Randy Carlyle paid the price for the inconsistencies of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The coach was fired Tuesday because of the inability to get his team to play in a consistent manner through the first three months of the season, according to David Nonis, the team's senior vice president and general manager.
"One of the things you have all heard me say since training camp is we felt we need to see some level of consistency, and I think we would all agree we've shown some good stretches, but I don't think I can stand in front of you and say we have been consistent," Nonis said at a Tuesday morning press conference. "We just felt that at this point that this was the right time to make the change and move ahead and try to get this team playing like we have been during periods of this season."
Randy Carlyle fired by Maple Leafs
Assistant coach Peter Horachek was named the interim coach Wednesday. Steve Staios, the Maple Leafs Manager of Player Development, will also support the coaching staff on the bench and in practice.
The Maple Leafs are 21-16-3 and hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but have gone 3-7-0 in their past 10 games after starting the season at a blistering 18-9-3 pace. The team just completed a 2-5-0 road trip, finishing with a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
As troubling as all that is, the Maple Leafs have struggled defensively throughout the season, allowing 34.4 shots per game, the second-highest total in the League.
"Obviously, earlier in the season, we had some pretty good stretches where we thought we were going to be the consistent team we wanted to be and that hasn't happened and we couldn't wait longer. We felt at this point we needed to make the change," Nonis said.
The Maple Leafs are fourth in the Atlantic Division with 45 points, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The coach takes part of the responsibility; the coach is easy to let go," Nonis said. "That's the easy change to make. We all take some responsibility, players included. We did this to try to improve our group. This isn't throwing in the towel. We feel this team has a chance to do some good things, and today was the first step in trying to put everything back in the direction we need."
Carlyle was notified of his dismissal Monday evening and the team was informed Tuesday morning before taking the ice for practice.
Nonis believes Carlyle's firing should serve as a wake-up call for the players. More is expected of this group, he said. Nonis and team president Brendan Shanahan believe the Maple Leafs have the talent to be a factor in the Eastern Conference and not just lingering on the fringes of the playoff picture as the season approaches its midpoint.
"It's been too much of a roller coaster," Nonis said. "It's not that they are not capable because they are. It's not that they haven't done it, because they have. Again, that's one of the biggest reasons for the change today."
Carlyle, hired on March 2, 2012, had a record of 91-78-19 during his tenure with the team. He received a two-year contract extension in May.
Carlyle coached the Anaheim Ducks before joining the Maple Leafs, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. He is 364-260-80 in 704 games.
He is the fourth coach fired this season. The New Jersey Devils fired Peter DeBoer on Dec. 26. The Edmonton Oilers fired Dallas Eakins on Dec. 15 and the Ottawa Senators dismissed Paul MacLean on Dec. 8.