Leafs turf coach, face Habs


In a season like this one, Canadiens fans have had to take solace in small victories, like the emergence of a solid first line, the development of younger players and the recent addition of some size and toughness to the lineup.

Knocking off the crumbling Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday and crippling their playoff hopes further would be another one.

Toronto is in freefall, losers of six straight. They have one OT win and one regulation tie in their past 11 games — just 3 out of a possible 22 points — and are sinking fast in the East, currently in 11th spot, five points behind the Jets in eighth. The Leafs’ goaltending tandem of James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson has collapsed, the defence corps has been mistake-prone and — with the exception of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul (who could be playing injured) — the forwards have gone dry.

“Never would have predicted this at all,” defenseman Luke Schenn said during the week as the losses mounted up. “You hear of teams going into slides a little bit, and dropping maybe a few in a row, and getting out of them. But right now it’s hard to even think of what’s going on. No excuses. We’re just not getting the job done.”

Since it appeared less than a month ago the Leafs could achieve their first playoff spot since 2004, fans and some in the local media began calling for the head of coach Ron Wilson. Fans at the Leafs last home game  loudly chanted for his firing on Tuesday.

On Friday evening, they got their wish.

Wilson was replaced by Randy Carlyle, who coached GM Brian Burke’s Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007. Carlyle was replaced earlier this season by Bruce Boudreau (and the Ducks have played rather well since then, going 17-6-4 since Jan. 1 and making a second half charge that saw them climb back into the playoff chase to just four points a few days ago, although two losses this week now have them seven points back).

Some — like The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell — have started to train their sites on Burke, who made no moves at the deadline to improve his parent club’s roster, although he had said he’d explore trading for a goalie. Wilson pointed out his boss failed to make a trade in his post-game press conference on Tuesday (video), which couldn’t have helped his situation. That game marked his 1.400th as an NHL coach. He’s now stuck on 1,401.

But if the Leaf players had had enough of Wilson’s abrasiveness and harsh sarcasm, they may want him back after dealing with Carlyle. On TSN Friday night, Keith Jones and former Leafs coach Paul Maurice both praised the move (video). Jones liked that Carlyle demands discipline and hard work. “This is a tough, hard-nosed hockey coach that knows how to win,” he said.

Maurice likes the fact that Carlyle might work the hardest of all NHL coaches in matching lines.

“His teams are well-prepared, they play hard, all the things that Brian Burke wanted from a hockey club when he came here and he talked about what he wanted to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs, that’s the way Randy Carlyle’s teams play. And you saw it in Anaheim — very physical, they play a mean game, they play a hard game,” Maurice said.

“And if it’s not the line he wants on the ice, they’re coming off regardless of where the faceoff is. It will be a change from the free flow game they’re used to playing.”

In another TSN segment (video), Maurice and Jones note that Carlyle has always used a third line, a checking line in matchup situations, but he may not have the personnel on this Toronto club to form one from his current roster.

It’s always hard to say how a team will immediately react to a new coach. Sometimes a struggling team feels rejuvenated — or scared, or guilty — and responds right away, reeling off a series of good games. As the Canadiens demonstrated after Jacques Martin was dismissed this season, that is not always the case.

But it could be a good bet that the penalty boxes won’t be empty on Saturday.

It’s certainly unknown how the Leafs may line up on Saturday. Gustavsson was reportedly slated to start in goal against the Habs, although he looked shaky at times in a 6-4 loss in Chicago on Wednesday. The overtime goal he gave up in his previous outing to the Devils Mark Fayne won’t be going on his personal highlight reel.

“It is true that Burke carries the blame for the fact the Leafs entered the season with a pair of unproven goalies – and if you thought Wilson’s bedside manner with Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer was slightly indelicate, the new guy doesn’t do touchy-feely all that well, either – and also true that the Leafs finally made improvement in their special teams,” Jeff Blair wrote for Saturday’s Globe and Mail.

“But this season was marked by a startling regression in the play of youngsters Luke Schenn and Nikolai Kulemin in particular, two players who blossomed under Wilson, and that’s never a good sign – particularly for an organization whose GM spent the better part of four years weeding out what he thought were faint-hearted and modestly talented holdovers from the previous regime….”

“This hiring will be taken as a sign that Burke wants this team to get into the playoffs after missing the previous six postseasons, at a time when the stewardship of team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is in flux.”

Thanks to Toronto’s slide, as Campbell points out, both the Habs and Leafs could simultaneously miss the playoffs for just the fifth time in NHL history, 2006-07, ’69-70, ’25-26 and ’19-20 being the only other occasions.


  1. boing007 says:

    PG should have brought up Clement Jodoin to replace Martin. It would have spared us much gnashing of the teeth and protest demonstrations in front of the Bell Centre.

