If you are the one who goes by the mantra “if it can work in other places, why not here?” then Brendan Shanahan is the ideal man to run the Toronto Maple Leafs. We’ve seen sports teams go with former high-profile players in management roles. Some have succeeded (Mario Lemieux, John Elway) while others ended in disappointment (Matt Millen, Isiah Thomas). Only time will tell which side the Mimico native ends up.
Shanahan brings with him 3 Stanley Cup championships, an Olympic gold medal, and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It kind of reminds me when Ken Dryden was hired by the Leafs to be their team President in 1998. He was, like Shanahan is now, a rookie executive with an extensive list of credentials that was brought in after the team missed the playoffs that year. After the hiring of Pat Quinn as head coach, and the signing of free-agent goaltender Curtis Joseph, things began to turn around in the Leafs’ favour. Here’s hoping history repeats itself.
Shanahan does have some challenges to face, not the least of which a Stanley Cup drought in Toronto that is going on 47 years. Knowing the way he played during his NHL career, I don’t think Shanahan is going to move away from the approach Brian Burke had when he became the Leafs President and GM. That is having a tough, physical team that is difficult to play against. But Shanahan and GM Dave Nonis will need to find a way for the team to sustain that style of play for the entire 82-game schedule whether it is changing the personnel on the roster or changing the personnel behind the bench.
Shanahan has his work cut out for him but if he can iron out those problems, you can bet the Leafs will be playing hockey next June.