The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to make wholesale changes if they hope to ever be Stanley Cup contenders and if present general manager Dave Nonis has any street sense at all, he’ll move quickly to fire head coach Randy Carlyle.
It’s either that, or he too, could face the music for the late season collapse that has resulted in another dismal season for the Maple Leafs and another non-playoff campaign. The new Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment hierarchy, riding a high after the drastic improvement of the basketball Raptors, may not be so cozy as they were with Nonis in mid-season when the Leafs appeared playoff bound.
It’s hard to imagine after a training camp and 82 games of the regular season the Leafs defence still plays with so little idea of overall responsibility in their own end. That glaring failure rests squarely on the shoulders of Carlyle and for that he should walk the plank. Yesterday, it was revealed the Brendan Shanahan has been appointed president of the hockey club with Nonis staying on as manager. The news release didn’t mention Carlyle, which means he’s all but done.
It’s unfortunate Carlyle couldn’t remove five or six current Leafs via the trade route, but that’s too difficult to do because of long-term contract commitments. If the NHL operated in the real world instead of Fantasy Island, there would a lot more changes to various Canadian team personnel starting with Vancouver and including Edmonton.
Islanders in the show
Maple Leaf goalie Drew MacIntyre was solid Thursday in a 4-2 road loss to Florida Panthers in his first NHL start.
The Leafs D allowed Panther forwards plenty of space and time in front of the Leafs goal, just as they had when James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier guarded the pipes. With the exception of the Edmonton Oilers, the Leafs have collectively the worse defence in the NHL.
Summerside’s Brett Gallant certainly did not look out of place in his NHL debut Tuesday in the New York Islanders 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Gallant is the son of former Island Junior Hockey League star Pinky Gallant and he looks like he has earned a spot with the vastly improved Islanders, who are without a number of regulars including star John Tavares.
Readers will recall I had predicted a bright future for bantam AAA Abbies defenceman Chris McQuaid, a youngster I said was the best 14-year-old I ever saw on P.E.I.
At last week’s Irving Oil Challenge Cup Atlantics in Newfoundland, McQuaid was named the top defenceman. I’m not telling anyone what to do but if the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League ever want to ice a serious Memorial Cup team, getting McQuaid with their first midget draft pick is a huge step in the right direction. He may be a year or two away but he’s worth planning for right now.
Jim Poore, a junior and senior hockey star in Fredericton, passed away suddenly this week in his hometown.
Jimmy was a frequent visitor to the city track, worked 25 years with Moosehead and for the past decade was a regular presenter at the P.E.I. Wine Show. To all connected, our condolences.
Hall of fame
Word out of Fredericton is that Stratford’s Billy Hughes, a senior hockey standout and Poore’s teammate in the late 1960s, will be inducted into the Fredericton Sports Hall of Fame.
Hughes was a speedster with touch around the net and he teamed with linemates Bev Bawn and Bob Mabie to spark the Fredericton Caps to the Maritime and Eastern Canada intermediate A championship in 1960-61 and 1968-69. Hughes is a regular at the city track. Congratulations Billy.
The Island Storm headed into Friday’s Game 4 of their National Basketball League of Canada championship with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven lead.
A win would have given the club a chance to clinch the title tonight at the Eastlink Centre, but the Windsor Express is a talented team that finished first overall during the regular season.
The Storm’s standout point guard Adrian Moss had a run of four three-pointers and Mr. Consistent, Antonio Ballard, sank 35 points for the home team on Wednesday.
The supporting cast of Jeremy Williams, Nick Okorie and veteran guard Al Stewart made the difference.
On other occasions, it has been Ed Jones, Steve Tchiengang or Casey Love, that’s what makes this team so dangerous an opponent. This team has depth and talent, so let’s hope their great play continues tonight at 7 p.m.
Wally Hennessey’s selection to the Canadian Harness Racing Hall of Fame is the big news on this little Island and caps a most successful and continuing career. The little driver, who grew up on the corner of Euston Street and Peake in the centre of the city, has fashioned quite a career.
He will forever be linked to the great trot mare Moni Maker. Wally has banked more than $57 million and has won such majors as the Nat Ray, the Hambletonian Oaks and a Breeders Crown among his more than 8,000 wins. Congratulations Wally. The induction will take place early August in Toronto.
No live racing at the city track although that’s just a few weeks away. Lots of simulcast racing with action tonight from Woodbine, Yonkers and The Meadowlands.
At New York, there are three divisions of the Levy series for older pacers at $50,000. The Burke Stable has dominated this series and if you are driving against them, you’re likely racing for second or third. Iron sided and unbeaten this year Foiled Again and Betters Edge are a Burke entry in one race, while Hillbilly Hanover, Aracache Hanover and Easy Again are in another and Clear Vision, I Trust You and Special Forces are in yet another.
At the Meadowlands, the $30,000 top class has attracted the likes of Golden Receiver, Dovuto Hanover, Dynamic Youth, All Star Legend, Mojo Terror and Annieswesterncard.
At Woodbine, Avatartist, who won the $83,000 final of the Clyde Hirt final, heads a field of eight in the $34,000 feature attraction against horses like Cougar Hall, Top Gear, J J Shark, Machal Jordan, The Paninsulahotel, Daddy Warbucks, McKinney and In Commando.
Serge Savard Sr., Dr. Ian Moore and the owners of Arthur Blue Chip will likely miss many of the major three-year-old colt events as Arthur will likely be sidelined for the first half of the season. A tough loss indeed, so let’s hope he’s back for The Little Brown Jug, raced the third Thursday in September.
Local horseman Doug MacGregor is getting ready for the annual horseman’s curling championship set for today at the Charlottetown Curling Club. MacGregor and mates Mark Bradley and Blaine Baglole were seen throwing rocks and practicing Thursday and that my friends is frowned upon by other horsemen.
I wouldn’t worry about it, MacGregor has a habit of finishing second.
Fred MacDonald's column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.