The Wild Should be Looking to the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the best front office in the NHL.

Since being hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan has rebuilt the organization by making sure that the Leafs have the best analytics department in the NHL, salary cap experts, and one of the brightest general managers in professional sports, in Kyle Dubas.

The key to the success of the Shanahan era has been open mindedness to new ideas, embracing of analytics, hiring people with different views and backgrounds, and making decisions using math and game theory, not guessing, (as is the traditional way to do things in the NHL).

The current  Toronto Maple Leafs might not have won anything yet, but it shouldn’t take a genius to see that they are one of the league’s youngest teams, one of the league’s best teams, and one of the league’s best run teams. 

They’ve got something approaching the best roster, the deepest roster, and the best salary cap situation (the only bad contract they have is Cody Ceci at $4.5 million, and it’s only for one year).

Toronto Maple Leafs Should be the Template

It is beyond my ability to comprehend how a team looking for a new general manager is limiting its search to ex-failures when an example of how to do things right is sitting right their looking them in the eye.

Why on earth would a team want the current architect of the Edmonton Oilers (Peter Chiarelli) or Philadelphia Flyers (Ron Hextall)?

These are two guys who failed doing things the “right way.”  (That is, the way things have always been done).

Meanwhile, you’ve got a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs reinventing the wheel, in the best position of any team in the league, and no one is copying them.

Do you really need to see them win a random tournament chalk full of variance before you acknowledge their success?

Here is what the Wild should do:

  1. Find someone who is respected throughout the game (to ensure that old-school credibility) but who is open minded and understands what the Leafs are doing.  This guy is your Shanahan, and he should be your new President. (I shouldn’t have to say this, but ditch Mike Modano before it’s too late).
  2.  Have him scour the world for someone smart, creative and young, who understands how hockey analytics work.  Make him the GM.
  3.  Hire a massive analytics department.
  4.   Hire a salary cap expect.
  5. Surround yourself with a solid mix of old and new school thinkers.

I mean, good god! What are people thinking?  If you are so blind that you can’t see the way the NHL is moving, you need to just sell your team and pack it in.

Otherwise, follow the template that is actually working.  The next GM of the Wild should be someone we’ve never heard of – someone who is going to move the team away from the poisonous failure of the old-school.

Do not hire ex-employees of two teams that are terrible and don’t look to be getting any better. Hire someone that sees the future, not someone stuck in the past.

Try to emulate the Toronto Maple Leafs if you want to have a successful franchise.