For former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Mark Hunter, the promotion he was passed over for earlier this week was “a job you dream of.” The long-time hockey executive and one of the most respected scouts in the sport quietly elected to part ways with the Leafs organization following the promotion of colleague Kyle Dubas and is now just breaking his silence on this split.
“You feel good about what has happened with the team, where we have gone and where we can go,” said Hunter to the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan. “Sure, it’s disappointing. But we all make decisions and move ahead and don’t look back.”
But, how does he feel toward Dubas? And what about his relationship with former boss Brendan Shanahan?
“No, I don’t get bitter,” Hunter said. “People make decisions and Shanny had his reasons (for hiring Dubas). Hunter maintains that the split was made on good terms and that there’s no bad blood on either side.
“Shanny made the decision to go with Kyle and I thought (the decision to leave) was best for both of us,” Hunter said. “You push ahead and let Kyle do his thing and spread his wings and I can go where I need to go. I just thought it was best for both parties (to depart).”
Despite feeling the need to move on, Hunter did offer to stay on board with the Leafs until after the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but Shanahan decided it was best for the two sides to part immediately.
“I left it up to them,” Hunter said. “I (scouted) a lot of games this year, have a good track on who’s who, so I left it up to Shanny and Kyle and where they wanted to go. I was prepared.”
As for what’s next, well Hunter isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch. Due to the conditions of his contract with the Leafs, Hunter cannot be hired by another NHL team until after July 15th. Even then, there’s no guarantee that he’ll gifted a GM job.
“We all want to be a general manager, but I’m realistic,” Hunter said. “There’s 31 jobs. It’s nice to say, ‘Yes I want it,’ but it’s another thing getting it.
“I’m not arrogant enough to think someone is going to come and hand me one. There is always the London Knights to be involved with and help out. Going to take time here. There is no rush. Stand back and enjoy life and go watch the draft.”
While he may not ultimately land the dream job he wants this offseason, don’t be surprised when Hunter is snatched up by another NHL team on July 15th. The man’s scouting acumen alone is reason enough for 30 other NHL teams to come calling.