The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Randy Carlyle, the club announced Tuesday morning.
Assistant coach Peter Horachek, 54, was named interim head coach ahead of Wednesday's game against the Washington Capitals, the team said. Steve Staios, the Leafs' manager of player development, also will join Horachek on the bench.
Carlyle entered the season on shaky ground as management got rid of his assistants over the summer but kept him on board despite the sense by many that he would be fired after last season's dramatic ending. A stretch of 12 losses in the final 14 games knocked the Leafs out of playoff contention.
This season, Toronto sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference at 21-16-3, but it is coming off a season-high seven-game road trip in which it finished with just two wins.
"I think we'd all agree we've had some good periods, good stretches, but I don't think I can stand here in front of you and say that we've been consistent," general manager Dave Nonis said at a news conference. "We just felt at this point this was the right time to make the change and move ahead and try to get this team back playing like we have played for periods this season."
Carlyle went 91-78-19 in 188 games as coach over parts of four seasons. He won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
He is the fourth NHL coach to be fired this season. The others have been Paul MacLean (Ottawa), Dallas Eakins (Edmonton) and Pete DeBoer (New Jersey).
Asked about Carlyle before the season, Nonis said the idea of a "short leash" is no different from what has been the case in the past.
"How a team plays is always a reflection of your coach," Nonis said the day training camp opened. "At some point you look at how the team plays and you say, 'Is a coach having the impact that's needed?' I don't really think that matters if a coach is on a one-year or a two-year deal if you don't think he's getting through."
Blowout losses in November seemed to symbolize that, but a 10-1-1 run following a couple of embarrassing games got the Leafs back on track. Losing five of seven on the road trip, and repeating the same kind of mistakes that have plagued the team before, cost Carlyle his job.
"It's been too much of a roller coaster," Nonis said. "It's not that [players are] not capable because they are. It's not that they haven't done it because they have. That's probably the biggest reason, or one of the biggest reasons, for the change today."
Carlyle succeeded Ron Wilson with 18 games left in the 2011-12 season. Wilson was fired after the infamous "18-wheeler going right off a cliff" losing streak named for then-GM Brian Burke's quote.
Carlyle and the Leafs made the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2013 season before falling behind three games to one in the first round against Boston. They came back to force a Game 7 and led 4-1 with 11 minutes left before losing in overtime.
In 2013-14, the Leafs were easily in a playoff spot before goaltender Jonathan Bernier was hurt. They lost eight in a row in regulation and dropped 12 of their final 14 games. Carlyle's job appeared in jeopardy then, but Brendan Shanahan, who was hired as president in April, wanted time to assess the team.
"He's a good man, a good coach," Nonis said, "and he'll be back in this game quickly."
Horachek, 54, joined the Maple Leafs in July after serving as coach of the Florida Panthers for the final 66 games of last season. His other NHL experience includes nine seasons as an assistant in Nashville.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.