In case you missed yesterday’s announcement, Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan confirmed that general manager Lou Lamoriello will not return next season as Leafs GM.
The development ends months of speculation from fans and media around the 75 year old Hall of Famer executive and his future with the Leafs organization. Early in 2018, Sportsnet reporter and NHL insider Elliotte Friedman had uncovered the fact that Lamoniello’s agreement was set to expire but that the two sides had a clause that could see him return for an additional year. Today’s news obviously puts that option to rest.
According to Shanahan, Lamoriello will continue with the organization in an advisory role, but relinquish his management responsibilities to the team’s next GM. In a prepared statement, Shanahan would go on to say that he’ll now “focus all of my attention towards making a decision regarding our next general manager.”
The early speculation is that one of the team’s current assistant GM’s, either Mark Hunter or Kyle Dubas, will receive a promotion to the GM position. But one Leafs blogger, Jon Steitzer of Leafs Nation, makes an interesting case for the team to go in a different direction: Mike Babcock as coach AND general manager.
First off, it’s not like this type of arrangement has never happened before. Both Darryl Sutter and Bryan Murray pulled down double shifts during their stints with the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators respectively, delivering a Stanley Cup Finals appearance for both teams. And while Babcock certainly seems to have some pull on player personnel decisions… we’re still not convinced that he’s the right man for the job.
Luckily, Steitzer lays it all out in a PRO vs CON style format for Leafs fans to digest.
Check it out:
PRO: The coach has complete control over the lineup and has absolute authority to bring in the players who will work best in his system.
CON: Most Leafs fans generally don’t like the same players that Mike Babcock likes. He likes Luke Glendennig, and Roman Polak and both of those players are bad news. Mike Babcock in his dual role also wouldn’t have time to scout players and if he’s going his own way over the advice of analysts and scouts, this could be a messy situation.
PRO: Let’s assume that Mike Babcock isn’t taking this on in a dual role, rather wants to move up to the GM office, Mike Babcock would be very capable of finding a coach to continue along with the system he has put in place already, and could identify the players who work in that system seemingly better than anyone else.
CON: The running theme here should be that Mike Babcock is a pretty darn good coach, but linecards and player usage aren’t his particular strengths. Being a GM is just that on a larger scale.
PRO: He’s a prestige name attached to the GM position, and he’d have little difficulty finding his place in the old boys club of the NHL GM world. He’s worked enough with Lou Lamoriello and Ken Holland to know what he’s getting into.
CON: He doesn’t have any experience drafting, making trades, signing free agents, or negotiating with his own players. For Babcock to be successful he’d need a strong group like Pridham, Dubas, and Hunter to help them, but if Dubas or Hunter aren’t replacing Lou, it’s safe to say they’ll pursue one of the other opportunities available this summer.
PRO: A coach’s perspective is something we haven’t seen in a GM for a while. At least not in a recent GM, it was a lot more common in previous decades. Maybe someone with recent experience close to the ice is a competitive edge over the rest of the league.
CON: Mike Babcock isn’t likely to spend the entire summer trying to get rid of Nikita Zaitsev, and that’s the trait I want most in a GM. There may also be some additional loyalty to guys like Roman Polak and Leo Komarov, which would make me cry.
PRO: Babcock could be a decision to give him more control over aspects of his own roster, but ultimately this comes with greater involvement from Brendan Shanahan. Dubas, Hunter, and Pridham all take on greater roles, and everything continues essentially as we’ve seen it work over the past few years.
CON: He may want players to have even less hair than Lamoriello was allowing.
So, with all that in mind… what’s your take? Genius move? Or colossally idiotic move? We’re inclined to believe the latter… but at the very least it’s good food for thought.