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Toronto, ON • Canada •

The Babysitter's Club

Posted 2:53 PM ET | Comments 0
To the best of my knowledge, John Ferguson Jr. is a full grown, educated adult male. So can someone explain to me, why is the hierarchy at MLSE currently headhunting for a senior executive in order to overlook and consult with Mr. Ferguson on his every move as the GM of the Maple Leafs?

Circumstances surrounding Jr.'s tenure as GM to date have been anything but the norm. Initially hired by his predecessor Pat Quinn, the position was a dummy job right from the get go. Although publicly Mr. Ferguson gave the appearance of complete unity on every front, it was a very different story behind the scenes. Pat Quinn and his neophyte boss that he had a hand in hiring were not in agreement on several issues, including player personnel, however with Quinn's strong relationship with members on the board at MLSE, John Ferguson Jr. could not get the approval to fire him.

What other sports franchise do you know where the GM can't make a simple decision like hiring and firing a coach on his own? But i digress...

Finally after Pat Quinn's first season missing the playoffs as Leafs coach, JFJ had the perfect opportunity to present his case to the board and get the approval he needed, as not meeting the boards quota of a minimum 2 home playoff dates was not a trend they could have continue.

With the Mighty Quinn out of the picture John was finally given the opportunity to bring in his own staff (i believe he's had about 3 medical staffs). He hired coach Paul Maurice who was an obvious fit as he had coached the Marlies the previous season giving him an intimate knowledge and comfort with the organization. He made a shrewd move in trading (in hindsight throwing away) highly touted Finnish goaltending prospect Tuuka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, hoping Andrew could return to his Calder Trophy winning form... he didnt. Because of that (and some would argue only because of that) the Leafs yet again didnt qualify for the playoffs. This has upset the board, who already do not fully support Mr. Ferguson, to the point where for a second consecutive season John Ferguson Jr. will be operating without the security of a long term contract.

Now the news of Richard Peddie and the board's search for the oldest, wisest man they can find to head up hockey operations. Its almost as if they are too tired of answering questions about why they can ingeniously sign one of the best basketball minds in Bryan Colangelo to run the Raptors and in one season turn the entire franchise around. I mean this is Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, not Raptors Sports and Entertainment. The answer is probably simple, the Raptors were losing money and heading nowhere. The Leafs could miss the playoffs every season and still pull in 500 million in sales. So the board's answer? We'll get the best, oldest, wisest, most experienced guy who can consult and help John Ferguson Jr. in making the best decisions for our hockey club. Yet, they wont give John Ferguson Jr. a contract extension and will probably sign the greybeard to a multi-year contract. This is not how a normal franchise operates and this is the freakin' Toronto Maple Leafs. You would think being in existence since '28 you would learn the simple chain of command for an NHL franchise.

I guess im just confused about it. Why not just fire JFJ and hire this supposed guru? Isn't that the message that you're sending the fans anyways? That you don't have enough confidence in your General Manager to let him work on his own? That he needs someone "smarter" than him because the decisions he makes aren't pleasing the board. Richard Peddie said it wouldn't be a permanent position just something they would like to try for a couple of years, but then shouldn't JFJ get an extension for those couple of years?

I don't understand the logic behind this move. But it sounds like MLSE is looking for a babysitter and something stinks, but its not a dirty diaper.

Thats just what i think..
Filed Under:   GM   Maple Leafs   JFJ  
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