John Brophy, who was given a Christmas deadline to improve Toronto's record, was fired as coach of the Maple Leafs. His departure ended a two-year tenure as coach which included run-ins with owner Harold Ballard. Brophy was replaced on an interim basis with former team captain George Armstrong.

The Maple Leafs started the season with eight victories in their first 12 games, but had won only three since. They were winless in their last 10 games and had a 12-20-2 record overall.