You’ve probably seen our huge stack of resumes we’ve received from hockey executives around the NHL, all looking to become the next General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ultimately, it’s not up to us to hire one of them, but our TLN writers have pretty strong opinions on the topic. It’s time to throw down in this week’s TLN Roundtable.
Because whoever the Leafs hire as GM will be well-insulated by an already intelligent group of hockey minds, it might not matter too much who the Leafs hire as GM. That’s especially true since whoever the general manager is will have less authority than somebody in the traditional mold of a hockey GM. We saw that with Dave Nonis this year, who seemed to do a strong job of managing the team ever since Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin were fired and Kyle Dubas was brought on. In this sense, maybe hiring nobody would be the best decision. Or maybe waiting until July or August, when the team wouldn’t have to give up as high a draft pick for a GM, would be the best move.
But we already have one answer leaning that way, so I’ll make a case for someone outside the organization. Since all indications still seem to be that the team would like to hire an outside hockey mind, I’ll make the case for Julien Brisebois, assistant GM for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brisebois was an employee for the Montreal Canadiens in a myriad of roles between 2001 and 2010. Since 2010, he’s served as an assistant to Steve Yzerman with the Lightning. So he’s got experience, which should be one prerequisite for the new GM since Dubas, Shanahan, Hunter, and Pridham all have just one year of pro hockey experience. Brisebois is also coming from a top-notch organization in Tampa Bay that went from picking 3rd overall in 2013 to becoming one of the league’s best teams the last two seasons. Hiring someone from a well-run organization usually works out a lot better than hiring somebody from an organization that isn’t well-run.
Lastly and most importantly, Brisebois seems to fit perfectly with what the Leafs are looking to do moving forward. Tampa Bay under Steve Yzerman has emphasized puck possession, strong drafting and player development, as well as a willingness to bring on traditionally overlooked players like players that are undersized or European players. Presumably, Brisebois thinks the game in a similar light and doesn’t appear to be a part of the “old boys club” of hockey. While people like Jeff Gorton and Kris Draper and George McPhee could do a good job as GM too, I do think that Brisebois represents the best organizational fit for the Leafs.
Guys, of course the Leafs need a General Manager. And that General Manager should be Mike Futa.
Full Disclosure: I love the Los Angeles Kings. I’ve been following them for years now – long before they started making the playoffs and winning championships. I used to tell Steve Dangle (sorry for the super famous name drop) that the Kings were the next dynasty. Well, it was a tough year for me personally, being a Kings/Leafs fan – but I still think they’re a well built team.
And really, that’s what the Leafs should be focused on – drafting and building. This organization has committed to rebuilding through the amateur draft, so why not bring in a man who had a big hand in constructing a two-time Stanley Cup winner through draft picks?
Resident handsome boy Jon Steitzer presented us with Futa’s resume a week or two back and really, this is passage was what got me…
Director of Amateur Scouting for the LA Kings (June 2007- May 2014)
You know that Drew Doughty pick? That was me. I also found Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Muzzin, and a slew of other homegrown players that filled out Stanley Cup rosters and gave the GM cap space to pay for guys like Kopitar, Brown, Richards, and Carter.
You might say, “hey Justin, the Kings drafted well, but it was the many trades they made… see Mike Richards and Jeff Carter… that put them over the top”. You’re absolutely right, but those trades were made with assets that the Kings drafted and developed. What kind of insanely deep team goes and trades guys like Brayden Schenn (when he was still a blue chip prospect) and Wayne Simmonds (as he was breaking out), and still have a super impressive prospect pool to go along with a powerhouse NHL roster?
Point is, Futa stocked that team with a great amount of young talent, allowing Dean Lombardi to flip a number of them when the time was right and capitalize. I’d like that in Toronto, please.