The Toronto Maple Leafs wasted little time following the close of the 2014-2015 regular season, firing general manager Dave Nonis and interim head coach Peter Horachek on Sunday. Assistant coaches Steve Spott and Chris Dennis also received pink slips, while T-Dot also fired goalie coach Rick St. Croix.
This season was the second straight that saw the Maple Leafs come up short regarding the post-season.
The front office clean-out also included the firing of director of pro scouting Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes. Various others within the scouting departments were also impacted.
The Leafs will look to assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter to do Nonis’ job while the search for a new general manager is underway. President Brendan Shanahan hired both men and seems to have a considerable amount of faith in their abilities, as evidenced by the fact that they survived Sunday’s events.
Without a doubt, most people saw this coming. The firing of Nonis was done about a year too late in the minds of many and it’s long past time for a fresh start in Toronto. The Leafs’ recent well-documented stumbles were almost entirely a matter of architecture, no matter who was behind the bench, and it feels like sweet justice to see that the club finally recognized the source of its problems.
But it also somewhat stinks to see Horachek take the fall here. He was given a bill of goods the day he stepped behind the bench, with Nonis’ general inactivity giving him little to work with.
With the job done, it’s now on the Maple Leafs to look ahead. The draft will be important and they’ll have to change the culture of the team, which is no easy task. This is one of the most damaged locker rooms in the business and that’s probably saying an awful lot.
There are, of course, rumblings about replacements making their way through the pipes. One of the most intriguing names is Rob Blake, the current assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Kings. Admittedly, he’d be a nice fit for the Leafs. He has built up experience under Dean Lombardi and he’s in with Shanahan.
Coaching is another question mark, obviously, but something tells me the Maple Leafs will have an interesting surprise on that front.