What Would You Do Wednesday – Rant Nation

So, in case you hadn’t heard yet, the Leafs lost 9-2 to the Nashville Predators last night. This is after getting stomped on by the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Things were pretty grim in Leafs Nation today, with near everyone calling for heads to roll (or, at the very least, fired). 

In my opinion, it’s not the right time to make rash decisions. 

Yes, you could have fire Carlyle today, but does that mean that the last two losses were on him? Because they weren’t. The Leafs are an average NHL team, but not in the sense that they play average hockey every average day. The Leafs should finish with an average record, but they’ll play some hugely impressive and downright terrible hockey along the way. This team is prone to massive failures, from top to bottom. I don’t think it’s fair to pin all that on Carlyle after two games, but talk to me again if the team loses in similar fashion to Tampa Bay tomorrow night.

You could also make a trade, but who honestly believes there’s real value in that? Unless we’re talking about a once-in-a-blue-moon mid-season Dion Phaneuf-for-scraps kind of trade, the Leafs won’t dramatically improve. They’ll just move Some Player A for Some Player B and carry on being average. 

And really, who specifically are we talking about trading? As bad as they are, I almost like this Leafs roster, save for a few guys who drag others down and are signed to immovable contracts. So what? Trade Nazem Kadri for someone who won’t be nearly as good and call it a shake up? No thanks.

I realize I’m giving you a bunch of non-answers. I don’t expect the Leafs to do nothing about this skid, but I do expect them to take their time and do expect that every action is well thought out and deliberate. I’m open to talking about a coaching change if only to improve the working environment under which the Leafs can suck. I’m willing to wait and see if the additions of Joffrey Lupul and David Booth are enough to improve the lineup before making a deal.

The Situation


You heard what I had to say, but I’m a big dummy. 

The Leafs have lost two in a row, which in and of itself isn’t all that big a deal. But they lost those games in such poor fashion that something has to change. So, what do you do? Is it time for a coaching change? Do the Leafs need to make moves to improve their current roster? Are we actually at a point where we need to discuss dismantling the core?

These questions are big, and they make my head hurt. Please tell me how to feel in the comments below.

  • silentbob

    We’ve seen the same core for several years now. I was willing to be patient as long we saw improvement.

    We haven’t seen improvement. We’ve had two coaches. Three collapses.

    The players simply don’t care. They trot out the same excuses each time.

    It’s time to move on.

  • bottom line carlyle should have been gone in the offseason, this team has talent, they are just not playing the way they need to. With a new coach you will see a different effort from every player (except Komarov and Winnik because they’re already giving everything they have).

    There is a reason the Calgary Flames are having so much success and its because of their coach.

    Letting guys like Kessel do whatever they want won’t work. If this team wants to have success they need structure. and unfortunatly randy carlyle won’t bring that.

    new coach new team.

  • nazemkadri43

    I’d fire Randy Carlyle. He should of been gone this offseason. I’d don’t understand when people say “if they fire him after the last 2 losses, it’d be irrational”. Randy hasn’t improved this team since he’s become the head coach. Dan Bylsma could be an interim coach until management drives a dump truck filled with cash to Mike Babcock’s house.

    The core isn’t the problem; there are some talented guys on the team. The problem is the coaching, and it has been for a long time.

    Also, play Kadri with Kessel.

  • Jeremy Ian

    While I think a new coach is in the cards, I want a plan first, a concept. Otherwise, it’s just the proverbial good money going bad.

    There’s a whole field of managerial thinking that talks about learning from failing. (Here’s a riff from the Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure)

    Failure sucks — but only if you don’t learn from it. What I don’t like in the Leafs is the non-learning. This is why the over-and-over rhetoric about effort and compete is just hooey. It’s the blame game. It’s cover for not understanding what’s really wrong.

    I don’t think Carlyle is dumb. Or that he doesn’t care. Or that he’s not trying. I actually think he must be replaying scenarios over and over in his head so much he can’t sleep.

    But he’s limited.

    To learn from failure means not blaming; it means accepting that what you are doing isn’t working. If you don’t, your mistakes recycle.

    Some failures are unavoidable. Some failures are necessary, especially if you are trying to innovate at some technological frontier. Some are “exogenous” (they come from outside effects, like an injury).

    But what we see now is a classic case of what’s called endogenized failure. Coaches and players are not learning the right lessons from their mistakes; in fact they make things worse (too anxious to catch that zone-exiting pass that it never reaches your stick is a classic for the Leafs) because they are correcting for the wrong thing.

    Good coaches learn and encourage learning from mistakes. And they keep the right balance of rewards for innovating and risk-taking with penalties for mistakes. This coach doesn’t understand this premise. Jerking the young guys around is diagnostic.

