Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner presents team with dilemma
The human conundrum that is Jake Gardiner may end up challenging the relationship between Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and general manager Dave Nonis.
On one side is Carlyle, often frustrated by Gardiner’s play and decision making, not committed to playing the young defenceman every night and in every situation.
The talented but erratic Gardiner would represent a challenge for any coach. But for a coach who demands specifics as much as Carlyle does, this almost seems like a relationship doomed to fail.
This is where Nonis fits in. He has the patience of Job. He’s not willing to make a determination of Gardiner, either way, this early.
He believes too many teams have made mistakes determining the fate of young defencemen, way too soon. It’s his inclination to allow Gardiner to develop at whatever speed is necessary. Carlyle, who hasn’t said as much, can’t possibly agree.
What neither Carlyle nor Nonis can answer for certain now: Who is Jake Gardiner? And what kind of player will he be?
And when, and under what parameters, will all that happen?