Some of the more interesting passages from today’s media address by Brendan Shanahan:
For the full video, click here.
On the replacement GM:
One thing I don’t want to do this early in the process is eliminate anyone from the process. We have time, there are people who available now, there will be more available obviously as the summer goes along.
We want someone who shares our vision. We need to have at team with greater character, we need to have people who represent this team and this city as it deserves. We have an incredibly loyal, resilient fanbase. We need to have an incredibly resilient group of players that love to play in Toronto. We need an incredibly resilient group of managers, from top to bottom, committed to doing this in Toronto in spite any difficulties or perceived difficulties that this is a harder market than other markets. I don’t believe that. I think the rewards are great here, and the pressure is great, but there are a lot of individuals who want to take on challenges like that.
This job won’t be for some GMs, but those GMs won’t be for us. The one statement I don’t like to say too much, “this is how it’s always been done.” That doesn’t really make much sense to me. I believe we are building a very capable and dedicated staff of people. The type of GM I want to bring to Toronto is someone who will recognize that and want to be part of the team.
As far as who replaces Tim Leiweke, I’ve got supreme support from our board. They understand this has to be done the right way, and sometimes the right way takes a while. I have the complete faith that our board knows this has to be done the right way. I have complete faith they’re going to hire someone who shares that vision.
The plan is not some unique plan that you won’t see 29 other teams in the League say they have to do: Draft, development, patience, make good choices. The challenge here in Toronto is not to come up with the plan, the challenge is to stick to it. That’s the hard part. Our vision is, indeed, to draft and develop our own players; if a player is ready to come up he’ll come up, if a player needs more time to reach his full potential we’ll leave him down there. Every decision we make has to be about how do we build a winning organization that can sustain itself year after year after year through the draft. I think that that is our vision. When people want to know the day to day plan, I’m sorry, it’s not in an effort to be elusive or hide things from people, but when the other 29 teams start laying out there plan on a day to day basis, maybe we’ll lay it out as well. The plan changes, the vision doesn’t change. The plan changes day to day, week to week, because it’s a sport and things change. As far as having the patience to do what’s need to be done, you have to have the stomach to get through it in a place with this much passion.
I have that stomach, and I can tell you the board does. We’ve got excellent from our board that this has to be done the right way. They understand there are no shortcuts; shortcuts have gotten us in trouble in the past. This has to, once and for all, be a build we are committed to and we don’t stray from.
On possibly taking on the GM’s role himself:
I’ll pitch in at this point. Obviously, I have a day to day impact on the decisions of our club. But my interim GMs with Mark and wth Kyle, they’re going to do a lot of the day to day work. We’ll lean on each other as we search for a new GM. As far as making myself the GM, that’s not my intention.
On fan patience:
After what has happened, [the changes] have to include everybody. That’s not to say we don’t have talented individuals. Some of them won’t be coming back, but they understand and everyone here understands and the fans demand that this has to change. Sometimes people here try to suggest this can’t be done because the fans of Toronto don’t have the stomach to endure what truly needs to be done. I don’t believe that. I think they’re dying for it to be done. Some people blame the press. I think that’s a cop out as well. I think it’s on us to have the determination to stick with the plan and to do this the right way.
In our mind we would like to see an improvement in our attitude and the way that we play. I think we understand if we make certain deals, especially if they reflect the ones we made at the deadline, where we’re moving good players for future assets, that it takes away from your lineup and can hurt your lineup. I think people here can understand that. It’s a sophisticated hockey market. What I don’t think they understand is people who go out and give half efforts and who don’t appear to enjoy playing here. You have to give the effort, and at least show a happiness in being a Toronto Maple Leaf, and an enthusiasm. Even if the record is the same record. We have to be able to play differently and approach the game differently in this city. I think that’s what had most people so upset this year.
On the draft:
When we hired Mark Hunter, obviously Mark’s job description was to go out and find us players. We also wanted him to assess our scouting department, pro and amateur, from top to bottom. That was something we intended on doing all year long.
It won’t be a different approach. This was something Mark was evaluating all season long, the people he valued in this department and people he thought maybe weren’t going to be part of a lean and effective team. In no way would he ever have diminished our ability or hurt our chances at the draft table. It was his decision, it was responsibility that we gave him. Mark knows scouting, Mark knows talent, and it had to be his team and his group. He would never, ever put the Leafs in a position where there was information going out that was going to hurt us or there was information that we lacked as we approached the draft. He has the people he trusts and the people he likes. We think it will be a less crowded room but a more effective room as we approach the draft.
On how many years this may take:
I know people come up with answers and years, and I sometimes if they come up with a number of years to simply buy themselves some time. The truth of the matter, and the reality and the truest answer I can give you, is it takes as long as it takes.
Why not start the overhaul process sooner?
Coming in here last year and making the kind of changes that I made yesterday would’ve been a guess for me. I know that people are frustrated and want to fast forward this thing as quickly as possible. There are millions of blueprints in this city but we can only use mine while I’m here as President. I can’t borrow yours or borrow somebody else’s. I had to come in here and see some things for myself. I made some changes last year, I tried to support some people to give them an opportunity to succeed. We made a change around the half way point of the year and we asked the players to show us what they had and give us some answers. We went out and signed some players that we thought would give us an opportunity to be better. I think we got some answers this year. It didn’t work out. You’d like to go back and know all these things that you know one year later, it simply would’ve been a guess at that time. That not something I would have been willing to do, or simply take your opinion.
Would he hire a coach before a GM?
The answer is, if I feel that the right person is available, and if Mark and Kyle feel the right person is available and it’s a little bit out of order and we get a fantastic coach, I don’t think it diminishes a GM’s interest in coming to Toronto if we get a fantastic coach before the GM. Again, I know it might not be traditionally the way things are always done, I don’t think I’m necessarily somebody who follows the, “this is how it’s always been done so this is how it has to be done.” Ideally we would like to have a GM in place to help us find a coach. If the right person is available at the right time, we’ll make that decision.
On winning the lottery:
It would certainly speed things up [followed by an eye roll and laugh].