The Maple Leafs have spent the summer hiring and promoting existing staff. Most of their efforts have gone into remaking the scouting department:
The @MapleLeafs announced today the promotion of Tim Speltz to Head Amateur Scout and the hiring of Scott Bell as Area Scout based in Minnesota.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 2, 2018
Tim Speltz was hired in 2016, and he used to be Mike Babcock’s boss back in the day. It seemed like something to do instead of run the Spokane Chiefs, which he’d been doing since 1990. Speltz was put in charge of Western scouting, so he’s been the top of the scouting chain for selections like Filip Kral, Ian Scott and any invitees to development camp or AHL signings out of the WHL.
With Speltz’s promotion to head amateur scout, the hierarchy seems complete on that end of things.
Scott Bell was added as a Minnesota-based scout, which considering how many players come out of that state, seems necessary for any organization that wants to scout the world effectively. Quant hockey tells me there are 54 players in the NHL right now who were born in Minnesota, and we can assume the number of players and prospects who went through the Minnesota high school system or the NCAA programs there is very large.
The @MapleLeafs announced today the hiring of Dr. Meg Popovic as Director of Athlete Wellbeing & Performance and the promotion of Mike Dixon to Director of Minor League Operations.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 16, 2018
Today the Leafs added one new person in a newly-created position and promoted someone who has proven successful in the best possible way.
Dr. Meg Popovic becomes the Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Performance. Popovic becomes the only woman on the Leafs staff to hold a Director title.
She has a diverse background as a university professor, elite figure skater, life coach, speaker and researcher.
Dr. Meg has recently partnered with several professional hockey players to co-create workshops for players, coaches, and parents on mindset, resiliency, and communication. Their work connects performance with self-awareness, accountability, and co-activity to support athletes in their quests for excellence. Dr. Meg was an elite-level figure skater, serving as captain of synchronized skating teams that won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Provincial and Canadian National Championships. She obtained Skate Canada quadruple gold test status in free-skate, dance, artistic, and compulsory figures, and competed at the Junior Competitive level. Upon retirement from figure skating, Dr. Meg played for one of Ontario’s premier youth soccer clubs for several years. She uses these individual and team experiences, combined with her academic training in sports studies and professional life-coaching, to bring new insights to the next generation of athletes.
Mike Dixon was the Director of Hockey Ops for the Marlies this past cup-winning season, after he held that position at the NHL level in Florida. His promotion recognizes that the Leafs now have interest in two levels of minor hockey teams, not just the AHL. He’ll be overseeing the Leafs interests on the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers as well.
Dixon is also listed on the Marlies website as their alternate governor for the AHL. We should likely expect another move to put someone in place to take over and try to help get cup number two for the team.