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Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Shanahan doesn’t intend to tear Leafs down and rebuild Add to ...

“At the end of the day, we felt that as a head coach, Randy is still a respected, talented head coach, but for whatever reason, the mix was not working and the message wasn’t necessarily [getting through] – not due to any one person’s fault.

“Sometimes the mix and the freshness of maybe some new people working with Randy and some different personalities, guys with different personalities from Randy, might complement what he is more. Our hope is that the success that he has had as a coach, he’s won a Stanley Cup, you look around at the different people are available, but Dave and I made the decision that Randy deserved [a shot] to give us the best chance to have success.”

Q. Is that a stylistic thing at all? Do you like the way the Leafs played?

“I think there’s some changes [needed]. I think Randy also recognizes there are some changes to the system that need to occur. Specifically in our defensive zone. Whether the Leafs manage to get into the playoffs this year or not, I agree with many of the fans that – and I don’t think I’m saying anything shocking, it’s not a revelation – to be outshot that often, there’s something wrong.

“There are some things about the system that were identified, applications of who was on the bench and like I said the mix, where the message wasn’t getting through. That to me will be an important adjustment that needs to be made.”

Q. Have you talked to any of the players about that? Was that part of what informed you about what was happening with the assistants?

“Yeah. The players supported the coaching staff. I think a lot of them felt confused and not confident with the – there’s a defensive style they played I guess last year called The Swarm that has been successful with certain other teams and wasn’t successful here. That’s something that the players felt – I think with five games to go [the coaches] tried to switch to more traditional defensive zone coverage, but it was probably a little bit too late by then.

“So I think that Randy is a talented coach and I think he – like a lot of our players – has to look in the mirror and figure out how they can all come back and be better. I think that’s part of any winning organization. That has to happen from everyone at the end of the season. Even in successful seasons.”

Q. One of the things that raised a red flag is that Randy continually said he wasn’t sure what the problem was or how to fix it, and publicly there were mixed messages and confusion coming from the coaching staff. It didn’t seem like he was coming to the table with a lot of answers towards the end of the season.

“I think some of the things that are said in internal meetings are said a lot more clearly than some of the messaging to the media. I think there were maybe some unfortunate remarks over the course of the season but, look, to me the focus isn’t on words that were used. I can say that Randy, there are some things that frustrated him, and he and I met, and there were some things that as far as having a plan and wanting to follow through with the plan. I think he’s pretty clear on what he wants to do there.

“Right now we’re at a search for new assistant coaches. He’ll be a part of that. Dave and I will consult and be a part of that. And we’re hoping that we’ve got a mix that can enhance his coaching ability. I think he’s a good coach. I think he can be a good coach again.”

Q. What do you see happening with the assistants on the management side [Claude Loiselle, Dave Poulin, etc.]? Will there be changes there?

“That’s not something I’ve really discussed yet. I think organizationally there were certain priorities [first]. I’ve discovered the role that they have in the organization, and I’ll just leave it at that. I think that Dave Poulin does a lot of work with the team and with the Marlies. I can say that developmentally I think our development system is always going to be very important to me.

“Claude has another role, he does a lot of the cap counting and number crunching, but my focus has been on other areas up until now.”

Q. Is there a team around that you look at or you watch play and say that’s what I want our team to play like?

“Yeah. Whoever win the Cup this year. To a certain degree.

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