While his precise job could not be confirmed, sources suggest the Hall of Fame winger will likely be named president of the Leafs hockey club, not only president of hockey operations.
- Toronto Star
First off, what does this mean for General Manager Dave Nonis? If you believe Steve Simmons (something rarely advised, but this theory at least holds some water), he knew of the pending introduction of this role for some time while MLSE sought the right candidate to fill it. How exactly the chain of command is going to work is going to be interesting to watch unfold, if that’s the case. If not, will Shanahan be bringing in his own people? Is Nonis and/or some of his assistants are on the chopping block? Or is this window dressing, a figure head with a big name to throw into the front office mix?
What Shanahan doesn’t bring is front office experience for an NHL team, and he’ll be learning on the job in the most intense hockey market on the face of the Earth, at a time when it is at its toughest to work in.
Shanahan does bring league office connections, his revered Hall of Fame player reputation, and his knowledge of how a winning organization (Detroit) operates, at least from a player’s perspective. Could he be helpful in wooing potential free agent targets at a time when the Leafs – out of the playoffs again, with the Clarkson contract blowing up in their faces, player and team alike – are looking a rather undesirable destination again?
What has been so interesting about these past few seasons is how barely visible or heard from Dave Nonis has been, especially amid a collapse of this magnitude. During the 2011-12 collapse, Brian Burke was calling into every radio station and holding press conferences about demoting Colton Orr, while nary a peep has been heard from Nonis during this whole ordeal. That shift in GM persona was part of why Rogers and Bell made the decision to move away from Burke in the first place. Shanahan appears to come in as a new “face of the franchise” who leaves the conservative Nonis as more of a background figure, something that seems to come natural to him.
We’ll be able to better answer some of the above questions in the coming days and weeks. Shanahan is expected to resign his NHL post on Friday, with Tim Leiweke’s press conference to follow early next week. Leiweke has moved quick here to try to signify change is afoot in Leafland, and the timing – not waiting until season’s end – is no accident.