Bowman bows out … for now

Scotty Bowman, who has coached nine Stanley Cup winners in three cities, seems to have taken himself out of the running for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top job.

Bowman told the Detroit Free Press he’s staying put as a consultant to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. But Bowman, who had an uncharacteristically talkative weekend, also told Hockey Night in Canada he was close to becoming the Leafs’ new head of hockey operations in August.


In the dysfiunctional – albeit filthy rich – family that is Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Bowman was caught in the ongoing crossfire between Larry Tanenbaum, MLSE chaiman of the board, and the company’s president and CEO, Richard Peddie.

Bowman asked for what MLSE has given Raptors boss Bryan Colangelo: total, unquestioned control. The problem is while MLSE execs realize they don’t know jack about basketball, these schmucks consider themselves hockey experts – notwithstanding a 40-year run of futility that suggests no one in the operation knows chicken droppings from chopped liver.

So if not Bowman, who?

Darren Dreger floats several names in his TSN blog, including GMs Holland, Brian Burke and Jim Rutherford, all of whom would have to be end-of-the-season hires. Dreger thinks the Leafs might pull a Dallas Stars scenario in which Doug Gilmour would play Brett Hull’s legend-turned-admninistrator role.

Other GM-coach possibilities: Colin Campbell-Steve Yzerman and my favourite, just because it would be a fiasco, Glenn Healy-Mark Messier.

I still think Bowman will get the job. And I suspect he wants it, if only to put a Cup ring on the only finger that lacks one.

On the other hand, Bowman is 74. And the Leafs face a rebuilding process that will take at least five years. If Bowman getrs them to the Promised Land, the Cup parade may have to be interrupted for his nap.

I don’t think the Leafs can wait until summer to make changes at the top. If MLSE comes to the logical conclusion that they have to blow everything up, Toronto will be a seller in the days leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

There will be no shortage of buyers for the team’s most valuable assets: Darcy Tucker and this year’s version of Peter Forsberg, only healthier and better: Mats Sundin.

The Leafs will want a package of prospects and draft picks for Sundin. The problem iis any picks from a Cup contender, such as Detroit or San Jose, will be non-lottery choices – and the 29th or 30th pick in the draft is not going to help Toronto much.

(Anaheim might be interested, and the Ducks have Edmonton’s pick as a consequence of the Dustin Penner RFA signing.)

Having extracted value from the Leafs’ few bona-fide assets, the new head honcho will still be stuck with three highly-paid and totally untradeable stiffs: Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina and Jason Blake. Nor is the Leafs’ phone ringing off the hook with questions about the availability of Andrew Raycroft.

The Leafs are 28th in the league and a number-six-defenceman $700,000 under the cap. Thanks John Ferguson, Jr., you’ve done a helluva job up to and including the 2007 draft, in which Toronto’s first pick was the 74th player selected.

Can Scotty Bowman fix this mess?

Can anyone?

Let’s hope so.

Don’t count me among Montrealers who glory in Toronto’s travails. The absurd homerism of Don Cherry, Glenn Healy et al is stomach-turning (and in Cherry’s case, it should be Homerism of the Doh! variety). But Canada’s largest city – populated by fans who know more about hockey than the good burghers of Nashville and Phoenix – deserves an exciting, competitive team.




  1. nightmare_49 says:

    You are correct.

  2. J.T. says:

    Brilliant, Jay. “…To invite scorn…” There’s a phrase I wish I’d written! That’s exactly what they’re doing.

  3. Ali says:

    I have too much respect for Doug Gilmour and really hope he doesn’t get any more involved than he is in the mess that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don’t really like Messier, but I don’t think he deserves it either.

    Problem with the Maple Leafs is Richard Peddie and the Ad Hoc way MLSE runs the organization. What other team in the league needs to call a board of governers meeting to get the GM or Coach canned? It’s ridiculous. Darren Dreger says that JFJ’s fellow GM’s are outraged at how he’s been treated. The guy was definately not the best GM, but nobody deserves the public humiliation this guys going through right now, and Paul Maurice is a good coach with a crap lineup.

  4. likehoy says:

    i would pick him up just for the fact that we need one of these “take you to the edge of your seat” phenoms to keep us entertained even when kovy’s long gone

  5. Sulemaan says:

    He’s in the AHL right now and has 10 goals and 31 assists in 41 games. Maybe Kevin Lowe might be willing to part with him with the powerful Mathieu Dandenault or the always effective on defense, Patrice Brisebois.

  6. likehoy says:

    let’s unload ryder for this enigma

  7. nightmare_49 says:

    Top drawer , Jay , a great piece.

