50

R is for Revolution

First you have the revolution. Then you have the counter-revolution. And then you win.

As I wrote back then:

It is only a matter of time before the Computer Boys and Big Corsi are running the show. Until then, all we can do is sit back, grab another bag of popcorn and wait for the sequel. Maybe we can call it 200: Fall of an Empire.

Sure enough, Big Corsi has once again seized the means of prediction. Only this time, the revolution will be televised.

At 4:00 on Saturday afternoons. It is the Leafs, after all.

Anyway, the thing about successful revolutions is that when they happen, they happen all at once and they are far-reaching and comprehensive across the upper tiers of power. And that’s exactly what has transpired in Toronto over the last couple of weeks.

That being said, most revolutions aren’t usually publicly announced years in advance. But the so-called Shanaplan has been out there for all to see since early in Shanhan’s tenure. Even Lamoriello himself knew what was coming when he was first hired:

Lamoriello said Dubas represents the team’s front office future.

“I think he’s a young fellow who has tremendous abilities,” he said. “If he doesn’t become general manager here — I’m not going to be here forever — it’s his fault.”

Despite the fact Lamoriello was always intended to be nothing more than a caretaker GM, mentoring Dubas and allowing him to make the personal connections necessary to make it as an executive in the NHL, the hockey man did not go down without a fight.

But then, they never do.

So over the last few weeks we have seen a variety of efforts to prevent, divert, derail, undermine, subvert, and even co-opt the transformation going on in Toronto.

It’s like the hockey equivalent of the five stages of grief.

First there was denial, or at least efforts to prevent it from even happening. As soon as the Leafs’ season ended, and it became clear the Leafs had a decision to make in terms of extending noted hockey man, Lou Lamoriello’s tenure as GM of the Maple Leafs, the old boys network in the media went into overdrive.

The first stage was leaks to the press linking Lamoriello to the Islanders. First you had Kypreos on Toronto radio:

While online, there was Eliotte Friedman musing aloud in 31 Thoughts:

This is me thinking out loud, but I’d be curious to see if the Islanders ask to speak to Lamoriello should Toronto not keep him in the same position. Son Chris is already there, and Lamoriello has a good relationship with GM Garth Snow. There’s some logic to it.

And then John Shannon came over the top rope:

I found it quite interesting that these guys independently came up with the possibility of Lamoriello going to the Islanders on the same day. I mean, Kypreos said it on air before 31 Thoughts went up, and presumably Friedman had to have that in for editing before Kypreos was on the radio. And then there’s Shannon, hinting that he was talking to the Islanders the previous night about this whole thing.

But hey, maybe it’s just coincidence and they talked about it beforehand. Not sure insiders typically share that kind of info before making it public, but I’m almost willing to give it a pass.

Almost.

Because the other option, is that this was orchestrated, and but the opening salvo in a PR battle to raise the pressure on Shanahan and Leafs to keep Lamoriello on as GM.

And when the prize is ostensibly the most sought after hockey role in the NHL, I wouldn’t put it past anyone to pull out all the stops to get keep it.

If this was the opening salvo, the media hand-wringing over a feud brewing between Mike Babcock and Auston Matthews was the casus belli. And coincidentally enough, that tempest in a teacup was started on the very same day by *checks notes* Nick Kypreos:

Nick Kypreos explains to Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup that somewhere down the stretch, Mike Babcock lost Auston Matthews, he went from his go-to guy, to someone he couldn’t trust as much.

And you really know an insider story is planted when it appears in two competing networks nearly simultaneously:

And what does this have to do with keeping Lamoriello on as GM? Because you can’t rely on a green-behind-ears whiz kid and his spreadsheets to mediate a dispute between your franchise player and one of the most intense coaches in hockey. No, you need a grizzled hockey man to do that.

Again, you can chalk this up to unrelated circumstances, but at some point you’re just another coincidence theorist:

Whatever the reason behind the full court press to keep Lamoriello on as GM, Shanahan stuck to his guns and his plan:

And and as soon as the decision to bump Lamoriello upstairs was announced, things escalated quickly:

Lou Lamoriello won’t come right out and say he’s angry about being pushed aside as general manager of the Maple Leafs.

So I’ll say it for him.

He’s angry, he’s upset, he’s frustrated and he doesn’t understand or accept the logic Brendan Shanahan has applied in kicking him to a consultant’s curb with the hockey club.

