From the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle:
Two years after Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment made a controversial bet on Shanahan – who had never worked for an NHL team in any capacity – what he will say is that he feels the Leafs are ahead of where he expected them to be.
He has a top coach in Mike Babcock, with a Stanley Cup and Olympic-gold pedigree. He has an experienced general manager in his 73-year-old mentor Lou Lamoriello, working on transactions. He has an up-and-coming executive in Kyle Dubas, managing the minor leagues (where the Toronto Marlies finished at the top of the standings), a renowned bird dog in director of player personnel in Mark Hunter and a cap guru in Brandon Pridham.
After the weekend, Shanahan also has 18-year-old wunderkind Auston Matthews, the projected star centre the Leafs selected first overall at the entry draft in Buffalo.
It’s a start.
“I had an idea before I even accepted the job of what needed to happen in Toronto,” Shanahan said in a wide-ranging conversation with The Globe and Mail about the rebuild the Leaf organization is undergoing. “But because I’ve gotten support [from ownership], things have fallen into place a little bit quicker. Other people have bought into it and come aboard.
“In each of my [hiring] meetings – whether it’s been with Mike Babcock or Lou Lamoriello or Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brandon Pridham – my approach has been honesty. ‘This is who we are. We need your help. We have a long way to go.’ But I like some of the early signs. And we’ve had some luck, obviously, with the lottery draft. It was nice to have a little bit of luck on our side, as well.”