Ari Vuori, Steve Briere Join Maple Leafs Staff

The Toronto Maple Leafs still haven’t brought a general manager on board, but they’re continuing to fill in the rest of the holes they have in their organization one by one. 

The club announced on Monday morning, per their PR department, that Steve Briere and Ari Vuori had been brought onto the team’s staff for the 2015-2016 season. Briere has been hired to take over the position of goaltending coach, while Vuori is the new director of European Scouting. 

The addition of Vuori to the club’s scouting department is especially interesting for a handful of reasons. The 53 year old native of Poytya, Finland only spent three seasons in North America – two of which were in the OHL back in the mid-1980’s – but the former Team Finland mainstay and TPS HC captain has certainly been around the NHL since his retirement from the ice. 

Following an eleven year stint with the Los Angeles Kings as a member of the scouting department, Vuori joined the scouting staff for the Detroit Red Wings. Up until his decision to come on board with Toronto this July, Vuori had spent nearly the last decade splitting his time between the position of European Scout for Mike Babcock’s club and working as a player coordinator for his old club in Finland’s SM-liiga, TPS. 

For the Leafs, this is huge. The addition of one of Detroit’s long-tenured scouts, who has been with the club through a Stanley Cup and eight consecutive post-season appearances, is yet another sign that Babcock has plenty of say in the team’s front office. Even if he isn’t making the decisions themselves, it’s clear that Detroit’s former bench boss gives input in team decisions – and that input holds plenty of weight. 

The addition of Briere is just as intriguing, though. 

North of the US-Canada border, Briere may be best known for his work with the CPGS (Canadian Professional Goalie School), which works with a number of young skaters looking to make it big in the NHL one day. The 38 year old Winnipeg native never reached the major pros, instead bouncing around the various minor leagues following a three year career with the University of Alabama-Huntsville. 

For American hockey fans, though – particularly those who follow the USHL and NAHL – Briere has been a pretty big deal. 

Following one season as goalie coach at his alma mater in Hunstville, Briere went to the USHL/NAHL to serve as a netminding consultant for the Omaha Lancers, Fargo Force, and Topeka Roadrunners – and while he’s also worked with USA Hockey’s U14 team, his work in the tier I and II juniors makes him an exciting add. Of the three teams, the one that immediately stuck out was the Force – where Briere was a part of the team that helped develop 2015 Hobey Baker finalist Zane McIntyre. The Roadrunners should also catch the eye of fans who followed the netminding prospect pool at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, as Philadelphia selected Briere’s old student – 18 year old Slovakian netminder Matej Tomek – 90th overall. Tomek was one of the most highly regarded netminders in the NAHL during the 2014-2015 season; the addition of the goalie coach who worked with both him and McIntyre is pretty huge for Toronto. 

Of course, that may be underselling the one year he spent as goaltending consultant for University of Alabama-Hunstville – where he worked with new Edmonton Oilers starter Cam Talbot. 

Yeah, it may be safe to say Briere’s resume, as fresh as it is, has a few noteworthy names attached. 

*update: FWIW, the Leafs have retained some of their European scouting department. Not long after the team made the announcement about the addition of Vuori, Sun Media’s Lance Hornby tweeted this out: 

  • CMpuck

    Just the fact that they’ve kept Thommie Bergman lets me know that this management group knows how to tell who’s got talent and who doesn’t.

    Thommie has been our only good scout for a number of years, finding gems in the later rounds of the draft when the Leafs brass was willing to throw him a bone and let him make a pick.

  • SEER

    Always good to see more positive changes.. and I’m sure that Bibeau will be one of the happiest…!

    ——–

    Sidenote:

    This is COMPLETELY all in fun.. and if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we miss a little bit about the meaning of life… No disrespect is intended.. to anyone invoved in this video…

    Since I have been a Leaf fan since 1960… (and will always be one.., through thick & thin)..I thought a little bit of review of what other teams have said about us.. and.. some of our own goofs and misfortunes needed to be captured in a video…, so we can laugh at the past a bit.. and look forward to a brighter future…

    I truly believe that with new management & a “real coach”.., that this will be the start of a new era for the Leafs…

    Clips include too many to list… and I don’t want to spoil the laughs for you.., so let’s just say that over 20 video clips and about 70 photos make up the basis of this video…

    2015 SUMMER TML COMEDY/PUMP

  • ushaped

    Something I read in other reports regarding the hiring of Briere is he spent some time studying with Mitch Korn, acknowledged as one of the best if not the best goaltending consultant at the moment.

  • Bertly83

    @ Seer
    Regarding your video
    I just watched a Cheech n Chong movie after some extensive cheechin so I found your reference pretty funny but I gotta say, I have a feeling the rest of the Leafs Nation demographic might be a bit of a tougher crowd!

    • SEER

      Well, I haven’t “Cheeched” in many, many years.., but I still have a good sense of humor…

      I have a feeling that you’re probably right.., but as long as I’ve been a Leaf fan, I don’t let Sports, the Media, etc.. be the most important thing in my life and affect my days and nights as much as some do…

      Most of my time on the official board ( before it closed in March) was filled with insults.., yet everyone wanted to be on friend’s list.. and many gave me kudos, in private.. Go figure.. LOL!

      I don’t let anyone on the Internet affect my mood.. It’s senseless to let someone you don’t even know affect you… I just pray for them and wish them a good day.., but if they are rude and insulting.. I will also put them in their place, as well… Over 30 years in the music business allows me to have quick come-back lines.. LOL!

      All the best, Terp… I put disclaimers all over the video.. and the second half was all about positive things, but… people tend to interpret things in their own way… Again.., each to his own…

      Life’s too short, to sweat the little things..