“We are excited about the direction the Leafs have taken, on and off the ice, under the leadership of John Ferguson,” Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said in a news release Wednesday.
Ferguson, 39, is in his fourth season as Leafs GM. The team had the second-best points total in the Eastern Conference going into its road game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
Decisions last summer to buy out Ed Belfour and Tie Domi, trade for Andrew Raycroft and sign free agents Mike Peca, Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina have paid off.
Since Ferguson was hired on Aug. 29, 2003, the Leafs had 98 wins, 63 losses, 10 ties and 15 overtime/shootout losses. His .594 winning percentage is the highest of the 12 men who have served as GM of the Leafs.
“Prior to the (2004-2005) lockout, John created a strategic plan that would address a number of needs that our franchise had – principally procuring and developing young talent, and operating a team under the parameters of a new collective bargaining agreement,” Peddie added. “We’ve begun to see the results of John’s plan, and picking up the option on the fourth year of his contract enables that progress to continue.”
Ferguson thanked ownership for the stamp of approval.
“I’ve said it many times – there is no better place to win than here in Toronto,” he said. “Winning on the ice, making a positive impact in our community, and making our fans proud now and in the future are what it’s all about.”
Ferguson was named vice-president and director of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues in February 2001. He was assistant GM of the Blues during the five preceding years.
He was a member of the Ottawa Senators scouting staff from 1993 to 1996. He also earned a law degree and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1996.
Ferguson played four AHL seasons in the Ottawa and Montreal organizations and was an assistant captain of the 1992 Fredericton Canadiens who finished first during the regular season.
The native of Montreal is the son of John Ferguson Sr., who was a member of five Stanley Cup championship teams with Montreal and who later was GM of the New York Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets. His father lives in the Windsor region and is a part-time scout for the San Jose Sharks.