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article imageOp-Ed: What's the over/under on when the Leafs fire Randy Carlyle?

By Rocco Pendola     Sep 10, 2014 in Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan has his fall guy in place headed into the season. But will he have to use him?
That's really the overarching question as we head into what will be a pivotal season for the Leafs' organization. More cold and calculating than a Director of Player Safety suspension video -- Shanahan has set himself up to succeed even if he and the Leafs fail in the initial stretch of the 2014-15 National Hockey League season.
No matter what happens in October through the holiday period, Shanahan wins. If the Leafs sputter out of the gate, he fires Carlyle and hires a coach who works better within the forward-looking confines of the club's new direction. That'll be something like the company line. If the Leafs perform well early on, but (implode and) fail to make the playoffs or exit in anything close to the way they did in 2013 against Boston, Shanahan sacrifices Carlyle.
In these scenarios or scenarios like them, Shanahan brings in a new coach who would round out the changes he already made both on the staff and in his front office. When asked why he didn't just start 2014-15 without Carlyle, he can argue he felt like the veteran deserved a chance to win with a group of players who, by and large, like him.
Best case scenario for everybody involved -- the Leafs make the postseason and put forth a respectable showing. Because, while Shanahan might have banked time for himself and the new regime by effectively hanging Carlyle out to dry, it's a game of organizational chicken Leafs' fans won't be happy about if it means another mid or offseason reset.
Think about it -- if the Leafs are flat out bad, underperform or collapse again, should fans believe all is well outside of Carlyle and Dave Nonis, who, quite possibly could find himself out of a job as well? Probably not. Which means we'll also (finally) see a wholesale turnover of talent, meaning nobody -- from Phaneuf to Kessel -- will be off limits next offseason or maybe even up to the next trade deadline. Which means Shanahan can be slow to change everything because it extends his shelf life if he's able to blame it on the coach (and maybe the GM) first and, subsequently, the players.
As usual, winning could cure everything, making a seemingly shrewd and cunning plan from the former Director of Player Safety moot.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Toronto Maple Leafs, randy carlyle, brendan shanahan, NHL, Hockey
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