Retain Dave Nonis? No thanks.

Yesterday afternoon, Sportsnet’s Damien Cox posted a Weekend Takeaways article online that suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs should consider retaining current General Manager Dave Nonis, despite many believing that he’s as good as gone come the offseason.

From Cox:

While some want to sum up the entire Nonis era with the two words “David Clarkson,” a more thoughtful analysis of what he inherited from Brian Burke, what he’s done with it and overall patience with which the team has proceeded in all areas under his watch suggests Shanahan would do well to seriously consider retaining his services beyond this season.

Wait, what?

Brian Burke was not the perfect GM. He was brash, stubborn and valued things like toughness and truculence far too much. He made some unfortunate moves, and signed some bad deals. 

But Burke also massively improved the roster he was given in 2008, made several very good trades that people seem to very conveniently forget, and left the organization with a not insignificant amount of cap space and flexibility. NHLNumbers lists the Leafs as having $7M+ in cap space at the end of the 2012-2013 season, the year Burke was fired. Yes, Nonis did trade Matthew Lombardi and his $3.5M cap hit shortly after Burke had left, but I’m pretty confident Burke would have made that move as well.

So, I really don’t know what Cox is talking about when he speaks of the team that Nonis inherited from Burke, implying there was some sort of disadvantage that Nonis had to overcome when he took the reigns.

And patience? Not a whole lot of patience was show with Mikhail Grabovski after he signed a long-term deal with Burke. And while I’m what many would consider a Jonathan Bernier supporter, there wasn’t a lot of patience shown with James Reimer when Nonis brought in the Los Angeles Kings’ backup. 

And then, most notably, Nonis did sign David Clarkson to one of the worst contracts in sports in an effort to quickly improve his roster via free agency. I mean, that’s a huge concern – one that absolutely can sum up the entire Nonis era is two word. 

This isn’t to pile on the guy, either. It’s just the facts. 

I’m not bashing on Nonis so much as I’m just completely not understanding what Cox is talking about. To suggest that Nonis needs to be kept around for any reason completely mystifies me.

Unfortunately, it’s just hasn’t worked out for Nonis in Toronto, and he should (and most likely will) be let go as soon as this summer. It’s not obvious as to who will replace him, like it was obvious that Burke would be coming to Toronto even during his time with the Anahaim Ducks, but I’ll take my chances. 

Brendan Shanahan should absolutely not consider retaining Nonis any longer than he has to. Want him to handle the trade deadline on a short leash? Sure, but after that it’s time to cut ties.

  • Bertly83

    Rumour has it that Mark Hunter may be in line. I’d be curious what people thought of that. Lots of inexperienced (but good) hockey people in the front offices.

  • CMpuck

    Again the GM search is on…. can we pry Ken Holland, David Poile maybe even Lou… tired of these management rebuilds can we fix the roster already. A good trade, draft or signing please, I don’t care who the GM making the decision so long as it’s a good decision.

    Though anyone who trades JML so that he can buyout Gleason to give Rodibas a 3 year deal (though our fine posters on LN assured me that Robidas would ‘make me eat my words’) doesn’t deserve a job in hockey. Just keep making the same mistakes and hope for the best.

  • D

    Good article.
    Under Nonis financial flexibility has decreased, but was Tim L involved in Clarkson? He was involved with Bernier. I am just not sure it is all him, but he is no Brian Burke.

  • acg5151

    I really felt that Burke had built a team with a lot of depth, and that Carlyle misused that depth so bad. At the time, we had decent center depth and three decent lines – kind of mediocre fourth line. Defense was weak but we had some good young prospects in the pipeline.

    Nonis has trashed this team and left no choice but for another rebuild.

  • acg5151

    Though I agree Nonis should be let go, it seems just like people forget about Burke’s good moves, Justin is forgetting about Nonis’s, such as all the cheap one-year contracts (Raymond, Santorelli, Winnik). I didn’t like the Bernier trade at first, but in retrospect, what a steal given what we gave. The Gardiner deal was excellent when signed, even though he hasn’t lived up to expectations this year–he has 4 more, and I believe he will. Finally, there was the “magic” moves he pulled at the end of two seasons ago (mind you, after making some questionable moves), as a result of assessing correctly the situation of Franson and Kadri when they were RFAs.

    I believe Nonis should be left go because the bad outweighs the good, but it’s hardly fair to say his tenure is summed up by ‘David Clarkson’.

    • A bunch of the moves you mentioned, like Santorelli, Winnik, and the Gardiner contract, seemed to happen once someone was looking over Nonis’s shoulder.

      And what “magic” moves? Resigning Kadri and Franson? Well, that hard stance on RFAs certainly didn’t help him keep Franson. We all loved the deal at the time, but I don’t think many realized it was really painting yourself into a corner. Nonis probably should have known that, considering he’s a GM of an NHL hockey team.

      Nonis hasn’t really done all that much. At least nothing that really turned the team around.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Nonis has been a disaster. A team near the bottom of the heap in rankings but near the top of the payroll charts? It’s absurd that anyone would give the GM higher than an F. Burke was a mixed bag, but not a disaster, and he understood the implications of the cap. Nonis. Did. Not. Fail.

  • Jeremy Ian

    It truly, truly boggles the mind with the selective memories of several posters in here. HELLLLOOOO ARE YOU AWAKE.

    Okay kiddies and this includes the writer of this posting. What was the first move Burke made???? Yep you got it Colton Orr a master of truculence but to be followed by future hall of famers such as Komisarek, Exelby, Fingers, Lombardi, Connelly, McClaren the list of complete failures goes on and on and on. Let us not forget the infamous one way Kessel trade. Oh please remind me of how Kessel is in the top five of goal scorers. Okay geniuses please remind me how many clutch goals Kessel has scored in his career. You know game winners, o.t. goals etc.

    I personally got to know Brian Burke out in Vancouver and guess what he had a split personality. The guy went out of his way to help with an elderly relative. On the other hand he would often phone up a local radio or newspaper and use every expletive in the world on some poor female board operator and attempt to get journalists fired because they were critical of him. He was a better dressed Harold Ballard who could be a kind soul who would give to charity and then demand the car keys from the widow of Ballard’s faithful employee who took care of stats and p.r. work for over 20 years. Yep Ballard demanded the car keys as this poor woman stood over the grave site as her husband was being buried.

    So cut the b.s. about how Burke wasn’t so bad as a G.M. he left this organization in a mess, dealing off first round picks, hello Kessel, second round picks and drafting slugs like Biggs.

    Please get in the real world and out of this make beleaf fantasy world.

  • Jeremy Ian

    I would have to agree with Steve Dangle, Shannyman (Dangle reference) is probably calling the shots. Nonis is just the figure head and go to between other clubs currently.

    Sure his free agent signings are questionable but I cannot recall a bad trade he has made. The buyout of Grabovski was dumb, but that’s a GM building a team for his coach – not always the best decision. Orr and FML over Colborne is another example as such; one Burke was equally guilty for, and ironically the coach that was left over from Burke to Nonis.

    Every GM in the league has made questionable deals and good deals, we just choose which to refer to depending on the climate of the club at the time.

    If the team was still in the playoff picture and didn’t have that 11 game nosedive, the conversation would probably be different.

    I’m not advocating to keep him or calling for his head, just stating my opinion on the opinions.