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Leafs ‘lack an identity,’ says Leiweke

Apr 14, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT

Brendan Shanahan; AP

Tim Leiweke doesn’t think the Toronto Maple Leafs have the right culture, and the head of the sports empire that owns them is hoping that Brendan Shanahan can help change that.

“I definitely sense that we lack an identity,” Lieweke said today, per the Globe and Mail. “Right now we’re a team that lacks a direction. And we want to change that.”

Shanahan joins the Leafs as club president, with “full authority” on both the hockey and business sides of the operation. For now, Dave Nonis will remain as general manager, reporting to Shanahan.

Culture. Identity. Character.

Those three words were spoken a lot today. Given the Leafs will miss the playoffs after winning just two of their last 14 games, it’s no surprise that the so-called intangibles are being questioned. Especially after last season’s Game 7 collapse in Boston. Not to mention the regular-season collapse in 2011-12.

That being said, Toronto needs more than an attitude adjustment. And with no experience leading an NHL franchise, let alone one as prominent as the Leafs, Shanahan has plenty of tough questions to answer before next season begins.

Should Randy Carlyle be back as head coach?

If it’s about culture and character, should Dion Phaneuf be back as captain? Should he be back at all?

How much is pending unrestricted free agent Dave Bolland worth?

How do youngsters like Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner fit into the club’s future?

Is there a way to land a top center in the offseason? Maybe Paul Stastny in free agency? Or Eric Staal in a trade with Carolina?

“This is the time for me to start learning about the organization from top to bottom,” said Shanahan, per the Canadian Press. “It’s a time for me to listen, to learn and get to work. That’s all that’s really worked for me in my career. That’s what’s worked for me when I was done playing hockey and that’s what I intend to do here.”

  1. canucks30 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      Your posts have a lot less efficacy since your organization has proven to be equally dysfunctional.

      • canucks30 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        I’m well aware.

        However, with the Canucks out of the playoffs, making fun of the Leafs is all I have until the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 14, 2014 at 8:58 PM

        You don’t watch the playoffs anyway?

  2. canucks30 - Apr 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    • goalieguy37 - Apr 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      they’ve at least won cups in the past. Canucks have only had riots to celebrate losing…

    • tmcgee71 - Apr 14, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      I could cross out the “Leaf Fan” on the sign and replace it with “Flyer Fan”…

    • rje49 - Apr 14, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      I’ve been a hockey fan for a long time. When the Leafs last won the cup in 1967, nobody, but nobody, would believe it would be their last for at least 47 years.
      After the ’67 win, they had 8 key players over 35 years old, so I predicted “not again”, but never this long!

  3. JoeAvg - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Wow, look how grey he’s gotten after only a few days.

    And they say President of the United States is a tough, pressure-filled job.

  4. djshnooks - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I guarantee anything that the league finds a way to put Connor McDavid in Toronto.

    • canucks30 - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    • dueman - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      Ya, because the league has helped give Toronto so many first overall picks in the past? They always help them with officiating, and make sure that they make the play-offs every year too right?…….Wow.

      • beergold - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:59 AM

        For the first time in my life I will agree with you on this one Doo …..the only people that will get the Leafs back to respectability are the Leafs ownership and managment doing their jobs!

        And judging from their scouting, drafting, trading,(losing draft choices), horrible long term contracts, the franchise tag on two nonleaderers, they have been doing a REALLY crappy job for a long long time.

        I can understand why many Leaf fans feel like Shananhans new Presidential gig looks like a PR stunt to get the attention off of another horse po-op season.

        I say give the big guy a bit of time and lets see if he has the courage to look at this team honestly, realize that it needs HUGE changes to become a relevant on ice product and then make the changes. If not then the culture will remain the same…Losers and Leaf doubters will be right, Shanahan will have been a PR stunt.

  5. inhokewetrust - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Lack identity….bull…it’s all about making money..nothing else matters..win lose team sells out..team makes $1.3 million per hone game..team worth $1.1 billion…THATS THE IDENTITY…

    • nj666 - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      they’d make more money if they make the playoffs, so yes everything is about the business even “identity”.