But he won’t say a word about it. Not for public consumption. Not for a newspaper or a television camera. Not even to a close friend.

I mean, I don’t really know what to say about this other than either he clearly did say this to a newspaper guy, or if not, then the newspaper guy is clearly projecting his own feelings. Either way, the hockey establishment was in stage two: anger.

But outside that obvious outbust from Simmons, the rest of this anger was more passive aggressive in nature and largely revolved around undermining Kyle Dubas. The battle for the top hockey job in hockey was on.

Some were subtle:

If the baton is passed to Dubas, there will be questions. We know he’s young, we know he’s bright, but what we don’t know is, can he do the job? In sports, you don’t find that out until it’s decision time.

And some were not:

That one was especially egregious, and Campbell doubled down on it in spectacularly bad way when called on it:

The worst part is that Dave Mayville was fired as GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds a full ten years before Dubas was there. But that’s how far the traditional hockey media was willing to go to undermine Dubas.

The attacks on Dubas quickly transitioned to threats that Mark Hunter would leave if Dubas got the GM job (let’s call this the bargaining phase). Sometimes, they did both:

“A lot of executives still believe that Kyle Dubas pales in comparison to the years of experience and multiple Memorials Cups [of Hunter],” Kypreos said. “The issue for [team president] Brendan Shanahan going forward is that if he decides to go with Kyle Dubas, he runs the risk of losing Mark Hunter, who would have a tough time answering to Dubas.”

You’ll notice there seem to be a lot of references to unnamed hockey men that unanimously think Hunter is the better option. Weird since it is Dubas who has been courted by numerous teams around the league, not Hunter. So you kind of need to ask yourself, just how “close” to Hunter is the “source” that gave Simmons this hot take:

A source close to Hunter said if Dubas is named GM, the car you hear on the 401 West will be Hunter heading home to London within minutes.

I could go on, here’s Glenn Healy sounding the alarm:

The poison pill is, Hunter didn’t come here to be a glorified scout. That’s your problem — you’re going to lose him.

You get the point. The hockey establishment was doing everything it could to keep a hockey man at the top of the league’s flagship franchise.

Alas, it was not to be.

Shanahan stuck to the Shanaplan, and the revolutionaries have seized control in Toronto.

The hockey media, however, seems rather depressed:

For the four years Brendan Shanahan has been in charge of the Maple Leafs, there has never been reason to doubt him or his nicknamed Shanaplan.

There is now.

When the hockey dust cleared early Tuesday morning and what was rumoured became unfortunate fact — Lou Lamoriello is now in charge of the New York Islanders, assistant general manager Mark Hunter has left the Maple Leafs mid-contract — the Leafs’ deep and strong front office had too many empty chairs and a rookie general manager calling the shots.

This may be the best or worst thing to happen to Kyle Dubas.

He can now surround himself with his people, his hires and appointments, build the front office the way in which he wants the front office to operate. Or, as one veteran hockey man told me on Tuesday: “He’d better know what he’s doing here.”

I wonder who that “veteran hockey man” might be…

That aside, I’m not sure Toronto’s hockey media will ever get past stage four and on to acceptance.

But enough about the entrenched interests trying to protect the status quo. Shanahan and Dubas have marched right over the opposition and now is when things get interesting.

As I said off the top, successful revolutions ensure they control all the levers of power. And make no mistake, this is a revolution. The hockey men have lost control of the NHL’s most valuable franchise.

And Dubas has so far done everything right in terms of building a management team that can withstand the inevitable challenges ahead. Lamoriello may have left on his own, but it was Dubas that decided it was better for Hunter to leave sooner rather than later. With those two out of the picture, he has been free to hire his own top lieutenants.

