Should Brendan Shanahan just be the new GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Filipe Dimas
1 year ago
Kyle Dubas now gone, Brendan Shanahan is tasked with finding a new General Manager to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs into perhaps their most important offseason yet. With the draft and free agency just a few weeks away, a decision must quickly be made on who will be chosen to make draft picks, sign free agents, and most importantly of all, negotiate the extensions of Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
Having all that on the table, one has to wonder if the best person for this job is in fact Brendan Shanahan himself.
A single individual taking over the role of President and GM of a team is nothing new, quite a few organizations including Carolina, Nashville, St Louis, and both New York teams already do so. Running a team this way allows the General Manager to instill their vision with little resistance, as no separate President of Hockey Operations will be around to veto their moves. With recent news of Brendan Shanahan stepping in to block a trade that would have seen Matthew Knies traded to Chicago last season, this seems especially relevant.
Part of Kyle Dubas’ demands during contract negotiations before talks broke down was increased pay and a request for full control without any oversight. Since we know MLSE has more money than anyone could possibly spend, it seems safe to assume that it wasn’t Dubas’ financial demands that caused the organization to step away from negotiations, and could have instead been this request for autonomy. 
Officially, Shanahan claims that it was Dubas’ hesitation that made the Maple Leafs President decide to go in a different direction, but as many have pointed out in the past week, that seems like an uncharacteristically spontaneous reaction from someone who has spent their entire life in the industry. While it’s just speculation, there is a significant possibility that Shanahan simply didn’t trust Dubas with full power over the team, but didn’t want to explicitly say so out of respect for his former colleague.
It’s clear that Shanahan has a vision for the team. There’s a reason that the Maple Leafs’ process over the last few years has been labeled as “The Shanaplan.” However, if his vision is so specific that he doesn’t even trust a young GM that he has helped mold, raise, and develop within the organization for nine years, then who will he trust?
Rather than having a situation of too many cooks in the kitchen again, such as when Dubas and Mark Hunter co-ran the team, then perhaps Shanahan is the best person for the job. It would allow him to truly put the so-called Shanaplan into action and give the team a consistent direction, for better or for worse. If he was indeed responsible for keeping Matthew Knies in Toronto rather than getting traded for a rental, perhaps Shanahan has been a bit of a man behind the curtain all along anyways.
At the very least, the Toronto Maple Leafs should consider looking across the hall and seeing what the Toronto Raptors are doing with Bobby Webster being the General Manager on record, but it’s no secret that President Masai Ujiri is responsible for all the impactful moves. Shanahan has already said that experience would be an attractive asset for potential candidates to have, and perhaps an experienced GM to handle the day-to-day affairs while Shanahan negotiates trades, major contracts, and draft picks is indeed the move.
Right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a team that lacks direction and leadership. Having Shanahan step in as either the General Manager, or an openly hands-on President like Ujiri would give the franchise both in an instance. The next two months could make or break the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future, and if Shanahan has a vision for what success looks like within the organization, then it’s time he steps up and puts the Shanaplan into motion.

Check out these posts...