Better late than never, am I right? The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally fired Randy Carlyle; honestly a move that should’ve happened during this past summer. Now I have nothing against Carlyle himself, in the interviews I’ve seen, he genuinely seems like a nice guy. But the problem wasn’t Carlyle’s personality it was the lack of actions he took to make the team better. The reason that the firing came now is that management had finally found a trend with the Leafs under the control of Carlyle. The fact was that Carlyle’s leafs were a terrible defensive team, giving up 40+ shots a night and really using luck to get wins rather than just using skill. But this isn’t an article shaming Carlyle’s old teaching methods and how he didn’t react to huge defensive problems that were right in front of him. The rest of this article is going to be much more positive! I’ll try my best to analyze the top five picks of people to take the helm of the Toronto Maple Leafs (and all the pressure and controversy with it!)
- Dallas Eakins
The reason that Eakins is in the last spot is because right now he has little amount of credibility. Just being the most recent coach fired from the Oilers, not many teams are eager to pick him up. But the Leafs have a nice history with him and I think management can look past that one bad year. The problem in Edmonton wasn’t him. He just happened to be the easiest person to turn into the management’s scapegoat. The biggest factor is that Eakins already has experience with a lot of players on the Leafs’ bench. He coached Kadri, Gardiner, Reimer and less notably players like Matt Frattin and Korbinian Holzer in his days as the Marlies head coach. He can help develop these players even more and he does know how much leash he can give to each of these players. The only reason I have him on the last pick of this list is the blemish on his resume that is the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching gig. But for this reason I think he can come onto the team’s assistant coaching staff and work his way up the ladder that way. In fact I rather have him do it that way so he receives less heat. But onto the fourth and third pick.
4.) Paul MacLean and 3.)Peter DeBoer
The reason I grouped Peter DeBoer and Paul MacLean together is that they’re both coming from similar places. The only difference is that people remember MacLean’s firing better than they remember DeBoer. They both got fired because their eastern conference teams weren’t doing good enough and there had to be some kind of change. Of course, the coach is the easiest position to get rid of. I’m doing this list out of likeliness of the coach being hired. If I was doing this list by coaches that I think will do a good job with the Leafs these two would be behind Eakins. But in all likelihood either one of DeBoer or MacLean get the job because of their ‘playoff experience.’ DeBoer did make the Stanley Cup Finals recently and MacLean did help Ottawa string a few playoff wins. This playoff experience is pretty much what got Randy his job and look how his tenure went. In my eyes these two are going to have to prove a lot to keep the job for long. Most people would argue that the only reason that MacLean got his Jack Adams Award (for best coach in the NHL) is because of the extremely good play of goalie Craig Anderson that year. Now fast forward to now, Anderson has a couple of streaky seasons and MacLean doesn’t look like the genius he once was. DeBoer had an pretty good team when he and the Devils went to the finals. He also has taken a few terrible Devils teams and surprised me many times (take last year for example.) DeBoer has proven himself a few times as being able to make the most of the players he has (last season with the Devils for example.) That’s why I have him ahead of MacLean. Now onto my favorite coach out of all of them.
- Dale Hunter
Does this name sound familiar? Well it should if you’ve been watching the NHL for the past couple of season. Dale Hunter is the former head coach of the Washington Capitals. I was originally going to put him in the 4th or 3rd spot but I couldn’t find any reason why the others should be ahead of him other than lack of experience. That’s really the only problem, Hunter only coached in the NHL for a season. But his situation is unique, unlike everyone else on this list he left on his own terms after he made such a big impact to the Washington Capitals. Before Hunter took over the Capitals were just an offensive power house with a pitiful defense. The defense was so bad that when it came to playoff time they would get knocked out by either a goalie that went on a hot streak (Jaroslav Halak) or just a really good defensive team.
Now let me think, which team in the Atlantic division relies on their streak offense but has a laughable defensive structure. Well if you guessed the Toronto Maple Leafs then you would be right! I feel he would be able to develop the Leafs’ defensive game to make it better than in past years. The only problem is getting him here. Would Hunter give up the good life of coaching the OHL dynasty that is the London Knights to coach in Toronto? To go from a calm and winning environment to the hell that Toronto media would force upon him? Everything he does will be poked and picked a part to the very bone. We’ll see, maybe Hunter likes a challenge. Hunter is the type of coach that takes risks and action for the better of the team (like benching Ovechkin in the third period of a Game Four against the Boston Bruins and winning.) Hunter is my dream pick, the likelihood of him being the head coach are slim but I’m stating my case of why I want him to be the next head coach. Now on to our number one pick, not my favorite out of all of them but the most likely if the Leafs don’t wait for Mike Babcock.
- Dan Bylsma
Yes Bylsma is my number one pick, he has the most ‘playoff experience’ out of all the candidates I’ve mentioned (expect for Babcock of course.) He’s won a cup with the Penguins (which means nothing because Carlyle has also won a cup) and has made deep runs in the playoffs multiple times. He’s coached some of the best players in the world (Crosby, Malkin, Letang just to name a few) he has almost always finished at the top of the league standings. Now if he earned those stats or was it just the amount of sheer talent on those teams is up to debate. I’m pretty sure that having a team with Crosby and Malkin can coach itself but we’ll never really know the skill that Bylsma has until he takes on another team. Why is he a good fit for the Leafs? He’s not the perfect fit, he is the best option out there. Can he take an offensive reliant team like the Leafs and make their defensive game more reliable? Or can he at least develop the team to a point where they can hold a multi-goal lead and not going to a defensive shell. Bylsma is the safe pick and the most obvious one, he can bring the experience of coaching superstars and help develop younger players like Kadri and Gardiner.
Those are all my likely picks but I want to have some fun now and entertain the thoughts of other coaches for the Leafs.
I just smirk whenever I think of Tortz being the coach of the Maple Leafs. Him just cussing out the Toronto media because they let up a three goal lead. Just visualize it! I really hope that it doesn’t happen.
This could happen, I just don’t see it happening. Why would Babcock give up his legendary tenure with the Red Wings and tarnish it by coaching the Maple Leafs. Only way I see him ending up in Toronto is that he wants to end his career by conquering the biggest challenge of all. Ending the Leafs cup drought. It might happen at the end of the season when his contract runs out with the Red Wings.
I don’t know why, but I just think it would be fun to see this after what he said about Phil Kessel being ‘uncoachable’.
Anyways that’s all the coaches I can think of, the rest of the Leafs options rely on if said coaches’ teams release them (Adam Oates.) Or in my mind might not be able to handle the spot light and pressure that comes to coaching a hockey city. (Guy Boucher.) Hey maybe Toronto hires someone that I didn’t even think of, or maybe they hire someone that I didn’t take as a serious candidate (Jaques Martin or Brent Sutter.) But we’ll see, whoever they decide to go with I’m sure it’s going to be fun to watch. Thank you all for reading!