Rumor: Burns to replace Maurice?

The latest rumor out of Toronto has former Maple Leafs coach Pat Burns possibly taking over the head coaching duties from Paul Maurice.

According to Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Burns could replace Maurice if the Leafs do not improve their performance over the next little while.

A similar report by Rosie Dimanno appeared this week in the Toronto Star.
Burns still has urge to coach

Burns brushed aside the rumor that the Leafs were going to fire Maurice and bring him back as coach. However, he did indicate that the urge to coach never disappears.

“Who would have thought that Mike Keenan would end up coaching in Calgary?” Burns asked. “Toronto’s a great place to win but a lousy place to lose. I’ve always said it was my favorite city to coach in.”

Burns still has two years remaining on his contract as scout for the New Jersey Devils. He coached New Jersey to a Stanley Cup championship in 2003.

A serious option for the Leafs

My take is that you seriously have to consider this option. We are now approaching December and the Leafs have shown virtually no sign of turning their season around. After taking a step forward (i.e., beating Ottawa), they take two steps backward (i.e., losing to Boston and Dallas). This has been the pattern all season.

The problem is not so much that the team is losing, but how it’s losing. Clearly the team is having an extremely difficult time playing as a unit, for whatever reason. They seem to be out of synch offensively and frequently lost for long stretches defensively. It almost seems as if the team doesn’t have a system this year.

Although the bench boss is often the scapegoat, one would be incredibly naive to underestimate the impact of a coach. Indeed, this is why GMs are extremely careful when choosing a head coach. The wrong coach on the wrong team can flush away an entire season.

And although the Leafs will never be confused with the Detroit Red Wings, they do have some pretty good talent on their roster. Consider that the NY Islanders are doing much better than the Leafs under Ted Nolan’s guidance, despite being picked by most so-called experts to finish near the bottom of the East and with Rick DiPietro injured for parts of the season.

Thus, if it isn’t working, you seriously need to cut your losses and consider alternatives. Just look at Atlanta since they fired Bob Hartley. Who can argue the fact that Atlanta is playing much better since Hartley’s dismissal?

Burns brings strong defensive game (so close in 1993)

Burns is known as a strict disciplinarian who tolerates nothing less than excellence on the ice. He would bring in a strong defensive system and a tenacious forchecking game, both of which have been sadly lacking this year.

Of course, Burns is best known in Leaf circles as the coach in 1993 who has come closest to getting Toronto to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1967.

In taking over a non-playoff team the previous year, Burns molded the Leafs into an organized, cohesive unit that emphasized stong defensive play, positionally sound hockey, and sheer hard work.

In the end, under Burns’ guidance, the Leafs came within a whisker of getting to the promised land. Toronto fell short in 7-games against the LA Kings, but easily could have won the series if not for some questionable calls (or non-calls) by referee Kerry Fraser late in Game 6.

To this day, Leafs and Habs fans continue to debate how Toronto would have stacked up against an utterly dominant Patrick Roy in the Finals. We will never know.

Sited links:

http://www.nj.com/sports/ledger/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/119588281964260.xml&coll=1

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/278858


14 Responses to Rumor: Burns to replace Maurice?

  1. the_next_agent says:

    This would be great, Maurice in an average NHL coach.  He will make it one day, just not now.  Burns is what the Leafs need, they could pull the season if they sign Burns, but if not, they are going to keep struggling.  Its not only the coach, this team needs some trades during the course of this season, they don't need a bomb being dropped on the team, that'll happen in the off-season, they need to add a couple players to help out the PK.  A couple players i wouldn't mind seeing on the team are, Todd Marchant, and hopefully Nick Boynton or Adam Foote. 

  2. 92-93 says:

    let us hope and pray this happens. its a new game now and no way in heck should anyone be invoking 1993 or 1994.

    but Burns would bring a different look that is for sure (i.e. – sitting McCabe … what a shocking move that would be!!! 😉

    but yeah, hopefully Lou Lam gives him permission to coach for the leafs.

