The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Randy Carlyle, the team announced on Tuesday morning. Assistant head coaches Peter Horachek and Steve Spott will manage the Leafs during their next game, which takes place on Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.
The decision to fire Carlyle was made on Monday and was a joint decision by team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Dave Nonis, according to Darren Dreger of TSN. Toronto management will begin the replacement process immediately and will start identifying potential candidates. Dreger reports that there is no timeline for hiring a replacement, while Bob McKenzie states that the "most likely scenario" is that Horachek is named the interim head coach.
McKenzie adds that the industry is expecting several big-name coaching candidates to be available this summer. Detroit's Mike Babcock is in the final year of his contract with the Red Wings and would be free to take any job of his choosing.
Maple LEafs must read
Maple LEafs must read
Toronto has a 21-16-3 record, which has it in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. In addition, the team claims ownership to the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and has a one-point lead over the Boston Bruins. Despite this, the Maple Leafs have lost two straight and were collectively outscored 8-2 over that span. They are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and went 2-5-0 on their recent seven-game road trip. Their last game at Air Canada Centre was a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, 7-4.
Carlyle has been a polarizing figure in Toronto and his dismissal was called for on countless occasions. This was true regardless of the team's standing, as many pointed to the dramatic shot differential that often benefited opponents of the Maple Leafs.
It was speculated that Carlyle would become a casualty this past offseason after the shakeup in the front office, which resulted in the hiring of Shanahan as team president and Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager. Instead, the team gave Carlyle a two-year extension in May, but that ultimately wasn't a determining factor in Carlyle's long-term employment.
Having replaced Ron Wilson as head coach during the 2011-12 season, Carlyle led Toronto to a cumulative 91-78-19 record over 188 regular season games behind the bench. His tenure included one playoff appearance during the lockout-shortened 2013-14 season, where the Maple Leafs fell to the Bruins in a dramatic quarterfinal matchup that spanned seven games.