Shanahan has permission to torch these Leafs

There’s an important piece of news circulating this morning when it comes to the Leafs and their long term plans. We’ve all seen plenty of speculation over the past few weeks about the organization potentially nuking their roster and starting over in a true rebuild, but there have remained questions about if MLSE, obsessed with mediocrity and false hope, would approve of such a tear-down. 

Well, it appears they already have.

Cathal Kelly of the Globe indicates that Shanahan and his management group have recently presented their ideas on the future of the club to the board, and have now been granted a license to start removing the bricks on this already shaky structure.

There’s no doubt that this is the correct course of action, but we didn’t have confirmation like this before. According to Kelly, it all came about from a meeting a couple weeks ago with the people upstairs to plot a course of action and bring the team back to being competitive. It seems like the Leafs’ monstrous collapse in January helped things along.

From the Globe and Mail:

Mr. Shanahan and his lieutenants have now finally received a broad mandate from ownership to scorch as much earth as they see fit in order to return the Leafs to contention, according to two sources familiar with that meeting. It will mean a new philosophy on building slowly through the draft and long-term projects, rather than quick fixes via trades for established players. It will mean at least three more years of pain for fans, and as many as five.

We’ve discussed it a number of times in the past, but in the short term this likely means unloading as many rentals as possible this month, then moving on to the bigger names like Phaneuf and Kessel during the summer. Kelly notes that, unsurprisingly, neither of those guys appear to be in the team’s plans. 

As a fan of the team, it’s easy to get on board with this approach. The fear that MLSE wouldn’t be on board with scorching the on-ice product due to some sort of potential “fan outrage” always seemed a little puzzling, since even when the Leafs aren’t actively trying to tank, they’re still tanking. 

The organization is probably headed for a number five-or-six pick this summer with a roster supposedly built to compete now. If they flatten the lineup and trot out a team of youngsters and spare parts next season, the result is still around the same or just slightly worse, so there isn’t much lost here in terms of fan experience.

Questions about where the line will be drawn on a core will likely continue for months, but it’s now clear this team is mostly being reduced to rubble.

  • CMpuck

    Happy but it was a year late given this was the year to tank for McEchiel and the draft lotto is changing their rules again next year.

    So annoyed that it was an ‘evaluation year’ to come to the conclusion that was already written on the wall from day one. We should be further along on the rebuild.

    • Unfortunately, evaluation years are a real thing and a necessary evil. It’s just one of those things we all have to go through.

      Things in the real world/business world/sports management world don’t change nearly as fast as opinions on Twitter.

        • Buffalo hadn’t made the playoffs since 2011. The Leafs did it two years ago.

          We, as fans, understand that change was needed. We didn’t need to evaluate things any further, most of us recognized this group wasn’t good enough and there wasn’t any reasonable way to improve.

          It takes management groups and executives a lot longer to realize these things than us. That’s just the nature of the beast.

          • Jeremy Ian

            I agree with that assessment; this particular group was slow because it was logjammed between rival voices and factions. Some advocated for staying the course. Some pointed out the deficiencies. What I like about the Globe piece — if it’s all true — is that there is now more coherence around the strategy.

            The fans, too, were pretty divided. After game 7, many thought all that was missing was more sandpaper. Look where that got us.

        • Jeremy Ian

          They’re trying to do a quickie rebuild through a fire sale and the draft, and it’ll still probaably be 3-5 years before they’re competitive. Burke tried to quickie rebuild through trades.

      • Jeremy Ian

        I am not sure this was an “evaluation” year. There was plenty of evidence to show the team’s weaknesses. But it was intentional; the intention was more political — to alter the bargaining position of the president vis the ownership structure.

  • Poluza

    I’m happy to see that the rebuild is finally going to happen. I’m 22 years old, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actual legitimate rebuild in Toronto.

    I wonder if we’ll see other off-ice changes, too. Stuff like new high end training facilities. Maybe having their own “Gary Roberts” summer training program (I know I’m reaching here).

    I hate using the term, but “identities” are formed in rebuilds. I can’t wait to see what Toronto’s will be.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Be thankful you haven’t been Waiting For Godot like a lot of us leaf fans have for the past 48 years. After close to a half century futility you will know what mental anguish and pain truly is.

  • CMpuck

    It looks like the decision to retain Randy and waste a season came from above. Do we dare hope they’ll keep their noses out of it for once and let Shanahan do his job?

    • Jeremy Ian

      Hypothesis: keeping Carlyle was one way to show just how broken the 2008 model was. If Shanahan was going to get the green light for a total rebuild, he needed to show why Burke’s short-cutting was doomed. And the way to do that was to let the team melt down. The decision to keep RC was as calculated as the decision of when to fire him: just before a grueling west coast trip when the team was going to get hammered.

      All of this was set up for Shanahan to go back to the owners to say: we need a rebuild, and you have to let me do it my way. Because if not, you will have the same sham.

      What do the owners want? Returns on their stakes. Not going to the playoffs as a cap team means you leave money on the table year after year. What they can see now is the price — literally — you pay when you don’t do it right.

    • Jeremy Ian

      The they you are referring to our the Jerry Jones wannabees on the M.L.S.E. board who will always make the on ice decisions. Whether it is a Burkie, J.F.J., Nonis or Shanahan they are at the board meetings for one reason and that is to bring in the coffee and cookies for the meeting.

      Unfortunately Toronto has had owners over the past 5 decades who are the antithesis of Mike Ilitch who simply let the hockey experts run the Red Wings. The results of Mike’s decision is the ultimate proof of the right way to run a hockey club from an owner’s perspective.

  • Jeremy Ian

    the light bulb finally came on in the glass house, a total rebuild if they did this say after the Pat Quinn years we would not be in this situation as it is now. Sadly to say the people in place either have no track record or a bad one. we will see where this goes, hopefully they bring in someone that can help this along. pray for LEAF nation. The next few years might be desparate, this is a different era with the salary cap, but MLSE will still make mega money no matter how bad the product is.These scouts and analytics people have to be out there busting their butts, even if it is a ball hockey league in a church basement on a Monday night at 10pm. Ask DON CHERRY if he sees any leaf scouts out there when DON is watching minor midget.