He started by promoting Brandon Pridham from Assistant to the General Manager to a full Assistant GM role, where he will continue to be in charge of contracts and managing cap space. And Thursday, Dubas brought in Laurence Gilman to take his old AGM role, managing development and player personnel. This is just the kind of hire Dubas needed. Not only is Gilman a progressive thinker about how to put together hockey teams, he has been around the league long enough that he can pass for a hockey man:

Perhaps the hockey media has reached the acceptance stage after all. The Gilman hire was roundly praised by new and old hockey media alike:

By letting Dubas not only start with a clean slate, but fill key positions with people who are open to structured, data-driven approaches to analysis and decision-making, Shanahan has helped to set his management team up for success. This is probably the most important thing to take away from the short-lived Computer Boy revolution in Florida. They never did have full control of the franchise. Tom Rowe was a hockey man in nerd’s clothing. You need look no further than the decisions he made as the coach, and the way he spoke about players and deployment:

We’ll see how things turn out in Toronto, but the signs so far are encouraging that this time, a balanced approach that brings together hockey knowledge and experience with analysis and data-driven decision processes might just stick.

While it’s true that they say the early bird gets the worm, it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.


RECENT GRAPHIC COMMENTS

  • After reading this article I have never hated the Maple Leafs more. I imagine Babcock and his lawyer reviewing his contract looking for an exit strategy. Shanahan has always been an arrogant prick, Lou and Hunter have both done well in Toronto and in previous jobs. Why wouldn’t you expect angst among leaf fans after losing proven managers and now success depends on a young inexperienced GM and those he hires. Gilman has his talents but player development and drafting aren’t among them. The mainsteam hockey media are all leaf fans.

    This delusion the author has of a conspiracy to keep Lou in Toronto is moronic and battle lines between the Luddites and the Enlightened doesn’t actually exist. These are only stereotypes the author perpetuates to suite his own view or the world. Almost every GM understands how important analytics are in building a team. Some are better at using them than others.

    The self righteous arrogance of this author make me want to cheer against everyone he champions as one of the enlightened.

  • “P” is for Petty.

    Characterizing Ken Campbell and Steve Simmons as “old school” hockey journalists instead of just weak reporters looking to stir up controversy and terrified of losing ever important access is disingenuous. Botchford is a mirror example in Vancouver. Kypreios was touting (on the hot-stove after the Leafs were eliminated) that Hunter was the next GM of the Leafs and it was a done deal (Friedman said nothing with that look saying “you just went over a cliff, and hanging to that last branch and, well, I not going to cut the branch, but I ain’t help you back either”). This has to do with access.

    Similar to Benning’s group in Vancouver, when personnel change, those that had access and not longer have their guy will attack the new group.

    Dubas will be under the microscope and hammered by the Toronto media for perceived (or real) mis-steps. It will be unfair a lot of the time.

    I am happy for Gilman. He seems by all accounts, and certainly by how he conducts himself in public, and good guy. He had success and failure in Vancouver. But I wish him success.

    One last note: I thought the previous reason touted by petbugs for Florida’s computer-boys failure in the 2016-17 was injuries and bad luck……now apparently is was a “hockey man” Tom Rowe. Hmmm. And here we though it was incompetence and inexperience in running a professional organization. Who knew?

  • I’ve spent a lot of time on farms and I have seen some really big steaming piles of crap….. this self righteous ‘dic-pic’ of an article is right up there.
    Wow….

  • There has never been “grizzled veterans who ignore statistics.” Doesn’t exist. All hockey men pay attention to statistics to some extent. Nor are there pure quants who pay no mind to what they see on the ice.

    There’s only the matter of what type and to what extent that someone uses statistics. I think the smart ones exploit advanced statistics but don’t fall in love with them — which likely describes most NHL managers, including Benning.

  • To be fair to Lamoriello, he clearly wasn’t trying too hard to stand in the way of the “Revolution”. And if Gilman is what passes for a hockey insider approved assistant these days, then the computer boys have already won. Gilman played a big role in consulting for the Stanley Cup finalist Knights (whose ascendancy does nothing but spit on the so-called wisdom of the old boys cabal), and before that was known as consigliere to Mike Gillis during his tenure as GM of the Canucks, himself one of the all-time outsiders and applecart upsetters ever hired into such a position.

    • whose ascendancy does nothing but spit on the so-called wisdom of the old boys cabal

      Vegas is run by the quintessential “hockey men”. George McPhee was absolutely ridiculed by the author of this post as a classic example of such an individual. The poster boy for Florida’s “computer-boys” incompetence is their coach! The only “spit” that is occurring here is used to shine and enhance their reputation.