    Richard R

  2. Danno says:

    Tune in tonight for the Epic Clash of the Randy Coaches


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  3. steve17 says:

    Burke should be fired! Didn’t he just give Wilson a one year extension? How does a GM give extensions to coaches who have not moved the team ahead? At the very least, Wilson’s salary for next season should come out of Burke’s pocket for making such a bone head move.


  4. habsfaninphx says:

    Leafs are such Montreal wannabes. We fire our coach and replace him with Randy C so they have to fire their coach and replace him with Randy C. Very original.

    • savethepuck says:

      Interesting article. Did you check the results of the poll question on the right though? I found the results kinda surprising coming from a Toronto newspaper. Their fans are as negative as ours, far from the Toronto fans I know here in NB.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

  5. 44har48 says:

    What’s all the hubablub about Toronto? They are insignificant, and we have our own challenges to deal with.

  6. HabinBurlington says:

    Don Cherry will be very happy with this news. Carlyle will help the Leafs in the long run, hard to say how much of an impact this season. The relationship between Carlyle and Lupul will be of particular interest to watch. Lupul was quite happy to get out of Anaheim and said as much upon arrival in T.O.

    Something to be said for Toronto, at least when Burke made the decision he had a permanent replacement at the ready. Our own coaching change was not handled as well.

    CBC will have lots of fun with the pre game amble tonight, should be interesting.

    Go Habs Go! We can concentrate on our draft position during the western road trip next week.

    Optimists and Tankers Unite!

    • Cal says:

      For 1 night only- let’s sweep the leafs into large orange bags and deposit them on the corner.

    • Whatever says:

      Must be nice to be able to make a coaching change when you can choose from 100% of the available candidates. Around here, PeeWee coaches from house leagues in Quebec are more qualified than Stanley Cup winning coaches.

  7. Captain aHab says:

    Well I got tired of Randy: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/36f8nc/

    McGuire for GM!
    Roy for Coach!
    Sh*t for Brains!

  8. Cal says:

    When it comes to the Laffs, the words “rat’s ass” comes to mind.
    The one who should have been canned is Burke. How many years at the helm without 1 playoff round? Stating crap like, “we don’t want to make the playoffs, our goal is to win the Cup.” Really? With no players on the team that have been there before? Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

  9. JUST ME says:

    It`s about time ! Comes at least a year too late.
    I think that Burke was cornered since last saturday when Wilson threw Reimer under the bus blaming him and by the same token the G.M. for not making a trade at the deadline.
    With the ¨fire Wilson ¨chants at the ACC it became impossible to go further . So the arrogant duo had to be broken up.

    Burke hires another buddy to take over in Carlyle and although a change was necessary and the guy deserves a chance, Burke is still within the realm of the old friends and still does not step out of the dinosaur era. I heard that Carlyle has signed a 3 year deal but cannot seem to confirm anywhere cause if it is so, i fail to see any real changes in the Leaf`s mentality. Would have given him the interim job but don`t know if he would have taken it…

    Now the eyes are turned towards Francois Allaire the goalie`s coach who is blamed for the poor netminding. Can`t blame the guy ,he has to work with two yougsters playing in a very fancy market.

    Funny how Burke always seems to duck in time when criticism is in the air…

  10. theflower says:

    OK I decided to do a POLL and this is a tough one for me, because I hate the Leafs and I can’t stand them beating us ever, so part of me wants to see us Win tonight, now on the other hand winning could move us up to 13th in the East tonight pushing us away from a top 3 pick that we need, so here is the POLL.

    A – Beat the Leafs tonight!

    B – Lose to the Leafs to maintain last place.

    Put your choice and your reasons below, should be a fun one:)

    • The Cat says:

      The only thing that makes Montreal and Toronto a rivalry nowadays is that both think theyre the centre of the hockey universe. Neither have their house in order and neither are as relevant as they think they are.

      [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

    • Habsman1970 says:

      I am with ya as I would prefer better drafts now than “W’s”, so my solution is I don’t root form the Habs to lose, but I don’t root for Toronto to win either. Looking at it this way allows me not to root against my team but still positions us for key picks at the draft 🙂


    • LizardKing1967 says:

      There is two things in life you MUST have as a HABS fan:
      NEVER lose to the Bruins, and NEVER, EVER lose too the Leafs.

      I want that high draft pick, but we’ll have alot of other games to lose before the end of the year.

      I cannot fathom losing to the Laffs, for whatever reason it would be. NEVER!

      Drive for 25. 2012-2013. Max-Pac for Conn Smyth.

      I BELIEVE!

    • punkster says:

      High draft picks do not guarantee any amount of short or long term satisfaction. Beating the Loafs is a sure fire pick-me-up at any time.

