DEVELOPING: Something Is Happening With Dave Morrison

According to Sportsnet Magazine’s Gare Joyce, the Toronto Maple Leafs have made their first personnel decision of the Lou Lamoriello era, firing Director of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrison may or may not be doing something with Dave Morrison. 

The move comes as a bit of a shocker. Morrison had survived the big staff exodus of April 2015 (to the point of being given a vote of confidence), and had input in what is initially being praised as a successful entry draft last month. Even if they had held on to him to avoid loss of “company secrets” in before the draft, taking nearly a month to get rid of him afterwards is a bit curious.

The initial spectuation? Lamoriello wants to bring in some of his staff. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see David Conte come in as a successor. Conte was New Jersey’s Director of Scouting from August 5th, 1993 until July 9th of this year, when the Devils decided to part ways with him. He was also the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the past nine years.

Conte’s draft history with the Devils includes the likes of Jay Pandolfo and Brendan Morrison (93), Patrik Elias and Steve Sullivan (94), Petr Sykora (95), Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta (98), Paul Martin (00), Zach Parise (03), and Travis Zajac (04). While many of these players hit their stride with the Devils organization and became valuable contributors, it’s been eleven years since a Devils draft pick has played 350+ NHL games.

Morrison was originally hired by the Leafs in 2004, and had been the Director of Amateur Scoting for the past six years.

UPDATE: 10:53 PM

Anthony Petrelli of Maple Leafs Hot Stove has now put a plot twist on this story with the following:

Joyce did make a point to say that Morrison had not been notified yet, but with so much time in between the initial circulation of the story and Petrelli’s refute, it’s really anybody’s guess as to what’s happening. We’ll update you with more as this develops.

UPDATE: 11:18 PM

Joyce is stepping back from his original statement of Morrison being let go, and is now suggesting that it might be a shuffling of the deck chairs. Joyce mentions in a follow-up that Toronto has interviewed other scouts in the immediate past for available spots.

  • Benjamin

    Timing is weird, but it makes sense.

    He had a decidedly average track record and had essentially been replaced by Hunter anyways.

    Edit: quit playing games with my heart, Jeffler

  • Benjamin

    That is indeed a pretty impressive list of draft picks by Conte. To me the fascinating game to watch is how Hunter and Lou work together. Of course people are speculating but one would think that Hunter had his ducks in a row and quite possibly will see some of these people replaced by Lou’s old crew.

    As Ray Ferraro suggested, will Mark after a year or two rejoin his brother who quickly left coaching Washington to return to running the London junior team.

    Stay tuned this is going to get extremely interesting.

  • Harte of a Lion

    No way this was leaked. Perhaps some cloak and dagger to make a member of the media look foolish? If so it worked.
    I think King Lou is jerking some chains to ensure the media knows who is in charge

  • magesticRAGE

    Hunter is safe, cause he’s Shanny’s draft man, supplier of the rebuild. They got rid of a ton of scouts, the summer is when you replace them. Ultimately, Hunter answers to Shanny first, everyone else is a discussion.

    Morrison just has another title, for his track record is not fireable (if that’s a word).

    • Gary Empey

      Yes it is definitely a word. It is mostly used by Darwin Award Winners south of the border.

      As in:

      ” Hold my beer while I see if this here old cannon is still fireable.”

  • Gary Empey

    Dave Morrison has done a fairly good job in this organization and I don’t see why he should be pushed out.

    It’s fascinating that mention was made of Conte and Co. having not selected a player that has played over 350+ NHL games in eleven years! And this is the guy that could allegedly be taking Morrison’s job?

    • silentbob

      Morrison is the guy who was our head scout when they picked Biggs and Guathier with 1st rounders. He was the guy who picked all the prospects they’ve moved out the last couple weeks.

      All the talk the last month or so about how the drafting is improving and/or moving in a better direction……. Morrison was part of that old direction.

      • Gary Empey

        Here comes the counter.

        When GMs try to expand their role into scouting you end up with players like Biggs being first rounders.

        Morrison being the grunt to his GM provides a list. That GM usually does two things: 1) Lets the scout do his job and selects the best player available period. or 2) Takes the list and says I want a team built like X so who is the next guy that fits into that system. Thus you draft Biggs – a player Burke makes sure he gets to fit system X rather than taking the best guy period.

        With Gauthier he wasn’t a bad pick, he was a known. Nonis and Co wanted players they knew would make the NHL rather then drafting Boom or Bust.

        Again, these decisions don’t fall into Morrison’s hands, he just provides the list. Ironically, his list matched almost everyone’s draft prediction list.

        Morrison is also not responsible for trades, so anyone traded is the GM doing GM work and not the scout. Morrison was here this current draft as well, the direction is laid out by management, not him!

        The direction may change but scouting should remain fairly consistent – rank the players from best to least.

        • silentbob

          Fair enough.

          Though if we are going to put the blame on the Leafs drafting mistakes (and while Gauthier might end up being player, I don’t think he is the kind of prospect you want with a 1st round pick) during Morrison’s time here on the GM’s, then you can’t give Morrison credit for the success’s either. After all he is just the grunt providing the lists and it Burke who picked Kadri and Percy, Hunter who picked Marner, Shanahan/Nonis who picked Nylander etc…

  • Gary Empey

    @ silentbob, I didn’t trash you as you do have a good point.

    Let us not forget at that time, the consensus was to draft bigger players. On this site I still see lots of people asking “Where’s the beef”.

    Tyler Biggs
    Height 6.03 — Weight 224

    Frederik Gauthier
    Height 6.04 — Weight 215

    It is true Biggs didn’t work out, but Gauthier is described as a coaches dream. He gets the nod from the coach in every critical situation. In three years in the Q he has been above plus twenties in the plus minus.

    His last year in the Q he always played against opposing teams number one line and came out plus 26.

    He could make the leafs this year but is more likely to dress for the Marlies for some seasoning.

    He is not flashy but very solid. He is Babcocks type of player.

    It won’t be long before McDavid and the rest of that rabble from the tar pits of northern Alberta comes to town.

    Expect to see Fred Gauthier lining up on the other side against McDavid with the puck on his stick.

    • silentbob

      I tend to agree with you Gary as young Gauthier has improved each season. A very solid defensive center who is very good on the face offs. His offensive game has been improving. As you stated when he is N.H.L. ready he will be given checking assignments against the better centers in the league.

      When was the last time the leafs had a big solid defensive center man???

      • Gary Empey

        I should of added Gauthier never takes a bad penalty or makes a bad pass. This is one reason coaches love him.

        I really can’t remember when we had a big solid defensive center man. Maybe Jay McClement but Gauthier is bigger, stronger and can score important goals or make a nice pass.