Typically, when the Leafs make a new hire for their front office, my response is one of hope. That is, even if I don't think much of the hire, I have to hope that I'm wrong or that, worst case scenario, the hire won't actively hurt the team's chances of success. Maybe, just maybe, I've thought, maybe this time won't be bad.

Really, it was all any Leafs' fan had: feeble, desperate hope.

Going right back to the days of Paul Maurice and John Ferguson Jr., I never had much confidence in the Leafs' coaching staff or management. Sure, there were some good people who came through Toronto (Dallas Eakins, for example), but, and I'm speaking for myself here, I've generally been overcome with a sense of impending doom when considering the likelihood of things going well for the Leafs.

It's perhaps worth mentioning that I have always supported the Leafs' flexing of their financial muscle when it comes to front office hires, since it's one of the best ways to make use of their incredible spending power without affecting the salary cap. It's just that until now, these hires seem to have all been for nought. To wit, the likes of Claude Loiselle & Co. did very little to give me confidence.

After years of bearing witness to mismanagement, Leafs' fans certainly can't be blamed for being any or all of impatient, angry, despondent, or drinking. So when Brendan Shanahan was hired despite the fact that he had literally no experience as a GM, I expected more of the same bleak hope.

Things are different these days, though.

Although I had my initial reservations about Shanahan, it appears that he is slowly making the necessary decisions to bring the Leafs back to respectability. Sometimes, those decisions have taken longer than many people would have liked (firing Randy Carlyle obviously springs to mind first), but I can appreciate taking a little extra time to do things right - it's just that at first, there was no way of knowing whether or not Shanahan was going to do things right.

Here we are, though. We have seen multiple good decisions made almost consecutively. When was the last time that happened? Was it during the days of Pat Quinn? Pat Burns? I honestly don't remember so many things going right.

The hiring of Mike Babcock has of course been a highlight for the Leafs' new regime, but the other hires that have been made since the arrival of Shanahan have, arguably, been more important - at least collectively. First, there was the hiring of Kyle Dubas.

Next, they brought on Cam Charron, Darryl Metcalfe, and Rob Pettepiece to create an actual analytics team. Then, they got someone who actually had the ability to manage the Leafs' cap in Brandon Pridham (hey, look ma, no salary cap penalty this year!).

So yes, then Mike Babcock was brought in, and at least some of his talented colleagues from over in Detroit are also likely to come over. Moreover, our own Scott Wheeler had the story on how the Leafs are now employing high-end player development coaches like Darryl Belfry, and all his talk about zone entry with possession got me aroused.

In short, the Leafs are putting together a management group that I not only have hope for, but that I have confidence in. Can anyone else remember such a time? Has anything like this existed in Toronto since the 60's? What is this feeling? Is it pride? No, not pride, but less shame? Yeah, less shame.

For years, we've been Frank Grimesing while watching the Leafs being built, but now, for maybe only the second time in my lifetime, heck maybe the first, I have confidence. I think things are actually going to get better for the Leafs. Maybe 'good', even. Great? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. But we need to pause for a moment to appreciate what a turn for the better things have taken.

The great decisions being made have yet to translate into good decisions being made about the Leafs' actual lineup, but judging by the rumours we've heard lately, they're coming. This is going to be an interesting summer.