Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Leafs fire Maurice

The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired coach Paul Maurice, sources tell TSN.

Maurice had one year remaining on his original three-year contract.

The native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was hired by dismissed Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. Ferguson has since been replaced by interim GM Cliff Fletcher, who had been non-committal about Maurice's future with the club.
The Leafs will have a news conference at 3 p.m. later today, and I'll have my eye on that.

This is a surprising move, not because Maurice was fired, as he's coming off two playoff-less seasons, but because Toronto doesn't yet have a new general manager. I find it very hard to believe the organization would want to make this move without any word from Ferguson's potential replacement, which in my mind means we're very close to hearing who the next GM is.

Maurice is relatively popular with the media here, but the fact is that this team underachieved in his two years, finishing with a 76-65-22 record, and he would have likely been turfed by any incoming management. He had a year remaining on his contract.

This move could have been a preemptive strike, with potential GM candidates that have been interviewed thus far indicating they'd want their own coach. Or, maybe more likely, we'll know who the new GM is at 3 p.m.

There are plenty of great coaching candidates available, from Pat Burns to Pat Quinn, Peter DeBoer, Craig Hartsburg, John Anderson, Bob Hartley and potentially even San Jose's Ron Wilson.

UPDATE Pension Plan Puppets thinks this should have happened in January.

UPDATE The talking heads on Sportsnet seem to think this is a move made by interim GM Cliff Fletcher to "clear the decks" for the new boss, although that makes me wonder why this wasn't done earlier.

UPDATE Former Stars GM Doug Armstrong was on the Fan 590 today and said he has yet to be contacted by the Leafs about their open position, which strikes me as odd.

The only other reason I can think of for today's press conference could be that Toronto has signed Fabian Brunnstrom.

UPDATE The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts spoke with Maurice and has a good handle on what this means in the GM search. In short, we won't know who the new leader is for a while.

I'll have another entry to cover off whatever happens in the 3 p.m. announcement.
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16 Comments:

At 12:10 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Peter Hart said...

Watching them play, they looked really badly coached - hardly ever completing passes, for example. They won't get better any time soon.

 
At 12:28 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Karina said...

Peter, wouldn't it follow that if they were really badly coached last year, they would get better with a new coach?

Sad to see Maurice go because he was always entertaining in the media, but his on-ice product speaks for itself.

 
At 12:44 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Maurice is relatively popular with the media here, but the fact is that this team underachieved in his two years, finishing with a 76-65-22 record, and he would have likely been turfed by any incoming management. He had a year remaining on his contract.

You really believe they underachieved? To me, Mats Sundin is the only reason this team could still sell hope of a playoff birth. Frankly, they had a couple decent players here and there, but a team that is forced to play Chad Kilger as much as they did has some problems.

The team did as much as they could accomplish in 2006-07, but were held back by shoddy goaltending. LAst year, they came back to reality in spite of having solid goaltending.

 
At 12:47 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

James - I think we might actually be seeing the end of the GM search process just based on the timing of the announcement.

Karina - Maurice was a great interview and a likeable guy but his coaching was questionable at best (line matchups, timeouts, the blender) and incompetent at worst (PP, PK)

 
At 12:49 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

You really believe they underachieved?

Yes. This could have been a playoff team with someone like Claude Julien running the show.

 
At 12:52 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Karina said...

I completely agree, PPP. It was just nice to have a coach around here who had a sense of humour.

Who's the Marlies coach right now? He has NHL experience, doesn't he?

 
At 1:02 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

"Yes. This could have been a playoff team with someone like Claude Julien running the show."

I agree. I think there winning streak followed by losing streak shows they clearly have the potential to win when they want to, or when they're prepared or motivated.

 
At 1:06 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

There were actually a bunch of clear cut coaching failures this season for the Leafs.

In a game against Carolina, up 3-1 with under two minutes left, Maurice iced a line with no defensive prowess and left them on the ice for two goals to force OT where the Leafs lost.

I like Maurice as a person, I'd grab a beer with him and watch a game, but he needed to be fired a long time ago.

 
At 1:07 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Who's the Marlies coach right now? He has NHL experience, doesn't he?

Greg Gilbert. He coached the Flames for about 120 games, and has done a nice job with the Marlies this season.

I'd say he's a longshot.

 
At 1:33 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

Who's the Marlies coach right now? He has NHL experience, doesn't he?

Toronto just tried that experiment. Paul Maurice did a great job coaching the Marlies.

 
At 1:38 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

In Maurice's defense, some nights he only had one line with defensive prowess, and he couldn't play them for the entire third period. And I really don't think this team was as talented as Boston - and that's pretty meager. They had an extended winning run, which was impressive, but pretty much every team in the league went on at least one run this year, including lots of others that missed.

I wanted to like Maurice as a coach, but at the same time there really wasn't much that was positive. There was no consistent effort, no young player development, poor special teams, and the same players tended to get quality ice time regardless of their results. A lot of this is a function of the players he had (and that's why I don't mind at all that he dithered with the line combinations) but surely a better coach could have made a positive influence somewhere.

And he went with Raycroft a lot at the start of the year, which kind of makes me think Maurice is a slow learner...

 
At 1:43 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Karina said...

Oh, I don't think the Marlies' coach would be promoted to the Leafs, I was just wondering who it was.

TSN is reporting that the news conference is just to address the firing of Maurice. I think it's just that the Board feels it's time to give some sort of update to the fans, even though nothing really has changed.

 
At 1:45 PM, May 07, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Yes. This could have been a playoff team with someone like Claude Julien running the show.
Ah yes, the one year playoff guarantee. Julien is not a long term solution, though. Eventually, his methods stifle progress. Boston will learn this if not next year, then the year after. Lams, quite harshly, noticed the signs early.

Inconsistency is built into the Leafs team. It is not a symptom of the coach, but rather the philosophy that has shaped this team since the Quinn era. I don't blame Maurice for that.

 
At 2:09 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Would Maurice have been fired if Sundin had waived his no-trade clause? I suspect not.

 
At 2:28 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

Inconsistency is built into the Leafs team. It is not a symptom of the coach, but rather the philosophy that has shaped this team since the Quinn era. I don't blame Maurice for that.

I hope the next coach is as inconsistent as Pat Quinn. I'd love to see 6 playoff appearances in 7 years, two conference finals, and 5 years with more than 97 points (including 3 over 100) before the bonus point.

Not to mention being consistently better than the Habs.

Bring back that kind of inconsistency.

 
At 2:57 PM, May 07, 2008, Anonymous Peter Hart said...

Well, last year I saw Boston once in person and TO twice I think. Small sample size, but Boston had a pretty shallow depth too so - goalies aside - comparable. TO were so lack lustre, clumsy, slow etc., it was really not fun to watch. Boston were uptempo and played well as a team. Yes, a better coach could surely do better with the younger players, but what a drag McCabe and other vets will surely be.

 

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