Immediately after a disappointing season is when the thirst for blood increases in biblical fashion. In some cases, like Randy Caryle's, it's pure media driven. Beat writers need something to write about when the year is finished.
The simple answer to why Carlyle won't be canned this year is that there are no better replacements. The complex answer includes Shanahan, the defense and the fact there are no coaches out there who are better.
The Brendan Shanahan Effect
When Tim Leiweke brought in Brendan Shanahan it wasn't to reinvent the wheel; it was to add an executive level (based on Shanny's time at NHL head office) leader who knows a thing or two about the game (HHOF+Cup Winner) to fill a vacant position within the organization.
Hiring Sheriff Shanny had nothing to do with the Maple Leafs gearing up to clean house with Shanahan immediately making a significant impact. What it did was put another hockey mind into the system to have a say on all hockey decisions. If I had to make a guess I would say it's more of a warning shot at Dave Nonis than Randy Carlyle.
Burke's team made the playoffs last year. Yes, it was still Burke's team. The moves Nonis made last off-season amounted to little or nothing, and I'd bet that will be reflected in his final assessment from those higher up in the organization. Don't get me wrong, if Nonis feels any rise in temperature on the back of his neck then it will be Carlyle that is dismissed first. The coach is always the first one thrown under the bus, but luckily for him he's usually not alone for long.
The Leafs aren't anywhere near a great defensive team. Fact. In spite of that they made the playoffs in the lockout shortened season buying into a system and getting some saves from the soon-to-be-exiled James Reimer.
This season was a completely different story.
The goaltending was actually better (re: Jonathan Bernier), but there was no system being bought into. The players never came back to buying into what Carlyle had set out the year before, and had success with. Sure, you could argue the players just aren't very good, but the more realistic answer is that they didn't play the way they were supposed to. They didn't do what they did in 2012-2013.
When defense comes up people are pretty quick to grab their torch and pitchfork and head for the doorstep of Dion and Elisha's house looking for a scapegoat. That's nonsense, in my opinion. Dion Phaneuf is a solid defenseman who is significantly overplayed and over-pressured. Phaneuf is a very good #3 defenseman, and he could be a good #2 if he was sheltered by a #1 on the top pairing.
As it stands now, the Leafs have no top pairing defenseman, and that's a problem. Is it the coaches problem? I guess, in a sense, it is because he has little to work with and games never get reflected on the craftsman of the roster, but it shouldn't be. It should be on Dave Nonis, and for the time being that's pretty apparent.
Lack Of Quality Replacements
Randy Carlyle is a good hockey coach, like him or hate him.
He's a Stanley Cup Winner who has a proven system, even proven in Toronto when the players are bought in.
In order to replace a guy like Carlyle, even if it's just because you want to sacrifice someone, you have to replace him with an equal-or-better guy. You can't bring in a less-than-adequate head coach to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs after a good coach has left. This isn't Buffalo.
So, who's out there?
Noel is a poor man's Tortorella, and by poor I mean 3rd World poor. He's got Tortorella's sarcasm and belligerence but without the ability to be a good coach.
For now he's safe in Vancouver, but he may become available at some point. The corporate Leafs would never hire John Tortorella in a million years. Brian Burke wasn't fired because he did a terrible job. He was fired because he has an opinion he isn't afraid to voice, in a loud, arrogant manner. He isn't a yes man. When Bell/Rogers took over the Maple Leafs they became an organization in a suit. The new ownership didn't like Brian Burke the person, so they canned him. If they didn't like Burke, they're not going to approve of Tortorella's antics.
I'd love to know why Barry Trotz is portrayed as this fantastic coach that is almost genius-like.
Here's a guy that has never won a division title, missed the playoffs in over half his seasons, lost in the first round in 5 of 7 playoff appearances and was ousted in the 2nd round the other two trips.
How is that indicative of a successful coaching career?
The only thing Barry Trotz is good at is making friends in high places. He befriended his boss and it gave him 15 years of employment within an organization with basement level expectations. I'm not knocking Barry for doing it, I mean great for him, he exploited a perfect opportunity. He kept his nose out of everyone's business and went about his work to achieve mediocrity in a city far less attentive to the sport than Toronto. In return, he got 15 years of Benjamins.
Former Cup Winner, check. Fiesty enough to handle the Toronto media, check.
Laviolette is probably the best option here, but he's still not as good a coach as Carlyle. His systems lack enough structure and are very offense dependent. The Leafs need a solid defensive system that can raise the level of play for the average group of defenders they house.
Carolina got lucky when they won the Cup, let's call a spade a spade. Yes, it's still a Cup Win, but it's not like anyone seen it coming, don't kid yourself. So by Carolina pulling a Cup out of the hat, so did Laviolette. I doubt he would have much of a coaching resume if he hadn't won that Stanley Cup.
When Laviolette went to Philadelphia he walked into the room and fired the team up, for a few months anyway, and then they all just quit. He made Claude Giroux captain when he shouldn't have and he tried to bring back the Broad Street Bully's with a team just not tough enough to do so.
He's a player mis-manager and a man without a plan. No thanks, Pete.
So, with those options, how can the Leafs really fire Randy Carlyle? Toronto isn't in a position to fire a guy just for the sake of doing it. They need a plan, they need their man and right now there is no coach available that can fill that need more so than Carlyle.
The Leafs are more than content to head into next season with Carlyle behind the bench, but if he can't get these players back on board then the imaginary hot-seat he was on this year will become a reality.