Gainey, Fergy Jr.: A tale of two GMS

David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail has this interesting look at the situations of Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. compared to his counterpart in Montreal, Bob Gainey. Not a pretty picture in the Queen City…


  1. Woah_Dana says:

    Sadly I’ll miss part of the game because I’m working until 8pm but I’ll be all eyes over here on the forums. I’m gonna try to get a stream online.

    I have faith in this one. Tomorrow night, we make it very apparent that it’s winter – good Canadien hockey with dead ‘leafs’ everywhere….

    GO HABS!

  2. Woah_Dana says:

    Lol.. uhh.. fajita chivichunga?
    I got nothin.

    GO HABS!

  3. joel says:

    great article, but it failed to mention 3 other factors that Gainey has to deal with that JFJ does not and that is politics, language and taxation. If JFJ had those hurdles i just wonder how much of a worse situation the Leafs would be in.

  4. showey47 says:

    Ah yes, the closing the eyes and shaking the fist thing. I wonder if he knows how dumb he looks. But i do prefer the ” i have the pin but who has the grenade?” look he has when the laffs are getting smoked. Here’s to hoping he is holding the pin on tuesday night.

  5. El Guapo says:

    Gainey es muy macho, Ferguson no es bueno, Dana es woah!

  6. Woah_Dana says:

    Haha, or better yet on the rare occassion that the Laffs do win & the camera pans on Fergy, it’s the same reaction every time. He closes his eyes & does that fist shake.. & you can just tell he isn’t thinking “Yes, we won! I love my team!” but is thinking “Yes, my job might be safe for another week!”

    GO HABS!

  7. showey47 says:

    Woah dana, i totally agree. When the camera pans on him, usually after a laff blunder he looks like he is about ready to “off” himself.

  8. Woah_Dana says:

    GO HABS!

  9. Woah_Dana says:

    I enjoyed this article. Thanks for posting.

    You know, I was just thinking the other day – when I see a Leafs game & the camera pans over to Ferguson, the first question that crosses my mind is.. “Does that man even like hockey??” How can you put everything you’ve got into a job like this if the passion isn’t there? He totally lacks that spark.
    It takes time and careful craftwork to build a solid team, as Gainey knows & as we’ve seen with our own boys.

    I think Ferguson just looks at names & $$ & hopes for the best.

    But I don’t know much about hockey management so, eh :)

    GO HABS!

  10. habitual says:

    Statement in the Globe article:

    “They both have mediocre current situations,” said one NHL executive, who wished to remain anonymous.”

    Oh, really? Even with the loss to the Senators today the Habs have 21 points and there are about 25 other teams behind them. This is mediocrity?

    And, the depth of the farm system and prospects are widely acknowledged as amongst the best in the league. I guess the reason the NHL executive who made that comment wants to remain anonymous is that he doesn’t want to be laughed out of his job.

    Quibbles with the rating of Scout B: He rates the resigning of Markov as 2.5, Hamrlyk as a 1.0, and Ryder as a 4.0. Wonder if Scout B is rated to anonymous NHL exec.

  11. yathehabsrule says:

    I figure the “unamed” execs/scouts quoted in the article are from the Leafs organization.

    Funny with the Leafs being the #1 financial NHL team according to Forbes, ownership clearly has no sense of how to actually run a “hockey team”….Why?

    This article might answer that question:

  12. RetroMikey says:

    Nice post Dave! Went for breakfast this morning and picked up the Globe and Mail sport section on the rack to read this interesting article. Credit has to go to Andre Savard also. Will keep this article with me at the office to show all my co-workers who are Maple Laffs supporters and shut them up for awhile. :)

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  13. showey47 says:

    Just another example of how our organization is light years ahead of the laffs. We are looking at the big picture of being competitive long term and developing chemistry from within, while the laffs are short sighted and tunnel visioned and just throwing away draft picks and money hoping for a winner.

  14. HabsProf says:

    Interesting article. I am not sure I like their rating methodology, but it isn’t a bad first cut approximation (most journalists can’t do math anyway).

    We, of course, love to armchair quarterback. It’s fun. And we do so even though we know, in our heart of hearts, that Bob Gainey’s little finger knows more hockey than we ever will.

    The toughest part is the fact that you can only evaluate a GM over the long term. For example, most of us last summer thought Bob overpaid for Hamrlik. Now, we love the guy (which doesn’t mean we didn’t overpay him anyway). But he signed a four year contract. In a couple of years, if his play deteriorates, will we all be complaining?

    Another example: I thought (and still think, though I am less sure) that Price should have started the season in Hamilton with Halak up here. Price is looking good, but we won’t know for several years if he winds up being as great as we all hope/expect he will be.

    And of course, luck is a bigger factor than we like to admit. For example, most people claim Gainey’s best move was Garon for Huet and Bonk. I suspect that he thought Bonk would be the big payoff of the trade. Certainly all the reports at the time, including Bob’s discussion, spoke primarily of the “big center” we had finally corralled. Huet was an afterthought, expected to replace Garon as a backup. Yet Bonk was a disaster and Huet a surprise. I doubt that is what Bob thought he was getting.