      • Las Vegas is the living embodiment of the fact that most of the hockey men don’t know what they’re doing. Dale Tallon, the poster boy for Florida’s post-computer boy incompetence, traded them 1/3 of their top line in order to entice them to draft another 1/3 of it. McPhee has plainly embraced a “moneyball” approach to a difficult situation and made the most of it, and ridicule of him for what he was has no bearing on what he has since done. For a team to enter the league, build itself on its predecessors’ castoffs or dispensable talent, and then run roughshod over the best efforts of the men who collectively agreed to the expansion rules and worked overtime to ensure that the Knights were able to poach as little value from them as possible, is a straight up spit in the face of the NHL GMs, “hockey men” most if not all. No two ways about that.

        • To call Tallon incompetent is ahistorical. Yes, he made bad decisions in the expansion draft but McPhee gamed everyone. Tallon assembled the core of the Blackhawks that won 3 Stanley Cups and turned Florida into a 100 pt team until Tom Rowe happened. By the way, you forgot to mention McPhee was the guy that traded Forsberg for Erat (one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history?).

          • I am not some kind of McPhee acolyte, nor do I think Tallon is incompetent to the core. I am just referring to the recent facts: McPhee did well across the board in building the Knights, and Tallon screwed up big time, and may have done so as part of a misguided and deliberate rebuff of the eggheads. How else to explain being so willing to part with Marchessault?

            There’s really just one salient point here: the “hockey men” designed the expansion draft trying to preserve their own interests as much as possible, then the “hockey men” did their darnedest to keep Las Vegas from getting anyone they valued in the process. Las Vegas turned around and kicked all of their butts on the playing field that they collectively designed. That makes them all look really stupid, I don’t see any other way of looking at it.

          • My point is just exactly that: if this was the most generous draft of all time (I agree), then that means 30 other GM’s are doing a lousy job of their own jobs, which are to help themselves win, not Vegas. For an expansion team stuck with selecting from the “bottom half” of all rosters to beat out the top ends of all of those rosters shows that there are huge limitations in the evaluations on those roster performed by those men.

            The price of an expansion franchise is not associated with the immediate projection of on ice success. It is based on the hard numbers. According to Forbes, the average franchise value has more than quadrupled since the last round of expansion (not accounting for inflation, but neither did your accounting of the fees paid). The owners rightly recognize that a team now is worth way more than one was then. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have had to build their first successful iteration from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for the plucky hardworking players and the people of Las Vegas (felt very well treated when I went to see the Canucks there, for example). But that a team that should have been set up to fail at first, and who all the pundits thought would be historically bad, instead is in the Finals suggests that a lot of people along the way didn’t know what they were doing. That’s what I was getting at.

          • I have to totally disagree with your assessment of the expansion draft process. The “hockey men” designed the most generous draft of all time! In 1991, the expansion draft allowed incumbent teams to protect their entire roster (16 skaters and 2 goaltenders). Vegas was able to raid the bottom half of every roster – no other NHL expansion team had this kind of chance to be competitive out of the gate.

            If anything, the salient point to take is that when you pay $500 million in expansion fees, you better negotiate better terms and build the best team possible (on and off the ice). Don’t forget how little other teams paid:

            1991 ($45M) – San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay
            1993 ($50M) – Florida, Anaheim
            1998-2000 ($80M) – Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Columbus
            2017 ($500M) – Vegas

          • I get what your saying about the other GM’s doing a bad job at the draft. It’s been said that we Canuck fans overvalue our own players, glad to see that it’s not just isolated to us and extends to even the industry guys.

          • … It’s called an expansion draft, but this was not an expansion draft. Obviously, it was called an expansion draft in 2001 when Minnesota and Columbus selected players between them. This was, as I refer to it, an asset harvest event because Vegas was not competing with another franchise and had an ability to map out exactly what they wanted to harvest and get from the other 30 teams.”

            – Laurence Gilman on the Golden Knights’ surprise season

  • R is also for religion, as in the kind who promotes a worldview through a carefully filtered lens. C’mon stats guys, quit spouting the agenda. Data is an important part of informing decisions, but its not the be all and end all. In TO’s case, data, experienced hockey minds (Lamorello, Hunter and Babcock), good decisions and some luck getting the #1 overall pick and drafting Matthews have a bigger role than a narrow focus on data. There’s plenty of tire-fires around the league where data-driven decisions were key drivers (and yes, this includes Arizona, Florida and others) ….

