Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was disappointed with the lack of support his players afforded goalie Drew MacIntyre, who was making his first-ever NHL start Thursday in Florida. "It seemed like the energy was down and the morale was down." (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Brendan Shanahan, who was officially named president of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, will have decisions to make on the immediate future of key members in the organization, including GM Dave Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle.
On a night when the Toronto Maple Leafs secured their management team's future, there was this disturbing little thing called the remainder of the disappointing 2013-14 regular season to deal with.
The Maple Leafs' hiring of Brendan Shanahan as the team's president and alternate governor, said to be a five-year deal, is the talk of the hockey world now. Shanahan is scheduled to be introduced to the media on Monday morning.
Shanahan, 45, leaves his post as vice-president of hockey and business development and director of player safety with the NHL. He had a Hall of Fame playing career and will, no doubt, not tip-toe around the inevitable changes to his new team.
As the new club president, the Mimico, Ont., native will have decisions to make on the immediate future of some key members in the organization, including general manager Dave Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle. Nonis has four years remaining on his contract and would seem to be safe.
Carlyle, on the other hand, has a year left on his deal and was hired by former president/GM Brian Burke as a replacement for Ron Wilson so he might not be as secure.
That said, a year ago Carlyle had the Maple Leafs, with inferior goaltending, one game away from upsetting Stanley Cup finalist Boston Bruins in the first round. This season the players changed and the coach stayed the same.
Drew MacIntyre should be proud of his first-ever NHL start. One day he'll sit down and watch it, evaluate it and know in no uncertain terms, he did his part despite the defeat. With questionable support, too.
The veteran minor-leaguer made five relief appearances, but had never started a game.
MacIntyre made his best save of the game late in the first period when he dropped his stick and reach back with his blocker to prevent the puck, which was about three-quarters of the way over the goal-line, from getting the rest of the way.
In the second period he was nailed by a charging Nick Bjugstad in a goalmouth scramble. Bjugstad was penalized for goalie interference. Just for good measure Toronto's Nikolai Kulemin got even and took a goalie interference penalty on Florida's Roberto Luongo late in the second period.
At the end of the night, coach Carlyle was disappointed with the effort the skaters produced on MacIntyre's big night.
"The way we played, specifically in the first period, was somewhat surprising," Carlyle said. "I thought we'd have a little bit more compassion for the goaltender that was going to be in the net for his first NHL start and we give up three two-on-ones and eight quality scoring chances. It seemed like the energy was down and the morale was down."
Will Kessel ever get 40?
For much of the season, right-winger Phil Kessel appeared assured of finally hitting the 40-goal mark. It even looked like he had a solid opportunity to finish second in league scoring to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Kessel will not finish second in scoring and he'll need a hat trick against Ottawa Saturday to score 40.
Better late than never
Toronto Marlies captain Trevor Smith was summoned to replace injured Carter Ashton, also up from the American Hockey League. His plane arrived late and he entered the area well after the game had started. He arrived on the bench with 7:50 remaining in the opening period. Overall, Smith played 11 shifts and 7:55.
Blow out candles and make a wish
Florida's Brandon Pirri celebrated his 23rd birthday by opening up the scoring in the game at 6:06 of the first period. The Maple Leafs apparently knew it was his special day and left him completely unguarded.
The teams traded goals in the second period; Tyler Bozak evening the score at 1-1 with his 19th at 4:13 and then the Panthers' Brad Boyes put the host team up by one with three seconds left in the frame.
Hard to handle
Bjugstad, who is six-foot-six and 220 pounds and just 21 years old, out-battled Toronto defenceman Paul Ranger behind the Maple Leafs net early in the third and gave his team a 3-1 lead on a wrap-around. As if that wasn't enough, he added a shorthanded goal 2:39 later.
Ranger made amends for not halting Bjugstad with his sixth of the season on a hard snapper from the point. Ranger, by the way, has played well down the stretch as a sixth or seventh defenceman even when his team did not.
They can run, but they can't hide
The Maple Leafs are popular on the road ... when they win. Many of the snowbirds in attendance Thursday night booed the team at various points in the game.
There are a number of reasons why the Maple Leafs folded down the stretch. Their inability to score with the man advantage certainly must be near the head of the line. Leading scorer Phil Kessel notched his last power-play goal Feb. 1. For second-leading scorer James van Riemsdyk it was Jan. 30.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
Most players here in South Williamsport, Pa., for the 2017 edition of the Little League World Series will never play a game in the big leagues. For many this may be the biggest sporting stage on which they ever perform. more »