What about the collapse in Toronto? Who's going to pay the price there?
McKenzie: If the Maple Leafs miss the playoffs and they're certainly trending in that direction, the expectation is that Randy Carlyle is the most vulnerable and the guy most likely to pay the price. General manager Dave Nonis has never fired a coach in his tenure in Toronto and he also never hired Carlyle. That was a Brian Burke hire. So the sense seems to be if the masses are crying for somebody's head, it would more likely be Carlyle's than anybody else's.
Dreger: Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment seems to be the wild card in all of this. Will he make a snap decision and try to force something? Well, Leiweke says there will be no knee-jerk decision between now and the end of the regular season, which obviously isn't that far away. He's also well-schooled on the long term plans of Nonis and Leiweke is often around the players as well so if there are improvements that the players feel need to be made, he's going to know that and he'll be heavily involved in the review process.
For the players who will be available come playoff time, the World Hockey Championship is coming up with Canada trying to earn its first medal since 2009. We know Rob Blake is leading the team from the management standpoint, who is his leading candidate for head coach?
Dreger: Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes. But that all depends on whether or not the Coyotes qualify for the post-season. If Tippett is not available, Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators, Peter DeBoer of the New Jersey Devils and Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets (if their teams don't make playoffs) could be other options that Blake and company would consider.
McKenzie: Look for the Calgary Flames to put a push on to sign Hobey Baker candidate Johnny Gaudreau, who plays at Boston College. He's a diminutive but dynamic forward and one of the best players in college hockey. He's playing in the Frozen Four right now but as soon as his season is over, Calgary will put the push on. If he goes back for his senior season, he could declare himself an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015. The Flames would like to head that off by trying to get him signed to a contract this spring.
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