Toronto Maple Leafs: There Will Be No Management Dysfunction


Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan is creating a managerial monster – insert Pierre McGuire voice – to try and get the Leafs on the right path.

In Kevin McGran’s (Toronto Star) latest mailbag a reader posed the following question:

"As for my question, Shanahan hinted that the next coach could be in place before the GM is hired. Does he not realize that is part of the dysfunction over the last decade in Toronto? Shouldn’t the next GM have at least some say in who’s coaching the team? Along those lines, who are your top three candidates for both coach and GM?"

McGran followed with this answer:

"Shanahan seems oblivious to the possible dysfunction created by hiring a GM with two assistants already in place. He was asked repeatedly about that in the press conference. Says he doesn’t do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done. He’s looking for a new model.Top GM candidates: Doug Wilson (not fired yet in San Jose), Paul Fenton (great talent finder for Nashville), Sean Burke (smart hockey guy in Arizona).Top coach candidates: Claude Julien, if he’s fired. Todd McLellan, if he’s fired. Mike Babcock, if the Leafs somehow win the draft lottery."

First of all, having a coach in place prior to a GM has not been a major factor of dysfunction in Toronto over the last decade.

The only situation over the tenures of Ferguson Jr., Fletcher, Burke and Nonis where the GM really didn’t have a choice on whether or not to keep the coach was when Ferguson Jr. took over.

Pat Quinn gave the GM job away – he wasn’t fired – and kept the coaching position. He was also a fantastic coach.

All of the other general managers chose, on their own will, to keep the coaches in place. They had the power to relieve them, but they didn’t – presumably because they liked them. That’s not dysfunction, that was their choice. Dysfunction would have been if they didn’t have the power to do so.

The general manager that takes over for the Toronto Maple Leafs may or may not get a say in the new head coach depending on when he’s hired – but it’s irrelevant regardless.

Brendan Shanahan is building a team of management people in Toronto and the mandate is pretty cut and dry. He said during the press conference that this situation isn’t for everyone and because of that the next GM will be fully aware of what’s going on in Toronto.

If the new GM gets the job then all of a sudden has an issue with not choosing his own staff that’s his own problem. Things are being laid out clearly for everyone to understand.

As for the rest of McGran’s answer – the GM/Coach portion – the coaches are the exact opposite of what Toronto needs. We’re not even going to discuss Mike Babcock because he’s not likely to be in Toronto. Claude Julien and Todd McLellan are not rebuild coaches. Those are the big name coaches that previous managements would have hired solely because of their name – which was actually the problem over the last several coaches.

On the GM side of the answer McGran hit two good ones with Paul Fenton and Sean Burke who are both candidates to receive more responsibility somewhere and would benefit from a sheltered role in Toronto. Doug Wilson is a general manager that, if fired, shouldn’t receive a single job offer for the GM position.

At the end of the day, Brendan Shanahan is putting smart, savvy pieces in place to give the Maple Leafs fresh minds and a collective group of people to set a disastrous organization back on the right path. It’s all laid out in plain sight. There will be no dysfunction, only accountability.

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