Agents of change
Is it possible that
Seems illogical, but then logic rarely is a dominant theme at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a behemoth in terms of producing revenue, but a consistent failure in terms of on-ice success in the NHL.
The buzz for weeks has been that MLSE's board of directors has been contemplating Ferguson's dismissal, but the recent appointment of Hull as interim co-director of the Dallas Stars may have made an impact in Toronto.
The argument in favor of keeping the beleaguered Ferguson has long centered on a simple question: "Who can we get to replace him?" That question gave the board some pause this past offseason when several high profile (and under contract) GMs quietly let it be known they weren't interested in the board's plan to bring in an experienced hockey man to "mentor" Ferguson.
There was also some public debate. Legendary coach and former Buffalo Sabres GM
Former Buffalo and Ottawa GM
The failure to find Ferguson's so-called "mentor" didn't dissuade some on the board from continuing the search. MSLE clings to the idea that everyone in hockey wants to be a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a belief that keeps these dissidents thinking that there will always be a quality hockey person ready to step in the moment they find the courage to fire Ferguson.
Hull's appointment in Dallas is said to have put a pause in that kind of thinking. The former "Mouth That Roared" his way to elite status as a player hasn't an ounce of managerial experience, but will team up with long-time assistant GM
Said one source with knowledge of the Toronto situation: "They keep making inquiries, but there's no consensus as to what they want to do, and that by itself scares off a lot of people who might be interested. When you couple that to the fact that there never seems to be a commitment to winning there, it doesn't add up. People who might be interested fear that it's a can't-win career move in part because of the way they've stumbled in handling the mentor thing."
In his defense, it should be noted that the Stars averaged 106 points during his five-season tenure and never missed the playoffs. Still, draft picks have become the currency of choice in the NHL since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed. When you combine that with a mediocre performance on the ice, an owner who sees himself as in the shadow of Dallas Cowboys owner
GMs are an easy target these days in part because it's more difficult than ever to make trades, which were often the hole card for a GM looking to save his job. The restrictive salary cap is a part of the reason. The sudden trend toward locking good players into ridiculously long-term deals is another.
Should Ferguson hold his position in Toronto, the GM likely to replace him in the daily rumor mill is Florida's
Martin had as much GM experience as Hull when he wrested control of the Florida Panthers from
Already there are rumors that Florida captain
At first glance, it appears veteran defenseman
Afinogenov is fast falling out of favor with fans in Buffalo. His horrible plus-minus (it's been as high as -10 recently) and penchant for brutal giveaways has caused coach
In recent weeks, St. Louis coach
Murray, by his own admission, has been "all over" Perron to stay focused, something that is extremely difficult for a young player getting his first taste of the NHL. McKee is one of the game's better defensive defensemen and his experience can help in that regard.
Much was made of the fact that the NHL scheduled five games on Hall of Fame induction night and that one of them involved
The Great One should have booked a red eye. Messier ran so far over his allotted four minutes that Gretzky might have caught the post-speech festivities.
The teary speech lasted close to 20 minutes and while the crowd obviously respected Messier and his accomplishments, he pushed the show to nearly two and a half hours, leaving people hungry, in need or relief and, judging by the fidgeting of some in the audience, a little bored, to boot.
Hey, Mess, in relative terms the New York Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup drought that you ended seemed to take longer than your speech.