If you thought Dave Nonis was just going to disappear from all media coverage after being let go by the Leafs, you were wrong. Unlike Ron Wilson, who we can only assume was tucked away in a cabin somewhere drawing up bad hockey plays on his iPad before emerging to join TSN and spit fire at this year’s trade deadline, Nonis was ready to talk just a couple weeks after Brendan Shanahan cleared out the ACC.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun, published this morning, Nonis provided some thoughts on his firing, the Leafs’ plan going forward, and who, if anyone in particular, is to blame for what’s been happening with this team.
On Brendan Shanahan deciding to pull the trigger at season’s end:
I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. I thought we got along very well throughout the year. But I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand why you do this.
To be fair, as much as many of us believed Nonis had to go, it was still somewhat of a surprise when he was shown the door. It looked as if the Leafs, under Shanahan, had effectively turned him into general manager in name only. He wasn’t going to be able to do much more damage on his own, so there was still a lot of uncertainty as to whether the organization would feel it necessary to let him go. Thankfully they did.
Regarding the disaster that has been the Leafs these past few years:
It’s a combination of everything. I wish I could pinpoint all the reasons of what went wrong. I know people put the collapses together. But I don’t. The last three were different.
When you’re talking about what grouping “collapses” fit into, you know you’ve had a rough tenure. The Leafs are building up binders full.
On Phil Kessel, his apparent lack of “leadership”, and whether he quit on the team:
I don’t think they have to move Phil Kessel. You only move him if you decide the return is worth it. If you don’t get value for him, you’re only hurting your team. I believe the baggage that comes with Phil is overblown. Are there things he has to change? Absolutely. But I can assure you of this: Whatever team wins the Stanley Cup this year will have a Phil Kessel in the lineup. I can guarantee that.
It’s difficult to imagine what Kessel could have to change at this point in his career, being 27-years-old and all. But keep in mind the interviewer here is Simmons, and he’s trying his hardest to swing it into a Kessel hit piece. Either way, it’s nice to see Nonis downplay the whole baggage thing.
Finally, on who’s left in that front office after “Bloody Sunday” a couple weeks ago:
Brendan has strong opinions on how he wants his team to play. Mark Hunter was a great addition. The young guys (Kyle Dubas and Brandon Pridham) are tremendously hard-working and smart, getting better every day. The next GM has a real good staff around him
Again, you can read the full interview here at the Toronto Sun website.