Toronto Maple Leafs: Search for General Manager and Head Coach Heating Up

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The 411 on the GM Candidates

Aug 8, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton speaks at a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Two outdoor regular-season NHL games will be played at Yankee Stadium during the 2013-14 season as part of the 2014 Stadium Series. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the best candidate for the Leafs, it’s probably down to three names: Gorton, Futa and Brisebois. Gorton is currently the assistant GM for the New York Rangers and has an impressive track record. An article written in the Toronto Star took a look at his resumé during his time with the Boston Bruins, where, along with Peter Chiarelli, (before he became the GM) he made the Bruins a top contenders in the east. This is what Gorton did in one summer as the interim GM:

"–Traded Andrew Raycroft to the Maple Leafs for Tuukka Rask -Signed free agents Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard -Drafted Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and Phil Kessel."

Feb 2, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter (L) presents President Barack Obama (R) an engraved silver hockey stick at a ceremony honoring the NHL Stanley Cup Champion Kings and the MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the East Room at The White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The next candidate on the list is a popular name with many people, because of the team that he currently works for. The Los Angeles Kings have put in a lot of work to build their team and the foundation of their success comes from a strong management group, led by President Dean Lombardi. Ron Hextall left to join the Philadelphia Flyers and there were reports that Rob Blake was in consideration for the Leafs job, but that died down when he admitted he felt he was not ready for it.

Now it looks like the attention has turned to Futa, the Kings Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel. Futa started with the Kings in 2007, after working in the OHL as the GM for the Owen Sound Attack. With the Kings, he was in charge of Amateur Scouting, where his main job was to retool the Kings scouting department. In that time, the Kings drafted a core of Drew Doughty, Kyle Clifford, Alex Martinez, Slava Voynov, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli (who the Leafs passed on for Brad Ross) , Tanner Pearson, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jake Muzzin and Linden Vey. Not a bad list, considering most of those players are still with the team. Last season, the Vancouver Canucks was considering Futa for their GM position, but the Kings promoted Futa so he could stay with the Kings. Now it looks like the Leafs will try to pry him out of LA with a promotion to GM. Hopefully, having people like Hunter and Dubas in the fold will convince Futa he can get the Leafs back on track like the Kings. Being from the GTA could also factor in Futa’s decision as well.

Mar 10, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens during an overtime period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The final candidate is another assistant GM, BriseBois, who is currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steve Yzerman and company have slowly made the Lightning one of the top teams in the eastern conference, and it is no secret that they too are in danger of losing a member of their executive team. BriseBois, like the other candidates, has a long track record in the NHL, that started in 2003 with the Montreal Canadiens at the age of 30. Maple Leafs Hotstove has a nice write up on BrisBois about his role with the Lightning. He has an instrumental role with the Lightning’s AHL club, where he hired Jon Cooper to be the head coach before the team promoted him to the NHL club. The Lightning have received great production from players who have come from their AHL club like; Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and JT Brown. Now could be the time for Brisebois to consider a promotion considering the number of years he has spent in smaller roles within the league.

Of the three candidates, Futa and Gorton look like the more attractive options for the Leafs. The biggest problem Toronto faces, is the fact that both may not be available until after the draft. The question people should wonder about, is whether the Leafs are willing to be patient for the right person to be become available? Shanahan did say he does not have to select a GM before hiring a coach, if the right candidate comes along. In his season ending press conference, he had this to say about his ideal GM;

"“We want someone that shares our vision. We need to have a team with greater character. We have to have people that represent this city and represent this team as it deserves. I think we have an incredibly loyal, resilient fanbase. We need to have an incredibly resilient group of players that love to play in Toronto. If I feel that the right person is available, and if Mark [Hunter] and Kyle [Dubas] feel that the right person is available and we get a fantastic coach, I don’t think it diminishes a general manager’s interest in coming to Toronto”"

Next: Coaching List Dominated By One Name