The big news of the week was the extension of Randy Carlyle as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a sub-par season which saw the Leafs lose 12 of their last 14 games, many fans saw Carlyle as a lame duck- just waiting to be fired by newly hired President Brendan Shanahan. Taking the fall instead was Carlyle’s staff of assistant coaches, all of whom were relieved of their duties. General Manager Dave Nonis’ staff of assistants has also been dismissed. I view the move as ownership and management biding their time for a better option to present itself. Without an obviously better replacement available, firing Carlyle would only serve to pacify angry fans and not improve the team in the long run. Extended contract or not, Carlyle’s leash in Toronto is short. If the team fails to produce results next season, he will be on his way out. We all remember Ron Wilson being fired just months after his contract was extended.
2012 6th round pick Connor Brown has been named the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player of the 2013-14 season. Brown, 20, led the OHL with 128 points this year as he captained the Erie Otters to an Easter Conference final. The Otters were swept in that series by the Guelph Storm, who are captained by another Toronto draft pick in Matt Finn. Finn’s Storm went on to win the OHL Championship.
The IIHF World Championships are underway in Minsk, with a number of Leafs taking part in the tournament. Three Leafs are representing Canada: James Reimer, Nazem Kadri, and Morgan Rielly. Reimer started in net during the team’s first game against France and put in a good performance despite losing 3-2 in a shootout, Rielly nearly scored on a virtually empty net but was robbed by a diving Cristobal Huet.
The Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, have started their semi-final series against the Chicago Wolves. The Marlies took game 1 of the series 5-2, Peter Holland leading with way with a goal and two assists. Drew MacIntyre also had a great game, stopping 37 of 39 shots. The second game of the series will be played tonight at 8 p.m. on LeafsTV.