The Toronto Maple Leafs need to wait on hiring a GM

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Filipe Dimas
1 year ago
Let’s take a moment for a thought exercise. Imagine you’re starting a brand new high profile job in your field, the kind of job that you’ve perhaps only ever fantasized about, a position that would put you at the top of the pecking order, in the spotlight, and likely making exponentially more money than you had previously.
Now imagine upon starting that job, that your first task was to clean up the mess left behind by the person who was just publicly and unceremoniously removed from the position. Having that kind of immediate tension would surely put a terrible stink on the whole process wouldn’t it? Especially if the decisions you make while cleaning up that mess are sure to follow you around for the length of your time at this job, and if handled poorly could lead to your own removal. Suddenly, you may be less inclined to accept this dream job? Especially if rumour around the office is that a branch in another city is also considering offering you the exact same position, with the added benefit of less overseeing scrutiny and initial pressure.
This is the situation currently awaiting any  prospective General Manager candidates for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whoever succeeds Kyle Dubas in the position will be expected to handle the draft, free agency, and signing an Auston Matthews and possibly also a William Nylander extension all within the first month or so of their job. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone to be thrust into, no matter how experienced they may be.
Of course, perhaps this is by design. It’s entirely possible that the youthful inexperience of Kyle Dubas has finally worn MLSE out and they want their next GM to be a hard nosed veteran that shows up, makes the tough decisions, and gets the work done without complaint. Even if that’s the case, it’s hard to deny that taking a few weeks to find a sense of direction for the Maple Leafs franchise could make the position more attractive to some of the more popular and desired GM candidates.
In the case of long time Assistant GMs such as Eric Tulsky or even Toronto’s own Brandon Pridham, is being thrust into a potentially unwinnable situation where every mistake you make in the first month will be magnified for years worth making the jump to the bosses chair – especially when they’re both very aware that other teams are sure to come knocking in the not-too-distant future.
Elliot Friedman revealed earlier this week that during the interview process for potential GMs, a number of candidates have asked about the future of the team – namely whether star players such as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are interested in continuing to play for the team, or even possibly taking a team-friendly deal to stay competitive. This suggests that at least a few candidates on the Maple Leafs’ shortlist are weary of the team’s direction, and hesitant to accept the role without more information.
If Brendan Shannahan, MLSE, and the rest of the Maple Leafs organization want to prioritize getting the best person for the job over the long term, then they need to consider doing the dirty work and making the job attractive for any newcomer to the franchise. This means looking towards signing extensions, having serious discussion with the team’s core about their intentions, and setting the next General Manager up for success in any way possible.
Rushing to get the first candidate willing to take the job seems like shortsighted thinking, and a surefire way to find ourselves in this exact same position five years from now. While it is true that some candidates may be thrilled at the prospect of navigating all of Toronto’s current problems themselves, leaving their mark on the team immediately upon arrival, it’s hard to deny the suggestion that getting Matthews and Nylander extended, or solving next year’s goalie situation would make the role of Maple Leafs GM far more enticing to some of the more respected candidates who may be fielding job offers from a number of different teams.
When figuring out a team’s future, the worst thing that management can do is rush the process, and although navigating the next few weeks without a GM may be difficult, it could set the entire franchise up for the best opportunity at long term success.

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