Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Nightmare Team: The Front Office

Welcome to the third and final installment of the Leafs all-time nightmare squad. We've covered the forwards and the goalies and defence. Now let's meet the men who helped turn those guys into the hopeless losers they were.

What was that note I wrote on my hand?
B-e-n-c-h-m-c-c-a... ah, I'm sure it
wasn't important.


Paul Maurice (2006-08)

Why we hate him: This was a tough category. The Leafs have had exactly two good coaches since the early 80s: Pat Burns and Pat Quinn. The rest ranged from overmatched to completely hopeless.

So why pick Maurice? Because unlike the other failures, Maurice was supposed to be good. When he was hired, most agreed that the Leafs had made a wise choice. After all, Maurice was young and had already been to the finals with a surprising Hurricanes team in 2002. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to check any of the other seasons on his resume. If Paul Maurice was a singer, he'd be Nena and the 2002 Cup run would be "99 Luftballoons".

Under Maurice, the Leafs were a miserable team that missed the playoffs twice. They were the only team in the league that played a man defensive system, a scheme that Maurice insisted on sticking with even as the Leafs got shelled every night. What's worse, Maurice apparently didn't believe in concepts like accountability, as he allowed the Leafs dressing room to become a country club where whiny veterans like Bryan McCabe and Jason Blake could feel cosy and comfortable even as the losses piled up.

Redeeming qualities: Was respectful of the busy schedules of Leaf fans, ensuring they always made it home from games 30 seconds early by never calling a timeout no matter how desperately the team needed one.

Coaches who also received consideration: Nick Beverley, Doug Carpenter, Mike Murphy, Greg Gilbert

Coaches who did not receive consideration:
John Brophy - Sure, he wasn't a very good NHL coach. And yes, the players all hated him. But Brophy was batshit crazy, loved goon hockey and occasionally wore a derby behind the bench. Also, if I made fun of him he'd probably hunt me down and get Brian Curran to beat me up.

Hey John, do that hilarious impression
of every Leaf fan who had to watch
the teams you built
General Manager

John Ferguson Jr. (2004-08)

Why we hate him: If you really don't know, then allow me to say: Welcome aboard, and I hope you're enjoying your first day as a hockey fan.

Just for fun, let's list all of Ferguson's mistakes. He traded Tuuka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, he signed McCabe to the Contract That Will Not Die, he gave Jason Blake a five year deal, he traded a high pick for Yanic Perrault, he didn't ues buyouts to create cap space after the lockout, he gave no-trade clauses to everyone he ever signed including the cleaning staff, he signed Jason Allison and Alex Khavanov and Calle Johansson and an injured Eddie Belfour and ...

OK, you know what? That was a bad idea. If I try to list everything there's a good chance I'll be left with a 40,000 word post and little bloody stumps where my fingers used to be.

Let's save space and just like all the good things Ferguson did. He picked up solid third-liner Chad Kilger off waivers. He signed Tomas Kaberle to a decent contract. He managed not to get completely bent over on the Vesa Toskala trade. That's it. Three things in almost five years.

And by the way, even though he's been fired and will never work in the NHL again, it will take the Leafs another three of four years to dig out from the weight of his terrible contracts.

Redeeming qualities: Pulmonary circuit converts oxygen into cardon dioxide, which helps trees grow.

GMs who also received consideration:
Floyd Smith, Gerry McNamara, Ken Dryden any time he spoke

GMs who did not receive consideration:
Gord Stellick - If you're a fan of this blog, then I've already convinced you that Russ Courtnall for John Kordic was a good trade. On top of that, Stellick gets points for apparently being the only Harold Ballard employee who ever had the grapefruits to tell the old man to go piss up a rope. And that's pretty impressive, considering he was only 14 at the time.


Richard Peddie (2003-until we rise up as one and slay him)

Why we hate him: Oh lord, where to start? Despite having absolutely no experience in professional sports, Peddie insists on taking hands-on approach to running the Leafs and Raptors. He was the mastermind behind the hirings of John Ferguson and Rob Babcock, and despite his denials he's known to have meddled with roster decisions of both teams. His insistence on staying in the spotlight at all times despite clearly being clueless has made him a running joke among front office folks in two leagues.

While most exectuives would settle for simply being morons, Peddie has demonstrated impressive creativity in finding new and original ways to embarass MLSE. He humiliated Ferguson by calling his hiring a "mistake" when the GM was still employed, somehow making a debacle out of the only known instance of him being right about something. He also became a youtube celebrity thanks to his infamous ventriloquist performance at Cliff Fletcher's press conference.

Richard Peddie is an over-inflated blowhard, an empty suit without a shred of self-awareness, a thin-skinned meddler with no positive qualities beyond his ability to squeeze extra dollars into the hands of his soulless corporate masters, and the Leafs will never win anything as long as he's associated with the team.

Redeeming qualities: None.

A meeting of the Harold Ballard fan club

Harold Ballard

Why we hate him: While most of the guys mentioned on this page are guilty of being stupid, Ballard was actually evil.

Stories of his legendary greed have been well-documented. This is the guy who turned off the water taps at MLG during a heat wave, incinerated Foster Hewitt's gondola, and included his ugly dog in team photographs. After driving most of the team's star players out of town by the early 80s, Ballard ensured the team was awful every year until he finally died in 1990.

Tradition has it that once a year on Halloween he pushes aside the door to his crypt, crawls out into the moonlit night, shuffles down the side streets of Toronto eating stray kittens, and meets with Richard Peddie to give him management advice.

Redeeming qualities: Eventually died and went to hell, where Satan's minions refer to him as "kind of an asshole".

Owners and presidents who also received consideration: Larry Tannenbaum, Donald Crump, Donald Giffin, Bell Globemedia, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan

Owners and presidents who did not receive consideration:
Steve Stavro, by default. He was pretty much the only person to ever run the Leafs who didn't have his head planted firmly in his own ass.

That concludes our celebration of the most-hated Leafs of all time. I am going to go lay down in traffic now.


  1. this ones pretty cut and dried, no arguments here.

  2. No mention of Ballard's running a child prostitution ring out of MLG?

  3. Great post, Sean.

    Maurice's resume is pretty shit. He'd be perfect for the New York Islanders.

  4. Another classic. Respect.
    Maurice is a good choice. The last two games of the season (Montreal 3-1, Ottawa 8-2) were unforgivable. Even though the season was already a disaster, those losses spoke volumes about Maurice's failure with the team.
    If Paul Maurice was a singer, he'd be Nena and the 2002 Cup run would be "99 Luftballoons"
    Redeeming qualities: He must have done something wicked to make Feschuk go nuts that day.
    Gord Stellick Rules! Gordo and I come from the same 'hood. We call it "The Stomping Grounds".
    Is the nightmare over? Great series.

  5. Indeed, the nightmare is over. We've covered players, coaches and management, so there's really nothing left unless we want to take a run at Carlton the Bear.

    (Although if I was Damien Cox or Howard Berger, there'd be an epic Part Four called "The Fans".)

  6. (Although if I was Damien Cox or Howard Berger, there'd be an epic Part Four called "The Fans".)

    And it would have been called Part One of a One Part look at the causes of the Leafs' woes.

  7. Pulmonary circuit converts oxygen into cardon dioxide, which helps trees grow.


    What about part four the media including print, TV and radio.

  8. What about part four the media including print, TV and radio.

    Come on man, I have a job and a family, where would I find the time to write that epic?