  3. 92-93 says:

    by the way … i cannot help but see the similarities between the cloud hanging over Maurice and the cloud that hung over Burns in March 1996.

    the leafs had a 25-30-10 record through 65 games and were looking awful (i believe they were winless in 9 or 10). then Murphy was brought into replace him.

    but all coaches have their day, and the leafs simply didnt play well for Pat.

  4. Nick_111 says:

    Interesting idea. I personally do not believe that Maurice is all to blame for this though. Let's keep in mind what really needs to happen. Changes need to start at the top, with the firing of JFJ, as everyone knows. Before a new coach is brought in to try to get THIS Leafs team going, a GM change needs to happen and this team needs to be overhauled.

    Guys like McCabe, Kubina, Gill, etc. are what's killing this team. Blake has had plenty of opportunities to put the puck in the net with one of the highest shot totals in the entire league and he's failed to do so.

    As a die hard Leafs fan, it's hard for me to finally admit to this, but Leafs fans need to acknowledge that we are going to have to go through a rebuilding period where the team may not be very successful to get somewhere, and I think that the only way this team is going anywhere meaningful is if a change comes in the GM position… At least give Maurice a reasonable defensive team to coach. Right now the Leafs are in rough shape.. Let's not try to turn this season around by firing Maurice.. let's just acknowledge that these players aren't going to cut it and replace those who have put the Leafs in a terrible situation with those who actually know what they're doing.

  5. Nick_111 says:

    Interesting idea. I personally do not believe that Maurice is all to blame for this though. Let's keep in mind what really needs to happen. Changes need to start at the top, with the firing of JFJ, as everyone knows. Before a new coach is brought in to try to get THIS Leafs team going, a GM change needs to happen and this team needs to be overhauled.

    Guys like McCabe, Kubina, Gill, etc. are what's killing this team. Blake has had plenty of opportunities to put the puck in the net with one of the highest shot totals in the entire league and he's failed to do so.

    As a die hard Leafs fan, it's hard for me to finally admit to this, but Leafs fans need to acknowledge that we are going to have to go through a rebuilding period where the team may not be very successful to get somewhere, and I think that the only way this team is going anywhere meaningful is if a change comes in the GM position… At least give Maurice a reasonable defensive team to coach. Right now the Leafs are in rough shape.. Let's not try to turn this season around by firing Maurice.. let's just acknowledge that these players aren't going to cut it and replace those who have put the Leafs in a terrible situation with those who actually know what they're doing.

  6. habsrock99 says:

    It would be interesting to see Burnsy behind a Leaf bench again.

    But you have to factor in, that was then and this now. Can Burnsy's system still work in today's NHL? It's tough to say because the Leafs had a high octane offence in 1993 and even had a 50 goal scorer in Andreychuk. They had a career year from Dougie and they had Borshevsky come out of nowhere to score 34 goals. They had great goaltending from one of the most under-rated goalies in the 90's in Potvin.

    No matter what happens, the Leafs next coach will not last more then 2-4 seasons as they are going to be fairly brutal if they end up letting people go.

  7. leafy says:

    Clearly the Leafs rode Doug Gilmour's amazing play that season, 127 points for a Leaf record.  To the younger fans, if you think Sundin is great now, you should have seen Dougie then.  The best individual performance ever by a Maple Leaf – specifically 2 seasons, 1993 and 1994, where Gilmour dominated.

    In '93, the Leafs had Gilmour, Clark, Andreychuk, and Borshevsky for most of the offense.  But the rest were mostly pluggers and grinders.  Clearly Burnsy's system was effective in getting optimal results.

    Potvin was great for about 3 seasons (1993-1995).  But he simply couldn't sustain that high level of play for very long thereafter.  He didn't last in the league as long as people thought.

