The search for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next GM has been underway for a few weeks now. But, because I’m feeling particularly generous today, I’m going to help out sports lawyer Gord Kirke and the rest of the team’s search committee by offering some free-of-charge advice:
Stop the search this minute, and do everything within your power to hire Darcy Regier away from the Sabres. And after that, allow Regier to bring along current Sabres coach Lindy Ruff as Toronto’s new bench boss.
Now, that’s not to take anything away from potential Toronto GM candidates such as Brian Burke, Jim Rutherford or Doug Armstrong. I’m sure all of those men could succeed in the Herculean task of restoring the Make-Me-Laughs, or Make-Believes, from punchline to powerhouse.
However, Regier stands out as the ideal choice for a number of reasons. The biggest reason for me is: he’s one of the game’s most progressive minds and keeps ahead of trends as well as any NHL GM. In fact, he was one of the first to recognize the post-lockout importance of speed and skill, and guided the Sabres to a regular season Eastern Conference title in 2006 and another Eastern final appearance last spring.
Why Ruff as well? Well, with all due respect to Paul Maurice, the writing is on the wall for the current Leafs coach – and unfortunately for him, it’s not a blueprint for future success in Toronto. The new Leafs GM undoubtedly will want his own handpicked coach and that’s why a package deal of Regier and Ruff makes so much sense.
These two already know each other, leaving neither excuse nor need for a prolonged adjustment period. They also have worked wonders on a shoestring budget – one that has seen the Sabres fire all of their pro scouts and replace them with video cameras – and thus have been forced to watch helplessly as some of their best players (e.g. Daniel Briere, Chris Drury) have departed for more lucrative pastures.
Imagine what Regier and Ruff could do with the massive fortunes of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment at their disposal. Imagine the impact they could make with scouts who didn’t require electricity to operate and with players they had the financial wherewithal to retain.
All the Leafs need at the top is the same thing the rest of us need to get through the February Blahs: A little R n’ R.
You’re welcome, MLS&E.
This column also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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