    • I’m not sure I understand your argument. To my knowledge, no one is saying only use data; rather, don’t ignore it because you are a grizzled, experienced, hockey man.

      Also, there are plenty of tire fires around the league where data was ignored (Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, and others)…

      • You’re implying that some of the top 31 GM’s ignore data. They simply wouldn’t be there if they ignored data as a decision-making tool. Its the underlying theme of the article that’s a bit much. You guys can do better than that.

        Would be interested to see an unbiased analysis of those GM’s who are known to rely on heavily on data as a decision-making tool, analyze their decisions (good and bad), the data that might have been used to support these decisions and how the data showing the change in team results (positively or negatively). Not just the stories that support the prevailing narrative please ….

      • Well, the Canucks at least (I won’t speak for Edm or Mtl as I don’t know) have repeatedly said that they do consider data analysis in their decision making, and have for years. I believe they have at least one staff member whose job this is, so I don’t understand your argument. No team that I am aware of turns up their nose at the tools available. But it’s also not necessary to eliminate all “hockey-men” from the decision-making process either, I think a balance is likely optimal.

    • A little too much self-congratulation for sure. An interesting thought experiment is to ask if the Leafs would be a better team if they had selected Werenski or Hanifin instead of Marner. They would certainly be a more balanced team with a stud defenceman. But the data boys drove them to Marner. Only time will tell of course as in all things.

  • Although Dubas is seen as an analytics guy, it’s clear he doesn’t consider them the be-all and end-all of player assessment. He reportedly watches an enormous amount of hockey video, suggesting he knows full well that statistics never tell the whole story.

    • “He reportedly watches an enourmous amount of hockey video”

      ……..uhhh I’m no analytics expert but how do you think all those ‘fancy stats’ are obtained? It’s by people who are watching the game a lot more closely than the regular consumer and documenting what is actually occurring, whether that’s shot attempts, zone-exits etc.

      As was stated on a article on this site a while back, analytics are just info. Every team uses them to some degree (some more than others) and nobody thinks they’re the “be all and end all.” That’s just a narrative that’s been pushed now that they’ve gone mainstream.

      • You think Dubas is collecting stats when watching those videos?

        I don’t think so. The NHL and other leagues have stats keepers to do that. It’s far too big of a job for one person, even when assessing a single player.

        • I realize he said not tracking stats himself but just pointing out how off the “watch the game” crowd is when demeaning analytics people. They are doing more watching than all of us combined.

          • I realize he said not tracking stats himself but just pointing out how off the “watch the game” crowd is when demeaning analytics people.

            The quants and the “watch the game” crowds both demean and misrepresent the other side. This article is a fine example.

            My very point, which you seemed to agree and not agree with at the same time, is that managers are not picking sides, but doing both.

          • I agree people are too often dismissive of what stats indicate. On the other hand there are numerous examples of the misuse of stats, usually to drive an agenda. A recent example on this site is drawing the conclusion the Sedins had terrible +/- results just because of bad luck.Watching the games it was clear there was more to it than just bad luck. There were just enough stats evaluated to arrive at the desired conclusion. The “watch the games” criticism of the analytics types is more often about the selective use of stats to drive an agenda than the analytics themselves.

          • OK, but what are they watching for? Events, they have no stat for the sum of the whole. As I understand it, and this is second-hand, Washington and Vegas are poor possession teams, one of the stats that applies to the entire team and is much-ballyhooed as critical to success.

            I have to think he’s watching the game, the way most of us do, albeit with a far more experienced eye that captures nuances we miss. I am with K Marmot in my belief that he’s not tracking stats….

          • I was the one who mentioned that earlier.

            I had put links to verify these claims but it won’t let me post them. So you can verify them at hockey reference .com if you don’t believe me.

            The Caps were 28th in the league in corsi. Below the canucks. Jets were 18th.

            Of course, this is where they will say something like “yeah but that’s ‘all situations’. And claim that you have to filter it by even strength corsi or corsi close or some other nonsense.

            and it’s true by that all situations metric Vegas was 6th TB was 8th

            So lets do their Corsi close

            Caps still way down there at 25 (below the canucks) Vegas takes a huge drop to 14th, Jets and TB do better at 7th and 3rd respectively.

            Slice it or dice it anyway they want the caps suck at possession and vegas ain’t lighting the world on fire with it either.

