When it comes to change on the Leafs, the focus has been on the most obvious area: the players. Sure there is the yearly “Fire Dubas” movement from those not over Lou leaving, but the latest collapse has put far more pessimism on the current roster, especially the core four.
At the same time, coaching changes are always the easiest to make, especially for an organization like the Leafs’ where it’s “only” a matter of paying them (shoutout to Mike Babcock). There’s been some discussion around Manny Malhotra after his first season in Toronto. Being in charge of the power play, we were all looking forward to seeing how lethal the man-advantage would be with the on-paper firepower at his disposal.
Unfortunately, it started out hot and quickly fizzled out to two-five minutes of nothingness so bad at times we tried to jump through our screens and beg the refs to keep their arm down.
There hasn’t been anything confirmed as to whether the Leafs are going to come back with the same names behind the bench as far as the assistants go.
Dave Hakstol joined up in June of 2019 and has been in charge of the defence. The team’s improved responsibility is on Sheldon Keefe (and T.J. Brodie), but Hakstol should get some credit as well.
And then there’s Paul MacLean, who you may have forgetting was a Leaf in the first place. MacLean wasn’t the prototypical ‘behind the bench’ assistant coach but was the eyes in the sky and did travel with the team on occasion.
All of this brings us to Saturday’s Headlines, where Elliotte Friedman mentioned that teams are asking to speak to the Leafs about their assistants without saying which teams and which coach.
I understand there’s a couple members of the Toronto coaching staff that other teams have requested to speak to, a couple of their assistant coaches. Don’t know where that stands at this time but if they don’t get these particular opportunities, sounds like the coaching staff is coming back as a group. If they do get these particular opportunities, there would be changes on Toronto’s staff.
If I were to take a guess, I’d bet it was for one of MacLean or Hakstol with a considerable edge on the latter. The former hasn’t coached since 2015 after being fired but has 219 games of experience with the Ottawa Senators making the playoffs twice. Sure it’s been a while but Michel Therrien is still a coach and the NHL has never shied away from the recycling machine.
Hakstol, on the other hand, broke out of the college scene joining the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015 and, similar to MacLean, made the playoffs twice.
As far as the teams go, perhaps it’s the Arizona Coyotes. They still don’t have a coach, and although they’ve been speaking to candidates, there hasn’t been a decision.
That could be something to track if you get bored of hoping for player transactions.
The New York Islanders tied the series 2-2 with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. There was a lot of chaos as the Lightning almost tied the game via Ryan McDonagh, but another Ryan was there to save the day.
Holy crap— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) June 20, 2021
Pulock went Vezina on McDonagh. That was going in. pic.twitter.com/wrnnicATVX
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