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Leafs centennial celebrations, logo all part of bigger Shanaplan

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The Toronto Maple Leafs' new look and new agenda are all part of a plan that started when Brendan Shannon became the team's president in April 2014.

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"I think they (the fans) bought into the plan, to Brendan (Shanahan)'s plan, the Shanny Plan," Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) inductee and director of public affairs Ron Ellis said to a small group of reporters with a laugh after the Toronto Maple Leafs unveiled their plans for their Centennial Anniversary season. "Is that what they call it guys?"

For the second time in as many weeks, a member of the HHOF referred to the Leafs president's blueprint as the 'Shanny Plan'. At the NHL Draft in Buffalo, after the Leafs selected Auston Matthews first overall, general manager Lou Lamoriello also referred to the managements' buy-in to the Shanny Plan.

On Thursday morning, aesthetic announcements on a new Centennial Anniversary logo, plans to raise new banners to replace those of the 18 honoured Leafs in the Air Canada Centre (ACC) rafters, and plans to wear the team's famed green St. Pats jerseys on March 18 were released with Shanahan at the forefront.

Shanahan's voice echoed through the Hall as he played narrator to a video that teased the announcements. Though the celebrations have no impact on the on-ice product, there was a feeling that Shanahan felt his vision, his plan, was symbiotic with the team's success. The Leafs weren't going to hold back in celebrating their history, adding new faces, including the long-maligned Dave Keon to the team's Legends Row. He has even tasked a committee to, "over the course of the next three months ... determine the official list of the 100 greatest players in Toronto Maple Leafs history."

The anniversary logo will be featured on alumni jerseys at the team's Centennial Classic against the Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field. It is tinted with the chrome look of the Stanley Cup. Unlike ex-Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) boss Tim Leiweke, who famously removed historic items from the ACC corridors, the Shanny Plan intends on keeping the history close and in view of the current generation of players and coaches.

This grandiose blueprint has Leafs fans, and apparently alumni, on board.

"They're going to be patient for a little while longer and I think it's going to pay off," Ellis said of the Shanny Plan.

And the history can help propel the present day.

Ellis said the greatest moment of his career was when legendary winger Ace Bailey insisted the retired No. 6 be brought back so that he could wear it. It gave Ellis confidence and a mentor throughout his career. He was forever indebted, and they became close friends.

"There's only two numbers officially retired (No. 5 and 6) and then he came to me in the hallways of Maple Leaf Gardens and said 'Ron can we chat for a second? I just asked the Leafs to bring my number out of retirement and I'd like you to wear it," Ellis remembered. "What an honour."

Naively or not, Shanahan hopes the winning traditions have an impact on his players. While the events and celebrations are meant primarily to give something back to the fans, Shanahan's passion for the franchise and its perception serves as a contagion for the team.

But the on-ice plan doesn't change. Shanahan knows the best way to reward the fans would be with a playoff berth. He's staying the course -- win or lose.

"Our goal is to just be the best that we can be, I don't think we stand here on this day and set any sort of limitations to us," Shanahan said, stressing the team's youth. "It's just really the beginning of the process for so many of our young players."

Still, the Leafs' boss remains positive and resolute about his path forward.

"I think we're pointing in the right direction," he said, tempering expectations again by adding that the team intends to inject a lot of youth into the lineup. "I think we've been pretty transparent about what we're intending to do but as far as the day-to-day operation and the plan that you're trying to set forth, I think it's been my style that the most effective way to try and go about accomplishing your plan is to not necessarily announce everything to the world prior to you doing it."

Moving forward, it won't get any easier for the Leafs. As the team gets closer to the Stanley Cup it will become even more difficult for his plan to be successful, according to Shanahan. He has to lead by example.

"I think you can't ask your players to do things that you yourself aren't doing, which is to be doing everything to the best of your ability to be a first class organization so that the only thing our players have to worry about is going out and playing hockey," he said, adding with a sense of finality that he thinks Lamoriello provides the organization a "brilliant" general manager.

It's clear that the success of the Shanny Plan starts -- and maybe ends -- with its author. Slowly, one page at a time, he's writing the introduction to the next 100 years.