A couple of weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafswas contending for the eighth and final playoff spot. Nowadays, the Maple Leafs is once again contending for the lottery. Since having a three-game winning streak in early February, Toronto has gone cold losing 12 of their last 14 games. Their play of late certainly doesn’t sit well with the owners of Toronto Maple Leafs tickets. Having been deprived of a playoff game since the 2003-2004 season, the fans have already been tired of seeing their team compete for the lottery instead of the playoffs. The fans thought they had it this year but the fortunes weren’t in their favor.
Toronto is currently 12th in the Eastern Conference and trails the current 8th seed Winnipeg Jets by just five points. With 15 more games to go, the Maple Leafs can certainly make a solid run heading into the postseason and grab the final spot. The main problem, though, for this team is that eight out of their 15 remaining games would be played on the road where they are just 14-17-2. Adding more to the problem would be that 12 of the 15 games would be played against quality teams.
Due to the ongoing struggle of the team, the management decided to let go long-time coach Ron Wilson. General Manager Brian Burke announced the firing of his former college roommate on March 2. Though Burke had a tough decision in letting go Wilson, he had to move in another direction after seeing the team crash out of playoff position. Replacing Wilson on the sidelines of Toronto would be Randy Carlyle. When the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, Burke and Carlyle were the ones in charge of the team and their good relationship could certainly be beneficial for the team. The contract of Carlyle would be for three years including the remainder of this season, as per sources of ESPN.com.
Carlyle would be taking over a team that is one of the worst defensive teams in the league by allowing 3.1 goals per game. Fixing the defensive coverage of the team would be a very tall order for Carlyle and this should be a priority in every practice. If they want to end their playoff drought this season, defense would really be the key for the seventh-ranked offensive team. The team is 1-2 since Carlyle arrived.
In somewhat good news for the fans of the Maple Leafs, the team recently signed center Mikhail Grabovski to a five-year contract. The deal is worth $27.5 million or an average of $5.5 million per year. If Grabovski was not signed by Toronto, he would have become an unrestricted free agent come July 1. Rumors of Grabovski being dealt to other teams surfaced before the trade deadline but GM Burke elected not to do so. In 60 games played for this season, the 28-year-old Belarus native has 21 goals and 25 assists.
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