Buried in a story from Dave Perkins in today's Toronto Star (16/01/08) is this little piece o' news from JFJ:
"The worst thing we did was finish a point out of the playoffs last year and get the 13th draft choice. The year before we missed by two points and got the 13th pick, which we traded away,'' said Ferguson, clearly indicating that a team gone deep in the tank can at least take solace in eventually landing a top draft choice.My first reaction to this news: at least he tried, I can't believe the deadly combination of stupidity and greed of the MLSE board.
"That wouldn't be the worst thing in the world,'' he said of a quality pick, adding that a plan to sacrifice present for future as a method of rebuilding was proposed a couple of years ago – presumably to the same Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment board of directors now said to be shopping his job around.
"That plan was not approved."
My second reaction (about 15 seconds later): Why isn't that a direct quote from JFJ? It's contained between quotes, but Perkins doesn't have JFJ actually utter those words...
My third reaction (about 0.5 seconds later): Man, JFJ has failed at pretty much everything he's tried to do during his tenure. He has my sympathy for not being able to get a re-build plan approved by the Board (in his defence, maybe a tag-team of Lamoriello and Burke couldn't get such a plan past Peddie and his minions); however, he still blew it when he was charged with putting a competitive team on the ice to try to win now.
I don't mean to kick a guy when he's down (and I've said repeatedly that JFJ deserved to either be fired or extended - none of this no man's land nonsense that MLSE has engaged in) but when you think about the pressures put on him by the MLSE board, stop to consider JFJ's response. Count the number of players he's signed to play for the Blue and White that are no longer in the NHL: Berg, Khavanov, Domi, Green, Belfour, Lindros, Aubin, Allison, O'Neill...soon to be joined by Raycroft and likely Wozniewski too. That's just off the top of my head and it has to be the most by any GM in the league. Factor in the bizarre-o world trade for Yanic Perrault (how's that 32nd overall pick looking for 15 games of an injured 4th line centre looking now?) and you've got one lousy record of work.
This was JFJ's response to a win now mandate?
It's clear to me that despite the Board not supporting his plan, despite the fact that he may be a great guy, despite the fact that he's being needlessly humiliated and generally mistreated by MLSE - JFJ is still an incompetent GM, he made this mess and he needs to go.
The bigger question (the biggest question really) is: can Peddie/the MLSE Board be contained or will it be more of the same misguided direction and meddling no matter who gets hired to run this club?