TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the latest on Brendan Shanahan's new job in Toronto and its trickle-down effects, and the futures of Paul Maurice, George McPhee, and more.
A day after Trevor Linden becomes president of hockey operation with the Canucks, Brendan Shanahan one-ups him and become president - period, it looks like - of the Maple Leafs. Why this title, and why this guy?
Bob McKenzie: I think that's the critical thing. Brendan Shanahan was not prepared to leave the NHL's Player Safety department if he was just going to be the president of hockey operations for a club in the NHL. It was important for him to be the president of the whole organization - both the hockey side and the business side. Now, he's expected to officially resign his position with the NHL on Friday, and it's expected that the Leafs will put out a simple press release announcing his appointment of the entire team. It won't be until the beginning of next week that Shanahan will be introduced to the media, once the regular season is over.
What does this mean to GM Dave Nonis and head coach Randy Carlyle?
Darren Dreger: Well it's "to be determined", we're not sure. Shanahan is going to require some time. Dave Nonis was hoping to have some time to review the organization, to speak with Randy Carlyle and ultimately assess what his role might be moving forward. Now, he has a new boss, so Brendan Shanahan is going to want to get to know Nonis a little bit better, find out what his thoughts are on whether or not a coaching change is required, but I don't expect that there will be anything will be done in the near future.
How is player discipline going to be handled with Shanahan gone?
Pierre LeBrun: Really, the guys that were working with him are going to continue to do just that. The War Room, the player safety group in New York, is a well-oiled machine. It starts with Damian Etchavaretta, Stephane Quintal, Patrick Burke, and Brian Leetch - those guys will continue to do their work. Bill Daly, the NHL deputy governor, I think will have a more involved role when it comes to the final word on possible suspensions over the next couple of months. I don't believe there will be a successor in place for Brendan Shanahan or even a search for his replacement until the off-season. It's business as usual and Daly will meet with the player safety group on Friday to talk about how they're going to move forward.
Is former NHL on TSN panelist Paul Maurice going back to Winnipeg, or is he going to rejoin us?
Dreger: Well, the safe bet would be that Maurice stays with the Winnipeg Jets. He likes Winnipeg, he loves the organization, and the team very much wants him back. There will be an negotiation that will take place at the conclusion of the regular season when he has a little bit more time to spend with his family who he has been away from for quite some time. There is also an assignment coming that Maurice is going to have to consider, and that's being an assistant coach or a coach with Team Canada at the World Championship. It's believed that Hockey Canada has reached out to Paul Maurice, you could see Pete DeBoer on that bench and Dave Tippett if the Phoenix Coyotes don't make the playoffs.
There has been lots of speculation about the future of George McPhee in Washington. What happens there?
LeBrun: We don't believe that the owner, Ted Leonsis, has actually tipped his hand at this point but we do know that McPhee's deal is up at the end of the year. There have not been any talks about an extension. So the betting money, the whispers coming out of Washington, are that there is a better chance than not that there is a change at the GM position. But again, no final call there. Now what does that mean for Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin? He is a lightning rod for that team - 50-goal scorer but almost minus-50 as well. There have been some whispers out of the KHL in Russia that would they try...one of the clubs over there try to approach Ovechkin like they did with Ilya Kovalchuk a year ago, if not this summer then certainly over the next couple of years.
Has the future of Carolina's management been decided?
McKenzie: There have been several days of meetings with Peter Karmanos, the owner of the Hurricanes, and general manager Jim Rutherford, and the expectation is that in the not-too-distant future, maybe a week or two or three down the road after the season has ended, Rutherford will move upstairs to a position and Ron Francis will take over as general manager. And amid great expectation that Kirk Muller is a slam dunk to be fired, don't say that necessarily. There is still plenty of consideration going on to keeping Muller as the head coach.
Dreger: And keep an eye on the Florida Panthers as well. Dale Tallon has to meet with ownership in early May to talk about the future, including Peter Horachek as head coach. It sounds like the Panthers might go to an experienced coach, and if Randy Carlyle were to get fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, he would be high on the list.