Despite singing the praises of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, newly appointed Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis said he won't hesitate to make a move via trade if either goaltender fails to impress early in the season.
One day after taking over from Brian Burke, who was fired by the team on Wednesday, Nonis appeared on Hockey Night in Canada Radio with hosts Gord Stellick and Scott Oake to discuss, among several issues, the Leafs' No. 1 priority: goaltending.
“Depends on how [Reimer and Scrivens] play,” said Nonis. “If they play like we’ve seen them play in the past, and we don’t have any injury issues, and James gets back at the level that he was at, then the answer is yes [the goaltending is good enough].
“You can’t have success without quality goaltending. If we can improve in net we’re going to. If we can’t or if the price is just so ridiculous that it actually sets your team backwards, you have to win with the players that you have until you can make some changes.”
Nonis is fully aware of media reports over the last several months that have suggested the Leafs were going after Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. There was talk Wednesday that a potential Luongo deal may have been a factor in Burke's dismissal.
Now with Burke out of the way and Nonis at the helm, the likelihood of a deal for Luongo might increase considering it was Nonis, who as general manager of the Canucks, orchestrated a deal that brought the goalie to Vancouver from the Florida Panthers.
Nonis, 46, served as GM of the Canucks following Burke's tenure with that team. In 2008, he was appointed vice president and director of hockey operations for the Leafs. With this week's promotion, he becomes the 14th GM in the team's history.
In many ways, Nonis shares the same beliefs in how to build a hockey team as his predecessor.
How both men tackle that process is another story, specifically when it comes to speaking in front of the camera.
Nonis said he likes to keep his feelings within the organization more than his bombastic former boss.
“Brian has his own way of doing things,” said Nonis. “He’s a big figure. [He is] brash, [holds] strong opinions, strong comments. And that’s not an act, that’s the way he is and that’s the way he does things. I think that I have strong opinions but I go about giving those opinions a little bit differently than he does. In terms of how we want our teams to play, I think they’re similar [but] we go about getting to that finish line a different way.”
Nonis was shocked to learn of Burke’s dismissal on Wednesday, but had to quickly contain his emotions after he was offered the GM job before the Leafs’ press conference in the afternoon.
He refused to comment on a report that he pleaded with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum and president Tom Anselmi to let Burke finish out the 48-game season before making a decision.
“I don’t want to talk about what went on behind closed doors,” he told Stellick and Oake. “Those decisions weren’t mine to make. The only one I had to make was whether or not this [position] was the right fit for me and my family. I’m extremely happy to be part of this organization. I have since I’ve been here. It was an honour to say yes to them.”