Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No Mo time for coach Mo

"You're going to have new management, you're going to have new coaching, and you're going to have a number of new players,"— Cliff Fletcher, Maple Leaf interim GM announcing the departure of now former head coach Paul Maurice

Paul Maurice’s tenure as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs came to an end on Wednesday afternoon, as Cliff Fletcher began to clear the decks for an eventual President and GM for Canada’s most frustrating franchise.

Maurice who joined the Leafs organization in 2005, had been twisting in the wind since yet another Maple season ended out of the playoffs, was officially told his services were no longer required, sending him off in search of his third NHL team looking for a head coach.

The move by Fletcher is a reversal of sorts for the Leafs and a sensible one for an organization looking to rebuild from the ground up. Any new President and/or GM is likely to want to hire their own coaching staff, the Leafs over the last few years have managed to get that process reversed, usually hiring the GM who inherits a head coach.

Judging by the success rate over the last few years, it’s a process that hasn’t particularly been effective.

It’s unfortunate for Maurice, who is a good young coach and one who seemed a natural fit in Toronto having coached the farm club prior to his move up to the Air Canada centre, unfortunately for him, a coach can only coach, and the roster he was provided with didn’t particularly establish themselves as contenders for the majority of his time behind the bench.

It’s never easy to be told that you don’t fit in to a teams plans anymore, even harder when you’ve worked your way up diligently through the ranks and done exactly what has been asked of you, but the Maple Leafs are apparently on a mission this time and Maurice was just the latest of the baggage to be tossed over the side.

With Maurice released to seek out fame and fortune elsewhere, the attention in Leaf land now turns to the next phase of this glacial paced recruiting drive, with the latest name to pop up as a potential GM being Dave Nonis.

Reports out of Toronto were circulating before Maurice even had time to bid his farewells, a rather unusual plan that would see Nonis used as bait to lure everyone’s favourite battlin’ Irishman Brian Burke to Toronto.

We’re not sure if Nonis is to play the role of an Oscar show seat holder, filling in for the big stars while they tend to their regular business, but the idea of him taking on the GM’s job for a year while Burke works off the final year of his Ducks deal seems destined to add yet another chapter to the always entertaining Maple leaf follies.

Considering some of the craziness that has come out of Toronto in the past and could once again arrive in the future, perhaps Maurice may look back on this day as a day of liberation…

Globe and Mail-- Timing makes sense Why Now?

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