Friday, January 18, 2008

Cliff Diving and Other Dangerous Sports

The Leafs have won back to back games for the first time in I don't know how long, which is actually a terrible thing for them to do right now because you know that MLSE will take any excuse they can to postpone having to do their jobs. If the Leafs start looking half decent on the ice (no matter how temporarily) it has the potential to grind this push for managerial change to halt. And that would be the worst thing.

This situation is ridiculous. MLSE has managed to cast John Ferguson Junior as the sympathetic victim here by hanging him out there while simultaneously talking to every unemployed GM in the league and telling us that there are no imminent changes coming. How insular can the board of governors be? How can they not realize they've made themselves look ridiculous and probably badly hurt any chance of ever getting a serious hockey man to ever helm this team?

They obviously know that something must be done, otherwise they wouldn't be talking to Cliff Fletcher, but they also don't seem to think that there is any particular rush because it feels like the deathwatch on Fergie started two weeks ago. I'm even starting to feel sorry for him. Why does he even bother to show up to work? I wouldn't blame him if his box was empty the next time the Leafs are home. I don't like Ferguson, I still want his ass fired, but there's no need to be inhumane about it. Especially when this circus just confirms to the other 29 markets that Toronto is just a fudged up city.

The longer this goes on, the harder it becomes to figure a way out. It does not seem like there are any great immediate solutions, no dynamite jobless GMs waiting for the call (is anyone talking to Neil Smith?). What could still happen, and is what should definitely not happen, is that the Leafs could follow the Dallas Star's lead and name a tandem involving Doug Gilmour and Mike Penny or Glen Healy or whoever as their new long term GM. The last thing the Leafs need right now is another inexperienced GM or two.

What's going to happen most likely is they'll name an interim GM to clear house and kick ass for a few months until they can hire a real GM in the summer, like Ken Holland or Brian Burke, yeah right, I know (Pretty sure Scotty Bowman won't be having much to do with this organization). There are two problems. After watching this poor Fergie twist in the wind for a week, a month, however long it takes MLSE to get their act together, what decent General Manager would want to come here? And more importantly, how many experienced GMs are looking for six months of temp work?

Well, there's Cliff Fletcher of course, and of all the options (there are not many) I guess I'm leaning this way. The Leafs would hire Fletcher as GM till the summer and then they'd shift him over to some cushy and well paid consulting job or whatever because that's the only way you'd get him to give up his buyout money from Phoenix.

This is not a great solution. This is not a solution that looks like it will take place any time soon. Just knowing this organization, expect more glacial progress in the coming weeks. If we're lucky, maybe the Leafs will have narrowed their candidate list down to one by the trade deadline.

Fingers crossed,


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