The Francois Allaire era in Toronto has officially come to an end.
The veteran goaltending coach, who made a name for himself helping guide Patrick Roy and Jean-Sebastian Giguere to Stanley Cup championships, cited conflict with the coaching staff as the reason for his departure.
Allaire, who joined the Maple Leafs three years ago with much fanfare and expectations, never could find success with the ever-changing carousal of netminders.
“To be honest, I don’t think the Leafs need a goalie coach,” Allaire told The National Post 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.”
Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke never shied away from calling Allaire “the best goaltending coach on the planet.”
Burke constantly came to the defence of his goaltending guru throughout all of the goalie troubles that have plagued the team under his watch.
During Allaire’s tenure, seven different goalies – Vesa Toskala, Jonas Gustavsson,Joey Macdonald, James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas and Giguere – have been given a shot at the starting job in Toronto.
The numbers don’t lie.
The Leafs had the second-worst goals-against average in the league last season. The loss of Reimer didn’t help as he suffered a concussion early in the season and struggled to find his form upon returning.
The Leafs didn’t fare much better in Allaire’s first two seasons, either, finishing 24th in 2010-11 and 29th in 2009-10.
Allaire’s butterfly approach worked wonders in Montreal and Anaheim, it was supposed to do the same in Toronto.
Burke won the Gustavsson sweepstakes in 2009. Allaire was apparently the perfect fit for the 6-foot-3 goalie from Sweden. Gustavsson, the man affectionately known as the Monster, showed flashes of brilliance, but never demonstrated the consistency to be Toronto’s No. 1 goalie.
Burke then tried to re-unite Allaire with his former protégé from Anaheim.
Giguere struggled to find his form and was later replaced by Reimer.
The 24-year-old gives Allaire much of the credit for his quick rise to the NHL. Allaire worked closely with Reimer, who had the city abuzz after posting a 4-0-1 record to start off the 2011-12 season before sustaining a concussion against Montreal.
The Maple Leafs recently signed Scrivens to a two-year contract, and whenever hockey resumes, he will be Reimer’s backup.
Perhaps Allaire didn’t live up to the hype, but he definitely left a lasting impression on the young goalies in the organization. Whether they can take their games to the next level is up for debate.