Like many of the past NHL seasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs started this year off on a tear. As they do every fall, the Toronto fans began getting wildly excited, hoping the Leafs were for real and ready to erase the memories of last year’s Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins.
And, as is often the case after the team starts out this hot, the Leafs eventually cooled down. They went from only losing four games in the month of October to only winning four in November. December hasn’t started out too great either, as Toronto is just 3-6 this month. Their latest defeat, a 3-1 stinker against the Florida Panthers Tuesday night, had players and coaches alike tossing around words like “no excuses” and “embarrassing.” This is due, in part, to the fact that Florida scored all three goals off Toronto turnovers.
With one of the most devoted fan-bases in sports ramping up the pressure on the team to improve from last season, one might think GM Dave Nonis might be starting to get a little anxious. He may be tempted to perhaps make a swing-for-the-fences trade or, worse, fire head coach Randy Carlyle. However, in speaking with TSN’s Darren Dreger, Nonis claimed he’s not turning up the flames on Carlyle’s seat anytime soon. During his coaching endorsement, though, he also shifted the pressure onto the players.
“The pressure right now should be placed on the players,” Nonis said. “I know Randy and the coaching staff is working hard. I’m not now, nor have I ever contemplated making a coaching change. The players have to respond.”
Though he claims he’s not interested in a panic coaching change, he did admit he’s looked into possible trade scenarios. According to Dreger, Nonis has received offers for numerous players on his roster, including James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. Despite all these trade winds, no move will be made if it doesn’t benefit Toronto in the long-term.
Even though the results have been lacking for the Leafs lately, they have to be relieved Nonis isn’t looking to make any snap judgments. At this point, a reactionary firing or trade might do more harm than good. This is, for the most part, the same team that pushed the Bruins to the brink last postseason. Sure they fumbled it, but for the majority of the last three games of that series, the Leafs looked scary. Blowing things up could derail them, especially if the hypothetical trade is a bust or the team reacts negatively to Carlyle’s firing.
As Nonis said, the only way this gets better for Toronto is if the players start responding. For the time being, nobody is going anywhere, so they’ll have to make do with what they have and figure out how to get the wheels back on the wagon.
Watch to see if the Maple Leafs respond to their GM and start to compete again in a weak Eastern Conference this season. Don’t miss any of the action all season long and be sure to get you Maple Leafs tickets today.