Leafs look to Fletcher
The beleaguered Toronto Maple Leafs are taking steps to try to replace general manager John Ferguson Jr.
Sources tell TSN that the Leafs have contacted a number of hockey management types to gauge their interest in the job, which is currently held by Ferguson, and, in fact, have asked former Leaf GM Cliff Fletcher if he is interested in taking over as interim GM of the NHL club.
Well, I called the Leafs the league's most dysfunctional franchise a month and a half ago, but the three-ring circus is certainly hitting the high notes lately.
If you're going to try and wade into all of this silliness, the best piece written lately came from CBC's Elliotte Friedman, who offered a well-reasoned take on the Fletcher business last night on his blog.
"Fletcher’s name has come up for three reasons," Friedman says:
(1) "He is popular in the market, with the fans and media"
(2) "Mats Sundin knows him and trusts him"
(3) He’s available
The Sundin business rings true: If someone is going to take over this mess and attempt a rebuild of any sort, the first move will be a deadline deal that brings in futures for the Leafs captain. Of course, he can return to Toronto next season as a free agent, but for the now the priority has to be looking toward the future and, as Friedman notes, Fletcher would be the perfect candidate to finesse such a move.
The other thing Friedman gets into is the human part of this drama, which has become excruciating at this point. Ferguson may have underperformed as general manager and deserve the boot, but no one should have to walk a gauntlet like this on the way out.
Unfortunately in Toronto, firings play out in the media before they've happened, and one would imagine that takes quite a toll on those involved.
By all accounts, John Ferguson is a good man; he just hasn't been a good GM (in difficult circumstances, to be sure).
As for Fletcher, well, he may be 72 years old, but I think he'll now jump at the chance to take on the GM's role in Toronto again. He had some success there before, and after being punted out of Phoenix in a regime change, this could be his last chance to take on a high-level executive role.
"I'm not sure whether I am between jobs or retired," Fletcher told the Toronto Sun last weekend.
To me, that's not a guy hellbent on staying out of the game.
UPDATE Eric Duhatschek and Lowetide weigh in.