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Toronto Maple Leafs News & Notes: April 1, 2014

We’ve now hit the stage of the season when Toronto Maple Leafs fans and the media who cover this team grab their stethoscopes and all play everybody’s favourite game show, “What Went Wrong With This Team?”

Darren Dreger did his best to cover the butt of his cousin Dave Nonis, who also happens to be the general manager of the Leafs, on TSN 1050 yesterday afternoon. Here are the money quotes:

Let’s just pause here for a moment. Carter Ashton could very well be a serviceable NHL bottom-six forward, but there’s no way he could replace Nikolai Kulemin in the Leafs’ lineup. Anyway, moving on:

Remember to give @Hope_Smoke a follow to stay updated on all the crazy things Leafs management and Toronto media members say about the team on radio every day.

So to recap, according to Dreger, Nonis told Tim Leiweke and the rest of the board at Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment before this season that the Leafs would probably struggle for a couple of years. Dreger said later in the interview that “expectations were high” following last season’s playoff appearance, thus blatantly contradicting himself.

Then there’s this:

The whole thing reeks of Dreger backpedaling to try and save his cousin’s job. He even threw Randy Carlyle under the bus, like all of this is the coach’s fault for not “buying in” to a youth movement, even though it was Nonis who spent to the cap and gave that horrid contract to David Clarkson.

I take from these comments that Nonis could very well end up firing Carlyle by the end of this season. There’s also a chance Leiweke decides to totally clean house and get rid of Nonis and his cronies, the same way he cleaned out the front office with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.

Should be a fun offseason.

Meanwhile, David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail spoke with some scouts, general managers and other front office types from around the NHL about the Leafs’ issues, and apparently none of them think Carlyle or Nonis should be fired.

One of the “hockey people” Shoalts talked to suggested that Dion Phaneuf might perform better if he didn’t have the added pressure of being team captain, one theory that seems popular around the Twitterverse and blogosphere.

It’s funny, because I don’t think stripping Phaneuf of the C is going to do a darn thing to help this team. The issue here isn’t a lack of leadership, the issue is this team simply isn’t good enough and the coach can’t get them to play well enough on a nightly basis.

Speaking of the coach, Shoalts’ colleague James Mirtle looked at Carlyle’s history and sees a disturbing trend of teams he’s coached being horrible at puck possession. Those issues have only gotten worse in his stint with the Leafs.

Unfortunately, failing to adapt seems to be a symptom of the entire Leafs’ front office, not only the coach. Cam Charron of The LeafsNation has another take on the dumb comments Dave Poulin made on the radio yesterday.

Since Shoalts and others are calling for Captain Phaneuf to be replaced, SkinnyFish of Pension Plan Puppets and YakovMironov conducted an exhaustive search to find the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The results may surprise you.

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Tags: Darren Dreger Dave Nonis Dave Shoalts Randy Carlyle Toronto Maple Leafs

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