January 22, 2008

John Ferguson Jr.: You're Fired!

It’s official. John Ferguson Jr. is general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs no more. He got the axe this morning. I’ve got to argue that it was the slowest, yet most obvious, dismissal in the history of professional sports.

The writing, as the kids say, was on the wall. JFJ was a lame-duck manager, without a contract following this season and, with the well documented struggles of our heroes in the blue and white, it was only a matter of time before JFJ was shown the door. Not to mention the organization’s most-public search for a replacement while JFJ was still holding on to his job. Even my mother saw this one coming.

JFJ’s treatment by the Maple Leafs was distasteful, to say the least. They didn’t show JFJ much respect and just this morning MLSE president, and douchebag extraordinaire, Richard Peddie was quoted by the Canadian Press: “I have not fired John (Ferguson).”

Not yet, at least, would have been more fair. Jeez.

The Toronto Maple Leafs: the epitome of dysfunction.

Peddie’s press release to the media was the standard upper management bullshit. It said that JFJ was not going to be offered a new contract (shocker!), so it is in the best interests of the club, and JFJ, that the transition (to continued mediocrity?) begin immediately.

JFJ told TSN that he was not offered a position in another capacity with the club. Although the Leafs weren’t able to accomplish much in his almost five year tenure, JFJ can go out with his head held high. I doubt he’ll go out kicking-and-screaming, or with anything bad to say about the organization, because that’s just not how he rolls. No one would, however, blame him ‘round these parts if he left by throwing a few low-blows, especially below Peddie’s belt. He was treated pitifully, but JFJ was the definition of class and professionalism while he was jerked around by the tools upstairs.

So I offer JFJ my condolences on his new-found joblessness, and thank him for his time and effort here. As terrible of a job as he did around here, and his legacy will most-certainly be defined by the Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft trade (oh dear), he tried. As much as I have hated the many moves he’s made over the years, right now I can’t hate on JFJ. He’s been treated horribly enough. Maybe in a few days, after I’ve thought about how he’s screwed us over the last few years, I’ll rip into him.

In typical Maple Leafs fashion, the team has started up the good old time machine for a solution to their woes. In the blast-from-the-past department, Cliff Fletcher, a hockey dinosaur who was paid to stay the hell away from the Phoenix Coyotes organization, is the new interim general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Cliff Fletcher. The man who delivered us Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin, but also the man who cost us a chance at Roberto Luongo. You have mixed feelings about him? Yeah, me too.

I doubt he’ll be the general manager next season, but since every instinct I have is wrong, I expect the interim tag next to Fletcher’s name will be dropped in June, sometime before the entry draft.

I expect Fletcher’s number one priority will be to convince captain Sundin to waive his no-trade clause and help infuse the franchise with some young talent it so desperately needs. Also on the to-do list will be to rid the club of some of their expensive contracts, and rid the team of the disease known as Andrew Raycroft.

I also expect there to be multiple post-it notes stuck to Fletcher’s monitor at his desk that say: “Do Not Trade Draft Picks!!!!” I find those little post-it notes help me to remember important work-related reminders. I think they would go a long way in making sure the Leafs do not compromise their future anymore by trading away draft picks.

But who knows? Another three-game win streak, which will kick start dreams of the eighth playoff seed, and the Leafs just might, as they do with freakish regularity around here, make a pitch for Yanic Perreault. It’s about that time of year.

So it’s a new day, and another new (or is it old?) beginning for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Like Ben Knight from The Globe and Mail’s On Soccer blog always says: "Onward!"

Yes, unfortunately, we have to.

Thanks JFJ for, uh, well, nothing. But, shit, thanks anyways.


preets said...

well, at least maurice is still around and will be til end of season at least. and Fletcher made it clear he isn't interested in being GM long term. We'll see how it shakes out.