    • withseidelinn - Apr 14, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      You clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

  6. shaundre93 - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    I think if they could move Kadri to get a guy like E Staal, and somehow acquire a true shutdown guy to play with Dion they could be in decent shape. Bernier is legit. I think Bozak is a good 2C, and Kessel, JVR, Lupul and Clarckson are excellent top 6 wingers. Guys like Kulemin, Mcclement, Komarov (heard he may return) and Boland are essential in your bottom 6 if you wanna win a cup. I love bashing them as much as the next guy, but this team is close, and I think they have the necessary assets to get what they need. If Shannahan does this right, the leafs could be in good shape.

    • canucks30 - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Jim Rutherford’s reaction to hearing a proposal of Kadri for Staal:

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        Hello, Dean? You’re a stupidhead.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      In my opinion, Clarkson is not a top 6 guy, he’s a 3rd line winger who can maybe bump up to the second line in a jam, but outside of one season in his career he’s never looked like a top 6 player, even if his contract says he is.

      Same with Phaneuf, I got the chance to watch him a lot in his first couple of years in the NHL when he looked like he would develop into a Scott Stevens type player, but he quit developing and I would say regressed quite a bit, since then. And the fact that the Leafs gave him a raise on a long term contract because “someone else would have done it if we didn’t” pretty much shows what the teams biggest problem is going forward, horrible contracts (Phaneuf and Clarkson being good examples) which seem unmoveable and take up the cap room needed to bring in guys to create a true identity.

  7. nunan - Apr 14, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    I’m a Bs fan but I have to admit, I am excited to see what the Leafs do. Given they are in the largest hockey market and are at a point where major changes need to happen, I expect some ‘fireworks’.

  8. joey4id - Apr 14, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Lack of identity and leadership indeed. But! It starts at the top and Leiweke didn’t address enough hockey related issues last year. Hopefully for Leafs fans Shanahan can inject some players with character a la Flyers, and help implement some type of worthy d system. Go Leafs!

    • beergold - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:07 AM

      Your comments are bang on Joey and make more sense than anything the Leafs have done at the ownerrship and top management level in the last ten years. Although I might have replaced the “Flyers character with Bruins character” in that last sentence.

      • joey4id - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:28 AM

        Yeah! Bruins character is very good for sure. I chose the Flyers because they overcame a coaching change and a very poor start to put together a very decent season.

  9. dueman - Apr 14, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    I think that it’s funny how everyone keeps talking about what Shanny is going to do with the team? He was hired as the team President, not the GM. He is going to do what every other team President does, which is, shake hands and kiss babies. Team President is more of a “pr” job than anything else. For better or for worse, Dave Nonis will still be the man running this team. Shanny won’t be implementing any type of “D” system (coaches job), he won’t be landing any new players (GM’s job), but he will, I’m sure, be doing a lot of TV interviews, talking about identity, direction, and parades and such…

    • beergold - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:14 AM

      Which will confirm the Leaf identity of “Losers” for many years to come! I hope you are wrong.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      President has more power than you think. Lieweke gave Shanahan full control the teams’ finances.

      The story flying around is that Lieweke was against the Clarkson and Phaneuf signings in the first place, but Nonis had full control and made the deals anyways. Making Shanny the Prez. is just Lieweke’s way of putting a leash on Nonis’s spending. If Nonis wants to sign anyone now it has to go through Shanahan first, which isn’t a bad policy after watching him blow $12M in cap space for the next 6-7 years on Clarky and Dion. If that cap doesn’t go up much, the Leafs are in trouble next few years.

      And Shanahan could help bring in better free agents. It’s a little more impressive when Shanahan shakes your hand than when Dave Nonis does. Leafs can use any prestige Shanny can bring.

  10. muckleflugga - Apr 14, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    shanahan’s the hatchet man and will likely assume a duel role as general manager … he left the grey in because da wife likes it dat way [ maurice the rocket richard ]

    shanahan travelled through detroit and thusly anointed, is sprinkled with magic dust

    he will be looking into the red wings’ system looking for talent

    nonis is making travel plans and booking movers

  11. laxman1944 - Apr 14, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    KARMA is a b$tch

    Darcy Tuckers’s destruction of Sami Kapanan in the playoffs has doomed this franchise…….

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:16 AM

      Wow, what a silly concept. Just as silly as “karma” dooming the Boston Bruins when Eddie Shore nearly killed Ace Bailey in 1933. Karma is always a huge factor, except when it isn’t.

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