Patrick Roy. Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Ilya Bryzgalov. All goaltenders that were once under the tutelage of revered goaltending consultant Francois Allaire. It was like magic; everything he touched became Vezina-caliber. Francois decided to go to hockey obsessed Toronto, where, unbeknownst to him, actual magic wouldn’t work to solve the goalie issues. After three seasons with the tele-novella that is the Maple Leafs, Allaire will not be coming back to Toronto for the fourth (whenever that is).
In Anaheim, Francois won a Stanley Cup alongside then-Ducks GM Brian Burke. Burke left the Anaheim to assume the role of GM for the struggling Maple Leafs. A short while after Burke’s departure, Allaire decided to join him in Toronto to assist in reviving the historical franchise.
The Leafs goaltending was a mess. If there was one person that could fix it, it would be Francois Allaire. Yet, even with Allaire, the goaltending wasn’t living up to Toronto standards (i.e. win The Cup immediately). As a stop-gap, Burke went as far as trading with Anaheim for Allaire’s former star pupil, J.S. Giguere. That had no real effect; Jiggy was past his prime. It was becoming a revolving door of goalies for Francois, and with each one, Allaire was expected to turn the player into a winner. No pressure, right?
In an interview with Michael Traikos of Postmedia News, reporting for The Province, Allaire explained his decision to leave Toronto.
Allaire is considered the master of butterfly goaltending. Given his list of former pupils, all butterfly goalies in their primes, it was only natural that he would take the same approach in Toronto. The Leafs continued to disappoint in the first two seasons of Allaire’s tenure.
In the third season, Francois began to see the writing on the wall. He was being kept out of practices. There were new coaches working with his students, trying to un-teach what Allaire had taught them. His ‘core philosophies’ that brought him success were being decimated right in front of him.
The Leafs had many problems beyond goaltending. The inmates were running the asylum. Head coach Ron Wilson had lost all control in the locker room. The constant media coverage and pressure from hockey-mad Toronto seemed to only multiply the issues. That toxic environment was just too much for Allaire and he made the decision to resign.
The timing of Allaire’s decision is somewhat auspicious given the way the team is transitioning. With less than a month left in the 2011-12 season, head coach Ron Wilson had been fired in favor of another one of Burke’s Anaheim colleagues, Randy Carlyle.
Allaire served as part of Carlyle’s coaching staff while in Anaheim. He knows how the disciplinarian Carlyle runs his team. In the article, he referenced coaches in general terms, not differentiating between Carlyle and Wilson. It’s not clear as to if working with Carlyle again factored into his decision.
Then again, maybe he found out he wasn’t in Carlyle’s plans for the season and decided to sever ties first. The best way to do that in Toronto? The go to the media.