Toronto Maple Leafs Hope Brendan Shanahan Gamble Pays Off

The Toronto Maple Leafs have decided to pick a winner for their next president, but whether the NHL legend’s prowess on the ice can translate to success in the front office has some tempered the optimism of some fans.

The team announced this week that Hockey Hall of Fame member Brendan Shanahan has been named team president, starting the role immediately. He comes to the team after a 27-year career with the league including his time as a player and a league executive.

Shanahan certainly knew how to win on the ice, leading the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cup Championships and gold medals with Team Canada at the1994 World Championships, the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 1991 Canada Cup. Shanahan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last summer.

Across the hockey world, Toronto Maple Leafs fans seem hopeful about the move, though a bit guarded. Pension Plan Puppets, a notoriously pessimistic blog, noted:

“Make no mistake, this move is a gamble. While you can tease out reasons for optimism going forward, there are just as many blank spots on his resume to give one pause. Will his approach comprise a sincere evaluation of the entire organization along with a vigorous move towards addressing problem areas?

“Unfortunately, all we have now is our hope that things will break the right way. As Leafs fans, most of us have been conditioned to know that hoping for the best is not a strategy. However, as Leafs fans we also know that all we tend to have to hold on to is hope. Maybe this is the time that we will be rewarded.

The Maple Leafs Hot Stove also took note of Shanahan’s lack of front office experience, saying he will be learning on the job in the NHL’s most difficult market, akin to the New York media for baseball and football teams.

But in other corners, followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown reasons for hope. Yahoo Sports writer Greg Wyhsnyski said that Brendan Shanahan has already proven that he’s a change-maker in league offices, and now it’s his chance to prove the same thing in Toronto.