The guru is gone.
Goaltending consultant Francois Allaire has decided not to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs, citing a conflict with the coaching staff.
"To be honest, I don’t think the Leafs need a goalie coach," Allaire, whose contract expired at the end of the season, said in a phone interview on Monday. "I think they have enough of them. They have two or three guys who were making decisions with the goalies. In the NHL, that’s not the way it works.
"If that’s the way they want to operate, then I’m not there."
The Leafs finished with the second-worst goals-against average last season. The team was ranked 24th in 2010-11 and 29th in 2009-10. In three years in Toronto, seven different goaltenders have studied under one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of the game, but none have achieved the type of success that many expected.
Still, Allaire said general manager Brian Burke approached him at the end of the season to renew his contract, but he was not interested in returning, even though the coaching staff had changed. He officially announced his decision to the team on Friday.
"I didn’t feel like I could do my job last year," he said. "I wasn’t getting enough ice time. I wasn’t the only guy with [the goalies]. It’s not fair to the kids, not fair to me, not fair to anybody ... I didn’t feel like I could work in this situation."
Goaltender James Reimer agreed that there was some "behind the scenes" issues with the Leafs coaching situation last year that affected Allaire’s role.
"I think there was some confusion last year and a couple of misunderstandings," said Reimer. "I don’t know if everyone clicked last year. There was some trouble in some areas and ... I don’t know if I want to get into it that much or comment on it too much. But I know that there were times when he was frustrated that we didn’t have more time to work on some stuff."
When asked of his relationship with Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson and the other goaltenders, Allaire was complimentary. There were no issues. Everyone listened, he said.
"James Reimer, the past two years that I worked with him, I was really happy with everything. He’s a great kid. He’s going to be a great goalie."
Despite the Leafs’ overall record, Allaire said he was happy with what he was able to accomplish during his three years in Toronto. As a goaltending consultant, Allaire played a role in acquiring undrafted free agents Ben Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas and Mark Owuya, who he believes are all close to challenging for NHL jobs.
"My job was to develop the young kids," he said. "It wasn’t to win the Cup. You’re not going to take a team that didn’t make the playoffs the year before to the Stanley Cup. I feel that I did pretty good, because now they have Reimer and Scrivens and other goalies in the system.
"Maybe the numbers are not there with the Leafs. But it’s difficult to have the numbers when you’re not playing defensively."
Reimer credited that Allaire is the reason why he is in the NHL and said that the goalie coach would be missed.
"It’s disappointing," said Reimer. "Obviously, I don’t hold anything against Frankie and the decision he made. I completely understand it. But from a personal standpoint, I’m disappointed that I can’t work with arguably the best goalie coaches in the game. I hope that I can give him a call or a text some time to let him know how much he meant to me."
Allaire is undecided where he will go from here. A three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens (1986, 1993) and the Anaheim Ducks (2007), he said there are options to continue coaching in the NHL.
"There’s a lot of things to do in hockey," said Allaire, adding that his time in Toronto was mostly positive. "I’ve got no problems with my experience."
Interesting turn of events. Allaire was one of the few draws for Luongo to go to Toronto, so I think the possibility of him accepting a deal there is almost done unless he decides to expand his options. Ironically, I think it'll mean Toronto's goaltending will probably need more help as a result, so they might be looking for a veteran tender.
Some buzz on twitter about who might be his replacement:
@RealKyperWith #Leafs goal coach Allaire on way out my bet is Curtis Joseph will be next goalie coach. Can anyone think of better guy who's available?
@FriedgeHNIC@RenLavoieRDS and his middle initial reported this morning that Francois Allaire is leaving Maple Leafs. Rick St. Croix among possible...
replacements, but wonder if Toronto will consider Andy Nowicki. He was James Reimer's guru and did a great job with him.
Would assume that Eli Wilson, who was the Ottawa goalie coach and helped build Carey Price, is a possible Toronto target.
@FriedgeHNIC Hearing Maple Leafs will announce Rick St. Croix as new goalie coach @CraigJButton
And St Croix's son just tweeted out congrats to his dad for landing the Leafs job:
@stixy18 Congrats to the greatest guy I know for being named the new Toronto Maple Leaf 's goalie coach! Love you dad! You deserve it!
Not that they've confirmed it yet, but it sure sounds like it.
Edited by elvis15, 18 September 2012 - 04:29 PM.