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?”