      Go for the W.

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

    • Cal says:

      Win tonight because of the Montreal-Toronto thing. Lose until the final game of the season and spoil the Laffs trying to make the playoffs party. Don’t see the Habs making up ground on any team in front of them, meaning a top 3 pick is heading to the Habs.

  11. Bogie Man says:

    Where would we be if Molson had the cahoonas to not only let JM go but got rid of PG at the same time and replace both of them with a real GM and a real coach (not an interim one)?

    This is the difference right now and the sacrifice has got to start at the top and it has to be for the good of the team. Until we replace RC, PG with permanent fixtures, move Gomez to either waivers or buy out contract and do the same with Kaberle (admit mistakes and rectify them) we are not going to see the boys win consitently. This year has been a train wreck, Molson had plenty of oppertunities to make it right but refused to admit that he was wrong to begin with. Molson’s ego is apparently bigger than his pocket book and we the fans suffer by watching this team game after game be humiliated and disgraced.

  12. Habs fan in SF says:

    living in the bay area for years now, i’ve seen ron wilson coach some very good sharks teams. he couldn’t get them to the next level, but the jury will soon be out on todd mclellan too if he can’t get the sharks to at least a stanley cup final. i do like ron wilson’s swagger though. i do think he’s a decent coach and will probably coach again somewhere else. with that said, f the leafs!

  13. daveho29 says:

    LOL, was just flipping channels and stopped on Viggo Mortenson doing an interview for the movie “the Road”. Had a Habs flag next him to the whole time.

  14. D Mex says:

    I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this headline.
    Wilson is an arrogant, antagonistic ass.

    ALWAYS Habs –
    D Mex

  15. H.Upmann says:

    For f*** sakes this makes ZERO difference! Our management sucks!!!!!!! Capisci????!?!??!?! who cares if we beat the Leafs or not at this point. Look at that empty sack of crap called PG who is completely in it for himself and trying to save his own a$$…. and Yes, sorry BG, get outta here…….. once a hero, but now you’re just ruining this F’N thing.

    Ok i’m good now lol! 🙂

  16. martin says:

    aj: so Kaberle is ok? If anything it’s all of management that should go. Who brought these guys in? The player does not make the the whole of the team. The GM does. Gomez is among 12 players yet nobody mentions Kaberle 1 of 6(7) who has not been yelled at. It’s real easy to talk but to talk with meaning sure seems difficult around here.

  17. aj says:

    Maybe if the fans can voice out tomorrow and chant to “FIRE GAUTHIER”, Geoff Molson might listen and just give in….

    I think its time to have a GM change. Now that Brian Burke’s job is on the line too in Toronto, probably this is the right time to and better, the first team in the league this season to fire their acting GM.

  18. martin says:

    @matt really? You’ve been following Gomez that long? So if he is that bad what’s that say for you following him? Now your probably worth 10.00$ and if I offered you 25.00$ for whatever it is you might do, would you say no? Yes players could give more but they are not set up with the right tools to do the job correctly. Dump and chase with d-men twice your size hitting you in the corners? Your ginna tire out or get injured. Build the team with coaches style and teams profile to match.

  19. savethepuck says:

    Was enjoying my night with my girlfriend, rented a couple of movies, watched them and turned on TSN. Hate to admit it gives me pleasure seeing problems with the Leafs, and I find it hilarious that Wilson gets fired a couple of months after being given a contract extension. Amost as hilarious as Leafs fans thinking Reimer was their next ( wait a minute I’m having a hard time thinking of the last great Leafs goaltender, was it Johnny Bower?) savior who some said would win the Vezina this year ( yeah I seriously heard it said). Anyways I think there has been 4 previous coaching changes this year but I may of missed 1, Hitchcock took over and had the Blues playing great hockey off the start. the other 3 replacements of Muller, Boudreau and Cunneywoth had their teams get off to horrible starts under them but 2 of them have turned it around and are playing great hockey ( our coach isn’t 1 of the 2 btw). So how will the Leafs respond tomorrow night? I expected Reimer tomorrow because the pattern has been Reimer sucks then Gustavsson sucks then Reimer sucks then Gus ( you know where I’m going here). Curious to see what they bring tomorrow night now.

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

    • LafleurGuy says:

      Try not to be as inbred as many here in Toronto are. Quality goalies who have lplayed here include Potvin, Joseph, and Belfour. Habs fans are generally better-informed tha Leaf fans.
      “May you live in interesting times.”

  20. smiler2729 says:

    So is Red Light Reimer starting or The “Monster”? lol

    Blowhard Burke’s next on the unemployment line but I don’t really care.

    Jack Edwards is a clam, Bruins are pukes.

