Brendan Shanahan is the new man at the top for the Maple Leafs, as it has been confirmed that he’s been hired as President of the Maple Leafs.
Read that again, Shanahan isn’t the President of hockey operations, he’s President of the Team.
What does that mean? The truthful answer is nobody seems to know.
He’s not here to be the general manager. Dave Nonis will still have the final call on all signings, trades, etc. At least for now.
So is he here as some sort of PR stunt? A shield to block the angry fans of a team who have collapsed spectacularly for three years in a row?
The answer is probably not. Shanahan was already fairly high in the NHL hierarchy at only 45-years-old and could have been groomed to eventually replace Gary Bettman one day. You’re not leaving the NHL to become a PR shield.
So if he’s not a PR shield and he’s not here to oversee the GM role, what exactly is his job?
Here’s one thought. The Maple Leafs were founded as the Toronto Arenas on November 22nd, 1917. So the Leafs are only a few years away from their centennial season.
Needless to say that should be big business. As the richest team in the NHL, the Leafs will be looking to have everything that season, the All-Star game, the Draft and another Winter Classic.
That will require a lot of work, a lot of attention to detail and dealing with the NHL, something Shanahan has experience for.
He also has experience hiring the right people. When he took over the Department of Player Safety, he hired former NHLer Brian Leetch and Patrick Burke, the son of Brian who is a former scout and director of You can Play.
He may be expected to help bring those kind of people into the Maple Leafs.
While some will be looking for Shanahan to turn around the franchise, like Steve Yzerman has done in Tampa, the real hope for the Leafs is that Shanahan can be counted on to make the smart hiring moves that Yzerman made.
Yzerman brought in assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who is also the GM of their farm affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
He also hired coach of the year candidate Jon Cooper.
If nothing else Shanahan will bring his competitive attitude and work ethic.
We’ll see if that rubs off on the on ice product.