The Toronto Maple Leafs‘ season has gone down the drain and the finger pointing is officially in full swing.
One of the most popular trends has been to blame coach Randy Carlyle for Toronto’s current eight-game losing streak that will certainly leave the team on the outside of the playoffs. However, blaming Carlyle misses the bigger picture as the Maple Leafs are suffering from a severe personnel issue, not a lack of proper coaching.
Carlyle is a quality coach and a proven Stanley Cup winner who helped Toronto overachieve last season and came within 10 minutes of sending the Boston Bruins back to the drawing board in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for the Maple Leafs last spring, just like they didn’t in the spring of 2012 and just like they aren’t working out in the spring of 2014.
Ron Wilson took the blame in 2012, and many believe Carlyle is to blame for the same thing happening two years later. However, the real issue for Toronto isn’t the coaching — it’s the Maple Leafs’ core group of players who are proving they aren’t mentally tough enough to endure playing in the hockey crazed market of Toronto.
Players such as Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Mason Raymond and James Reimer can’t handle the pressure it takes to have routine success in Toronto. If it happens once then it can be passed off as a horrible meltdown; if it happens twice it can be considered a coincidence, but now that it is happening a third time it is without question a major flaw with the core of the roster.
Changes need to be made with the core of the roster before a coaching change should be made because Carlyle is the wrong person to blame for this season’s collapse. To lose eight games in a row at this time of the year is an issue about pride, and the core of the Maple Leafs’ is proving they don’t have any. Toronto will not find a better coach than Carlyle and to fire him without giving him another season with a new group of players would be a colossal mistake.