directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Leafs considering Doug MacLean for GM?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Leafs considering Doug MacLean for GM?

Not sure if any of you caught this from but check this out:

TFP has learned that one of the potential full-time candidates is former Columbus Blue Jackets GM and head coach Doug MacLean.

MacLean, who also coached the Florida Panthers for just over two seasons, helped build the Blue Jackets into a playoff contender through the draft, something the Maple Leafs have failed to do successfully.

Oh wait..there's more:

Meanwhile, it appears as if MacLean is someone the Leafs are interested in bringing in on a long-term basis. He stuck to his guns and didn't trade Nikolai Zherdev while he was in Columbus, and the youngster is proving to be the talent everyone expected to him. He's drafted well for the Blue Jackets, and if the Leafs truly need any assistance, it's from the draft and on. The team has dealt away its first-round picks and doesn't have any true up-and-coming stars in the system. The team desperately needs an extreme make-over, and it looks like it's finally about to get one.

Where o'where do people get this drivel?

First off, Doug MacLean did not build this team into a playoff contender. Under his 7 year watch this team had the worst average record in the league. It wasn't until he was forced by ownership to fire Gerard Gallant and hire an experienced coach in Ken Hitchcock that this team began to find some traction. Not until MacLean was fired and new GM Scott Howson hired did this team get into any kind of playoff contention.

..and this whole bit on MacLean "sticking to his guns on Zherdev" - what a joke. Its no secret now how brutal Doug MacLean was on this kid. From the mis-handeled contract negotiations to the public beratings in front of teammates and media. It was also reported in the Dispatch that the Edmonton Oilers turned down a trade of Jeofrey Lupul straight up for Nik Zherdev. Nik Zherdev, Ken Hitchcock and Scott Howson are responsible for his turn-around - end of story.

Then we get into the draft picks. I will give MacLean credit for not trading away his #1 picks for any quick fixes. That wouldn't have lasted past this offseason but that is neither here nor there as he was let go. To say he's drated well for the Jackets is misleading.

I would venture to say the only draft pick that made an significant impact under MacLean has been Rick Nash -- and that was as a very one dimensional player. Rusty Klesla, Pascal Leclaire and Nik Zherdev all had some moments but didn't blossom until Hitch came on board and especially this season when Hitch had a full offseason to work with these players. Heck even Nash is a completely different player -- Just look at how his game has grown...he's now a 2-way player who plays in all situations.

Its not just about drafting. Its about development and not setting these kids up for failure or giving them NHL jobs to justify where you drafted them. How many picks were rushed under MacLean's watch? I know some of it is the growing pains of being an expansion franchise but alot of that was Maclean overuling coaches like Dave King and running the Jackets like he own personal playhouse.

That's not even getting into his failure to identify and build a team the proper way. Anson Carter, Jan Hrdina, Scott Lachance, Martin Prusek...the list goes on and on. Sure he added a guy like Adam Foote but he then expected him to quarterback a powerplay and play 30 minutes. That's not Adam Foote and its not the way he should be played. Only once Hitch got here has he utilized Foote properly as a shutdown defense who kills penalties and logs big minutes against other team's top lines.

If MacLean were here we wouldn't have signed Jiri Novotny, Michael Peca or Jan Hejda. Three guys who have been key so far this season. No MacLean would have continued to live under the false beliefs that the foundation he built for this team....from scouts, to coaches, to off season workouts, to inflating attendance, towards prospect development, towards his own empire MacLean's mind everything under the surface was fine. Instead he would have traded our first round pick for a splashy name while not addressing the real issues with this team.

Believe this Jacket fans, this team would not be where it is today if MacLean was still in charge today. Zherdev would not be what he is....Leclaire probably would be hurt....Brule would still be up and Derick Brassard would be in the top 6 just because he was a top pick.

I won't scathe MacLean completely...he did make some good trades like trading up for Nash and sending Marc Denis to Tampa for Freddy Modin and Freddy Norrena. He did a great job of selling the game in a new market but to say he's responsible for this team being in the race this year is just a completely misinformed statement. Its lazy journalism at its finest from a scribe who obviously put no research into his work.

So go ahead Toronto Maple Leafs. Hire this guy. Buy what he is selling. I'm just glad the Jackets finally washed their hands of this guy and are finally pointed in the right direction. A direction in which MacLean had nothing to do with.


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