As Kipper pointed out today on Hockey Central at Noon, there is a sudden shift in Leaf Nation's attitude towards John Ferguson Jr. (JFJ) -- and perhaps rightfully so -- but only a month ago collectively we were calling for JFJ's head on a blue and white platter, and now, with puppy dog eyes, we offer our death-bed sympathies.
There is no denying that JFJ's treatment by The Suits is nothing short of indecent, but malevolent? -- I say not. The Leafs organization is in serious need of an overhaul although detonation seems like a more appropriate word, but seriously, what are they (The Suits) supposed to do? They clearly should have fired JFJ over the summer but instead decided to give him another shot (although stating that his job was dependent on the Leafs making the playoffs was a blunder like no other). And now, after a regrettable season -- and yes, I concede this season on bended knee -- MLSE is faced with an impossible task: what to do with JFJ?
1) Fire him immediately -- wait, there's no clear-cut replacement yet.
2) Remain silent and do nothing -- but the public and media demand action.
3) Afford him the power to make moves -- JFJ knows his job is essentially gone, what would motivate him to do anything for this organization? Oh, and let's not forget his track record for making beneficial moves.
MLSE probably tried to remain silent about JFJ's replacement and the future of the organization, but is that even possible in Toronto's media circus? The answer is an obvious no. MLSE has almost undoubtedly been hounded to produce names, or at the very least, media-inspired rumours became so abundant that statements had to be made.
Regardless of how this is all plays out, JFJ has NOT been entirely hung out to dry. His actions were his own, to whatever extent possible, and his abysmal decisions led us to this catastrophic moment. While there is no denying that ultimately MLSE should be held responsible, can we please not lose disdain for JFJ? "Hockey humbles you quickly," someone once said, and this is a world of results, not personality. So next time you try to feel sympathy for a GM just because you think he's a stand-up guy, remember what every ex-girlfriend ever told you -- nice guys always finish last.