  21. zaq007 says:

    So our top 4 defense for next season sounds pretty sweet on paper so far
    Markov (hopefully) -Subban (most minors for Dmen)
    Gorges (Most Blocked Shots) -Emelin (#2 in hits for Dmen)

    Question is who rounds out our bottom 2 next year? Kaberle,Diaz, Weber or some UFA?

  22. otter649 says:

    Remember going back to when Demers/Savard & company were fired and Houle/Tremblay came in & first game played was Habs/Leafs which Montreal won…….

  23. martin says:

    The new coach RC is a student of the old whom if you paid attention is not very good. PP sucks still. Part of a coaches job is putting players in a position to succeed and help the club but not our idiots. Think of your job if you were placed with the wrong pieces? Would you still be as good or would your work falter? We have no identity so you have no cohesiveness besides the first line. Gomez would have a place here if he had the support or design around him as other players also. They are set up to fail by a failure GM and coaches.

    • matt jordan says:


      Gomez has had every opportunity to succeed, he just sucks. In order to be good at your job, you still have to try on occasion and keep improving yourself, something Gomez has not done. He decided to quit doing that once he got his big contract.

      • aj says:

        @ matt jordan:

        The “irony” of your comment is that when Habs fans here saw Gomez perform very well right after his embarrasing moment with Randy Ladouceur, ppl here at HIO started to make comments that he can stay here (yeah right! 2 goals for this season will honestly make Gomez impress his coach as a sign of ‘improvement’ as to what commenters are saying. hahaha to them as well!!). Like you, I see him as useless and like you said, Gomez has not done anything to improve his game.

        EDIT: Just to let you know to those ppl who disagreed with me earlier this morning, I stand by my last comment: “SCOTT GOMEZ HAS TO GO!”

  24. EricInStL says:

    It will be a very interesting first period tomorrow night. The buds should come out very very strong.

  25. Marc10 says:

    Oh we don’t want this guy… He never got it done in SJ with that stacked lineup… He’ll never get it done.

    • Clay says:

      So…doesn’t that mean that ‘we’ (Habs fans) do want him then (to coach the Leafs)?

      ☞ If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong. ☜

  26. Rainrocket16 says:

    I am just glad our team doesn’t freak out and panic leading to organizational firing…… Uhhhh

  27. Stev.R says:

    But he was doing such a good job!

  28. Habalisous says:

    Tooooo funny, I predicted this a few days ago. Ron out, Randy in. Unfortunately the laffs now have a much better coach.

  29. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …don’t know if they will turn around under Randy Carlisle enough to make the playoffs, but the MuppleWeeds, in time, will be a very tough team to play against goin’ forward than they were under Ron Wilson

    HIS’ Official Habs’ Fan Theme Song: Morrissey ‘There is a light that never goes out’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjObvIQtsLk&feature=related

    …the Montreal Canadiens organization and Our Fans, as a whole need to feel this current cold frigid splash of reality, …this process will, hopefully, give Us a long needed sense of humility, not humiliation …and help to revive and renew Our tattered culture of high hockey ideals, and ultimate success in the near future
    …ride the wave, is all We can do as Fans: …Ownership must make the right choices, persevere, and act not talk

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

    • 24 Cups says:

      Surrey – What’s up with the new signature? Your last two messages are just seven lines in total, yet they take up half the page here on HI/O.

      Why not just post it once and then move on?

  30. Habitant in Surrey says:

    @ Habs17 …funny, You are One of the very irrational few Whom believe Scott Carlos Gomez is good for the Montreal Canadiens, AND You now want Ron Wilson to coach Our Habs

    …yikes Boy ! …We All have the right to an opinion…I guess 🙂

    HIS’ Official Habs’ Fan Theme Song: Morrissey ‘There is a light that never goes out’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjObvIQtsLk&feature=related

    …the Montreal Canadiens organization and Our Fans, as a whole need to feel this current cold frigid splash of reality, …this process will, hopefully, give Us a long needed sense of humility, not humiliation …and help to revive and renew Our tattered culture of high hockey ideals, and ultimate success in the near future
    …ride the wave, is all We can do as Fans: …Ownership must make the right choices, persevere, and act not talk

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

  31. matt jordan says:

    This is the Canadiens Stanley Cup this year, playing spoiler for the Leafs.


  32. habs17 says:

    we should give ron wilson a call, anything better then RC

    President of the Scott Gomez Fan Club

    (I support Scott Gomez)

    • jedimyrmidon says:

      Please, no. Habs should do what Ottawa did and look elsewhere for the best coach available. Of course, there’s the language issue.

      And I really feel for RC. He was essentially put in a place to fail. Hopefully, he’ll remain part of the organization. It would surprise me, but they could keep him around next season if they reconstruct the team a bit.

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