            Thing is though, judging based on what I just said is nothing more than a testimonial. A fun one because it must be frustrating for the possession dorks, but a testimonial nonetheless. I’ll happily admit that. What they can’t square is the fact that when you look at the over all corsi in any situation it over the course of the regular season it does not correlate in any way to points in the standings or success in terms of playoff positions. So basically it’s a meaningless measurement that has no predictive power of judging success.

            They keep saying it does, but when asked for evidence of it, they never seem to provide any. Just cryptic nonsense talk about other people (bloggers) who have “done good work showing the value of possession stats”. It almost seems to me as if they think the simple fact they have a metric in and of itself proves it’s validity or something weird like that.

  • GC is trying to make this an establishment vs new thinking conspiracy, but his article comes off like he is trying to make the controversy. It’s ridiculous to think that the media is doing anything other than trying to sell advertising. Of course the media are going to try to make this situation a big controversy, that’s how they get people to read their stories. Oh, it’s also in the centre of the universe. If it was related as a boring clear cut situation, no one would bother reading about it. This article has the same stench. GC is trying to make it a big story so we will read it.

    • Everything the media reported came true. Lamoriello to the Islanders and Hunter left. Not sure how the article twists this into being an orchestrated effort by the ‘network’ to keep those guys employed by the Leafs?

  • Lamoriello runs his franchises with an iron fist. He has a very strict “No Leaks” policy that us ruthlessly enforced. If somebody leaked info about his move to the Islanders then it almost certainly came from somebody inside the Islanders organization. So how then, does a leak from the Islanders, equate to a media war to keep Lamoriello IN Toronto? It doesn’t… Bottom line is TO media can’t accept that Shannahan and Lam stuck to the 3-year plan and (as TO media (and this blogger) are prone to doing) are making a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s not a revolution, or a coup, it was the plan all along.

    Nobody knows what went on behind closed doors inside the Leafs front office, and this article is based on nothing but conjecture without a shred of truth being referenced. Its long passed time for articles like this to be placed where the belong…. In the trash.

    PS – Why are we getting BS leafs articles on CA?

  • The conspiracy theory about the reporting on Lamoriello to the Islanders seems a bit far fetched since Lamoriello actually WENT to the Islanders. It seems much more likely that a couple of well-connected guys managed to get the same piece of information out of an Islanders source around the same time. If it was part of a plan to pressure Lamoriello to stay with the Leafs, and not a legitimate report that Lamoriello was in talks to take a job with New York, then why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?

  • “This is probably the most important thing to take away from the short-lived Computer Boy revolution in Florida. They never did have full control of the franchise.”

    When you push out your boss, fire the coach and then anoint yourself both GM and Head Coach. Yeah, right, Tom Rowe never had control.

  • I still haven’t heard a good explanation for why Lamoriello, who took the Leafs from a perennial joke to a respectable team, was turfed from the GM job. I can only speculate that Dubas was considered too hot of a prospect to lose.

    • Come on Marmot it’s obvious. Dubas is Shanny’s boy and he earned a shot. The sad fact is that the nuckleheads aren’t even in the same class as the leaf Orginization at this point. The Nuks will not see the playoffs for 10 years but the leafs will for TEN.

  • This post is completely out of touch with reality and reeks of delusion. The imagined schemes that you’ve outlined are not supported at all with fact and absolutely amount to conspiracy theories, as much as you’d like to tell yourself otherwise. Your “revolution” has been a massive and abject failure. The full inquest into “analytics” resulted in a team that finished with the worst record over the past two seasons and a team that went from being highly competitive to missing the playoffs for the second straight season after trading away most of the defensive core and veterans that got them there. There’s a 60 percent correlation between corsi and winning during the regular season. If you actually understood statistics, you would understand that correlation does not equate to causation. As well as it being extremely odd to base your decision making process on a highly flawed system of evaluation. Corsi has massive gaps, the dependence that this site has on it is pathetic. The real message of the leafs is that if you get lucky and draft a forty goal scorer first overall, who plays a key position, and has multiple other extremely high draft picks pan out, you might be a playoff team. As demonstrated by the leafs though, the team might not be of actual quality.

    • “Dubas brought in Laurence Gilman to take his old AGM role, managing development and player personnel.”

      I laughed.
      Then I laughed some more.
      Gilman’s Canucks were the worst team in the league managing ‘ development ‘.
      The man has his strengths but they have nothing to do with player development.

