Maple Leafs clean house, firing GM, interim coach, staff
TORONTO (AP) — The Maple Leafs fired general manager Dave Nonis on Sunday along with interim coach Peter Horachek and his staff after the team’s worst season in almost 20 years.
Nonis was dismissed with three years left on his contract. The Leafs went 30-44-8 with 68 points, the fewest in an 82-game season since 1996-97.
The moves by President Brendan Shanahan mark the start of a tumultuous offseason for Toronto that could bring wholesale roster changes.
Shanahan and players are to speak Monday at Air Canada Centre.
Assistants Steve Spott, Chris Dennis and Rick St. Croix were fired, while Steve Staios was moved back to the front office as manager of player development.
Assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter will share interim duties until the Leafs hire a new general manager. Also dismissed were director of pro scouting Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes.
Toronto was in a playoff position in early January when Nonis fired coach Randy Carlyle and subsequently replaced him with Horachek. At the time, Nonis blamed inconsistency for the dismissal and said he is “never worried about” his own job security.”
“You make your decisions on what’s best for the team and that’s not going to change,” Nonis said at the time. “We’re going to do the things that we need to do as a group in order to move this team forward.”
From that day until the season ended Saturday night, the Leafs went 9-28-5 to finish 27th in the NHL. The only bright spot to that is a 9.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery to jumpstart the rebuilding effort.
Horachek’s dismissal was expected. This is the second straight season he took over as interim coach (2013-14 with Florida Panthers) and was let go.
“It’s evident that there’s lots of changes have to happen, and the direction has to be in a different direction,” Horachek said after the Leafs’ season-ending 4-3 loss to Montreal.
The new GM will be tasked with overhauling a roster full of players that underperformed the past two years after making the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Veterans Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul could be among those traded.
“You know there’s going to be change,” Phaneuf said Saturday night.