The Toronto Maple Leafs fired general manager David Nonis and interim head coach Peter Horachek on Sunday.
The Leafs finished with a 30-44-8 record (68 points) and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row and the ninth time in the past 10 seasons.
Nonis, a former University of Maine hockey standout, was named Toronto’s GM Jan. 9, 2013 after then-president and general manager Brian Burke was fired. The Maple Leafs went 94-97-21 while he served in that role with the organization. He originally joined the Maple Leafs as senior vice president of hockey operations on Dec. 6, 2008.
Nonis is a former Black Bear defenseman and two-year captain who graduated in 1988. He spent 10 years with the Canucks, first as their senior vice president for hockey operations and then as general manager.
Toronto also relieved assistant coaches Steve Spott and Chris Dennis, and goaltending coach Rick St. Croix of their duties.
Horachek took over for the fired Randy Carlyle on Jan. 7. He inherited a 21-16-3 record, but guided the team to just a 9-28-5 record the rest of the way. Horachek was a former Nashville Predators assistant coach. He also coached the Florida Panthers on an interim basis in 2013-14, finishing with a 26-36-4 record.
“It’s evident that there’s lots of changes that have to happen, and the direction has to be in a different direction,” Horachek said after Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter will share GM duties on an interim basis as the team looks to find a permanent replacement for Nonis. Steve Staios will return to his previous role as manager of player development.
Toronto also fired director of pro scouting Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes.
NHL scoring champ Benn to have hip surgery
Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn, who led the NHL in scoring this season, will have hip surgery soon.
General manager Jim Nill said Benn had issues with both hips throughout the season. Doctors have not yet determined whether he needs surgery on both hips. Recovery time is four to five months, which means he should be ready for training camp in September.
Benn won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer on the final day of the season, capping a 10-point surge in the final three games. The 25-year-old set a career high with 87 points (35 goals) for Dallas, which missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
“He had a hell of a year,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “He was hurting and got through it. He was hurting for most of the year. But he really grew as a captain. From a guy who wouldn’t say too much, his leadership on the team really grew, and that was a big positive from this year.”
General manager Jim Nill said, “There were a lot of nights when we thought he wouldn’t be playing, but he came to us and said, ‘No, I’m a player.’ That’s Jamie Benn. We didn’t hear about it all season. That’s Jamie Benn. To gut it out the way he did shows we’ve got a great leader on this team.”
Nill also said winger Ales Hemsky will have similar surgery.
Jackets’ Richards to coach U.S. at World Championship
Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards has been named head coach of the United States men’s national team at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, USA Hockey announced Monday.
Richards will be joined by Dan Bylsma and Greg Carvel, who will each serve as assistants, for the tournament held from May 1-17 in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Richards, 48, has coached the Blue Jackets for the past four seasons, leading Columbus to the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. He has guided the Blue Jackets to a 127-105-21 record (.543) in 253 games behind the bench, leading the team to back-to-back 40-win campaigns and three winning seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Columbus compiled a 42-35-5 record in 2014-15, but failed to qualify for the playoffs this season.
A native of Crystal, Minn., Richards has compiled a 204-176-37 record (.534) over six seasons with the Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild during his NHL coaching career.
This is the third time Richards will represent the United States in international competition. He previously served as an assistant coach for the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and on the 2010 World Championship team.
Bylsma, who was the U.S. coach in Sochi, last coached in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2013-14 season. Bylsma won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and won the Jack Adams Award as the League’s top coach in 2011.
Carvel currently serves as the coach of St. Lawrence University. He was named the Tim Taylor Award winner this season as the top coach in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. This will be Carvel’s first time working as a coach with USA Hockey.