Speculation over who should become the next head coach of the Maple Leafs, game recaps, plus updates on the Jets defense corps and Brian McGratton’s future with the Flames.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL/TORONTO SUN/NATIONAL POST: All published lists of possible candidates to become the new head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Among the candidates: Detroit’s Mike Babcock, San Jose’s Todd McLellan, Arizona’s Dave Tippett, St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock, Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau, London Knights coach Dale Hunter, former New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer, former Pittsburgh Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma, former Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean, former Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Guy Boucher, former Canucks, Rangers and Lighnting coach John Tortorella, former Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen and former Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of options for the Leafs to consider. Of these, I’d say we can forget about Bylsma, Hunter, MacLean, Boucher, Dineen, Tortorella and Eakins. Hunter prefers to stay with his Knights and I don’t see the others as bringing real improvement to the Leafs. Babcock would be the best choice but I’m with those pundits and bloggers who consider this a pipe dream, as he seems to be angling for a more lucrative deal from the Wings. Tippett’s had varying degrees of success in Dallas and Arizona but I don’t think he can handle the pressure of coaching in Toronto. Ditto McLellan and DeBoer. If Hitchcock and Boudreau become available I think they would be worthy candidates. The Leafs could surprise us and either hire one of their current assistant coaches on a full-time basis, or look elsewhere for a replacement. Obviously the Leafs will seek the best available option this summer, but they must also provide that coach with a roster he can work with.
TORONTO STAR: Bruce Arthur believes the heat is now upon the Leafs core players Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak, who are all under expensive long-term contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Say what you will about Randy Carlyle, but much of the criticism about the Leafs play was focused more on him than the players. With Carlyle gone, the Leafs core players will come under more intense scrutiny. Speculation has already begun over what moves the Leafs should make to improve the roster and who should be traded. I’ll have more on that in my “Rumors” section.
TORONTO SUN: Analytics explains why Carlyle was fired, revealing hot goaltending can only take you so far, Nazem Kadri is the Leafs true first-line center and not Tyler Bozak, and luck is not something you can rely upon.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: Nick Bonino, Linden Vey and Ryan Stanton all ended lengthy scoring droughts to give the Canucks to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.
OTTAWA SUN: A shootout goal by Wayne Simmonds gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Four second-period goals lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, snapping the Habs six-game winning streak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Lightning and Canadiens meet again in the playoffs it won’t be a sweep for the Habs as it was last year. The Lightning dominated the Canadiens in both regular-season games this season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jordan Eberle’s two goals and Viktor Fasth’s 37 saves weren’t enough to prevent the Oilers from falling 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wing.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Some good news for the injury-ravaged Jets defense, as blueliners Mark Stuart and Tobias Enstrom have started non-contact drills with their teammates. Bogosian returned to full practice and could be in the lineup this weekend, while Stuart is well ahead in his recovery and could return soon.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames will soon have to make a decision regarding the future of popular but little-used enforcer Brian McGrattan, who could soon be placed on waivers and demoted.