Tag: David Booth

Randy Carlyle

Under Pressure: Randy Carlyle


“If you’re worried about optics in this market, it’s going to be a disaster. I think you have to make a decision based on what you think is the best decision for the organization, and this in our minds was clearly the best option.

“He was a guy we believe can get the job done for us. Whether optics are that it’s the wrong thing to do or not doesn’t really matter to us. If you’re looking at trying to please people, you’re probably going to make some poor decisions.”

That was Toronto GM Dave Nonis this past May, talking about the decision to extend head coach Randy Carlyle. The move came under heavy fire as the optics of retaining Carlyle, who presided over a Leafs team that went 2-12-0 down the stretch and collapsed out of playoff contention, left many scratching their heads. Several other coaches that whiffed on the playoffs met their demise — John Tortorella, Adam Oates and Barry Trotz, to name a few — and Nonis made it clear there was some issue at the coaching level by turfing all three of Toronto’s assistants.

Yet when the dust settled, Carlyle remained. One of the few constants in an offseason filled with change.

The Leafs really shifted course this summer. They hired a new president, Brendan Shanahan, then emerged as progressive club on the advanced analytics front — first, with the hiring of 28-year-old assistant GM Kyle Dubas, known as a fancy stat advocate with OHL Sault Ste. Marie; then, with the creation of an advanced numbers department, spearheaded by the guy that used to run Extra Skater.

Change happened on the ice, too.

Gone, it seems, are the day of trotting out truculent bottom-six forwards like Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. Toronto had itself a Moneyball-esque summer, signing (slightly) flawed veterans on the cheap in the hope of striking gold — guys like former 30-goal scorer David Booth (signed for $1.1M after getting bought out of a disastrous situation in Vancouver), skilled center Mike Santorelli (inked for $1.5M after last season was cut short by season-ending shoulder surgery) and power forward Daniel Winnik (who fell out of favor in Anaheim, remained unsigned ’til August, then came to Toronto for $1.3M). These additions, along with Finnish forwards Petri Kontiola and Leo Komarov, should give Toronto the most depth it’s had up front in the Carlyle era.

As such, the pressure is on.

By keeping Carlyle after last year’s collapse, the message was loud and clear — this was on the players, not the coach. But from that point forward, the challenge was put on everybody to achieve more, coaches included. Expectations have been heightened and there is a demand for improvement — for example, Toronto could have a wildly competitive training camp, as there are 15 forwards on NHL contracts fighting for 12 spots.

All of this, of course, comes back to Carlyle, who has now been given tools to succeed: new players, new assistants and a new, fresh look at the managerial level. If that pressure wasn’t obvious enough, Nonis ensured it in May by saying his coach needs to get through to this group.

“If you’ve seen it being done before with most of the same players, or a lot of the same players, and with that coach leading that group, I know it can happen,” said Nonis. “I know it has happened with this group before. I know that (Carlyle) has reached them before, reached them at times this year.

“For me it’s not that we’re guessing whether or not he can have success or he can get through to them. We’ve seen it. I know that it’s there and we feel he is the guy that can get through to this group.”

It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day on PHT

Randy Carlyle

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

For better or worse, the Toronto Maple Leafs rarely have been boring.

The short version of the 2013-14 season was a lot like the last: what started with promise (and maybe a few rather lucky breaks) ended in a stunning collapse. This time around, they didn’t even make the playoffs, as the Maple Leafs lost 12 of their last 14 games as they spiraled out of the playoff picture.

One might say that the advanced stats community laughed the Maple Leafs’ way out of the postseason – at least the more vindictive among that community – but the narrative took a surprise twist as Toronto eventually hired some of those howling critics.

While the executive structure of the franchise remains in flux, the Brendan Shanahan era seems to have begun with some surprising changes, even if head coach Randy Carlyle remains … at least for now.

Last season, it seemed like the onus was on Toronto’s two stars who were seemingly about to enter contract years in Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. Those two are back and will remain on the hot seat like usual, yet the people who run the team will likely feel the heat more than anyone in 2014-15.

That’s not to say there aren’t quite a few players with quite a lot on the line next season, though. James Reimer may very well push Jonathan Bernier for starts even after he seemed like he was out the door. Players like Bernier, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson and even new additions like David Booth have a chance to earn (or lose) a lot of money this season.

It’s a stretch to say that the “nerds won” in Toronto, but a transition seems to be happening — or at least is being considered. That’s a big reason why the Leafs should be fascinating to watch next season. As usual.

After eight straight missed playoffs, Oilers hire ‘biggest critic’

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Dallas Eakins of the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 31, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Tyler Dellow can be abrasive. He can be caustic. He can, frankly, be kind of a jerk. (Don’t worry, he’s been called worse.) Which is why there will be no shortage of people, many of them in the media, who hope he falls flat on his face in his new role with the Edmonton Oilers.

