Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
The organization is also going about its search in an unconventional manner at the urging of Shanahan, content to hire coach before general manager if need be. There’s also the prospect of the front office (save the general manager) already in place and the looming voice of Shanahan above whatever power said general manager will hold.
These are huge hires that need to align with Shanahan, his unconventional methods and philosophy and the patient build he intends for the club moving forward.
Such a future may or may not include the team’s current captain, long-time leading scorer and a flawed and financially-inflated core that flamed out once again in 2014-15. What will the Leafs opt to do with Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel, both of whom have pricey long-term contracts extending beyond 2020? And maybe more curiously, what can the club reap in potential trades involving the pair, not to mention other core assets like Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul?
Beyond the current roster lie future pieces. The Leafs have two first round selections – including the fourth overall pick – at the second draft of the Shanahan era next month. Last year the team selected promising Swedish talent William Nylander with the eighth overall pick. These two days in June are critical to an organization seeking to rebuild internally.
from David Alter of TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
In early December, the Maple Leafs made some to moves to shore up their player development. One of those was bringing in Darryl Belfry as a consultant.
Belfry’s specialty is working with some of hockey’s top talent to improve the way they tackle the game.
“During the year we track the clients and build the development model for them and to track what their success rates are in certain area,” said Belfry when he signed on. “In the off-season we now have a clear path as to what they are doing.”
With the Maple Leafs and Marlies regular season now complete, every prospect on the roster now has Belfry at their disposal.
As part of the build, Belfry’s methods will be put to the ultimate test. Players like Patrick Kane have sworn by his methods. In some ways, it’s the analytics of body movement.
“What I do is I analyze players’ game habits and then problem solve from a skill development prospective to open up new pathways for them to perform.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Brendan Shanahan’s ultra-secretive search for a general manager meanders on with a large portion of the hockey world left wondering exactly where the wealthiest team in the National Hockey League is headed.
Whatever the Shanaplan involves — and that seems to include the hiring or wooing of a Maple Leafs coach before he hires the next Leafs general manager — it does not centre around anything resembling conventional hockey thinking or order.
Clearly, Shanahan has chosen to look the other way on well-regarded general managers with winning records and impressive resumes. He passed on Peter Chiarelli, hired quickly by Bob Nicholson in Edmonton after being fired in Boston. He passed on Ray Shero, hired quickly by the experienced Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey, when Lamoriello was pushed upstairs. He hasn’t spoken to George McPhee, architect of the Washington Capitals.
Shanahan is doing things his way. Whether that’s the right way will be determined in time.
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
... Jeff Blashill, hired a night before the draft that previous summer, was their first-year head coach. An assistant for nearly a decade in the U.S. college ranks, Blashill had never been a head coach before. Success came quick, as it did a few years later when he captured the Calder Cup in his very first season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Two championships in two leagues in his first four seasons behind a bench of any kind.
There will certainly be more experienced candidates for Brendan Shanahan and the Maple Leafs to pursue in their search for a new head coach – Mike Babcock, perhaps, above all – but if they want to look outside the box just a little, they'd be wise to consider the 41-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, currently coaching against the organization in the first round of the AHL playoffs.
"He doesn't have [NHL] experience, but if you look at his resume, he just wins," Skjodt said of Blashill in an interview. "Has he been a coach before in the NHL? No. But he's certainly ready. If there's anyone in this country that's ready right now, it'd be Jeff Blashill."
Blashill may just be next in a line of fresh faces to emerge onto the NHL landscape, a movement fronted at the moment by Jon Cooper, who hadn't coached a day in the league when Steve Yzerman promoted him to coach the Lightning a few years back.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Two weeks ago, Brendan Shanahan said he didn't want to rush selection of a new general manager and coach until seeing what changes came elsewhere in the NHL.
With the first round still underway, names such as Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan came on the market. Chiarelli quickly moved from being fired as Boston's top exec to GM and president of hockey operations in Edmonton. Philadelphia and Buffalo joined McLellan's Sharks in firing their coaches.
Attention shifts now to St. Louis and Detroit, where Blues coach Ken Hitchcock might not be back, and the Mike Babcock jockeying will be underway if the Red Wings lose Game 7 in Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Whether Leafs president Shanahan already has made up his mind or continues to see what else shakes out in coming days is not known.
He and interim GMs Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas just returned from the world under-18 championships in Switzerland, where they scouted draft talent, but likely also tuned into industry gossip.
One of the rising names in management circles is Toronto native Mike Futa, vice-president of hockey operations with the Kings, who was at the same junior tournament as the Leafs' brass. Paul Fenton, an ex-Leaf working with Nashville's hockey office under David Poile, has been getting mentions for NHL jobs for a couple of years.
Hockey Hall of Fame look at Marcel Pronovost.
Below, a video feature on him.
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.
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