  • Many others have said this already on the thread but it bears repeating; the ‘analytics’ vs ‘hockey guys’ opposition is an illusion. Everyone uses stats, it’s just which ones get privileged that reveal the approach to the game; old school things like face-offs and plus-minus or goals and assists, or proxies for what actually increases your likelihood to win or improve the performance of teammates and things like that. All of these various stories about the Maple Leafs or Panthers or Coyotes or whoever are really nothing like the big battle between nerds and jocks that are completely divorced from the reality. Shanahan is now a stats nerd? Tom Rowe is? Rowe was as terrible as they come (just look at how he treated the Panthers concessions staff when he took over).

    I think if I was to look at what’s happened to the Leafs from a cynical perspective I think it would be more realistic to suggest that Shanahan kept Dubas over Hunter and Lamoriello because Dubas is clearly subordinate to Shanahan, whereas the other two have much longer track records and their own allies in media and across the league.

    If I was being more charitable, I’d say that Shanahan is the true architect of the Leafs resurgence — not Lamoriello. I would say that Shanahan made a very accurate reading of not the “tank”, but rather the Leafs context; that they have huge resources (to absorb contracts while getting a few extra picks), the willingness to bury bad contracts (or take on dead ones) in the minors, and an endlessly patient fanbase who won’t abandon them even if they ice what was essentially a (bad) AHL team a couple of years ago while their good prospects gestated and the won the lottery in getting Matthews. And if I was Shanahan at this juncture I would abandon Lamoriello too. Prior to the lockout he had a ton of success, but in his last decade with the Devils he showed he hadn’t been able to adjust to the hard-cap era. He added a lot of aging and past-their-prime UFAs, made the Kovalchuk deal, got Schneider from VAN but then kind of botched his first two years with Brodeur still there and did very little to bolster their prospect pool. I would have a hard time handing over the Leafs at this crucial point to Lamoriello fully. If losing Hunter is the price of that, I probably do it, because Dubas and Shanahan are going to stick with the plan until it proves not to be working. A lot of people suggest the Leafs would have gone further in these playoffs if they’d paid Vancouver’s price for Tanev or somehow otherwise added a veteran D or other depth. But there’s also a real problem in panicking and overpaying too early; given how their farm team has played since getting by Utica, you’ve got to think they’ve continued on the right course. And that course was not set by Lamoriello (who came in as a senior advisor when the path was already in view) but by Shanahan.

    • I still laugh about the ‘band camp stat bois’ changing their tune when they were roasted about “faceoffs are NOT important”.

      They duck walked backwards to then proclaim “faceoffs are not important to overall possession stats”.

      More proof that they 1) don’t really watch the games, 2) don’t really care who wins, 3) would rather just ‘play’ with the stats (while waiting for their KD to be delivered to their “man” cave… thanks mommy…)

      Maybe when the band campers finally leave we can get some good product here….

    • Good post but I would also add that Dubas age was likely a big factor

      I don’t know why people are praising or debating the leafs rebuild. They were awful for a long time. They sold off assets for picks. They won the lottery in a year that had an outstanding center. I don’t think management has done anything special here. The team would be in a similar spot with any competent GM. As you mentioned, the fanbase has enabled them to be patient. IMO this is where we see if management steers the ship in the right direction. The leafs are now at a point where they need to make key decisions and could go in a lot of different directions.

  • If future hall of famer Lamoriello is considered a hockey guy and that is considered a bad thing by the “new order” then I’ll stick to the Lamoriello’s camp. Could the Leafs moving on have been nothing more than Lamoriello being 75 years old and not wanting to rely on him for the next five years? Dubas is a bright guy that will make his mistakes, but analytics or not should be given a few years before any judgement is passed on him. I think Lamoriello’s legacy will speak for itself. I’m sorry but what a silly article.

  • Not withstanding that Lamoriello was a high school math teacher, that used his own form of analytics from the early 1980’s to help him draft and evaluate talent. He should be a hero to the ‘new order’.

  • If you’re going to publicly trash a persons reputation and character you should at least have enough integrity to attach your name to it. If this is supposed to be a V for Vendetta expose it looks more like a line graph where self righteousness intersects with insanity. Even for a blog this is beyond the pale. -Shane Ervin