the players (hence their inability to carry out a game plan) and a defence corps that has too many offensive-minded players and not enough physical ones.
The most interesting idea came from a scout who said Dion Phaneuf doesn’t need to be traded (not that Nonis could move that huge contract anyway), but he might play better if the captain’s role was taken away from him. Everyone surveyed said Phaneuf’s hockey sense is not the greatest, that he makes too many mistakes for someone who has been in the NHL for 10 seasons.
The idea is that, without the added pressure of being the designated leader, maybe Phaneuf can get back to being the defenceman who can deliver the timely hit and provide some needed offence. “[Phaneuf] can be an effective player, but in taking away the C does he go back to being as effective as he can be?” one scout wondered....
Up front, there was general agreement the Leafs need a lot more support for the top line of centre Tyler Bozak and wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. However, a couple people would like to see a little more leadership and consistency from Kessel.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Well if there’s anyone in the world who knows what Randy Carlyle is going through right now in Toronto, it’s Ron Wilson.
Just two years ago in early March 2012, after a late-season skid that dropped Toronto out of a playoff spot, Wilson was fired as Maple Leafs coach and replaced by Carlyle.
So yeah, with the Leafs currently mired in an eight-game losing streak that has dropped them out of a playoff spot and completely freaked out the league’s biggest hockey market, Wilson knows what his replacement is living.
“In Toronto, everything is always out of perspective; they’re either winning games and they’re planning the parade route,” began Wilson on Monday from his home near Hilton Head, S.C., “or you lose a couple of games and everything gets over-exaggerated.”
What Carlyle is going through now, Wilson has felt it.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Everybody in this organization is in trouble. Nobody is safe, although GM Dave Nonis, signed to a new contract just last year, figures to be.
Team president Tim Leiweke, having seen positive change with Toronto FC and the Raptors in a short period of time, is unlikely to look at the smoking crater created by this eight-game Leaf collapse and suggest slow-and-steady is the correct approach.
That said, what other options does Leiweke actually have?
Really, the most radical course of action the Leafs could take now would be to decide their core — Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Bernier — isn’t good enough and isn’t going to be, and strip this thing down to the wood.
Which would guarantee at least another five years of Oiler-like losing.
Hard to see anyone would advocate that.
The worst scenario would be for the Leafs to do what they almost always do — abandon young players not yet fully formed for short-term band-aid solutions they live to regret.
from Dave Feshchuk of the Toronto Star,
“It rains, it pours, I don’t look at it that way,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “I look at it, we came here to work, and we worked hard. Were we smart enough in some areas? No. But we gave ourselves a chance. A lot of things are going against us, so we just have to take it for what it is and regroup. We’ve got an opportunity (Saturday) against (the Red Wings at Air Canada Centre). It’s the biggest game of the year.”
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
To stand in the hallway near the Leafs dressing room after Friday’s game was akin to walking into a funeral home. There were hushed silences, long faces. The management team of Dave Nonis, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin paced around in frustration.
Absolutely no one wanted to be there.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
... the Leafs’ impotence on offence has to get a generous share of blame for the malaise.
In the latest loss in Philly — yet another in which the team failed to gain a lead at any point — the Leafs were held to three goals or less for the 10th consecutive game. The first line did get a beauty with James van Riemsdyk’s record score just four seconds into the second, but most of the night they were hounded by Sean Couturier and the ace Flyer’s shut-down unit.
Beyond that, as is the case most nights, there wasn’t much left but hope.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
It is the worst thing you could call any hockey team, really, but especially one patrolled by Randy Carlyle.
The Leafs coach, we have known from the day he arrived here, likes toughness. Tough talk. Tough love. And, most importantly, tough play from his team.
And here he is with a season rapidly getting away, stuck with a group playing so softly it’s difficult imagining them winning another game, never mind the five or six it’s likely going to take to sneak back into the post-season.
Soft mentally at times. Soft in leadership some nights. Soft in the corners. Soft in front of their own net. Such a soft touch, really, that almost any opponent that faces the Leafs these days recognizes that every battle is there for the taking.
The Tim and Sid show on SN590 The Fan had a little bit of a rant about last night's Leafs game and Dion Phaneuf not speaking with the media post-game.
Then, via David Alter tweets,
Phaneuf actually called in to our station to respond to @timandsid. Gotta say that's a smart move by the captain to respond to the criticism
Dion Phaneuf on #timandsid about not talking to the media. Felt he was too emotional to talk and felt bad for not making himself available.
added 3:10pm, Sportsnet just posted the audio with Phaneuf. Click here, then the picture of Phaneuf and audio should start playing.
added 4:13pm, You can listen/watch below...
via tweets from Don Cherry,
1) Leafs love those College guys. Signed Eric Knodel from University of New Hampshire. Going to get a tryout with the Marlies. That means
2) he takes a spot from some guy slugging it out on the buses. If you want to make the Leafs or get a tryout just go to a US College.
Toronto has now lost 6 games in a row, all in regulation...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Carlyle pulled Jonathan Bernier. That was smart. Then he put captain Dion Phaneuf on the point with an extra attacker.
That wasn’t smart.
All night long, in maybe the Leafs’ most important game of the season, Phaneuf fought the puck. He had a sloppy, uncharacteristically terrible night, causing someone to ask if they’d ever seen him play worse as a Leaf.
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
Head coach Randy Carlyle observed "tenseness" during the first half of Wednesday's game, one that saw St. Louis completely manhandle their sinking opponents, especially so in a dominant first frame. Big, hard, fast and strong, the best team in the West controlled possession of the puck almost without exception, peppering Jonathan Bernier with 23 shots while scoring the first two of four unanswered.
"It's like we were frozen for 30 minutes of the hockey game," Carlyle said. "We didn't pick up the puck and skate with it at all. And that's showing signs of being nervous, tense, [lacking] confidence, not wanting to make a mistake which led to more offensive zone time [for the Blues]."
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com