    So, yeah, the coach will go. But first management has to have a concept of how this team is going to shape up. Because, let’s face it, Justin is right. Moving pieces around isn’t going to address the more basic need for a different culture of real competition.

    • CMpuck

      The vision of this squad is to remain wealthiest team in the NHL. They have plans for accomplishing their vision.
      I migrated to Canada in 2003 and since then only hear comments from the fans that it is a young team. It is still a young team. We are grooming Reilly, Jake, Kadri, Reimer, Peter, etc. so that we can get better dollars from their deal. Simple.

  • CMpuck

    It’s not that hard, we’ve seen this blueline get killed with whenever Riems or Bernier doesn’t stand on their heads…

    You need two legit centers to do anything so before you can do a thing, you need to tank we all know this is the truth but no one in management has the balls to do it. Trade Bernier and Riems and just suck as bad as Buffalo for a year. With McDavid or Eichel then you go try to solve the goaltending problem in the off season.

    It’s that easy, you don’t have to blow up every piece in the roster, just put AHL caliber goaltending in net for a year we’ll likely miss the playoffs anyway. Again, it won’t happen as we’ll get another 10 years of this cycle or garbage instead. I’d be shocked if Nonis doesn’t flip our 1st by the deadline for a band aid.

    • CMpuck

      I hate when people are so thick that they think tanking is an actual strategy for a professional hockey team. So you think management is just going to pick up the phone and tell the players to stop trying ? Why does Buffalo ever win a game, or even score.. If they want to be last place ?

      Don’t be an idiot.

      • CMpuck

        Who said don’t try? I love how myopic people who criticize tanking are. The Leafs aren’t making the playoffs with or without ‘tanking’, you trade some recyclable young goaltenders for assets, then you can’t compete as well because you already have a thin blueline and when goaltending can’t bail you out you lose no matter how hard you try.

        So you don’t trade Kessel, JVR, Bozak, or ‘tear it down’ and you get a better lottery pick.

        Stay the course and pick 10-15th and get a third liner if you’re lucky instead? Enjoy watching the Leafs suck for another decade then.

        Trash this comment but I’m yet to read a better approach.

        • Jeremy Ian

          I understand the frustration here. But who’s going to pick up what?

          You can only trade what others want. We are not on La-La land. It’s a competitive industry driven by strategic thinking in which your choices are affected by other peoples’ preferences.

          You want a top 5 draft pick? What are you going to give away for that? Rielly? Kadri? What we’ve been waiting for years to cultivate? That’s the only solution?

          A race to the bottom as a road to the top is for fools! That is not what built LA, Chicago, St Louis, Boston, NYR, Montreal……

          • CMpuck

            Lol, can’t trade Bernier? Can’t trade Riems? You earn the top five pick by failing.

            Or we can stay the course and finish is an 11th overall pick. And go through the same misery for another year, and then another year….

            Chicago, Toews and Kane are top five picks, St.Louis never won a thing (AP is a top five you know) Boston sure could use Tyler Seguin right now, NYR lol as bad as the Leafs, Montreal ummm they suck too but have top five pick in Price and Galchenyuk….

            I’m yet to hear a better alternative, fire Carlyle and what then, we contend? I’m not even saying blow it up, just gut goaltending for a season.

          • silentbob

            If the teams core is torn down their own pick would be the top 5 pick they are looking for.

            And I hate to break it to you but almost all the teams you mentioned did spend time at the bottom and got so of their top talent, doughty, toew, Kane, pieterangelo, price etc…. While at the bottom.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Easy to answer
    1. Define your goal
    – Win the cup
    – Qualify for playoffs
    – meet internal revenue targets
    – just get me a better coach?
    [You might have to deal with reality that your goal does not match MLSE goal].

    Then answer
    1. Do you believe the core is good enough to win a cup/qualify for playoffs etc?
    2. Do you believe Carlyle is good enough to win a cup?
    3. Do you believe that Nonis, Dubas and Shanny are competent enough to win the cup?

    The reality is that because the cap, player contracts and other restrictions there are certain limits in what we can do. But this is the basis process.

    I find disappointing that many like to focus just on Bozak and Phaneuf’s crappy play or just Nonis incompetence or just getting Carlyle replaced because it is “easy” and trading players is too hard.

    • BubbaLou

      1. I don’t know, there are bright spots and dark spots and the crappy coach is making it all too blurry to tell.

      2. Carlyle won a Cup with Pronger, TWO Niedermayers, Getzlav, Perry, Penner in that good year, Beauch, prime Giggy, and great bit players like Kunitz. The following years, the Ducks’ performance increasingly got worse until he was fired. That young core was great, got steadily worse under Carlyle, and became great again after he left. RC also had issues with individual players in ANA for some reason – just like Toronto.

