It should be an interesting off-season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and one that could see many changes both on and off the ice.
“No one is untradeable,” Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke told Tim and Sid on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “There are decisions coming soon…We will not lack in our ability to make tough decisions around here. I promise you.”
The Leafs had been in a strong position to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season until a total collapse that began in mid-March. The team lost 12 of their final 14 games in regulation, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference and nine points out of a playoff spot.
It’s something Leiweke doesn’t expect to see again.
“I’m very comfortable that we’re headed in a direction where we’re never going to have to go through this sort of thing again because I won’t let it happen,” Leiweke said. “It’s just unacceptable and [Leafs new president Brendan Shanahan], not only feels the same way I do, but I see the way he’s going about this and it gives me a lot of comfort we’re about to make the right decisions in a lot of different areas soon. You will see decisions on our part in the near future based on the work he’s done.”
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Leiweke said he has been spending a lot of time with Shanahan, who is also an alternate governor with the team, and has been impressed with what the former NHL chief disciplinarian has done thus far.
“He’s out doing one-on-ones with everyone on the hockey side,” Leiweke said. “I’m amazed at his focus and intensity. He’s like sponge, so he’s taking a lot in and learning a lot…I love the fact he is very analytical on how he’s approaching this and what he thinks is wrong and how we fix it.
“Just as Masai [Ujiri] has done on the basketball side, we need Shanny to do on the hockey side. I’m excited about it. I’m telling you, we got ourselves a good one here. The first two weeks have absolutely verified — within not just in my head but in my heart — this is a guy that is ultimately going to get us to the right place and he’ll never let [a late-season meltdown] happen to us again.”
One of the major off-ice decisions Leafs brass will need to make is what to do with current head coach Randy Carlyle. Many feel there is a strong chance he won’t be the team’s bench boss come training camp. Leiweke wouldn’t comment on whether or not he feels Carlyle’s job is secure.
“That’s Shanny’s decision and that’s [general manager] Dave Nonis’s decision,” said Leiweke before he added Shanahan and Nonis have gelled nicely.
“They have formed a bond like I thought they would,” Leiweke said. “They have different qualities and they bring to the task different experiences and different strengths and it’s worked out extremely well. I have not had to intercede on one issue nor do I expect to and I think they see eye to eye on where we’re headed.”