  8. Jay in PA says:

    “…it’s one thing to be an advisor to Holland but quite another to execute around that minefield of wanna-be hockey dads that is the MLSE board.”

    That has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read on this site–insightful and succinct. Beautifully said!

  9. Jay in PA says:

    Why do we hate the leafs? Let’s count the ways…

    First, Toronto is so full of itself that it’s nice to see an area in which it desperately strives but spectacularly fails. It’s kind of like watching the snotty-rich-kid-prom-king-quarterback-of-the-football-team fumble the ball and throw interceptions year after year and yet still think he’s great, even as the school celebrates the 40th anniversary of the team’s last significant win. There’s some satisfying justice in their frustration.

    Second, hockey-wise, Toronto has avidly pursued everything that is, to my mind, wrong and bad about the game. Rent a player? Sure! Build a team to play stultifyingly dull, clutch-and-grab hockey? That’s the way to go! Throw money at any problem that comes to hand? We’ve got it, let’s use it! Trade prospects for proven players? It only makes sense–how many kids on the farm ever make the pros? Think about the short term only? Damn right, patience is for farmers! Toronto is a terrible team and a terrible organization because they’ve done everything and more to be terrible. They’re a case study in how to do things the wrong way. Until they change their ways, there’s no way for me to wish them any positive outcomes.

    Third, we all recognize that hockey is a business. However, MLSE has gone out of its way to treat the team as an engine for generating cash first and foremost, with the quality of play being a simple byproduct of owning the team. Much as the US carmakers spent decades building terrible cars, knowing that they’d still sell because enough people didn’t know any better or weren’t willing to act. The cynicism of that approach (though some might prefer to call it cold-eyed realism) makes it hard to feel anything but enmity for them. Yes, it’s a business, but it’s one that is part of the national conscience, and it has a lot of emotion attached to it. To ignore that–hell, to regularly play on it to make an extra dollar–is to invite scorn.

    I won’t pick on Toronto fans because, frankly, fans of just about any team can be obnoxious to fans of other teams. Yeah, they’ve suffered, but no worse than fans of the Chicago Cubs or, once upon a time, fans of the Expos. Leaf fans might crow about their victories over the Habs, but they’re clearly just compensating.

    Overall, I can’t say I wish them well or ill. As others here have said, as long as we are dominant generally and better than them, specifically, I simply don’t care what happens to them.

  10. MICP says:

    If he resigns he not only walks away from his contract but also the money. If he waits until he is fired then he is still due all that money. I would want the money.

  11. likehoy says:

    this is random but for all you plekanec lovers…

    we all know he’s the best at riding a stick and scoring…:)

  12. G-Man says:

    It’s so Toronto Maple Laugh not to hire Bowman and let him run the hockey side of things. It’s why we keep chanting, ” ’67, ’67,’67!


  13. Sulemaan says:

    Living in Toronto as a Canadiens fan – and given the grief I’ve had to take – I have to admit that I take some joy in the travails of this once proud franchise. At the same time, I can’t help but feel their frustration given the black days of the Houle/Tremblay era and its impact for years after.

    At the end of the day, whoever comes into this GM position will need sole decison-making power or they will fail. If you need to run every single hockey decision by a board of directors you are doomed to failure. You won’t get consensus due to politics nor will you act in an expedient manner. Whether your last name is Bowman, Burke or Pollock.

    The problem here in Toronto is that unless Leaf fans start showing their displeasure with their wallets and stop attending games – the situation will never improve. And their non-sensical management structure will continue. If the team is selling out games non-stop, who cares what the fans think? It’s all about selling out games, merchandise and pay per view. What’s a couple of rounds in the playoffs when you know when you sell-out ever single regular season game anyways?

    This reminds me of how it was much easier to get a ticket to the Habs when the team was playing badly during the late nineties and earlier part of this decade. It’s not that we were fair-weather fans as some accused us. We just would not tolerate sub-par performances. From what I recall, the team suffered at the box office. Games were not automatic sell-outs. I remember during intermissions when fans would be asked to get season ticket subscriptions. I remember when the Habs would have waiting lists.

    Management realized that things wouldn’t improve at the box office until they improved on the ice. Until Toronto fans are prepared to do that. Nothing will change. It’s all about the Benjamins at MLSE.

  14. Yeats says:

    You know, if they had just traded Travis Green for Marc Savard, things would have turned out so differently. And, let’s not forget Horton and Choo choo while we’re at it!

  15. nightmare_49 says:

    To get away from the laffs and their misery something a little off topic : Scott Gomez was born in Alaska , name the other 3 players currently playing in the NHL that were born there.

