Mike Nykoluk and the Leafs

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by checkerdome, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. checkerdome

    checkerdome Registered User

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    Does anyone remember the main reason(s) Mike Nykoluk's stock went from being the prize coaching catch(via the Flyers/Shero) to being undesired after 4 seasons('80-81 to '83-'84) in Toronto?

    Was his coaching actually the issue or was it a lack of talent on the Leafs' roster?

    How did Harold Ballard factor into Mr. Nykoluk's 4 year tenure?

    thanks:yo:
     
  2. Poignant Discussion*

    Poignant Discussion* I tell it like it is

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    Nykoluk was terrible
    The team was terrible
    Ballard was terrible

    Ballard factored into everything with regard of the Leafs downfall
     
  3. mooseOAK*

    mooseOAK* Guest

    It was the post Sittler/Salming years where Ballard got even more nuts than before and kept hiring crap coaches and GM's.
     
  4. frontsfan2005

    frontsfan2005 Registered User

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    Nykoluk didn't have much to work with after Sittler was traded away for next to nothing. The goaltending on these teams was flat out horrible, as the Leafs were always near the league high in goals against during this time frame. Goaltenders during his tenure included Bunny Larocque, Jiri Crha, a past his prime Mike Palmateer and a 19 year old Allan Bester.

    The offense was led by Rick Vaive, who scored at least 51 goals in each of the three full seasons Nykoluk was his coach. John Anderson also had some good seasons under Nykoluk, but other than them, the team offense was very mediocre. Bill Derlago was inconsistent, as he went from 34 to 13 to 40 goals during Nykoluk's three full seasons.

    Borje Salming was leading the defense, but his best offensive days were over. He managed to be around an even player until 83-84 when he was a -34. Jim Benning looked like a future star, getting 31 points as an 18 year old rookie in 81-82, and a 51 point season in 83-84 when he was 20, before finding himself out of the league at 26.

    It seems Nykoluk managed to get the best out of what he had, as these teams, other than a few players, had no talent. Ballard was running the team in the ground, and as we all know, it wasn't until the Cliff Fletcher/Pat Burns era that the Leafs would be a very good team again.
     
  5. checkerdome

    checkerdome Registered User

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    Thanks for the thorough reply.
     
  6. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    In the early 80s, Nykoluk's name always surfaced in the media whenever a coaching position opened up. There was some speculation about how much of Fred Shero's success was due to Nykoluk's contributions.

    Ballard apparently offered Nykoluk the Leafs job after firing Roger Neilson two years earlier, but he refused as he was under the impression that he would get the Rangers job whenever Shero decided to step down.

    The Leafs were an absolute joke at the time, and while no one can solely blame him, Nykoluk was widely criticized for not getting anything accomplished there. Towards the end of his tenure, media reports said that assistant coach Dan Maloney was actually the one doing most of the work in practices and behind the bench during games. There was also criticism from Serge Boisvert that he was biased against francophone players.

    But with Ballard running things, nobody could've succeeded in that circus.
     
  7. checkerdome

    checkerdome Registered User

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    I recall speculation about Mike Nykoluk playing a greater part in Fred Shero's success in Philadelphia than was officially acknowledged.
    I couldn't recall whether or not he had accompanied Shero to the Rangers.
    Interesting that he didn't even take the Leaf job when it was first offered to him.
    Speculation that Dan Maloney was the "real" coach as Nykoluk's assistant the same way many believed that to be the case between the latter and Fred Shero in Philly is really ironic.
     
  8. MiamiScreamingEagles

    MiamiScreamingEagles A Fistful of Dollars

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    He accompanied Shero to the Rangers. They were together in the 1979 Cup Finals. The following season, Shero delegated much of the coaching at practices to Nykoluk. Shero had the double duty in NY of being GM and coach. His goal was to leave coaching and concentrate on being GM with Nykoluk the heir apparent coach. After the 1980 playoffs, Shero decided to retain both roles which frustrated Nykoluk so he resigned. Shero specifically mentioned the lack of discipline that season, Nykoluk had the reputation for being a players' coach.

    Nykoluk was offered the Leafs' job the prior season (IIRC) but refused it because he thought he was going to be the Rangers' head coach when Shero stepped aside.
     
  9. checkerdome

    checkerdome Registered User

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    Thanks for clarifying that.
     
  10. FiveForDrawingBlood

    FiveForDrawingBlood Registered User

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    Unless your name is Scotty Bowman or Toe Blake you have to have the horses
     
  11. Poignant Discussion*

    Poignant Discussion* I tell it like it is

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    Also in 81-82 Ballard forced the coach to play THREE 18 year old rookies on defense, it ruined each and everyone of them eventually
     
  12. reckoning

    reckoning Registered User

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    Jim Benning, Fred Boimistruck, and Bob McGill. I remember an issue of THN that season had them on their cover that year with this big article about how they were poised to be the next Robinson-Savard-Lapointe, and how Toronto's defence was set for the next decade. Didn't quite work out that way.

    Allan Bester is another example of a player who was harmed by Toronto throwing him to the wolves at too young an age.
     
  13. Poignant Discussion*

    Poignant Discussion* I tell it like it is

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    Yup Ballard loved to save money and the foolish Maple Leaf fans went along with it by filling the building each and every night
     
  14. ekcut

    ekcut The Refs shot JFK.

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    Man, Vaive, Bester, Dan Daoust...they were my favorites growing up and the Leafs as a whole were IDOLIZED....I guess that explains why I am still OK, cheering for the Oilers now that I've been out west for 20 years
     
  15. FiveForDrawingBlood

    FiveForDrawingBlood Registered User

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    I remember that article also. Seen Boimistruck on tv a couple of years back. He is driving a train out Thunder Bay way I believe
     
  16. jumptheshark

    jumptheshark Rebooting myself Sponsor

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    Ballard and his interfering with the roster
     

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