[Bits] Good one, Randy; Rangers on razor's edge; Plaxico hits target

Hey, Jim. You like bagels? We got plenty of them on the Island. - Bruce Bennett

Oh, hey. Matt Martin's here.

That toxic smoke you smelled yesterday was Maple Leafs fans burning down the internet after the team announced that not only would coach Randy Carlyle be returning for another year behind the bench but that he had also signed a two-year contract extension. Assistant coaches Dave Farrish, Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin (hey, those last two sound familiar) were let go.

The Leafs problems under Carlyle have been documented and discussed non-stop - lots of shots against and lots of goons balanced with some really good goaltending and a couple of good forwards. But GM Dave Nonis and new president Brendan Shanahan still feel that Carlyle has the team pointed in the right direction. They are wrong.

Nonis' recollection about how the Leafs season imploded is a fantasy, whether you put stock in underlying stats or not. The reasons the Leafs braintrust gave for bringing Carlyle back are full of contradictions and gaps in logic. The man's body of work is DOA, save for a couple of weeks last Spring. Even at his press conference, Carlyle admitted he had no idea why the Leafs season went sideways. That's not a good sign.

Regardless of the extension, Carlyle could still be fired if the Leafs falter again or a coach they want is made available. Who knows what the team will look like by then, once the roster is shaped to bring in players more attuned to Carlyle's style, whatever that is.

Maybe I shouldn't be throwing stones from a glass Nassau Coliseum. But this is sports and every team has problems and its our right to laugh and shake our heads at who we want to. The Islanders have a lot of issues, many of their own making that maybe wouldn't have happened if some different people had been driving the bus. They're just as guilty of harping on "battle level" (or "compete level" or "energy" or whatever) and everyone has a laundry list of things they need to change that somehow stay constant year after year.

But for all the resources and money and influence and unavoidable gravitational pull the Leafs have, it shouldn't be this hard for them to put a quality team together. They aren't bound by a lot of the shackles that other teams are. Instead of locking up third liners for multiple years and multiple millions or enabling Carlyle's quixotic quests, the Leafs should use their ample wealth and stability  to devote more time and people to getting better without the restrictions other teams face.

In other words, if you can send an SOS to everyone in the world, why hang on for dear life on the first life preserver you see?

Other NHL news:

Oh. And there's this:

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