The Toronto Maple Leafs and their new President did the predictable and extended the contract of coach Randy Carlyle for two years. So much for making splash. Instead of making a bold move to right the listing Good Ship TML, the team off loaded ballast in the form of assistant coaches Dave Farrish, Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin. Hardly the fall guys for a Leafs season gone terribly, horribly wrong. For certain, Carlyle was hamstrung with lacklustre performances from many of his charges, but many of those players aren’t going anywhere soon. Which begs the question: Can Carlyle lead the Leafs back to the playoffs? You can bet Brendan Shanahan and Dave Nonis will hand pick Carlyle’s new staff, with an eye to bringing in name brand assistants (Kevin Dineen?). Of course, there were many reasons the Leafs were not nearly good enough to make the post-season, much less be competitive once there.
Outside of Phil Kessel (37 goals) and James van Riemsdyk (30), there was a woeful absence of game-breaking scoring this past season. Definitely, a number one, big body center is needed in Toronto, but the supporting cast needs to step up next season. Tyler Bozak is a capable second or third line center, but he is not high end. Eight of the top 13 scorers in the playoffs right now are star centremen like Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Anze Kopitar. After the Buds top line, production tailed off noticeably. Mason Raymond played better than his contract warranted, but the same could not be said of Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul or David Clarkson. Yes, the top six Leafs point-getters were forwards, but of the next six, five were defencemen. ‘Nuff said.