  16. Yeats says:

    Ragging on the leafs: A Passion That Unites Us All!

  17. nightmare_49 says:

    J T thinks he should resign with dignity but i say stick it out and get every cent your entitled to then go to San Jose and scout for them and kiss the Stanley Cup when they win it.

  18. Sulemaan says:

    Great post. Made me laugh out loud DD.

  19. 24 Cups says:

    One more thing. You can think what you want about John Ferguson Jr and the way he has handled the GM position these past few years with the Lousy Leafs. You can criticize his trades, signings, and management strategies. But he is a human being and I have never heard anyone in Toronto criticize him as an individual person. He seems to be a good guy and certainly doesn’t display some of the negative characteristics of past NHL GM’s such as Milbury and Clarke. Not to mention that his dad just passed away recently. Yet the Leaf management team have hung him out to dry and made him a lame duck GM – in front of all the media and hockey fans across Canada. Another classy move by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Who in their right mind would want to take his job?

    The Original 24 Cups

  20. 24 Cups says:

    Sorry NM49 but this Leaf situation is a nightmare that just keeps getting worse by the day. Leafs already have an interim GM (in theory) – he’s John Ferguson Jr and he’s got a gun pointed at his head. He’s on the clock and it’s getting close to midnight. Cliff Fletcher? He hasn’t done much since he left Phoenix a few years ago and he helped (along with others)drag that franchise into near oblivion. He hasn’t been with the Leafs since 97′ when he left saying “draft-smaft”. You think the game and the CBA just might have passed him by? Leafs don’t need any interim people – they need someone with a master plan, who has the power and the fortitude to implement it. Anything less than that will lead to the continuation that is now the Maple Leaf circus of the new millennium. Send in the clowns.

    The Original 24 Cups

  21. nightmare_49 says:

    TSN is reporting that Cliff Fletcher has been asked to be the interim GM of the laffs.

  22. RS says:

    I still don’t understand all the excitement. Toronto fans should be used to losing. The Leafs being at the bottom of the standings shouldn’t be considered a news story.

  23. DD says:

    The news out of Toronto is that the leafs are ready to send John Ferguson Jr. and Paul Maurice packing any minute now. I also have it from a reliable source that with John and Paul on the outs, they’re looking for two guys named Ringo and George to take over. I mean, they can’t do any worse that the two clowns they have running the show now.

  24. Yeats says:

    Let the leafs decompose naturally and allow the few, if any, remaining nutrients to fertilize other teams. Just shows that while horse crap may help plants thrive, it is death when managing a hockey team.

  25. Cable Guy says:

    I’m personally hoping for Tie Domi as GM. They’ll be sure to never win.

  26. likehoy says:

    ugh…i hate glenn healy on TSN…he butters up the leafs then laughs about how he let in a thousand goals in his career…get a life buddy…your career’s over.

  27. Guy21 says:

    I love every misery the Leafs have,they can’t fall far enough in my book…CBC is one of the main reasons that the Leafs are so hated….they are on TV every Saturday night and even when they are out west,the CBC puts Ottawa on and not the Habs…
    Bob Cole is personally responsible for thousands of us hating the Leafs because he worships them( as does Don Cherry)Greg Millen is another annoying announcer….I thought that TSN meant Toronto Sports Network but CBC is worse…..
    Sorry Mr Boone but this is one time I disagree with you I HATE THE LEAFS AND ALWAYS WILL


  28. Wayne says:

    I personally think Glenn Healy’s a funny (and smart) hockey fella. Maybe not so much in an admin capacity for a team as much as good entertainment on tsn.

    “Canada’s largest city– deserves an exciting, competitive team.””
    Yes, on that I’ll totally agree. This makes it more perplexing in a city that knows all about everything and who’s fans are more patience than MTL’s rabid bipolar fans.

  29. fun police says:

    brisebois stinks! if that is bashing, then consider me an english soccer fan hoolighan.

  30. Ian G Cobb says:

    The ghost and smell of Howard Ballard will linger for decades. Many careers were ruined by him and his cronies and many fans and business men were ripped off across the hockey world. It is like the saying, what comes around goes around. And people always get what they deserve TORONTO !

  31. likehoy says:

    we should bring in vincent damphousse…the guy was a member of the NHLPA for a while…he’s got to have some management skills…we can butter him up as a scout and talent evaluator for a while working alongside trevor timmins…

    assistant to the head scout…(that’s a toss to the sitcom “the office”)

  32. Ian G Cobb says:

    YES i think so, just to keep this site bashers.

