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Moving Forward

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

With Randy Carlyle relieved of his duties, Peter Horachek and Steve Spott take the reins leading the Leafs behind the bench.

During Horachek’s first address to media, there was one point of emphasis that has to change going forward – Attitude.

“I think we’ve seen good things with our hockey group, (but) I want to see resolve,” said Horachek. “I want to see that attitude.”

Horachek got his first taste of running an NHL team when he was named interim head coach of the Florida Panthers in November of 2013. The experience will be put to good use, perhaps sooner than expected.

While not pointing to any one incident in particular, there appears to be an underlying sense of complacency when things are going well. It’s human nature. Horachek wants the throttle down at all times.

“We have to have a determination and purpose in how we approach our day-to-day. I think we have to do a better job of doing better to start practices. We want to get more out of practice, we want to do more and be prepared for the games and there is a sense of urgency every day. It’s not a sense of urgency because we’re in eighth spot in the wild card race. It’s a sense of urgency because that’s the way hockey is played.

Steve Spott joined the Maple Leafs organization in 2013, coaching the Marlies to a 45-25-6 record and a Western Conference finals appearance. Spott was promoted to the Leafs as an assistant coach on July 11, 2014 – the same day Horachek was hired.

When a coach takes a fall the focus shifts to the players who now have to use this opportunity and show they can make it work under new leadership.

“For our coaches, we’re going to play our hearts out,” said Phil Kessel. “(We have to) play for each other, obviously we want to win and want to stay together as a group and we have a group here and we want to win together.”

Horachek and Spott will get their first chance to lead the Leafs on Wednesday when they take on the Capitals. Horachek served as an assistant to current Washington coach Barry Trotz for ten seasons in Nashville.

Over the course of the past few weeks, the Leafs took a lot of optional practices that were done at the request of the players. The sense now is that Horachek and Spott will likely put an end to that. With today’s personnel change, it goes without saying.

“I think our group is very comfortable with those two guys. I think they’ll do a good job in going forward,” said Leafs defenceman Cody Franson. “It’s an equal responsibility with what happened today, we definitely play a big part in that and unfortunately that was a tough decision that was made. We know there is major accountability factor that has to come to our group. We’ve addressed that today and that will be one of our focuses going forward.”

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