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Maple Leafs add a goalie coach and change the brass plaques on some office doors

Title inflation is always a good sign. Honest.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

First the new brass plaques:

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas announced today that the hockey club has promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser, Ryan Hardy and Darryl Metcalf to the roles of Assistant General Manager ...

Wickenheiser will serve as Assistant General Manager, Player Development. Wickenheiser originally joined the club as Assistant Director of Player Development in August 2018 before she was promoted to Senior Director of Player Development in May 2021. As a player, Wickenheiser was inducted into both the Hockey Hall of Fame and the IIHF Hall of Fame after capturing seven World Championships and five Olympic medals.

Hardy will serve as Assistant General Manager, Minor League Operations. He was originally hired as Senior Director of Minor League Operations last June following three years as General Manager of the USHL’s Chicago Steel. He was voted by his peers as the USHL’s General Manager of the Year in two of his three seasons in Chicago.

Metcalf will serve as Assistant General Manager, Hockey Research and Development. He enters his ninth season with the Maple Leafs in 2022-23 after beginning his tenure as an Analyst with the Hockey Research and Development department in 2014. He was elevated to Director of Hockey Research and Development in 2016 before he was named Special Assistant to the General Manager in 2018.

Brandon Pridham will continue in his role as the primary Assistant General Manager with the Maple Leafs while Laurence Gilman will now serve as Governor and Senior Vice President of the Toronto Marlies, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Mostly this is an odd arrangement where Laurence Gilman takes over the minor leagues, with Ryan Hardy serving under him. That is not usually two full time managerial jobs.

Darryl Metcalf rises in level, possibly signifying a greater role for the analytics department. In the same way Hayley Wickenheiser is also elevated.

This looks to my eye like a standard corporate structure of a lot of VPs in charge of departments that have more layers of managers in them. Is it good or bad? Bloat and siloing of departments, redundancy and infighting, or is it bringing an NHL team into the 21st century of business practices? I guess it depends on how recent your MBA is, as to how you answer that.

The much more meaningful news is the gamble the Leafs are taking on Curtis Sanford, who will be assuming his first job as an NHL Goaltending Coach after four years as a coach to the Utica Comets of the AHL.

The Leafs had reportedly discussed forming a goaltending department and this may be only the first step, but reports that Sanford made a strong impression on the Leafs management are obviously true. Sanford’s playing history is very interesting, since he has some KHL experience in a team Kyle Dubas has personally scouted, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He did not play a lot in the NHL, but did have 253 games in the AHL.

Sanford is 46 and is originally from Owen Sound.