  33. NLhabsfan says:

    I don’t wish the toronto anything but rough years ahead. Last in any division and sold to New Mexico would be fine with me. Still surprised Bowman would consider it.Like jumping on to a sinking ship. It would take 5-7 years of smart building within and clever trades to bring them some respectability.

  34. Exit716 says:

    Poor Scotty, it’s one thing to be an advisor to Holland but quite another to execute around that minefield of wanna-be hockey dads that is the MLSE board.
    Personally I want Healy to be in charge.

  35. habsgod says:

    the leafs blow!!they are getting what thet deserve!and i don’t shed any tears or have any remorse for that joke of a franchise and team!they don’t deserve scotty bowman!!!i hope they languish near the bottom for years to come!!!infact i ‘ll even say that they are the leagues laughing stocks!!!just like they were in the 80’s in the ballard era!!some of our posters were saying that we were almost as bad during the houle era !!not quite!!!he have markov who was a pick in the houle era!that’s better than what toronto currently has!!!i know that houle was behind the roy trade!the biggest mistake in our franchise!!i hope those clowns in toronto get use to last nplce because that will be there permanent home!!toronto fans i want you to us a favor!!never,ever mention us in the same breath as you!!you do not deserve even that!!you will never be near montreal never!!you in my eyes will always be second rate and will always have second rate players,and g.m’s,coaches!!and will never ever be as classy as montrealor will never ever win as much as the habs!!you can’t even hold a candle to the greatest franchise the league has ever known!!!!toronto you will always be losers!!so i want to say once a loser always a loser!!!

  36. notbigbird says:

    I don’t suppose I have any long term animosity against Toronto. After all some of my best friends … On the other hand, I can’t say that I’m not relishing the present situation to some degree. What can I say? It’s my dark side.

    What I contend, however, is that pretty well all fans are alike. They do tend to gloat and rub it in when they’re doing better than their rivals. It’s not just Toronto fans that are like that, but dare I say it …

    I mean, what are most of us doing right in this thread?

  37. Chuck says:

    $700,000 in cap space, eh? Will we see Brisebois in the blue and white next season?


    “A banner for Vezina must hang from the rafters!”

  38. Wamsley01 says:

    Leaf fans were more than happy to rub every second off Hab pain in my face the last 10 years.

    They brought this on themselves. Like MatttheHabsFan said this will not be a quick fix like the Flyers.
    We are not talking about a team that has invested in it’s foundation and just hit a bad year.

    This thing has been rotting for 3-4 years. They have never invested in youth and most of their success through the early 2000s was bought through Free Agency. They continually patched their holes with Free Agents and did a superb job of fooling the fans into believing they were contenders. They never were.

    All they have to offer in their youth is Antropov, Ponikoravsky, Coliacovo, Steen, Stajan and Wellwood.
    They have locked up their cap with terrible salaries AND no trade clauses.

    Pogge, the Canadian Media Golden Boy from 2 years has been blocked by Toskala and Raycroft. Their is no plan in Leafland.

    We know from experience how long it takes to rebuild. THe Habs started their rebuild in 2001 and are just beginning to show signs of a REAL contender 7 years later.

    The Leafs need to avoid what the Habs did in 2001. They fired the coach and the burst from that cost them a shot at Kovalchuk. WE all know the Leafs are still going to take a shot at stopping the bleeding and go on a run to screw their shot at Stamkos. If they want to turn it around, they should jettison every player they can and take their shot at Stamkos and Tavares.

    As far as feeling sorry for them. I am LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF THIS.

    As far as hiring Gilmour or Healey ….PLEEEASE DO THIS Mr. Peddie. It would make my decade!

  39. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Based on what you’re saying the asking price for Sundin to Montreal would be for example;
    Komisarek, Halak, S. Kost, 1st ’08 and say a 2nd in ’08?
    Agreed…No thanks

  40. 24 Cups says:

    Agreed JT. Most trade dealine deals rarely work out the way the buyer originally intended and the price has been very steep since the lockout. I think the Lousy Leafs also have to remember that aside from Sundin, the rest of the high priced, long term contract players may not bring much back in return. I really wonder what the market value is on McCabe, Kubina, Raycroft, Blake, Gill, Bell etc. Some teams will show interest in Tucker but his play has been pretty inconsistent all year.

    The Original 24 Cups

  41. BrentPEI says:

    My only point of departure from Mike’s words is the notion that Scott Bowman can even contemplate loading a 10th Cup ring on his hands by virtue of affiliating himself with the Leafs.

    If Scotty’s goal is to get another ring, there are 29 other NHL teams who are more poised for success than the Leafs in his lifetime, and in saying that I wish Scotty many more decades of health and happiness.

