It has come to this for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A highly regarded and successful coach quits angrily and rips the organization on the way out for preventing him from doing his job properly.
A day passes with GM Brian Burke refusing comment, saying only that “we will respond at the proper time.”
That time appeared to come late Tuesday afternoon, when a cryptic blog entry was posted on the Leafs official site proclaiming “Burke blasts performance of Francois Allaire.”
“I regret that I have to deal with this matter publicly but I feel the need to respond,” Burke said in the entry. “Was there interference from the staff as he said there was? Yes. But it was done reluctantly and it was done to change elements of our goaltending that was sub-par.”
Later on in the blog, in what is described as Burke shredding “the job delivered by the most famous goalie coach in the sport,” he offers this.
“The position has evolved in the last three to five years,” he said. Nobody plays the classic stand-up any more either. Everything advances.”
Burke is also paraphrased as saying that Allaire’s approach didn’t change even though his methods were no longer working – a charge a few critics lobbed the team’s way over the past few seasons of trying times in the crease.
The wild thing about the whole fiasco with Allaire, who first criticized the organization to the media on Monday, is that Burke had steadfastly defended him throughout last season and reportedly even offered him a new contract.
In fact, on March 3, when Randy Carlyle was hired as head coach, Burke said the Leafs could “salvage the season” and again stated that he backed Allaire.
“I think we have the best goalie coach on the planet,” Burke said.
By then, according to those in the organization, the turmoil had already long since set in.
Several coaches and team staffers around the league have been keeping an eye on the situation and expressed surprise on Monday that Allaire would burn bridge the way he did, with one calling him “a pro” who wouldn’t go to such lengths unless the situation called for it.
Burke and Allaire won a Stanley Cup together in Anaheim only five years ago.
“Must have been pretty bad,” one coach said.
After doing one interview with the National Post that allowed him to air his grievances, Allaire hasn’t been returning calls from other media the past two days.
His replacement, meanwhile, will be St. John’s IceCaps goalie coach Rick St. Croix, who has a long history with Burke and Carlyle from his days with the Manitoba Moose and is expected to begin working with James Reimer as soon as next week.
The messy fashion in which this blew up, however, speaks to a greater dysfunction in the organization, one that simmered under caustic former coach Ron Wilson and that is going to take some time to fully wipe out.