Less than a month to the entry draft the Leafs are still without a coach, GM, or President or some combination of the three. Lance Hornsby, The Omen, and their cohorts are anxious to have the positions filled so that they can begin criticising the choice. The article mentions the teams that the Avalanche have already made a choice. Of course there is no mention of the nature of the process or the attendant reaction which has been less than ecstatic.
Going forward, Cox et al would have you believe that having Uncle Cliff work the draft or making trades would be the end of the world. The insinuation is that Cliff will makes moves that the incoming GM would not have or will not agree with their execution. At the same time Cox argues that there should be some hard and fast rules in place that the incoming GM should have to observe regardless of who is ultimately hired. The funny thing is that I agree with him and it's exactly the reason why I am not too bothered by the pace of the hiring process thus far.
The basic tenets of the Maple Leafs' philosophy have been set out in much the same way as a corporation would outline their mission/vision/values. It is up to the incoming President, GM, and Coach to implement them but they are working within a structure that has already been outlined to some extent for the near future. I certainly don't want those tenets to be as binding as Cox would suggest (no trading a first rounder for five years - what if in 4 years you can get the Butch Goring/Marian Hossa that you need to win the Cup?) but they exist nonetheless (in no particular order):
- Move bit pieces and underachievers out of town
- Accumulate draft picks and prospects
- Give younger players more responsibility
One could quibble about the details about how to go about these moves (so far the first one has been a bit hard to accomplish thanks to NTC/NMC) but you cannot discount the fact that the Leafs already have a competent GM in place to get the ball rolling. Ignore Damien Cox. Cliff Fletcher has the experience needed to turn unproductive assets (Blake, Tucker, McCabe) into valuable assets. Here's the trade that Cox will never mention in his slamming of Fletcher:
February 25, 1997
To Toronto: Alyn McCauley, Steve Sullivan and Jason Smith
To New Jersey: Doug Gilmour, Dave Ellett and a cond. pick.
If not for Quinn that trade would have gone down as another piece of Fletcher's legacy in Toronto.
The caveat to the above, of course, is whether the MLSE board is sincere about removing themselves from all decisions other than to approve a budget and to review the year once it's completed. I discussed this with Greener the other day but I feel comfortable allowing the process to go forward although there is the thought at the back of our minds that this is MLSE and they will probably screw it up. However, they are not screwing it up by waiting to see all of their options before committing to hiring the person that will decide the team's fortunes for long after they have left the Leafs.
As for the panic before the draft, any incoming GM would have the exact same scouting staff as Cliff Fletcher and the Leafs' needs are hardly a mystery. They need a top end scoring talent. If that is not available then there are a bevy of defencemen available that are projected to become top pairing material. The decision may vary depending on the GM but the need that they are filling is clear. Not to mention that the margin of error is much larger with a 7th overall pick.
Anyway, what are you guy's thinking about the process? Peddie said when the Nonis news (please no) came out that they were right on track and were looking to get someone in within 4-6 weeks. Sounds good to me.
On to the links:
Steve looks at the two paths that Pittsburgh and Washington have travelled in returning to respectability. The Washington path definitely fits the Leafs' situation much more closely.
Pogge gets another start tonight as the Marlies look to extend the Conference Final. Yes, it's good to help young players develop in a winning situation but it's much better to have them playing and winning than watching it happen. Oh, and it's much better to have no stache than a dirty porn stache.
Mirtle breaks down the Finals. Lidstrom as the key to the series is a good storyline and the scoring rate stat that James posts is mind-bogging.
Deadspin's preview, written by the Melt Your Face Off gang of former Mouseketeers, is up. Pretty funny read.
- Greener mentions something that makes me wonder about him. As long as he keeps hammering Moose on their podcast (go listen) then I'll let this one slide.