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How Is This Team Still in the Playoff Hunt?

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Dick save.
Dick save.

Mid-season coaching changes fairly rare in Toronto, but could the impact this time be like the spring of ’59? - Mike Langlois at Vintage Leaf Memories

Off the top of my head, I don’t think there have been that many mid-season (or late-season) coaching changes in the time since I started following the Maple Leafs in the late 1950s. While there have been quite a number of new coaches brought in, especially in the past 35 years, most moves (firing/hiring) were done after the season and/or in the summertime.

The most famous Toronto mid-season "near" firing was when owner Harold Ballard dismissed the ever-creative (if very defensively-oriented) Roger Neilson during the latter stages of the 1978-’79 season. The Leafs had a good team but were under-performing in Neilson’s second year at the helm. He was axed, but then-captain Darryl Sittler (left) and some fellow teammates begged Harold to keep Roger on, and Ballard relented. (Yes, the story has been told many times that Ballard demanded that Neilson show up at the Gardens on Saturday night and wear a bag over his head as he came out from the Leaf dressing room and walked to the bench. This was because Ballard had not publicly revealed he was "re-hiring" Neilson and wanted to get a publicity boost out of the "mystery coach" angle. Neilson refused but kept his job anyway—at least until the Leafs got waxed in four straight by the powerful Habs in the playoffs that spring. Then, he got whacked again, along with long-time GM Jim Gregory. (Interestingly, Randy Carlyle is actually, in some ways, pretty close to Neilson in their approach to coaching. Both preach/preached a defensive style, with each player having a very clear role on the team. They also like/liked having some toughness throughout the roster.)

Follow the link for jump. The rest of your links are after the jump.

Leafs Links

New Leafs' Coach Carlyle Begins Patchwork

New boss in town has a lot of work to do.

The Maple Leafs Legacy in My Lifetime

Mike with Part VI, the 2000s.

Brian Burke Confused Me on March 3rd

Talking Brian Burke's pre-HNIC interview and Cherry's rant.

Keep It In Perspective

BCP wants to remind you that all the Leafs did was beat the 15th place team in the East.

Leafs - Habs Scoring Chances

Cam Charron does the work so you don't have to.

The Carter XVIII

Jeffler interviews the newest member of the Leafs organization: Carter Ashton

So too did Andrey Oshadchenko

Why Brian Burke Had to Fire Ron Wilson

The Hockey Writers weigh in.

Other Links

Taking a Stand to Change Locker Room Culture

More on Patrick Burke's You Can Play Project.