Leafs name Horacek, Spott assistant coaches

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The big decision everyone’s been waiting for — no, not that one — has finally been made. The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Peter Horachek and Steve Spott to be assistant coaches on Randy Carlyle’s staff.

From the press release:

Peter Horachek, 54, served as head coach of the Florida Panthers last season after being named interim coach on November 8, 2014. In 66 games under Horachek, the Panthers posted a 26-36-4 record.

Spott, 46, served as head coach of the Toronto Marlies during the 2013-14 season, posting a 45-25-6 record and leading the team to the AHL’s North Division title and a berth in the Western Conference Final.

The Maple Leafs cut ties with assistant coaches Dave Farrish, Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin in May, after the team’s disastrous finish to the 2013-14 season.

At the same time the club announced Farrish, Gordon and Cronin would not be back, Carlyle was given a contract extension. Which was, not surprisingly, a controversial decision in Toronto, given the team’s precipitous fall from third to 12th in the Eastern Conference — a collapse that took less than a month to occur.

Unlike some, though, Leafs management felt Carlyle didn’t deserve to take the fall for that.

“It was important that the positives Randy brings to our team were not overshadowed by a finish to the season that we all must take responsibility for,” said general manager Dave Nonis.

Still, with a former NHL head coach, Horacek, and the club’s most recent AHL head coach, Spott, joining the staff, there will be at least two potential Carlyle replacements already behind the bench should the Leafs falter early in 2014-15.