    I think the thing that has fueled the criticism of Gainey is that his mistakes seem obvious, and not just in retrospect. All of the below shocked me at the time.

    Ribiero for Niniimaa. I thought that was bad before Ribs did so well. Looks even worse now. It is not that I thought we should have kept him. It is that I thought we could have gotten more. The guy was our leading scorer and was young. For that we got a spare part defenseman who actually cost us MORE in salary? Why couldn’t we have traded Ribs to the then-offensively starved Flames? They always seemed an obvious location for Mike.

    Losing Hainsey. I like Streit, but we could have sent him down to the minors instead of Ron. Hainsey had a good camp. So did Streit. They decided to send Hainsey down anyway. The guy had to clear waivers down and up if we recalled, so sending him down was tantamount to saying we would never call him up again. Streit, meanwhile, did not have to clearn waivers and further said he almost expected to get sent down to spend some time acclimating to the North American game. They guy expected it and seemed to have a good attitude about it. In other words, we could have had both players. It was not an either/or situation.

    Let’s not forget that Streit spent a lot of time on the bench at the beginning and ultimately played more games at forward last season. He could have spend time in the minors playing and adjusting, then received a call up. Instead, with another injury, Bob risked a call up for Hainsey with predictable results.

    And of course, Beauchemain. I remember hearing the buzz that he looked like a better prospect then Hainsey. And then we just let him go, without finding some way to retain him.

    Let me be clear – I am a Gainey fan and I believe he is doing a good job overall. No GM (not even Sam Pollock) is flawless. And as I pointed out, only more time will allow us to really judge his success.

  15. Lee Hayes says:

    Great insight HabsProf, I tend to overlook some of the errors above. The reason? The Theo trade, one of the quickest and cleanest GM corrections of all time.
    I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    Go Habs Go

  16. Cable Guy says:

    Great article. Thank god Gainey didn’t end up in Leaf land, they would actually have a good team by now.

  17. Naila Jinnah says:

    Hmmm… a very interesting read. I wonder how the strategies these two used compare to other GMs across the league. I would say that teams that draft well end up being more successful than teams that trade draft picks for seasoned vets… But being a rookie, I can’t think of any examples to help support my hypothesis…

  18. sanj91 says:

    Gainey is a turn-around GM….he can take your franchise and use his scouting team and draft some unbelievable players…..he’s a smart GM….but I believe that in a couple of years, once we have a very solid prospect pool, that we need a GM like Ferguson to get us a cup….Ferguson will make thos elast-minute trades before the playoffs to get us those vital, short-term players that we need…of course I would much rather have Gainey as our Gm even then, but I doubt that he can pull off trades of that caliber….

  19. Bill H says:

    I absolutely agree with A Habs Fan. To trade prospects and high picks for vets up until now would have been selling out our future for the chance to win a series on the road to getting bumped out by far superior teams. But Gainey has shown in Dallas that he will bring in vets to strengthen a team for a realistic run at the cup. What will be interesting to see is how he views our chances this year. Will he trade Ryder and Huet, 2 UFAs at the end of the year, for prospects? Or will he keep them in the hopes that they take us deep into the playoffs? Letting Souray walk looks like a smart move now, but if our power play was struggling and Souray was banging them in from the point in Edmonton, it would be another story.

  20. moeman says:

    Bob’s patience is a virtue. It was very sad to see Ken Dryden work for the other team (the leaf not the Libs). I for one am very happy with the progression under Bob’s reign. Steady and upward as she goes. Also, a surprisingly balanced article for a leaf lover shoalts. FWIW the Globe should stop calling itself a national paper.

    ~ have a powerful day ~

  21. the_larry says:

    VERY fascinating article. What a relief that Gainey ended up in Montreal instead of Toronto. Just imagine how much different things would be right now if WE had Ferguson and Gainey was in Leaf Land…..:S not fun.

  22. Lee Hayes says:

    Thank you for saving me the time!

    Go Habs Go

  23. HabsProf says:


    Yes, cleaning Theodore was a good move.

    At the time, I thought Theo might bounce back with the Avs. He seemed to be in a situation where he could only do so away from Montreal. I still thought it was a good deal for Montreal because I always thought Theo was only spectacular for that one season (and really only for the last half of the season). Even if he bounced back to the form of a legitimate number 1, I thought he was overpriced. Avs, obviously, disagreed.

    Abby was cheaper and I think we were hoping that the inconsistency he had displayed the previous season (which is why the Avs were willing to move him) was over. It wasn’t. Abby was brilliant at the beginning of last season (most of us conveniently forget this), then bad at the end (we love to remember this). That inconsistency proved his undoing. In the end, Abby just isn’t good enough to be a starter. The problem is that the number one thing a coach and GM wants out of his backup is consistency. The backup doesn’t have to win/steal the game, but he can’t stink the joint out either. At least not if he is a veteran backup.

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