Oh No Toronto, the Stanley and the Edmonton Oilers

This is Dave Keon. Toronto fans may not be familiar with the tin can to his right, it’s the most coveted object in Canada (even though it hasn’t been here in a long time).

I think Ottawa wins the Stanley this season, Zetterberg and the boys in Motown will need a painful playoff lesson in the finals and if the Senators can get out of their own way it should be home by Canada Day.

Toronto is apparently thinking of firing GM John Ferguson, Jr. Let me ask you a question: what would a good organization do, and the followup question is what will Toronto actually do?

A good organization would probably have a procurement list from the very best NHL teams (let’s say Detroit, New Jersey, Anaheim, San Jose, Ottawa) and their assistants. Maybe Jarmo Kekalainen is tired of being in St. Louis, maybe I’m the owner and met Marshall Johnston once and he impressed me. That would be the general idea, right? If you’re looking for someone to fill a position, find the very best guy available, and that’s often a top assistant or someone who filled the job previously before things went a little sideways.

So let me make up my list. Kekalainen, Marshall Johnston, Jim Nill, Bob Murray, David Conte, Wayne Thomas. Now that’s my list, maybe you’ve read up on someone but basically we’re talking about executives who might be interested in the position and have a background that lends itself to what they’ll be doing when named Toronto’s GM. Let’s say I end up hiring Wayne Thomas. He went to college at Wisconsin, played for the Leafs, has a background in hockey management.

What is Toronto doing? According to rumor, they’ve been very interested in Scotty Bowman for some time. Bowman of course is the most successful coach in NHL history and is much less famous for his GM career. He’s also a little old for what is going to be a two or three year process as the Toronto contracts that are killing them come off the books.

Bruce Garrioch has reported that the Leafs are also looking at Glenn Healy, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Ron Francis. Apparently the Dallas Stars deciding to hire Brett Hull and split the position with Les Jackson has the Leafs’ brass thinking along the same lines.

Is this a good idea? Would Ron Francis and Wayne Thomas make a good combination? Maybe. The NHL’s new cap world is extremely likely to be beyond most of the hockey men in the NHL (Kevin Lowe is apparently unaware of the rfa offer sheet rules, something one imagines Scott Howson could have helped him on, as a for instance) but you’d need someone who actually knew them backwards and then have a guy like Francis make the calls based on his hockey knowledge.

I suspect it’s a two-man job now, with the ideal being someone like Howson who has the background in hockey, management and legal.

As for the Oilers, I’m wondering what set of circumstances would have to fall into place for them to bump Kevin Lowe upstairs? I’ve long felt it isn’t as far away as many think, even with the EIG having signed Lowe recently to a long extension (I believe the contract ends summer 2012). If the Oilers:

  • finish at or near the bottom of the standings
  • ANA ends up with a very high (top 3) pick
  • the fanbase fails to renew season tickets in the usual rapid manner
  • the season ticket “waiting list” evaporates quickly when called

then I think Lowe probably gets bumped upstairs and they bring in someone else. When this subject is discussed in Edmonton currently the response is almost always “never gonna happen” but bottom line is that being competitive is the expectation for the Oilers from the fanbase in the post-lockout era.

One season in turmoil was a breeze, because the memory of the Stanley run was fresh. Two seasons is not so easy to swallow and if Kevin Lowe can’t get this team into the 9-12 range for 07-08 then imo the whispers will gain voice and you might see a change in management at the GM level at the end of the schedule.

The alternative is that MacTavish takes a walk in the snow Trudeau-style and calls it a day. I doubt that happens, in fact I believe he may be the next General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers. With someone like Scott Howson handling questions like “if I sign an rfa, do the picks need to be mine?”

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12 Responses to "Oh No Toronto, the Stanley and the Edmonton Oilers"

  1. godot10 says:

    If I were the Leafs, I would give the job to Muckler, since the ideal candidate isn’t available. Muckler is a far better GM than Bowman, and Muckler always ends up hiring people so good they try stealing his job.

  2. Ribs says:

    The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!! AAHHHH!!!!!

    Hah, seriously though. I think this place has taken a dark, depressing, turn this weekend. Lighten up!

    I really hope the Leafs make Glenn Healy their GM.. Hahaha…

  3. Lowetide says:

    ribs: I don’t think it’s dark to discuss Lowe getting bumped upstairs, in face imo he’s absolutely ideal in that role.

    DARK is calling for his head, which I didn’t do.

  4. James Mirtle says:

    ANA ends up with a very high (top 3) pick

    This is the real kicker, I think, and the thing that would keep fans away. Edmonton ticket buyers are savvy enough to know when an almost unforgivable mistake has been made, especially if Drew Doughty (or whoever) turns into a star for the Ducks right quick.

    Ugly times.

  5. Rand says:

    Muckler interviewed with the Leafs as an advisor to JFJ but apparently he got shot down pretty quickly after he said the first thing the Leafs should do is resign JFJ long term, and he never heard anything from them after that.
    I think you can pretty much rule him out.