    Also, a key factor in the '93 playoff run was Toronto's starting 5 on defence: Ellet, McCoun, Gill, Rouse, and Lefebvre.  All of those guys were on top of their game.  In my opinion, the closest the Leafs have come to having a D like that was in 1999, when they had Karpetsev, Markov, Yuskevic, Berard, Cote, and a young Kaberle.

  8. leafy says:

    Completely agree that changes are needed all the way around and that a rebuilding job might be in order.

    However, I don't think Maurice has been a good fit.  The Leafs simply cannot play in synch for some reason.  You would almost think it's still the preseason.  We see no flow in their game and they cannot seem to play as a unit.  It looks like they're playing without a system.  While the Leafs are not exactly Ottawa or Detroit, their talent isn't so awful either.  Clearly the coach hasn't been able to get optimal results from this group.  Time to try someone else, like Atlanta did.

  9. leafy says:

    Nick Beverly was brought in as an interim coach in 1996 after Burns was let go.  I believe the '96 collapse occurred because the Leafs defensive core aged suddenly.  Guys like Ellet, Gill and McCoun became shadows of their former selves.  And Garth Butcher and Grant Jennings were just awful defensemen.  What we have now is actually a lot better than those turkeys.

  10. leafy says:

    My preference is no more trades until JFJ leaves.  I have zero confidence in his judgment to pull the trigger on a good trade.  Let's bring in someone who knows what he's doing first.

  11. habsrock99 says:

    I'd have to say that is a good assessment of the team, minus Lefebvre. I have a grudge against Lefebvre but that's just me.

    Gilmour was sic his first 2 years in Toronto and was a main reason they went as far as the did in 1993. I can honestly say that Spezza and Heatley remind me of Dougie and Clarky in 1994. Dougie with 84 assists and Clarky's 46 goals, simply amazing. Only difference however, is that Dougie and Clarky were also gritty but still flashy where as Spezza and Heatley are just flashy with little grit.

    For me, as a hockey fan, it was a crying shame when Clarky was traded to the Nordiques even though it was for Sundin.

  12. leafy says:

    Putting grudges aside, there's no doubt that Lefebvre was an outstanding defenseman when in Toronto.  Why do you think Quebec insisted that the Sundin trade include Clark and Lefebvre?  He was arguably Toronto's most reliable D.  Interestingly, he wasn't all that great when he played in Montreal, but he certainly blossomed in Toronto.

    Great point about Gilmour's and Clark's grit.  You absolutely hit the nail on the head about the grit missing from Spezza and Heatley.  If they can find some grit in their game, with their talent, a Stanley Cup might not be far away in Ottawa.

    Re Clark, Fletcher was a genius for pulling that Sundin trade while Clark's value was as high as it's ever going to get.  Toronto is still reaping the benefits of that trade, while Clark has been retired for about 8 years now.

  13. Nick_111 says:

    Yeah, that's a good point. All I'm saying is that I'd hate to see Maurice go before Ferguson. The root of the problem is JFJ and his inability to manage this team, so I think that a message needs to be sent to everyone that they acknowledge their mistakes and are willing to try something totally new, rather than the idea that they think a new coach will solve the problems.

  14. 92-93 says:

    you are correct. i always get Murphy and Beverly confused. 

    what we have now is definitely better than those guys – but are getting paid way too much regardless. and i would argue they are just as inconsistent.
    what we are seeing now is a complete collapse. its all psychological and that is the worst part – we are seeing players simply waiting for the other shoe to drop, that is the way they are playing.
    very unfortunate. hopefully a lot of good comes out of this funk (re: substantial changes). Eventually, the leafs – after Burns – brought in a big name hockey mind in Pat Quinn. 
    hopefully that will happen here again. I want a good experienced hockey mind again, BUT, i wouldnt mind seeing a GM like Messier or Francis come in … AS LONG AS THERE IS A VETERAN president there as well (re: bowman, muckler, fletcher, etc.).

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