Key stat: At even strength, the Leafs scored only 31 per cent of the goals when Gleason was on the ice. Only Frazer McLaren ranked lower.
Jonathan Bernier: A. Airlifted in and given a rather sizable contract given his lack of experience, Bernier nonetheless impressed right off the start, posting a gaudy save percentage in the first month of the season and keeping in the Leafs in a ton of games they had no business being in. Ultimately, the workload got to him, as his body broke down after facing 34.8 shots every 60 minutes over 50-plus games. A unique specimen in an era of behemoth goaltenders, Bernier could be a real gem, although duplicating his .923 save percentage next season may be tough.
Key stat: His .933 even strength save percentage was topped by only three goalies that started 30-plus games this season.
James Reimer: C+. No goal support, no support from the coach, a greater workload per minute than any other NHL goalie and a thinly veiled vote of non-confidence from management right from the summer when Bernier was acquired. Reimer was placed in a tough situation, especially when asked to play saviour late in the year, and his three or four poor starts late were obviously poorly timed during the Leafs death spiral. To pin the blame on the very goaltender that carried them through the shortened lockout season and to Game 7 of the first round, however, isn’t fair. But there’s every indication the organization plans to use him as a scapegoat until the end, and he’ll be the first one traded out of town.
Key stat: An okay .909 save percentage after the Olympic break, when he supposedly cost the team the season.
Randy Carlyle: F. Give Carlyle credit for this much: He recognized there was a problem right from the start. Prior to the first game of the season, the veteran coach had told Bob McKenzie that he wanted his group to be more of a possession team. The problem was he was left saying it right until the end. The more Carlyle tried to correct the issue, the worse and worse in their shot differentials, zone time and just about any other tangible area of defensive play possible became as the season wore on. One doesn’t have to look much further than the Ducks, who have rebounded marvellously without Carlyle, to see a longstanding problem, and there’s far too much of a pattern here to chalk that all up to coincidence. Toronto’s defensive woes have become so ingrained that the players appear to have lost faith in the system itself, creating a snowball effect that makes it difficult to gauge how much better this roster might be under different guidance. Add in the feuds with young players, the goalie controversy and far too much reliance on his pluggers and the bottom line is Carlyle deserves to pay the price for the collapse as much as anyone.
Key stat: A 41.5 per cent possession rating, one of the lowest since the statistic became available in 2007.
The higher ups
Dave Nonis: D. The indestructible, buyout proof David Clarkson contract alone is grounds for a fail. Attempting to build the roster around a struggling coach’s asks ranks up there, too. And a flat out refusal to consider what some of hockey’s very basic analytics (like shooting percentage regression, for example) were saying about his team and how it could be improved is concerning as well. What Nonis did well is keep most of his youthful core together, lock up Kessel, avoid panic moves and make some bargain buys like Raymond when he ran up against the cap. Overall, however, it’s not a pretty picture, and he has only himself to blame for the fact Brendan Shanahan will now be watching over his every move.
Tim Leiweke: Incomplete. A culture change doesn’t happen in an instant. Or even in the span of 10 months. It would take anyone time to turn the Leafs around, and the fellow from Missouri who came in talking about planning parades and pulling down photos of the legends is no exception. This franchise is a complicated animal, far different than anything he’s tangled with before, and it’s going to require cutting through the BS to point things in the right direction. If the Shanahan hire works towards that end, it’ll look brilliant. If it brings more of the same, well, the grades in years to come won’t be so kind.