The saga of John Ferguson, Jr. is mercifully over: the beleaguered General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who’s been a whipping boy for the team’s misfortunes ever since his appointment in 2003, has been fired.
Say what you will about Ferguson (and if you’re a Leaf fan then you probably have): the way he’s been treated by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, particularly during his final few weeks in charge, has been nothing short of disgraceful. Richard Peddie—who fancies himself a hockey expert in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary—basically hung his protegé out to dry, firstly by declaring it to have been “a mistake” to have hired a rookie general manager to run the Maple Leafs, and secondly by actively recruiting a successor while Ferguson was still in office. It’s hard to imagine any hockey person worth their salt wanting to step into such a dysfunctional situation.
Cliff Fletcher, who’s been named the interim general manager, at least knows what he’s dealing with when it comes to Toronto: it was he who engineered the Leafs’ revival in the early 90s, which saw them get to within a game of their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1967. His first order of duty will be to decide whether it’s worth salvaging the current season, or whether the Leafs have gotten to a point where a full-fledged rebuilding is the only viable option. Whether he’ll stay beyond the 2007/08 campaign is anyone’s guess—but if he does decide to stick around, we sincerely hope he receives better treatment than his predecessor.
John Ferguson, Jr.’s tenure in Toronto was fraught with difficulty—but no matter how poorly he might’ve fared, he deserved a much better fate than the one bestowed upon him. We sincerely hope he lands on his feet sooner rather than later.
Photo by jeff caires from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.