Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Neil Davidson of the CP at the Toronto Star,
The blue-chip Maple Leafs brand has survived bad seasons in the past. But 2014-15 took its toll.
“I’ll tell you there’s a bunch of us down here that are losing sleep about it,” said Dave Hopkinson, chief commercial officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
Toronto finished 27th in the league with a 30-44-8 record, losing 34 of its last 43 games and finishing with the NHL’s worst road record (8-27-6).
It took just two games for a disgusted fan to toss a Leaf jersey onto the ice, during a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh. More followed as the season went south.
“If there was a tipping point on fan frustration, I think we saw it this year,” Hopkinson said in an interview.
“Just the overall mood about this team around this city, I’ve never seen it that bad,” he added.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The meeting was called for early Sunday, the morning after the NHL regular season had ended. At first, Dave Nonis thought nothing of it — he thought it would be a continuation of his Saturday conversation with Brendan Shanahan. At first, he figured it would be business as usual.
“A part of me thought we were going to move on to the next phase of our plan. That was my first thought, but a part of me knew it was coming,” said Nonis in his first interview since being fired as general manager of the Maple Leafs, an almost hour-long conversation with the Sun.
The meeting was brief and professional.
“He told me he was making a change. I pretty much knew what he was thinking ... I understand the reasons behind it. I’m not mad at Brendan. He’s still a friend of mine. But still, I was disappointed.
“There’s no hard feelings or ill will. I understand why he decided to make the change. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. I thought we got along very well throughout the year. But I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand why you do this.”
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,
The stars did not align — and neither did the balls — for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This was to be expected, given that the Leafs, for all their wretchedness, were not quite awful enough this season to “merit” more than a 9.5 per cent chance at snatching the biggest prize to come down the draft chute in a generation. The odds were steep.
But still. Just once — just once — the sports gods might have smiled down on this benighted ’burg. For a change.
Connor McDavid, for his sins, will be an Edmonton Oiler, come the 2015-2016 NHL campaign. Presumably. Unless sad-sack Edmonton does something stupid on draft day, which is not entirely outside the realm of possibility.
That puts the supernova teen some 3,470 kilometres down the highway from the centre of the universe.
EDMONTON, for the love of God. Four No. 1 picks in six years, an embarrassment of riches. And yet the Oilers remain . . . embarrassing.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brendan Shanahan spoke for only 21 minutes Monday afternoon, one day after he took a pressure washer to the team’s front office, but kicked every crutch out from underneath his organization and dispelled almost every myth under which it has operated for years.
It’s great when you have the support of the board of directors to do and say what Shanahan has done and said over the past couple of days, but it was refreshing nonetheless. Shanahan made it absolutely clear, with no grounds for any reasonable doubt, that the rebuild is on in Toronto. Nobody has ever had that kind of latitude before and Shanahan plans to use it.
“Sometimes people here try to suggest that the reason why this can’t be done is that the fans of Toronto don’t have the stomach to endure what truly needs to be done,” Shanahan said. “I don’t believe that. I think they’re dying for it to be done. Some people blame (the media). I think that’s a cop-out as well. I think it’s on us to have the determination to stick with the plan and do this the right way.”
So there you have it. Can we now put to bed, hopefully for eternity, that there are unique challenges to playing and performing “in this market”? (I swear if I never hear those words again it won’t be long enough.) Truth is, there are no more unique challenges to playing hockey in Toronto than there are to playing sports in a lot of other major cities in North America and the world. Good on Shanahan for finally being the one to put that notion out to pasture.
Brendan Shanahan, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs will hold a press conference today.
It is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm ET and you can watch it below.
from Jeff Blair of Sportsnet,
I hate to interrupt the celebration surrounding yet another front office bloodletting by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I don’t wish Brendan Shanahan ill will, but …
Wouldn’t this all seem better if we had evidence that Shanahan can build a team? I hate to be that guy but, really, other than Shanahan’s legacy as a player and a vote of confidence from the exiting Tim Leiweke — who is supposed to be on his way out as president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd. — there’s a lot here that’s being taken on faith.
And while I’m a firm believer in analytics and don’t profess to know what if any negative impact that Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter had on things this season … I wonder whether or not the list of people ready to take on the job of general manager and/or head coach wouldn’t be longer without all this holdover? It’s a safe bet that there have already been back-channel talks with some candidates but seriously, if you were, say, Mike Babcock why the hell would you want this?
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
So Shanahan must now hire a general manager - though, perhaps not in the traditional and narrow historical sense of the job title that would suggest the GM as the boss or the guy who drives the bus on all hockey decision-making.
This new GM’s vision must align with not only Shanahan’s but, to varying degrees, analytics whiz kid Dubas, scouting maven Hunter and number-crunching capologist Pridham. The new GM in Toronto will arrive not to build a managerial team around or below him, but to join an existing one with a well-established philosophy and vision of where the Leafs want to get to and how best to get there.
It may not be for everyone. For some experienced GMs, used to having final authority on all hockey decisions as long as ownership approved, it may not be autonomous enough.
That’s fine. Those who feel that way need not apply because there is absolutely no doubt Shanahan’s primary hiring focus will be to find a somewhat like-minded individual who can work comfortably in the hockey universe Shanahan has created with Dubas, Hunter and Pridham. That isn’t to say there can’t be discourse - I couldn’t think of two individuals who appear to differ more in style and/or personality more than Dubas and Hunter - but there needs to be some commonality of thought and respect for the established hierarchy.
The Maple Leafs announced the club has relieved GM David Nonis & Interim Head Coach Peter Horachek of their duties today.
The club also announced coaches Steve Spott, Chris Dennis & Rick St. Croix (goaltending) have also been relieved of their duties.
Steve Staios will resume his duties as Manager of Player Development.
As club seeks new GM, Assistant GM Kyle Dubas & Director of Player Personnel Mark Hunter will share responsibilities on an interim basis.
added 12:05pm, Toronto release is below...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Peter Horachek’s sense of humour is alive.
The interim Maple Leafs head coach, who is expected to be looking for work at some point this week, couldn’t help but make a couple of jokes following the season finale on Saturday night.
“Anybody want to have a glass of wine?” Horachek said to reporters at the end of his news conference after the Leafs fell 4-3 in a shootout against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre.
Earlier, Horachek was asked about the emotions he felt during the day.
“I’m a shell,” Horachek said to laughter. “There is nothing inside.”
He also said he would head home and hang out with his dog. He didn’t say whether he would turn off the ringer on his phone.
Watch Horachek's post-game conference below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org