September 18, 2012
The Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, are looking for a new goalie coach after Francois Allaire announced that he won’t be returning to the club even if the player lockout is solved sooner rather than later. Allaire said he’s not really happy with the current coaching situation in Toronto and it’s probably better for all concerned that he walks away. Some fans will no doubt be rejoicing after seeing the Leafs in action over the last three years, in which Allaire was in charge of the team’s goaltending situation.
Allaire’s contract ran out at the end of last season and he said he doesn’t really think the club needs a goaltending coach since there are already several people there with their fingers in the pie. Allaire said the Leafs had two or three other people in the organization who were making goaltending decisions and said that’s not the way to do things in the NHL. He added if that’s the way general manager Brian Burke is going to run the team’s goaltending then he doesn’t really want to be a part of it.
The Leafs, who haven’t made the playoffs in seven seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 45 years, have been brutal behind their own blue line for several years now. When it comes to goals-against average since Allaire took over, they have been ranked second worst in 2009/10, seventh worst the following season and second worst again last season. The team has gone through seven different goalies since Allaire was hired and none of them have could be considered a legitimate NHL starter.
Allaire had an excellent resume when the Leafs hired him as he coached some of the best goalies in the history of the game such as Patrick Roy. He has been a member of three Stanley-Cup winning teams in his career, which were the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and 1993 as well as the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
According to Allaire, Burke spoke to him at the end of last season in an attempt to renew his deal with the team, but he told the GM that he wasn’t interested in coming back, even though head coach Ron Wilson was fired before the end of the season and replaced with former Leafs defenseman Randy Carlyle. However, Allaire didn’t officially notify the team until Sept 14, a day before the league’s collective bargaining agreement expired and the players were locked out.
The goalie coach said he didn’t feel like he could perform his job properly last season since there were other people working with the goalies. He said he wasn’t on the ice with them enough and it wasn’t fair to the goalies or to him. Allaire said he had no problems with the goalies themselves, such as Jonas Gustavsson, James Reimer, and Ben Scrivens, and that they all listened to what he had to say.
Gustavsson has since left the team after his rights were traded to the Winnipeg Jets. However, they weren’t able to come to terms with him and he signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer as a free agent. Reimer missed most of last season with a concussion injury and Scrivens was recently re-signed by the Leafs for another two years. Allaire praised Reimer and said he thinks he’s going to be a great NHL goalie.
However, there are a lot of Leaf fans who aren’t so sure about that and feel Burke should sign an established goaltender instead of going into the next NHL season with two unproven goalies in Reimer and Scrivens. There were rumors during the summer that the Leafs would try to work out a deal with the Vancouver Canucks for Roberto Luongo, but he’s stated that he’d rather rejoin the Florida Panthers. The Leafs also have minor league goalies Mark Owuya and Jussi Rynnas on their squad as both were signed as undrafted free agents during Allaire’s reign.
Allaire defended his work with the team by saying his job was just to develop goalies and it wasn’t up to him to win the Stanley Cup. He said it’s not realistic to expect a non-playoff team to turn around and win hockey’s Holy Grail the very next season. He said he feels he did a pretty good job with Toronto and they have a few good prospects between the pipes in their system. He added that the goaltenders might not have posted good goals-against averages, save percentages and wins while he was there, but it’s hard to put together solid numbers when the team as a whole doesn’t play well defensively.
Allaire said he’s confident in his ability and will see if any offers come his way. Meanwhile, the Leafs will need to hire an excellent goaltending coach to replace him or upgrade their situation in net before the NHL starts up again.