The Toronto Maple Leafs are in good hands.
It is crazy to me to finally be a fan of Toronto Maple Leafs management after being a fan of the team for over 30 years.
I was raised as a Leafs fan, but my dad was pretty clear on how awful Harold Ballard was, and told me they’d never win under him because he was a lunatic.
There was some brief optimism under Cliff Fletcher when the Leafs landed Doug Gilmour, but it didn’t last long and the next thing you know the team was a mess again, Pat Burns was fired and Doug Gilmour was traded.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM
Then the Leafs traded my favorite player at the time – Kenny Jonsson – to reacquire Wendel Clark, for a while they had 4 GMs for some reason, then they let Pat Quinn have both jobs, and pretty much the whole time I loved my team but I knew they were ran by crazy people.
I grew to hating – and I mean absolutely despising – the Teacher’s Pension Plan, even though I had a vague – at best – understanding of what that was.
Gord Stellick, Floyd Smith, Harold Ballard, Steve Stavros, Cliff Fletcher, Mike Smith, Pat Quinn, Ken Dryden, John Ferguson, Tim Leiweke, Larry Tanenbaum, Brian Burke, Dave Nonis and Dave Poulin…..whether I started out optimistic or not, I grew to hate them all.
Especially Burke, Nonis and Poulin.
But the Toronto Maple Leafs today are different.
Shanahan came in and watched for a year, then he fired everyone. It was glorious.
Shanahan made the principle of this team “process over results,” and I believe that is a philosophy that cuts to the heart of what has always been wrong with the Leafs – that they would pursue winning by throwing money at free agents and always trying to win now, instead of patiently building something sustainable.
There is no way William Nylander – or even Morgan Rielly – are Leafs today under any other management team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the league’s youngest and most progressive general manager, an assistant GM who wrote the salary cap rules, and the biggest analytics department in the NHL.
And you have to acknowledge the hands-off ownership, which seemed like an insane corporate marriage of rivals, has been fantastic in allowing it to happen.
You couldn’t get further from the bean counters of the past. You couldn’t get further from the ridiculous cycle of bringing in a savior and then letting the newspapers dictate how long it would be until he suddenly was garbage.
For the longest time, the Toronto Maple Leafs existed to make money and nothing else. Now it seems that they have sincerely decided to win, and to use their financial might to do so in the best possible way, which is to make decisions based on measuring things and then analyzing them, as opposed to guessing based on reputation.
Brendan Shanahan is already the best president in Leafs history. Kyle Dubas is already the best general manager in team history.
Win or lose, the Leafs since they drafted Auston Matthews and signed John Tavares are the best version of this franchise I’ve seen since I started watching back in the mid 80s.