Toronto Maple Leafs History: The Five Worst Head Coaches
Ron Wilson is not on this list...........yet. He hasn't had much to work with, and the Leafs' record can't be all his fault.
There have however been a number of coaches over the years here in Toronto who for one reason or another have just not gotten the job done.
There are two criteria for making this list.
1) Said coach must have completed no less than two full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Any thing less I feel would be an unfair judgment, and truth be told two years isn't really enough time either, but there are a lot of coaches who just haven't hung around very long.
2) Said coach must also have a losing record. I have heard of some coaches who people said were great at their job, but for me the bottom line is that great coaches win.
Take Paul Maurice for example. He took the Carolina Hurricanes to the playoffs three times in nine years, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002. All of this with a losing record.
In Toronto however, where he had arguably better talent, he just couldn't get the job done and was fired after two seasons after he posted, you guessed it, a losing record. Go figure.
Paul Maurice, however, is not the worst coach the Toronto Maple Leafs have ever seen, not by a long shot. Let's have a look at five Toronto Maple Leafs' coaches who just don't make the grade.
Of the 36 coaches that the Leafs have had in their history, 15 of them spent their entire head coaching careers with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Perhaps not surprisingly, only nine coaches in team history have been elected to the Hall of Fame, and even some of those got in through their work with other teams.
5. John McLellan
John McLellan was a hockey player for 18 years before he became head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1969.
Though he only ever played two games in the NHL, he did have decent career as an amateur winning an Allen Cup, the Memorial Cup, and a gold medal in the 1959 World Ice Hockey Championships.
McLellan became the 19th coach in team history in 1969, succeeding Hall of Fame coach Punch Imlach.
In his four years as head coach of the team (1969-1973) McLellan posted a record of
117 wins, 136 losses, and 42 ties in 295 games for a winning percentage of .462.
Despite having the likes of Dave Keon, George Armstrong, Jacques Plante, Bernie Parent, Darryl Sittler, Pat Quinn (eventual Leafs' head coach from 1998 - 2006 ) and a host of others on the ice, McLellan was never able to come close to duplicating the success of his predecessor.
In 1971, when the Leafs had their best season under McLellan, he was voted NHL Coach of the Year. McLellan resigned as coach in 1973 to become the Leafs' assistant general manager and passed away four years later.
4. Dan Maloney
Dan Maloney was a decent hockey player, putting up 451 points in 737 games. But lets be honest, his stick handling was never what kept him in the NHL.
Garnering 1489 penalty minutes in your career is no easy feat, but Maloney did a good job with his hands in two ways.
He was slow—there's no doubting that—but there wasn't another player you would want on your team more than him. He could fight and score.
"I never counted the number of fights I've been in or how many I won or lost. It doesn't matter how many fights you win, anyway. It's how many times you show up for them that counts," Maloney once said in an interview.
He was a charismatic leader who always stuck up for his teammates. As a result he was he was always popular in the dressing room wherever he played.
His only real flaw was that he thought he could coach.
After being the assistant coach for the Leafs for two years, the Leafs' brain trust decided that he would make a good head coach and gave him the job at the beginning of the 1984-85 NHL season.
Maloney was well-respected by almost all who knew him, so no one could figure out why his teams couldn't win.
He didn't have the best goalies but still had a decent team, and yet in the two full seasons he coached the Toronto Maple Leafs he managed to acquire one of the worst records ever with 45 wins, 100 losses and 15 ties in 160 games.
Dan continued as a head coach for three more years in the Winnipeg Jets' organization and did post one winning season with them, going 40-32-8 during the 1986-87 campaign.
Oddly enough, after the man they used to call "Snow Shoes" left the Leafs to coach the Jets, he took over for then-interim coach John Ferguson.
3. Tom Watt
Tom Watt was a head coach in the NHL for eight years with three different teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I like Tom. He's a good guy, and he and I even share the same birthday, but I just can't believe it took 10 years for GMs to figure out that he stinks as a head coach.
From 1988 to 1990 Watt was an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames and was part of a Stanley Cup team with them in 1989.
The only season he didn't have a losing record was his first—the 1981-82 season with the Winnipeg Jets.
He oddly enough coached the Jets to a .500 record in his first year and won the Jack Adams Memorial Trophy.
The Jack Adams Award is an annual award presented by the National Hockey League Broadcasters' Association to the NHL coach thought to have contributed the most to his team's success.
By today's standard a .500 record won't get you much, but back then the LA Kings got into the playoffs with a .394 winning percentage.
Alas, Toms' final two seasons as an NHL head coach were spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he would post an almost nauseating record of 52-80-17 over the course of 149 games from 1990 to 1992.
Tom currently serves as a door man at the ACC...........just kidding, he is currently with the Leafs' organization, though as a pro scout.
2. John Brophy
Try finding a good picture of John Brophy! Better yet, try finding a picture of him smiling!
John Brophy would have been my No. 1 save for a recent vote I conducted here on Bleacher Report in which someone else was the runaway favorite for worst Toronto Maple Leafs' coach of all time.
Brophy coached the Leafs for a dismal two-and-a-half seasons in the late 1980s and was always embroiled in some sort of feud.
Whether it was with a player, a member of the media, or his general manager, it seemed as though John Brophy was always fighting with someone, and it probably never occurred to him that if he kept his mouth shut long enough he could have been a much better coach in the NHL.
That being said, his record of 64-111-18 with the Leafs was hardly indicative of the rest of his coaching career.
John Brophy would go on to accumulate the second most victories as a professional hockey coach in history behind legendary Detroit bench boss Scotty Bowman.
He also holds the distinction of having a trophy named after him.
In 2003 the ECHL re-named their Coach of the Year trophy the "John Brophy Award."
Who would have thunk it?
1. Paul Maurice
Here we have a guy who most card-carrying members of Leafs Nation just love to hate.
Paul Maurice is just one of those guys that make you scratch your head, stuff your fists into your pockets, and walk away confused.
Maurice has been a head coach in the NHL since midway through the 1995-96 season when he replaced Hartford Whalers bench boss Paul Holmgren.
Maurice has lasted a surprisingly long time in the league despite an overall winning percentage of .499 in the regular season and .472 in the playoffs.
In his two full seasons with the Leafs, he did post a winning record of 76-66-22, which makes him the only coach on this list with one, but with the rosters he had, he should have been able to do much better.
Paul Maurice, however, is living proof of the old adage, "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bull____."
Ever charismatic and charming to a fault, his quick wit and sharp sense of humor endeared him to a lot of fans and media alike despite his inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.