Brian Burke has made a coaching change in Toronto; Keith Acton and Tim Hunter are out and in their place the Leafs have brought in Scott Gordon (ex-Islanders) and Greg Cronin (ex-Northeastern Huskies [NCAA]). My first reaction to news like this is that Toronto is shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic but thinking longer I’m not sure that’s the case.
"Burke says special teams play was a catalyst for this, but he used the word "stale" to describe the Leafs’ coaching staff before changes." – Dan Rosen
The Leafs have had abyssmal special teams for a long time, even considering the limited talent available, and it’s something that needs to be addressed. Follow me over the jump for more about Cronin and Gordon.
Image via HockeyIndependent.com, click to view video.
Shown above doing a split, Gordon played his college hockey at Boston College (neither a single college nor in Boston). Wikipedia has this fun fact about Scott Gordon:
[Gordon] made hockey history on March 16, 1985. Gordon and Chris Terreri (playing with Providence College) both placed water bottles on the top of their nets. This would be the first time ever that goalies would place water bottles on the top of nets in a hockey game. – Wikipedia
Interesting that there’s a Providence College link however tenuous but it’s clear that Burke is keeping his eye on Hockey East. The Leafs management and coaching is full of guys from New England college hockey.
Scott Gordon got canned by the Islanders for not doing better with the generationally bad roster he was given. It seemed odd at the time to fire a coach in November who didn’t have any payroll and only made the cap floor because of heavy contracts that weren’t put on LTIR (DiPietro, Streit) and Alexei Yashin’s comically large buyout.
Cronin was the head coach of Hockey East’s Northeastern Huskies and is also from New England. He was suspended indefinitely from Northeastern for recruiting violations but I see that as a positive. I like the idea of adding guys who aren’t playing by the rules; Burke’s "play by the rules at all costs" mantra has been confusing and frustrating to me as a fan.
Leafs fans should know this: Greg Cronin is one of the great unheralded coaches in the game. And they’ll love his accent. – Chris Botta
The Leafs, with good goaltending and special teams, could be a playoff team this year. Let’s hope these two guys can help start a turnaround in Toronto.