Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Apprentice Starring MLSE

The fallout at the Air Canada Centre has finally happened, and John Ferguson Jr. is now on the unemployment line in Toronto. Richard Peddie and the MLSE board of directors pulled the trigger on the firing, dismissing Ferguson earlier this morning. While this has been the worst-kept secret in hockey over the last month, the firing has to be a relief for Mr. Ferguson who could seem to do no right in the eyes of the media or the public. Personally, I feel that MLSE made a huge mistake at the beginning by hiring an inexperienced general manager who had very little hockey knowledge compared to his colleagues, but that's neither here nor there at this point.

"After full consideration of the Leafs' situation, it has become clear that change and a new direction is needed," stated MLSE President and CEO Richard Peddie at a press conference held at the Air Canada Centre Tuesday. "Regrettably, we did not win enough games to reach our goal, winning the Stanley Cup.

"Our team performance has fallen short of what is to be expected. Today, we need to forge the start of a new beginning for (the) Toronto Maple Leafs. And we begin with the man seated next to me, a man with Hall of Fame credentials, who is highly regarded by Leafs fans and by hockey people around the globe. We have reached out to Cliff Fletcher and his 50-plus years of hockey management experience to serve as general manager of the Leafs on an interim basis."

Cliff Fletcher has been brought in to steer the good ship Maple Leafs back to the promised land. He has signed a 19-month contract that will see him act as interim GM until a full-time man can be hired, and remain with the team for the remaining time on his contract as a consultant. However, Fletcher insisted he was not interested in the GM position as a full-time job.

"It is a job for a much younger man," said Fletcher.

"Our ideal candidate will be a long-term builder and a short-term fixer who has an established track record of success on the ice," explained Peddie. "Along with experience and extensive knowledge in the areas of drafting and identifying talent in the professional, amateur and international ranks, this individual will be comfortable with the intense scrutiny within the Toronto hockey market and will work effectively with the media.

"He will have the full autonomy to lead this hockey club in the manner he feels is best," added Peddie.

Call me crazy if you like, but isn't that what Scotty Bowman had asked for before Peddie turned him away? What's with the change of heart all of a sudden?

If you want a classic case in mismanagement of a professional hockey franchise, look no further than Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. People complained long and loud about "Dollar" Bill Wirtz and his control over all things related to the Blackhawks, but MLSE has taken a franchise that was at its height in the early-1990s and run it into the ground.

From poor trades to ridiculous contract signings to a non-existant draft plan, the Maple Leafs have gone from being an upper echelon NHL team to playoff also-rans to cellar dwellers. Putting Cliff Fletcher back in charge seems to simply be a band-aid solution. Then again, aren't most of the decisions made by MLSE those kinds of solutions?
Just wanted to throw a shout-out to A Queen Among Kings who did a fabulous interview with Los Angeles Kings' goalie Jason LaBarbera. Some of the questions are highly-entertaining, and it is a recommended read.

Personally, these kinds of interviews are fun. The serious interviews are stale and repetitive, and probably more so for the player, so seeing this kind of fun gets a big thumbs-up from me. Well done, CKim! I look forward to more!

Don't forget: the HBIC Essay Contest is in full-swing. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the contest after I have judged the essays. For information, please check it out here.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

"Long-term builder and short-term fixer" sayeth the MLSE...
Despite winning last night I say they just call 07-08 a wash and forget the short-term and go directly to strat-planning for next season.

On one level I wish them well, but since I cheer for the Sens, my wishes are pretty hollow.

calvin12 said...

you said people take aim at wirtz for his managment *but* MLSE has run the team into the ground. It should ahve been and, its not what they did was worse it was exactly the same result, but at least MLSE seems to try to move ahead. Wirtz was living in the 1950's in 2007. At least MLSE tried, and failed spectacularly to keep up with the times.