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.
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.
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.