Brendan Shanahan was on Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Monday, where he spoke with Bob McCown and Damien Cox about the current, and future, state of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs just wrapped up a season that saw them finish at the bottom of the NHL standings with a 29-42-11 record, but with a guaranteed top-four pick at June’s upcoming NHL Draft and considerable cap space, Shanahan believes the city is an attractive place for NHLers to play in.
“I think it’s a lot easier than it was at this time last year,” he said. “I think we’ve got a clear vision. We’ve got a player who knows who the coach is gonna be for the next seven years, maybe longer. He knows everything he needs to know about the general manager (Lou Lamoriello), he’s the only general manager that’s in the Hall of Fame.
“We’ve gotten rid of a lot of entitlement that I think used to exist in Toronto. I give credit to our coaching staff and players for turning that around.”
The Leafs president said that while he plans on building through the draft, he remains open to acquiring players through trade and free agency. This year’s free agent class is expected to contain big names like Steven Stamkos, Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson.
“From the very beginning right when we stated what our vision was of what we wanted to become, we wanted to become good as quickly as possible but not at the expense of our future,” said Shanahan. “So if something glitzy and glamourous comes along and we think that it fits into what we want to be going down the road, then we’re going to pursue it.”
Shanahan also touched on the difficulties of overseeing a team going through so many growing pains, saying he felt for his first-year head coach Mike Babcock.
“It was probably hardest on Mike because he’s down on the frontlines,” said Shanahan. “There were some nights where Mike was walking out of that arena and you say, ‘I don’t know if he’s coming back in the morning, he looks really upset.’
“And every morning he came to work, first guy at work with a renewed enthusiasm for the next day. That’s just who he is.”