We can call it: Time of Firing - 11:45:35am on January 22, 2008. The end of John Ferguson's reign as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs came as no surprise to anyone with a television, radio, newspaper, or internet connection. In fact, the real surprise is that it took so long for the board to give up on the man that built a team that looks a dead certainty to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season. A feat unmatched in the 81 year history of the franchise.
All of the speculation was correct and Cliff Fletcher will be taking over as interim GM. There will be a press conference live on TSN (and broadband for those of you stuck at work) where the change will be made official and Cliff's new role will be outlined so we can see if Howard Berger is once again spectacularly wrong or suprisingly right.
Richard Peddie has already begun the re-writing of history and his own involvement in the fiasco:
Cliff Fletcher is the ideal person to lay the groundwork of positive change for the Leafs. As all of our general managers have had, he will have the autonomy and responsibility for all hockey decisions with a focus on establishing a foundation from which the next general manager can build. He will guide us through the upcoming trade deadline and toward the draft and free agent signing period.
The emphasis is mine but it's pretty clear that JFJ did not enjoy this autonomy. Any trade of Sundin or firing of Maurice had to go through the MLSE board. This quotation only serves to remind us that while getting rid of JFJ is a good start the real change that needs to come is at board level and that begins with Dick Peddie.