Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Mess In Leaf Land!

By Cory Cyr

Everybody in Toronto is in a panic. The leafs are once again losing and after 40 years without a cup we're all up in arms. Blame whoever you want but the bottom line is that this team has not had had a solid foundation to build on for years. Like any good organization building a winner starts from the top and filters down. When was the last time the leafs had strong leadership? Pat Quinn was certainly a good leader but his hands were tied to some extent. As were Cliff Fletcher's. No folks, we need to look to the top and start with ownership.

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The teacher's pension board owns this team. How many other teams in the NHL are owned by a large group? Of course there are many markets with investment groups and "silent partners". The difference here is the profitability factor. Everyone in business wants to be profitable but you can't dismiss the fact that it is of greater importance for a group of pension stakeholders. Imagine... the Leafs lose money, the pensions drop and the teacher's can't retire. With the Toronto marketplace that will likely never happen. And with the pension group owning this team out of greed and a lack of respect for heritage don't expect a cup anytime soon. What Toronto needs is a single owner or a group with one person in charge and focused on winning.

Focused on winning? What a concept! Could you imagine if the Leafs had the same commitment Ottawa has or New Jersey or Detroit. Well, whether they admit it or not Peddie and Tanenbaum are the most two out of focus hockey execs that exist. One's Yin the other's Yang. While one says "were not doing this" the other is doing the exact opposite. Success comes from leadership and leadership demands alignment and consistency. How is the rest of the organization suppose to know what's going on if these two clowns don't know what's up and what's down? To Tanenbaum's credit he does offer more in terms of wanting to win and hockey knowledge but being a minority shareholder the final say is always left to Peddie. Why keep these guys? or moreover, why keep Peddie? Obviously he turns profit and that's what the board wants but let's get real. The Maple Leafs are as close to a sure shot ROI as any product can possibly be. Look at Harold Ballard. This guy ripped fans off for years and still racked in the cash. Commitment to winning is clearly the last thing on the Pension Boards mind.

John Ferguson Jr.? What else needs to be said. He's made some brutal mistakes. Overpaying, no-trade clause, trading prospects, draft picks... the list goes on and on. Clearly this guy wasn't ready for prime time when our friend Peddie brought him in. Who's fault is it? Both, of course. Accountability and ownership has not been a strong point for either and yes if your leaders aren't accountable do you think everyone else down the food chain will be? I do have some empathy for Ferguson. I mean, if my boss continually ran me thru the media the way Peddie has with Ferguson I would probably lose my marbles. That's not to say that Peddie isn't right about Ferguson's shortcomings it's just that some things should be left behind closed doors. But Peddie needs a scapegoat and someone to take responsibility. He's not so we know who is. A true leader will always have the backs of their team no matter what the circumstances are. Again, Peddie demonstrates nothing in the leadership department. When follower's witness such behaviour they feel it's acceptable and follower's will follow.

Paul Maurice? Give him a chance. You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit. From day one he's been working with limited talent trying to make the best of it. I think he has a true desire to win... one of the few in the organization.

At the end of the day changing GM's and coaches will not work in saving the Leafs. They need to start at the top and work down. Let's get a new owner, CEO and President with knowledge and passion about hockey in Toronto. Let the President hire a GM that's ready for prime time and let the GM deal with the day-to-day hockey operations and make the decisions without interference. A patchwork job will not work here folks. This is going to be an extremely long process. http://leafpost.blogspot.com

c. 2007 leafpost

Leaf Fan Spot http://leafpost.blogspot.com

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