Nonis speaks for the first time since firing

If you thought Dave Nonis was just going to disappear from all media coverage after being let go by the Leafs, you were wrong. Unlike Ron Wilson, who we can only assume was tucked away in a cabin somewhere drawing up bad hockey plays on his iPad before emerging to join TSN and spit fire at this year’s trade deadline, Nonis was ready to talk just a couple weeks after Brendan Shanahan cleared out the ACC.

In an interview with the Toronto Sun, published this morning, Nonis provided some thoughts on his firing, the Leafs’ plan going forward, and who, if anyone in particular, is to blame for what’s been happening with this team. 

On Brendan Shanahan deciding to pull the trigger at season’s end:

I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. I thought we got along very well throughout the year. But I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand why you do this.

To be fair, as much as many of us believed Nonis had to go, it was still somewhat of a surprise when he was shown the door. It looked as if the Leafs, under Shanahan, had effectively turned him into general manager in name only. He wasn’t going to be able to do much more damage on his own, so there was still a lot of uncertainty as to whether the organization would feel it necessary to let him go. Thankfully they did.

Regarding the disaster that has been the Leafs these past few years:

It’s a combination of everything. I wish I could pinpoint all the reasons of what went wrong. I know people put the collapses together. But I don’t. The last three were different.

When you’re talking about what grouping “collapses” fit into, you know you’ve had a rough tenure. The Leafs are building up binders full. 

On Phil Kessel, his apparent lack of “leadership”, and whether he quit on the team:

I don’t think they have to move Phil Kessel. You only move him if you decide the return is worth it. If you don’t get value for him, you’re only hurting your team. I believe the baggage that comes with Phil is overblown. Are there things he has to change? Absolutely. But I can assure you of this: Whatever team wins the Stanley Cup this year will have a Phil Kessel in the lineup. I can guarantee that.

It’s difficult to imagine what Kessel could have to change at this point in his career, being 27-years-old and all. But keep in mind the interviewer here is Simmons, and he’s trying his hardest to swing it into a Kessel hit piece. Either way, it’s nice to see Nonis downplay the whole baggage thing.

Finally, on who’s left in that front office after “Bloody Sunday” a couple weeks ago:

Brendan has strong opinions on how he wants his team to play. Mark Hunter was a great addition. The young guys (Kyle Dubas and Brandon Pridham) are tremendously hard-working and smart, getting better every day. The next GM has a real good staff around him

Again, you can read the full interview here at the Toronto Sun website.

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  • STAN

    Consider the source and why Nonis chose him to say his bit.

    Both are incompetent and Simmons was never going to ask any tough questions or play Devil’s Advocate.

    For Nonis to insist Phaneuf is “elite” just shows how delusional and out of step he really is. The same goes for his claim that no NHL team can win a Stanley Cup without at least one Phil Kessel-type player. Really? Name one.

    It’s impossible because Kessel is unique and as the newly-feted Peter Chiarelli decided, was never going top be a winner. Thus, he suckered Burke and then won a Cup with Tyler Seguin, who should have been a Leaf.

    Nonis will be just fine, what with $6-million owed him by MLSE, and might even find another gig, likely in Calgary with a title invented by Brian Burke.

    • TGT23

      I agree in that a lot of his comments made me grown loudly out of frustration and say “this is the guy who ran our team?!”

      Have you ever hear Rob Babcock talk about the Vince Carter trade? That’s what he sounds like.

      That said, I think it is a little preposterous of you to say the Bruins “knew” Kessel isn’t going to be a winner. People say that too often about players until they win.

      I remember you saying something similar when you said “no team who has ever won a cup has even needed Nazem Kadri” as a reason Kadri isn’t good or valuable.

      It’s a strawman argument. No cup team has ever needed PK Subban, Carey Price, Steven Stamkos, or Pekke Rinne… Until very recently Marion Gaborik was that guy… Until he wasn’t. It doesn’t mean anything.

      Dont get me wrong. I don’t think a team NEEDS a Kessel type to win. But I can’t say in the right situation he can’t win. That situation is probably a lesser role.

      But Nonis is wrong that the team doesn’t needs to trade Dion and Kessel. It does. He’s right that they can’t just be given away but they do have to be traded.

      And I can’t say he’s wrong that they did well at the deadline. Bunch of picks and a good prospect for expiring deals is a good haul…

      Overall, I wish Simmons would have pushed more and Nonis just seems like a guy who is doubling down on his decisions, right or wrong, because he expects teams to call.

      It was time for him to go.

  • STAN


    I’m sure you’ve confused me with someone else regarding the Nazem Kadri comment.

    I’ve been a big fan of Kadri and consistently choose him as someone around whom you build. His hockey IQ is right there with Kessel, except he checks, body checks, draws more penalties than any other NHL player and should NOT be moved.

    In fact, (I’m on a tangent now) I thought Shanahan showed HIS immaturity and lack of executive prowess by publically calling him out. All that did was decrease his trade value, if that’s what he chooses to do.

    With all due respect, “wishing” Simmons would have pushed more is not something we ardent fans should not have to do. Why not just hand Nonis an op-ed piece… because that’s what it was.