      3. Dubas’ team has not yet been in Toronto for a single trade since he’s been hired – because he’s the assistant GM, and the GM is supposed to shape the roster, it’s silly to say it’s his team’s fault. Shanny has not yet been here for a full calendar year either – He’s moving slow, just like he said, and it’s painful as hell, just like you and me thought.

      Nonis, until the offseason, indulged whatever Loiselle/Poulin/Carlyle wanted – what they wanted turned out to be inferior to the team they just had and let walk. Loiselle was publicly proud to support intangibles first and blew the Leafs’ cap, forcing us to dump Joe Colbourne for a 7th and draw the roster around it all year. Poulin made it loud and clear he didn’t understand what the new-age alarm bell stats were saying about the Leafs, and that they were probably false anyway as the season caved in around the team. Two of these didn’t even live to see another season under Shanahan. I’m still waiting for the last bags of trash to hit the curb.

  • Benjamin

    Befriend Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, go back to 1993, convince Randy to take up a post-retirement career as a used car salesman instead.

    Also, stop myself from stealing that Power Ranger action figure. That was foolish.

  • jasken

    They need to stay the course and keep evaluating. If your team has an “A” on Bozak they have a serious problem he is on the leadership is that some sick joke. I like Bozak but let’s be serious if this is the best that management and the players have to offer as a leader for any length of time you need a new team.

    Changing the lines up wont change anything because you still have the same players. What this team dont have is an impact player, blue chip defenceman, and a top end goalie. It’s nice to say we want a top line center but if he’s not an impact player you staying in mediocrity at a higher cost. Kessel is a great sniper but he’s not an impact player no more then Phaneuf is a blue chip defenceman and Bernier.Reims are not top end goalies. If you think these players qualify for any of the mentioned categories your fooling yourself. These are what the Leafs need to be competitive so blaming whoever except those who have the power and ability to acquire them is just pointless.

  • FlareKnight

    I think this group just needs to be TNT’d out of here.

    To say the roster is immovable isn’t quite accurate. If they decide that this whole phase since they brought in Burke has utterly failed and reset then you can move the bodies. Absorb part of the cap hits, if you are going to have to rebuild you don’t need that much cap to sign young guys and vets to fill out the roster.

    But I fully expect nothing to happen and that we’ll be left watching this nonsense for the rest of the season. Sadly Shanahan can get away with just saying “evaluation period” and basically a whole season has to be flushed down the drain before anything happens.

    • Jeremy Ian

      How will you do that?

      Kessel, Lupul, JvR, Clarkson, Bozak, Phaneuf, Robidas all have no trade clauses in their contracts.

      Blowing up the core is not a strategy; it’s hot air.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Maybe changing coaches isn’t always the correct thing, maybe we should make a trade. Definition of insanity “is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. This team is insane if they keep firing the coaches as a an easy result to win a cup. They need to make trades. The players are to blame.

  • jimithy

    The defense has not improved at all. And that is absurd. Flagrant miscues all over the ice, and the coaches let it continue! What is going on? The coaches are not coaching, they’re enabling.

  • silentbob

    Is it time to discuss dismantling the core of this team? I think the article answers it’s own question.

    Justin is right, the Leafs are an average team. It’s taken 6 long seasons to build this average team, and are there really any signs or indications of great improvement on the horizon?

    When Burke arrived here he set the Leafs on the path they’ve been on for 6+ seasons, and for the last 3 or so they have seemed to be walking in place. How long do you give it before acknowledging you’ve reached the end of that path and need to start over?

  • silentbob

    The Laffs should make a deal or two. I think many teams are realizing third and fourth line veteran players/role players are really undervalued. Especially those with a high hockey IQ. This team is full of inexperienced youth and some vets that are underachievers and/or mediocre.

    It may not be a bad idea to deal someone like Van Riemsdyk for a couple of proven, high IQ, playoff experienced vets. The current lineup is scary bad and I don’t see any rebound with this group. Poor character, some skill, a bit of grit…what’s the identity…it just looks like a big mess.

    • BubbaLou

      The last time this team doubled down on grit, they signed the silliest contract post-lockout to date and ran not one but two face punchers. It was last year. How did that one go again… almost historically bad.

      When you spend 2 seasons back to back to bring in “character”, and “character” is your failing, what’s that supposed to mean?

      Scotty Bowman had a good quote: “If you want players who are good in a room, put them in the room. I want players who are good on the ice”