    I’m one of those fairly mean-spirited Habs fans who wouldn’t shed a tear if the Leafs never won another game; let alone another Cup.

    I’m not proud of that trait, but I anticipate I will not be cured of it before the Leaf’s hoist the mug for the 13th time. With any luck, I’ll have turned to dust long before that.

  42. 24 Cups says:

    It was stated in the Toronto press today that Tanenbaum was traveling outside Canada this week so I don’t know if that has any bearing on the decision making process. Gilmour? That’s pretty funny, he would get eaten alive by the other GM’s. Why not try Clark? He’s either back on the farm or cleaning golf clubs at Clublink. I love Toronto – they think these two guys are on a par with people like Gainey, Burke, Wilson, Holland, and Lamoriello.

    Assuming there is a change, I wondered who the Habs might want to pick off the Lousy Leaf roster in terms of a February trade. I would think that a new GM wouldn’t trade anyone under the age of 25 so the few prospects they have would stay. Cap restrictions would be another issue. The only player that I thought might be interesting would be Ponikarovsky. He’s got size and speed and plays both ways. He likes to park himself in front of the net and isn’t afraid to go into the corners. I wouldn’t call him a gifted scorer and he certainly doesn’t have soft hands. It’s kind of difficult to know how good he really is because he gets so much ice time with Sundin. He may not be as valuable on a third line. His cap hit is reasonable. We already have Higgins, Andrei K, and Lats on the left side so I’m not even sure there’s a need for Pony. Other than that, I can’t see much on the Leafs for us. I feel we need a solid 4th defenseman right now but Kubina’s contract would choke a horse. Gill is big but he’s dead slow, immobile, and takes dumb penalities.

    It won’t be easy turning the Leafs around. They’re really not a new era protype NHL team.

    The Original 24 Cups

  43. keepthefaith says:

    As a die hard habs fan i enjoy the leafs losing very much. However, that being said i would like to see all canadian teams in the playoffs to give us at least a chance of bringing the cup back to canada, plus who wouldn’t love to see montreal-toronto for a seven game series?

  44. J.T. says:

    I feel sorry for the situation in Toronto because I regret the futile struggles of a once-proud Original Six franchise…in the same way I regretted the disaster that Chicago became in recent years. It’s a sad commentary on the state of the NHL when only two of the league’s six most venerable franchises figure in the playoff picture. I also feel sorry for the classy Toronto fans (yes, there are some!) who feel just like we did during the worst of the Houle years.

    At the same time, the cocky Toronto fans who love to gloat about nothing and who phone to laugh every time the leafs beat the Habs are getting what they deserve. As are the greedy owners and the lousy management. If JFJ had any sense, he’d resign with dignity rather than wait to get turfed. And Scotty Bowman can take the job if he wants, but he’s no great shakes as a GM. World-class, legendary coach, yes…but not in the same league as a GM. Plus, it’s going to take more years than Bowman probably wants to dedicate to the job to really build a strong foundation and turn a condemned building into something livable again.

    I know a lot of pundits are raving about the bonanza Sundin could bring in a deadline deal, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. He may be traded, sure…but whether he’ll bring the motherlode in a trade isn’t guaranteed. GMs likely learned something from last year with all the crazy deadline deals (Gorges AND a first for Rivet, anyone?!)

    Two lessons certainly became clear…first that renting a player for high prices including good picks and prospects doesn’t guarantee you a Cup, or even a ticket out of the first round. Second, sending a big package of picks and players to a seller at the deadline means that seller comes back strong to bite you in the butt with your own goods. (Hey, Philly!) So I doubt Eastern conference teams are going to be falling all over themselves to send a good many rebuilding blocks to the leafs in order to rent Sundin for a couple of months. Maybe some team in the west that’s rich in youth and close to a Cup, like San Jose, might be willing to sacrifice the hunk of their own future it would take to get Sundin in the hope of winning now. But really, there aren’t too many teams that are strong enough to afford Sundin’s price AND close enough to winning that renting him will make a difference.

    I thought about the Sundin situation a couple of weeks ago when the leafs really started tanking, and I got excited thinking about what he could do for OUR team. He could very well make the difference in gaining a round or two in the playoffs. But the cost of him…think one of Higgins, Pleks or Komisarek, plus a goaltender or goaltending prospect, plus another strong prospect like S.Kostitsyn or D’Agostini, plus the Habs first round pick and another pick as well. Considering that price, and the likelihood of Sundin re-signing with Toronto next year or simply quitting, and the fact that Sundin could help the team advance in the playoffs without guaranteeing a Cup…and the cost is too much. I expect there might be a lot of GMs who feel the same way.

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