SBD/April 11, 2014/Franchises

Brendan Shanahan Named Maple Leafs' Top Exec As Leiweke Continues MLSE Moves

Shanahan spent the past three years in the NHL office, but has not been a team exec
NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan on Friday was named Maple Leafs President and "will be given the final say in all high-level hockey decisions made in the richest organization in the league," according to James Mirtle of the GLOBE & MAIL. Shanahan had "been courted by multiple NHL teams in the past year," and "talk in league circles was, after three tough-but-productive years, he had wanted out of the difficult disciplinarian job before next season." Coming "home to Toronto, where he grew up in the small community of Mimico, was too good of an opportunity to pass up." It is "expected major changes are coming to the management group underneath the newly created position." What he "walks into in Toronto is a bit of a mess" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/11). In Toronto, Rob Longley writes MLSE President & CEO Leiweke will rely on Shanahan to "return the storied franchise to respectability -- and perhaps even another trip to the post-season." Shanahan will take over "one of the most visible and volatile positions in all of professional hockey." He should be "on board in time to participate with exit interviews of players and coaches, should he choose" (TORONTO SUN, 4/11). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes apart from the "chance to perhaps run one of the New York-area teams, so he could stay put, there would be few hockey jobs more appealing to Shanahan" than the Leafs. Once the Leafs' interest in Shanahan "became clear, the fit seemed so logical that the only real question was going to revolve around the timing" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/11). 

LEIWEKE LEAVING HIS MARK: In Toronto, Damien Cox writes Shanahan's hiring is Leiweke's "latest eye-popping maneuver." Shanahan will have "an even more senior role that will extend beyond over-seeing" GM Dave Nonis. Shanahan may even "be groomed to become the heir apparent to Leiweke." It is a "gamble by Leiweke, given Shanahan's absence of NHL executive experience" (TORONTO STAR, 4/11). SPORTSNET's Chris Johnston wrote this is the "first of many significant changes that will be made to the organization in the coming months." Shanahan brings "a winning pedigree" to the Leafs' front office. His duties are "expected to be wide-ranging and include involvement in business, marketing and other league-related matters." In other words, he "won't be negotiating contracts or helping manage the salary cap." Those duties "will continue to be performed by Nonis" (SPORTSNET.ca, 4/10). The NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur notes Leiweke has "apparently been courting Shanahan for a while, surely with [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman's blessing and perhaps urging." There are "huge hockey decisions ahead for this franchise." Leiweke has "cleared out two of his three franchises already; this is his first crack at fixing the Leafs" (NATIONAL POST, 4/11).

IN SUPPORT OF SHANAHAN: YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote Shanahan has "never been a team executive," but he knows "how to bring people together and effect change, and he knows how to build and run a department -- have a vision, create a plan, manage people." He has "dealt with people throughout the hockey world" and has "handled scrutiny and criticism" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/10). In Toronto, Terry Koshan writes it is "hard to find a good reason to argue against" Leiweke's hiring of Shanahan (TORONTO SUN, 4/11). Also in Toronto, Curtis Rush writes under the header, "The Pros And Cons Of Hiring Brendan Shanahan" (TORONTO STAR, 4/11).
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