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Brad Treliving isn’t Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now for the Maple Leafs

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
10 months ago
At the very least, the Toronto Maple Leafs needed to have their GM situation sorted out by June 1st so they could at least give themselves a month to address the plethora of pending actions facing the Leafs Hockey Ops department in the next month.
If Brendan Shanahan wasn’t particularly interested in Brad Treliving as a candidate the best option might have been to roll the dice with an internal like Brandon Pridham, Laurence Gilman, or even Ryan Hardy, but hopefully all of them will still be readily available to make for a strong brain trust to get Brad Treliving through a challenging first month on the job. This also seemed like a lesson in how hard it is for a good Assistant GM to move up in the hockey world and holding onto the job they have is likely the best course of action even if they are “Dubas’ guys.”
Treliving just went through a tough final year in Calgary. The Flames and him mutually parted ways in a similar but less messy fashion than the Dubas departure in Toronto. Walking away from a GM job doesn’t seem entirely likely and at the end of the day, like the Dubas situation, it was more likely the organization making the call than the GM on the mutually parting ways approach.
That brings us to now and how a wildly up and down tenure in Calgary means Treliving is the right fit for the Leafs. The biggest factor of this hire seems like it satisfies the MLSE Board. It gives Brendan Shanahan someone he can communicate with, and potentially helps him earn a contract extension when his deal with MLSE nears expiration. One of the big selling points for Treliving, as mentioned in Craig Conroy’s press availability in Calgary, is that he is great at communicating around the league and always knows what is happening. Treliving as a navigator of the old boys club could be helpful to Toronto if they are in fact preparing to make some tough decisions in the next year or two.
The statement from the Conroy presser that was a bit more contentious about Treliving is that he wants to be the decision maker and isn’t looking for consensus. With the Leafs stacked Hockey Ops department you’d hope there would be some give on this and even if he likes to make the call, he hears everyone out, but we don’t know what that will look like and ultimately, we don’t fully know Kyle Dubas’ process either. Anecdotally we know he is evidence driven and wanted to hear the opinions of everyone, but that’s not to say that at the end of the day he didn’t want to make the call as well. Anyways, this shouldn’t be about Dubas anymore. Treliving is going to be looked at on his own merits but we all know who he will be measured against.
When it comes to Treliving, the most appealing thing about him does seem to be that he can start right away and there was the opportunity to bring in a lot of GM experience and add it to what Brandon Pridham, Ryan Hardy, Daryl Metcalf, and Hayley Wickenheiser are going to bring in the areas they oversee. He is not Doug Armstrong, with a cup ring, a resume of frequently being tapped on the shoulder for key Hockey Canada posts, nor is he Eric Tulsky, the exciting heir apparent to Dubas as the next GM who is going to change how hockey teams are built. Nope, Treliving is a connected hockey man who was looking for a job.
In many ways I feel like Treliving is walking into a Lou Lamoriello situation. It wasn’t long into the Dubas/Hunter co-acting GM situation that Shanahan realized he needed an experience NHL hockey man to call the shots. Unfortunately, some of the shots Lou called didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but one of the best compliments I can pay Brad Treliving is that he’s not Leafs era Lou Lamoriello.
Treliving does however seem like he is a placeholder rather than a permanent fixture. The Leafs have Hardy and Pridham who look to be near ready for the next step in their careers, as well as there are GMs that if they were to become available (i.e. if the Blues have a rough couple of years) that Toronto would be excited to pounce on. I don’t think anyone is looking for Treliving to set the long term vision for the team like Kyle Dubas was doing, I think we are back to the “Shanaplan” and perhaps if Shanahan and Treliving can co-exist in that environment Treliving has a longer tenure than I suspect he will.
The Leafs have pockets deep enough to pay Treliving to go away and perhaps it’s silly to be saying that before he even starts and we get a sense of what he’s going to do, it is important to appreciate that the Leafs are unlikely to remain locked into a General Manager that under delivers and the expectations aren’t likely to revert from where they were this season and that is a deep playoff run.
Early in the GM search I took a look at some of the decisions made by Treliving during his time in Calgary and it’s a mixed bag. The situation around his arrival in Calgary was very different. He came into a situation where the team had missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and had the luxury of having Johnny Gaudreau signed, sealed, and delivered to start his first full season in Calgary. Drafting Matthew Tkachuk after a bad year and the Canucks whiffing on their pick helped restart the Flames competitive window and that leaves the Markstrom signing is likely his hallmark move over his nine years in Calgary until last summer’s scramble to address the Gaudreau and Tkachuk departures.
There’s not a lot that says “this is our guy” but there is a lot that says “this is a guy” and that might be all the Leafs are looking for as they scrambled to replace Kyle Dubas.

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