Yesterday, while watching the Brendan Shanahan press conference, I was impressed. No way around it – Shanahan is funny, likable, self-effacing and smart. What’s not to like?
If you care at all about what he had to say, you probably watched it, so I’ll spare you a blow-by-blow recap, but suffice it to say the one thing that impressed me is that he isn’t interested in just following tropes and traditions. “You could say that I don’t really care about ‘how things are normally done'” is a paraphrasing of something he said several times yesterday.
More than anything I like that Shanahan isn’t interested in titles (like what a “traditional” president and GM does) easy answers (like say, blaming everything on leadership. The third question about a team that entered the season with no #1 centre or defenseman is about leadership? ) or telling the press what they want to hear (“I’ll tell you my plan after the other 29 teams release theirs”).
He is clearly a man who understands that the most successful people in any walk of like ask questions and surround themselves with people who know things they do not. Again, I ask you: What’s not to like?
In a league that is full of stale ideas, copy-cats, recycled coaches and general managers, and which meets progressive thinking with all the class of the state of Indiana, Brendan Shanahan is a breath of fresh air.
I believe most rookie Presidents would want to hire the first big name guy they could get to agree to take the job, but Shanahan’s set-up means those guys won’t even want to come to here. Whatever he says, and whoever he ultimately delegates the roles of contract negotiator and trade negotiator to, it’s clear he’s the GM in everything but name.
Good for him. After watching him speak, after listening to his answers to the medias questions, I am sold. More so, in retrospect, I think I like him even more for taking a year and evaluating. He said if he cleaned house last summer, that he’d “just be guessing” and that means he likes his thoughts and hunches backed up by data. You simply can’t ask for a better attribute from the person in charge.
Furthermore, by giving Nonis a final chance to implement his and Burke’s vision, Shanahan shows respect to the veterans he’s now in charge of and the deference of a rookie, plus – he get’s to see – consequence free (to him anyways) – just what needs fixing. It turns out that the answer is a lot, but the Leafs will pick, at worst, 5th this draft, so nothing really was lost by his approach.
I think a lot may have been gained.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.