    I’m not convinced an ex-player will be likely since the Leafs have been pretty open about grooming Gilmour for that job down the road, and he’s still apprenticing with the Marlies and doesn’t even consider himself ready.

    Bowman the Leafs clearly want… but he’s shot them down poublically, so I can’t see him being the guy. Can’t say I mind, great coach…. but his track record as a GM isn’t particularly inspiring.

    My bet is it’ll be Colin Campbell. He and Peddie seem to be remarkably tight, and he’s been circling around the rumour mill for about two years now as the possible successor.
    Add in the fact that he’s apparently open to being a GM in the future, and yet turned down the Flyers when they offered hm the GM spot there, my bet is he’s holding out for the Toronto position.

    Could be an ugly state when he gets here, have to think JFJ’s job depends on the Leafs getting into the playoffs this season so I’m betting their active at the deadline-using Steen/Stajan/White as young NHL ready trade chips.

    Knowing my luck his ever present fetish for dealing valuable futures for mediocrity in goal will pop up again, and since Stajan seems to have the head to play tougher minutes he’ll probably manage to make his way out of Toronto as well.

    Long post, but the Leafs seldom pop up as a topic here so I have to make the most of it when it does.

  6. Lowetide says:

    rand: I’m at a point where it’s no fun anymore to poke a stick ay my Toronto friends. It’s evil, icky even.

    So why wouldn’t they say “well, what do other teams that have won recently do when they need to dumpster the GM?” and then follow suit?

    I mean, there IS a template!

  7. Bruce says:

    Results from last night’s Toronto at Phoenix game (and thanks again CBC for such a thrilling match-up):

    Andrew Raycroft 2 GA
    Vesa Toskala 3 GA

    Ilya Bryzgalov 1 GA

    Raycroft cost JFJ a top notch prospect (Tuukka Rask, who won his first career start this week — in Toronto). Toskala cost three draft picks including a first-rounder and came with a kicker of Mark Bell ($2 MM this year, $2.5 next, a criminal record, and a career minus-47). Meanwhile, Phoenix picked up Bryzgalov on waivers.

    If I were a Leaf fan I’d be calling for Ferguson’s head, if not other body parts. Fortunately, I’m not one, but I have some in my family. They’ve suffered enough.

  8. Shawn says:

    Re: Lowe moving upstairs. LT I am not one to challenge your judgement, but there is absolutely no way the EIG sign Lowe for 4 years at GM money only to punt him upstairs and buy a new GM. I said this at the beginning of the year and I stand by it: Lowe sold EIG on his plan and the long term nature of the deal suggests he’s being given more than this season to get results.

    That’s not a value judgement on my part, but I firmly believe it. I think the Oilers will have to miss the playoffs this year AND next for Lowe to get canned or pushed upstairs.

    As for who would replace him, wouldn’t Prendergast be a more logical option than Mac T?

    In my view if you’re calling this team out for its failures you send them all packing. What has Mac T done to suggest he can be a General Manager in this league? About as much as Lowe did before he got hired I guess. Regardless, Prendergast has been a big part in a strong turn around for the scouting staff and he is the go to guy for the media when discussing anyone in the Oilers’ system.

    If Lowe is gone, isn’t KP the logical replacement in the organization?

  9. Rand says:

    Bruce-Forget Bryzgalov… Legace was the obvious choice after they dumped Belfour.
    Available cheap on a short term contract, and he waited an awfully long time before St. Louis finally exhibited any interest in him.

    Locking him upp for a few years would have been cheaper then Toskala/Raycroft, and likely better then either Toskala or Bryzgalov.

    Tellqvist would be a cheap easily adequate backup.
    Saving money a good 4M or so to sign players elsewhere, and leaving Pogge/Rask to develop.

    It was obvious at the time IMO, JFJ kindly ignored that possibility.

    Leaf fandom is some sort of disease of the mind. It’s an addictiuon you cannot escape, even though you know it’s only causing you pain.
    The Oilogosphere is my escape into logic.

  10. achtungbaby says:

    Has the entire NHL given up on Dave Taylor? Or has this guy retired? He never gets a mention.

  11. Moose says:

    you beat me to the punch….Dave Taylor

  12. Bruce says:

    Bruce-Forget Bryzgalov… Legace was the obvious choice after they dumped Belfour.

    OK, at the time, probably yes. I just mention it cuz both Bryzgalov and Toskala were on the market last summer, when JFJ (the Toronto one) was trying to fix his mistake of the previous summer. And Ilya sure looked the best of the three goalies on the ice Saturday.

    BTW, I’m not sure I buy your logic that Legace is that much preferable. Legace is 34 years old, Bryzgalov just 27; Manny has very respectable regular season numbers but in the playoffs is just 4-6 (2.54, .888). I knew Detroit was in trouble against Edmonton in ’06 when Legace heaped the pressure on himself before the series started, then played poorly, in essence predicting and then paving his highway outta Motown. Whereas Bryzgalov has filled in for Giguere in two playoff years and gone 9-5 with sparkling percentages of 1.68, .937.

    Of course, we are talking about the Leafs, aren’t we? So playoff performance doesn’t really enter into it. :)

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