Dellow — described by the Globe and Mail as “a Toronto-based lawyer turned amateur statistician who had become the organization’s biggest critic over its eight consecutive playoff-less seasons” — has joined the Oilers to be their go-to guy in the burgeoning field of analytics.

You might already know Dellow from his Twitter handle, @mc79hockey, or from his since-shuttered blog, each of which he used to lambaste those in the Oilers organization, as well as those who covered the team.

“I heard through the grapevine [during the year] he was being highly critical of our team,” Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins told the Globe this week.

“That didn’t bother me. I’m like, ‘How can he not be highly critical of our team? We’re in 28th place.’ So of course he was.”

One popular joke is that the Oilers only hired Dellow to shut him up. Consider two of his latest tweets:



And yes, he often projects a rather high opinion of himself. However, that doesn’t mean his analysis is inaccurate, or that he can’t help the Oilers.

It’s worth noting that two of Edmonton’s newest players, Benoit Pouliot and Mark Fayne, had excellent possession numbers with the Rangers and Devils, respectively. (See: here and here). Did Dellow have a hand in those signings? It’s possible. (Just as it’s possible Kyle Dubas in Toronto had a hand in the Maple Leafs signing David Booth and Daniel Winnik.)


Back in May, it was reported that the NHL was planning to “test new technology to track players in action and produce a vast new array of information,” and that a new system could be in place for 2015-16.

Well, once that flood of data starts, teams are going to need people who can identify what’s relevant and what’s just noise. The Oilers see Dellow as that kind of person.

“He’s sharp,” said Eakins. “He’s more than the one-trick Corsi wonder. He understands everything fully. We think there’s going to be a great opportunity to look at our team in a number of different ways that Tyler can help us.”

Even if he’s kind of a jerk sometimes.

No surprise: Sabres waive Leino for purpose of buyout

Ville Leino

Action has picked up on Day 2 of the NHL’s compliance buyout window.

Around the same time Vancouver put David Booth on waivers so he could be amnestied, word broke that Buffalo would do the same with beleaguered forward Ville Leino.

First reported by the Buffalo News, word of Leino’s buyout shouldn’t come as much of a surprise — back in mid-April, GM Tim Murray said buying out Leino was “a very good possibility.”

Leino, 30, recently wrapped the third of a six-year, $27 million deal that’s widely regarded as one of the NHL’s most onerous contracts. Signed by ex-GM Darcy Regier after shooting to prominence with the Flyers — when he found magic during the ’10 playoffs with Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere, scoring 21 points in 19 games — Leino has been a colossal disappointment in Buffalo, scoring just 46 points in 137 games while missing 75 to a variety of injuries, healthy scratches and a suspension.

This year, Leino gained infamy by failing to score a single goal in 58 games, and only put 38 shots on goal.

Buffalo has yet to use either of its compliance buyouts — where the salary-cap charge is completely wiped clean, but the team must pay two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal — opting to use a regular buyout, not a compliance, on Nathan Gerbe last summer.

Assuming nobody plucks Leino off waivers and the Sabres buy him out, they’ll be relieved of his $4.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons but will pay him $1.22 million per season until 2020.


Devils undecided on possible buyout for Volchenkov, Salvador

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Decision day in Dallas: Rome to be bought out, Fiddler going UFA

Booth’s agent hasn’t heard from Canucks about possible buyout

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24: David Booth #7 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. The Canucks defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

David Booth’s agent, Mike Liut, hasn’t heard from the Vancouver Canucks about the possibility his client could be bought out of his remaining contract.

“I haven’t heard anything from Vancouver (today),” Liut told The Province this morning. “I called [Canucks general manager Jim Benning] a couple of weeks ago and spoke with him about David then. That was before before the club’s meetings and he was still getting up to speed on things. I asked him to give me a heads-up if they came to a decision.”

Booth, 29, had nine goals in 66 games for the Canucks in 2013-14. He was also an occasional healthy scratch and spent some time in the AHL on a conditioning assignment.

With just one year remaining on his contract (cap hit $4.25 million), the Canucks may choose to keep Booth and hope the veteran winger can regain the form that made him a three-time 20-goal scorer in Florida. Or, they could try to trade him, perhaps offering to retain part of his salary in the deal.

Vancouver has already used one of its two compliance buyouts, last summer on Keith Ballard. Besides Booth, Jason Garrison and Alex Burrows are the other Canucks that have been bandied about as potential buyout candidates.

Related: Torts thinks Booth is a ‘weird dude’ (but not in a bad way)