No one can be sure if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ tri-force of Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock will eventually turn the franchise around. They’re basically trying to climb up out of that well from “The Ring” and Samara keeps grabbing their ankles while wearing a ‘LEAFS 67’ jersey.
We can be sure of one thing, which is that with the money and confidence the owners have invested in these big names, they should be allowed to do as they please and manage the franchise as they see fit, at least in the short term.
But when your team is owned by two massive corporations who smother autonomy under an avalanche of middle managers and red flags, that becomes quite a task, as evidenced by the pushback on Lamoriello’s decision to remove broadcasters from the team charter.
You can argue whether or not this is good business or good for the fans, but that’s a separate discussion from whether Lamoriello should be allowed to make this call. And while he won this round – Bell and Rogers are going to foot the bill for the radio guys to travel with the team – David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail reports that the suits are already frustrated with Emperor Lou:
One of those senior executives said Monday the issue of broadcasters riding on the team charter is not going away. He and his colleagues at the other telco do not want to see Lamoriello operate the Leafs the same way he ran the New Jersey Devils from 1987 to 2015, where even the most minor decisions required his stamp of approval. They plan to keep the pressure on the Leafs GM.
This could get mighty interesting because compromise is not something that comes easily to Lamoriello. And he’s an influential executive who has a long list of successful hockey people around the league who consider him a mentor. One of them is Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, who hired Lamoriello in the summer as part of a bid to transform the team from wealthy, soft loser to battle-hardened winner.
Shoalts says the Leafs board is happy to give the new regime its space, but is wary about Lou’s tactics. “The Devils, despite all their success under Lamoriello, were not owned by two massive media companies, and their tickets were never the hardest to get in a rich, hockey-crazed market,” said Shoalts.
This is the part where we all slam our heads on our desks and wonder why anyone would agree to bring in someone to change the culture in the franchise and then bristle at even the slightest change.
Look, Lou is a mensch, and this is how he operates. You either let him set the tone, or tell him to sit in the corner and read scouting reports while Dubas runs the show. And if that’s the case, you won’t have to worry about Lou Lamoriello in Toronto anymore, because he won’t be there.
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