Toronto Maple Leafs: Brad Treliving Has Already Made a Huge Mistake

Brad Treliving, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was with the Calgary Flames (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Brad Treliving, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was with the Calgary Flames (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

On May 31, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the huge announcement that Brad Treliving was going to be the 18th general manager in the organization’s 106 year history.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs new GM is still trying to get acquainted with where the washrooms are located in the MLSE offices, he’s already made one massive move and it wasn’t a good one.

Just 10 days into his tenure running the Leafs, Treliving brought in someone he thought would help the franchise.

He hired former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan to be a special advisor to the general manager.

Toronto Maple Leafs New GM Has Already Made a Huge Mistake

On the surface, it appears as though Doan is a fit with the Leafs. He is an experienced executive who brings a fresh perspective to the organization. More importantly, he may also have some value when it comes to retaining star players.

It is believed that Doan’s most important role with the Toronto Maple Leafs is to act as a tool for keeping Auston Matthews in Toronto.

Doan happens to be the star player’s “childhood idol”. Matthews said as much himself when Doan announced his retirement. Matthews tweeted, “My childhood idol growing up. Amazing player and an even better person. Congrats on an unbelievable career Doaner!” in August of 2017.

While he may be a nice connection to Arizona for both Matthews and rookie Matthew Knies, Doan’s hiring comes at a cost.

The problem for the Leafs is the optics around Jason Spezza leaving the organization. He resigned from his position as special assistant to the general manager. (It’s unclear what the difference is from that role to the one now occupied by Doan. It appears, it’s just the wording, “assistant” vs “advisor”.) Spezza left only hours before President Brendan Shanahan announced that the Leafs would not be bringing back Kyle Dubas as their general manager.

For Shanahan, this was clear dissension and suggests that there is some dysfunction in the front office. That’s because Spezza was the man who chose to take a pay cut in order to finish his career playing for the Leafs. He was so loyal to the team that he publicly announced that if he were to be claimed in the expansion draft or traded, he would retire on the spot. Spezza only wanted to be with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was exactly where he wanted to be until he decided he needed to disassociate with the organization he loved over the ousting of Dubas.

Treliving’s decision to bring in Doan closed the door on Spezza. Instead, what the new general manager should have done is bring Spezza back. Even if it meant overpaying the retired player to return, the optics would have helped Shanahan and luring potential free agents. Players may be scared away from Toronto based on what can be interpreted by agents as front office turmoil.

Additionally, having served under Dubas, Spezza could have helped Treliving adjust to his new surroundings. One would believe that Spezza was aware of Dubas’s plans for the future, which would have helped Treliving as a base from which to get started. Spezza could have been the bridge between the changing guard of GMs.

Doan could have still joined the Leafs, just in a different capacity. MLSE is far from short of the funds needed to pay both Doan’s and Spezza’s executive salaries. Treliving should have found a way to make it work.

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The good news about Treliving blundering his first move is he can only get better from here.