Amid questions about the job security of coach Randy Carlyle, Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis and captain Dion Phaneuf expressed support for Carlyle and said Toronto's players need to perform better, according to NHL.com.
Carlyle's future has again come into question after Toronto fell 9-2 to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. It was the Maple Leafs' third straight loss and followed a 6-2 defeat to the Buffalo Sabres last Saturday.
Toronto has 20 points through 19 games and is tied for fifth place in the Atlantic Division.
While Carlyle acknowledged that he's in a "position of doubt" due to the Maple Leafs' recent poor play, Nonis said the roster has to start playing more consistent, a sentiment that Phaneuf echoed.
"Obviously when we lose the way that we did [Tuesday] night, everyone is disappointed, everyone's frustration level is extremely high," captain Dion Phaneuf said, according to NHL.com. "But with saying that, today was a new day. We come to work. We came to work with the right attitude. We had a good practice.
"We support Randy, and our job is to play. You guys obviously are going to ask questions and point fingers, and that's part of playing in a market like this," Phaneuf added. "When we get beat like we got beat, us as players deserve to take the blame because he’s not out there playing, the coaching staff is not out there playing."
Carlyle also faced questions about his job status at the end of last season, as the Maple Leafs went 2-12 in their final 14 games and missed the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Three assistant coaches weren't retained but Carlyle was signed to a two-year contract extension in May. In September, he called the upcoming season "just another year" when asked if he was feeling any additional pressure.
The Maple Leafs host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
- Ben Estes