The news that the Tampa Bay Lightning have Dave Nonis at the top of their shortlist for general manager candidates was perhaps an instance of the inevitable. If Tampa or Nonis deem it not a right fit, we can only expect more of the same from other owners looking to fill vacant general manager positions.
It was reported at the time of Nonis’ signing that a one-year clause was included to assure Nonis’ services belonged to the Leafs for 2009-10 at a minimum. When Nonis’ contractual obligation ends is unclear, but from Joe Nieuwendyk to Steffan Kronwall to Justin Pogge, it’s clear Burke will never step in the way of an employee’s desire to advance professionally.
But not all hope is lost. First, let’s look at what the Leafs have in Nonis, and hopefully what they don’t end up losing.
Leaf prospect Jerry D’Amigo continues to build on a tremendous 2009-2010 campaign, taking home rookie of the year honours for the ECAC Hockey conference. Union College’s Keith Kinkaid and Harvard University’s Louis Leblanc were the two other finalists. Leblanc was also Montreal’s 1st round selection, 18th overall in the 2009 draft, which should give rough idea of the magnitude of D’Amigo’s accomplishment. Kudos kiddo!
After watching the first four pre-season games, I’ve noticed a few players stand out while others have sunk into a state of mediocre play. This is my brief evaluation of the players we no longer need, including my own opening night roster preview. I look forward to reviewing all of your own opening night rosters compared to the way I view the brand new Maple Leafs.
Joe Nieuwendyk will officially be announced as the Dallas Stars new general manager on Monday. “I am very excited about returning to the Dallas Stars as General Manager,” said Nieuwendyk. “I am ready for this opportunity. The Dallas Stars have built a winning tradition over the years and I want to help continue that legacy. My family is very excited about returning to Dallas. I have great memories from my playing days with the Stars and look forward to helping this team win as General Manager.” Brett Hull will now be Executive Vice President and Alternative Governor and Les Jackson will be the Director of Scouting and Player Development, a role he once held prior to his co-gm position. Best wishes to Nieuwendyk and his family in their new position and home.
Christian Hanson’s getting ready to make his NHL debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tyler Bozak is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. But according to multiple news outlets, Brian Burke’s just getting warmed up. Next on his list: Boston University’s Matt Gilroy and Northeastern University’s Brad Thiessen.
On the implications of the Leafs’ recent turnaround:
“I’m proud of the guys, they’re working their butts off and that’s important for a lot of reasons; a lot of what we’re trying to build here and reward our fans and our season ticket holders. They’re important wins, and I know people are saying we’re messing up our draft choice but we’ll happily accept that; we’ll take that trade off any time. If I could make a deal – I said this last week, and I’ll say it again today – if I could make a deal today that would put us in the playoffs, I would do it, as long as it was consistent with our long-term strategy. Those type of deals right now are not being presented, so I don’t think it’s going to change our approach.”
(Insert He-Man theme here)
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
With Cliff Fletcher sticking around for the upcoming season, the Maple Leafs have gone forward in hiring new staff since the start of the off-season. It seems the philosophy among many franchises around the league is to create positions to fill with excellent hockey minds in order to improve their own hockey growth and knowledge above the ice surface. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has finally joined in on that idea by adding Al Coates as the Director of Player Personnel, Jeff Jackson as the assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006 who focuses primarily on collective bargaining duties and contract negotiations, and an overhaul of the coaching staff other than Keith Acton, who has found a way to stay within the organization after stints under head coaches Paul Maurice and Pat Quinn.