It isn’t difficult to figure out who within the Leafs’ organization made the decision to finally fire Randy Carlyle yesterday. It was reported that this was a joint effort from Nonis and Shanahan, but I think anyone who has paid attention to this team for any amount of time realizes Nonis is in a situation similar to that of Greg Sherman before he was demoted by the Avalanche this past fall, a general manager in name only.
Nonis went up there and met the media in the team’s official press conference, answering questions about why this decision came about at this point in time, but the real question on a lot of people’s minds now is how much longer do we have to wait before he’s put out to pasture as well? Will it wait until the end of the season, or will Shanahan decide that he doesn’t even want Nonis in the fold for the trade deadline?
There were a lot of rumblings yesterday about how the Leafs are far from done, and Carlyle’s firing is just the first in a line of shakeups the organization is in process of making. That sort of talk got a bit louder this morning.
Hearing same thing most are this morning – Dave Nonis has little time left, & Mark Hunter is the likely next GM of the Maple Leafs.
— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) January 7, 2015
Brady isn’t a big trade-breaker or “insider” like McKenzie or Lebrun, but he isn’t the type to just throw this out there to start a rumor either. If he’s saying it, there’s something behind it.
There are a few things that make sense about this.
First off, Dubas, while currently holding the position of assistant general manager, is still young by NHL management standards. If he was to step in as the top guy, he would be the youngest in the league by a fair margin, and considering he just entered the league, the Leafs might not feel it’s a good idea to have him deal with everything that comes with being the go-to in Toronto at this point.
Hunter, on the other hand, while also new to the NHL in a management capacity, has been around a lot longer. He’s played in the NHL for parts of ten seasons, coached a ton in junior, and even punched in a year as the coach of the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 96-97. Then, of course, you have the twelve years he’s been running the London Knights as an owner, vice-president, and general manager.
Shanahan may feel Hunter is more suited to the big chair while Dubas continues to put in heavy work with his analytics team to find market inefficiencies and help the team capitalize on them. Perhaps even Dubas feels the same way. If all three of Shanahan, Hunter, and Dubas are on the same page, then it’s no surprise that Nonis has become the new Sherman.
When the Leafs hired Hunter in October to take on a role as director of player personnel, it took people by surprise. He was stepping into a position that the Leafs did not have previously, and it was clear from day one that it was high level. Perhaps this was the plan all along.
Whether it’s Hunter, Dubas, or even another person brought in from the outside, it’s becoming clear that Nonis isn’t in the Leafs’ plans long term, nor should he be. The whole Carlyle situation dragged on to a comical level, but I don’t think this time we’ll have to wait too long.