Our guy in Toronto Rob Del Mundo takes a look at what is ahead for Brendan Shanahan and the next step towards making the Maple Leafs a playoff team:
In the wake of the Maple Leafs’ March and April collapse that saw the team plummet from a home-ice advantage contender to an early golf season, Brendan Shanahan has been appointed as the team’s President and Alternate Governor.
Shifting away from his role as the NHL’s director of player safety, Shanahan moves into a tempest of finger-pointing and frustration, where questions linger about the futures of general manager Dave Nonis and coach Randy Carlyle, and where the epic Game 7 meltdown against Boston in last year’s playoffs occurred in what seems like “the good old days.”
Nonis was diplomatic in surrendering the chain of command to Shanahan. “Listen, I have a boss and it’s Brendan,” Nonis said. “At the end of the day, the boss has the final say in anything.”
Shanahan, meanwhile, was non-committal in speculating over Carlyle’s status, and simply stated that he would take some time to evaluate the team. The Hall of Famer and three-time Stanley Cup champion inherits an offensively dynamic, but defensively error-prone roster that won just three times in its final 16 games to suffer its eighth consecutive failure to make the playoffs, counting only non-lockout years.
Having served admirably in his role as chief disciplinarian, Shanahan brings to the table considerable experience in making heavily-scrutinized, often unpopular decisions. In doling out suspensions to offending players, Shanahan often interacted with general managers.
However, it’s one thing to be familiar with the GM’s, and another thing entirely to be facing them as opponents to constructing an NHL roster. With all of his credentials as a 600-goal scorer, Olympic gold medallist and world champion, Shanahan doesn’t have a day of experience in managing an NHL team.
Making trades and draft picks, and negotiating contracts are jobs that are not yet on Shanahan’s resume. While Nonis is still expected to handle those tasks, it will be up to the former “Sheriff Shanny” to approve or decline all moves. Experience doesn’t necessarily breed success, as evidenced by the on-ice product put together by Nonis, or his predecessor Brian Burke.
Lack of experience can be even far more damaging, as was the case with Burke’s predecessor, John Ferguson Jr.
Time will tell whether Shanahan can reassemble the 18-wheeler that has once again fallen off the cliff, or whether he will simply be the next Mimico, Ontario native – after David Clarkson – to fall short of expectations after signing on in his hometown.