Toronto Maple Leafs Should Stay Away From George McPhee

As the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to search for a new general manager, Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman discussed on Saturday afternoon about four candidates for the position. While three of them present no problem to me, I have an issue with one of them.

Yes, George McPhee has had success in the NHL. The Washington Capitals won seven Southeast Division Titles with McPhee as the GM. It was McPhee who made the decision to rebuild in 2003, leading the Capitals to draft Alex Ovechkin in 2004. The Great Eight’s running mate Nicklas Backstrom was added in 2006. Yet, there is one big problem concerning McPhee.

What did the Capitals do in the playoffs with all that talent that they had amassed?

McPhee’s greatest success came in his first year as the Capitals GM in 1997-98, when the team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, since then they have made it only as far as the second round, while not making the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round six times each.

McPhee had arguably the best goal-scorer in the NHL in Ovechkin as well as one of the best playmakers in Backstrom. However, he could never build the right team around those two tremendous talents, squandering his opportunity. He was relieved of his duties with the Capitals after the 2013-14 season.

Inexperience Is Better For The Leafs System

The other three executives they mention in the video are Julien Brisebois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Gorton of the New York Rangers and Mike Futa of the Los Angeles Kings. Brisebois and Gorton are assistant GMs with their teams while Futa is the Kings’ Vice President of Hockey Operations.

Now, with Brendan Shanahan having a unique amount of power for a President of an NHL team, I doubt an experienced GM would fit with the Leafs’ system. Then there’s assistant GM Kyle Dubas and Director of Player Personnel Mark Hunter, who are currently serving as co-interim General Managers. The Leafs management system will have more of a team system where the new hire, along with Dubas and Hunter will all work closely with team President Shanahan, closer than most teams in the NHL work with the President.

Hiring a first-time general manager would help that system work better. An experienced GM might want more power with the team than Shanahan is willing to give. A new GM could learn on the job and as he gets more experienced in later years, Shanahan could take more of a backseat when the Leafs are back to being contenders.

Now, if the Leafs are indeed interested in Brisebois or Gorton, they will have to wait for their teams to be eliminated from the playoffs. One of them will be eliminated in the Eastern Confernce Finals with the two teams facing each other, but to talk to both of them, the Leafs will have to wait until after the Stanley Cup Finals. The Leafs have already had talks with Futa.

With the 2015 NHL Draft coming up in just over a month, the Leafs will want to have a GM in place before that event. So there is definitely a timeline that is working against the Maple Leafs. Whoever they choose, let’s hope it’s the right choice.