Revisionist Toronto Maple Leafs History Is Just Sad to Witness

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: (l-r) Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: (l-r) Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter of the Toronto Maple Leafs attend of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The best thing the Toronto Maple Leafs ever did was fire Lou Lamoriello in favor of Kyle Dubas.

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas is a breath of fresh air when it comes to NHL general managers – a recycled Old Boys Club that constantly gives the same few old guys the chance to fail again and again with different teams.

Dubas is not only young, but he successfully bridged the gap between old-school hockey attitudes and the analytics era.  You can quibble on how much of an “analytics GM” he is, but what you can’t quibble about is that for the first time in the history of the franchise, the Leafs have a plan and are sticking with it.

Due to goalies, the salary cap, game management and the fact it’s a pro league to start with, the NHL has an absolute ton of parity.  This means that there is not much difference between teams.  This, therefore, means that results are always going to be at least somewhat random and that decisions about team building and who does that team building should never, ever, be based on short-term results.

Due to the combination of the Pandemic, the 55 odd years without a Cup, and the (modest) success of the Islanders, Leafs fans are understandably upset about the recent results of their favorite team.  They should not, however be upset about the direction.

Lamoriello was failing in Toronto, and despite his troll-worthy back-to-back GM of the Year awards, that hasn’t changed.  The revisionist history would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Remember This, Toronto Maple Leafs Fans

Lou was fired in May of 2018 , shortly after the Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins, after a regular season that saw them vastly out-perform their team stats.  Buoyed by the second highest PDO in the NHL, the Leafs over-achieved and finished sixth overall. (stats

Despite the Grass is Always Greener mentality of current Leafs whitewashed analysis, the facts are that Lou entered the playoffs with Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey in his top four, something that this site complained about for months leading up to the playoffs.

Mike Babcock, was already showing signs of being a dinosaur in a new era, and was absolutely awful (the team was TERRIBLE defensively, and for reasons that are still unclear, loved the long-bomb pass up the middle).  Babcock would later be fired for being a terrible coach, and allegedly, not that nice of a guy.

Though Babcock was hired before Lamoriello, there is no doubt in my mind that if the Leafs had of stuck with Lamoriello, that Babcock would still be the coach today.

Lou signed Patrick Marleau, perhaps the biggest blunder of his career. Marleau was done and it was obvious to everyone…….except Mike Babcock who played him at the top of the lineup and pretended, even in the playoffs, that he was still a top line player.

Even more-so  that Kadri’s first suspension, this cost the Leafs the series.

This blunder ended up costing the Leafs a first round pick.  The even more egregious Nikita Zaitsev contract cost the Leafs Connor Brown.  These things are 10 x worse than any error Kyle Dubas’ has made.

The statistics said the Leafs were over-achieving.  Their core players were on year two of their Entry-Level Deals.  It would have made sense to trade JVR, Bozak and Hainsey (among others) for assets leading up to the playoffs.  Lamoriello neglected to do this.

I don’t mind keeping your own players if the team is competitive, but  a team with Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev in the top four isn’t and could never be truly competitive – just lucky.

Let’s not forget the insane decision to dress Roman Polak for seven playoffs games. Or the fact that Lou wasted a second round pick to bring in Tomas Plekanec.  Or the fact that Matt Martin dressed for 50 games.

Looking back, the Leafs were clearly right to fire Lamoriello.  Outside of the Freddie Andersen trade, it’s hard to think of anything positive he did for the organization – at least from a transactional perspective; I’m sure his experience was invaluable to Dubas and Shanahan.

If we remove the pandemic-era luck-based results of the last 12 months, what we have is  a team whose core is young, who doesn’t have  a single bad contract and who has a top five prospect system in the entire league.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are clearly in better hands than they were three years ago.  The team may have disappointed against Montreal, but with one of the NHL’s youngest cores of top players, they almost won the President’s Trophy and are indisputably a top team in the NHL right now.

A review of Lamoriello’s time in Toronto shows that he was borderline incompetent and that, if anything, the Leafs should have given Dubas the reigns sooner.  This is something pretty much everyone agree with before the Montreal series.  The fact that the Islanders got a bit lucky and the Leafs didn’t shouldn’t change that.

Next. How Mark Hunter Almost Ruined the Leafs. dark

Lamoriello would have made this franchise worse than Burke and Nonis made it, and the current revisionist history that paints him as a genius who was let go too soon is both empirically wrong and incredibly sad.