Your Call: Which GM job is tougher - Leafs or Canadiens?

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TSN.ca Staff
3/29/2012 3:00:50 PM
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The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs are forever linked as one of hockey's oldest – and arguably greatest – rivalries.

Both clubs have long histories and rabid fan bases but the fortunes of both clubs have differed over the past 50 years.

The pressure to perform in both markets is immense, so the question begs: Which job is tougher, general manager of the Canadiens or general manager of the Leafs?

While the scrutiny on both jobs is constant, both teams have set conditions that make satisfying the team's fan-base more or less difficult than the other.

Since 1957, the Habs' ownership has mostly been dominated by one name: Molson. Save for the eras of George Gillett and the Bronfmans, the team has gone through different generations and incarnations of Molson ownership.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have largely undergone ownership by committee since the death of Harold Ballard in 1990. Since then, the team has fallen under the control of everyone from a grocery store magnate (Steve Stavro) to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan to a pair of media conglomerates.

The Canadiens haven't made the Stanley Cup Final since 1993 and the Leafs haven't been there since the first expansion, but the course of the last half-century has tempered the moods of both fan-bases in almost polar directions.

The Leafs – who have not won a Cup since 1967 – own the longest title drought in the NHL. The team has been buoyed over the past two decades by trips to the Conference Final in 1993 and 94 and 1999 and 2002, but their devoted fan-base remains restless in a near-desperate state for a parade.

The Canadiens, however, have flourished in the post-expansion era. The team has won 10 Stanley Cups since the end of the Original Six era which has led to the team's fans expecting to win championships. The Habs were able to win Cups in the 1986 and 1993, but decades are now removed from the dynasty years. The Montreal fans, too, are growing restless, but for different reasons than Toronto.

In the case of both executive posts, every signing, trade, draft pick and hiring comes with a level of analysis unrivaled by any hockey market in the world.

Prospects become front-page news and even the most minor signing makes headlines.

Regional differences come into play as well.

In Montreal, efforts to appease the team's Francophone fans has arguably affected the team's decisions on both the draft floor and in the front office.

Meanwhile, current Toronto GM Brian Burke has - rightly or wrongly - faced criticism for a lack of Ontario-born talent on the team, in addition to accusations that the former U.S. Olympic GM has a preference towards Americans on his teams.

So which general manager's post is the tougher job: the Leafs or the Habs?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Dion Phaneuf, Scott Gomez (Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
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