So it has finally happened…..After sitting on what could be compared to death row for months now JFJ has finally been executed. I know that is a little harsh but at the same time it can’t be fun knowing that everyday you go into work it could be your last, having a boss that told the hockey world and anyone else that was listening that he made a mistake in hiring you and having a whole city petty much hate you. With that being said I want to go on record as saying I wish Ferguson the best of luck with wherever he ends up and with whatever role he ends up playing when he gets there. Yes he made mistakes but speaking as a person, not a Leaf fan nobody deserves what ended up happening to him leading up to today.
On to the next chapter in the long running history of the Maple Leafs, or the prequel to the next chapter anyway. We all know by now that Cliff Fletcher is only the GM on an interim basis until the permanent replacement is found, probably in the summer. I have to say that I’m 50/50 on the idea, as I understand that the board didn’t have confidence in Ferguson being the man making the deals at the deadline and thus a change had to be made but based on what Fletcher has done in the past I’m not 100% confident he will be able to do the re-tooling that the Leafs desperately need. Fletcher has proven in the past that he has been able to trade nothing and get something good even great in return, but this team needs to get younger. The thought of this turning into a situation where the Leafs trade away the veterans it currently has for other veterans gives me nightmares. Every Leaf fan knows of Fletcher’s “draft smaft” comment he made during his last tenure as Leaf GM but in today’s NHL you can’t be successful with that kind of attitude as he mentioned in the press conference today. I guess the hope is that Fletcher can take his trade nothing for something track record and use it to trade some of the overpaid and underachieving veterans for solid prospects and draft picks setting things up for whomever is going to take over the GM post on a full time basis but wether this will happen or not remains to be seen.
Although Fletcher will officially be the GM until someone is found full time, the reality of it is he is there for a month. The NHL trade deadline is February 26 and after that there will be no more trading until after the playoffs. At the press conference today Richard Peddie announced that the process of finding a full time GM has already begun, so it can be assumed that there will be a new GM in place not too long after the season is over. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and the trade deadline so it will be interesting to see what deals if any Fletcher can make between now and then. Player movement since the season started has been almost at a stand still and there aren’t a lot of teams that have a significant amount of cap room available to them, couple that with the fact that a lot of the Leafs that I’m sure management would love to part with have either huge salaries that are too high for the production they put out or no trade clauses and this could very well end up being a slow and even uneventful trade deadline for the Leafs.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the Leafs will be a different team come summer time and that the new GM will have a better situation to take control of then the one that Fletcher is taking over today, but with that being said there is a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it. Regardless this is the prequel to the latest chapter in Leaf history and if being a Leaf fan for the last 20 odd years has taught me anything it’s to expect anything and everything, or maybe it’s to expect nothing at all.