Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!
This week in 2003 (Aug. 29), the Toronto Maple Leafs hired John Ferguson Jr. as the 12th general manager in franchise history.
He inherited a good team from Pat Quinn, but the Leafs took backwards steps every year Ferguson Jr. was managing the team. Despite a first season that saw the Leafs put up 103 points placing second in the Northeast division, the Leafs struggled in the playoffs.
While they beat the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the first round, the Leafs bowed out to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round in six games.
They narrowly missed the playoffs with a 90 point season in 2005-06 and Ferguson relieved Quinn of his duties behind the bench in favour of Paul Maurice. Ferguson’s third season, 2006-07, saw the Leafs come out with another 91 point season and were a far shot from a highly competitive playoff season.
In his fourth and final year, the Leafs struggled mightily winning 36 of 82 games with an 83 point season. It spelt the end of not only Ferguson in the GM role but Maurice behind the bench too.
Ferguson didn’t make many trades in his time manning the Leafs, but he made a few controversial ones. In June 2006 he traded the rights to Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft — a trade that heavily backfired.
And a year later, he acquired Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala from the San Jose sharks for a 2007 first and second-round pick and a 2009 fourth-round pick. Ferguson drew criticism for acquiring Bell, who had been convicted of hit and run and DUI while with the Sharks.
Bell was suspended by the league for the first 15 games of his Leafs career.
In January 2008, Ferguson Jr. was informed his contract wouldn’t be renewed and the Leafs immediately fired him.
After he took a job as the San Jose Sharks’ director of professional scouting, before taking a similar role with the Boston Bruins in 2014 — a job he still holds.
In 2016, he added the role of general manager for the Bruins’ AHL club in Providence.
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