The Toronto Maple Leafs, a franchise in the National Hockey League, has made some news recently. Earlier this week, with the appointment of Lou Lamoriello as the 16th General Manager of the club, Toronto announced a change in management. However the change in leadership has not changed the complexion of Toronto’s chances next season, at least not when one considers the betting odds on the Leafs.
Toronto, a team who missed the playoffs in 2015, are among the longest long shots to win the 2016 Stanley Cup at this point. The Leafs, priced at 125 to 1 (all odds Coral), seem highly unlikely to end their Cup drought in the upcoming season. In fact the Leafs are considered the least likely contender of the seven NHL franchises based in Canada.
The Edmonton Oilers (+6600), the Winnipeg Jets (+4000), the Ottawa Senators (+3300), the Vancouver Canucks (+2800), the Calgary Flames (+2000), and the Montreal Canadiens (+1000) are all considered to be more worthy challengers at this point, still a few months away from meaningful hockey.
What is on the far horizon for the Leafs is not clear. However, with Lamoriello, the Leafs have a GM with an impressive track record. The long-time GM of the New Jersey Devils, Lamoriello helped that franchise build from obscurity to relevance. The Devils peaked under Lamoriello’s ledership, winning three Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000, and 2003.
Furthermore American hockey peaked under his leadership too.
Younger hockey fans won’t remember the mid-90s. However prior to 1998, the biggest international hockey tournament was not the Olympics, rather it was the World Cup of Hockey. At the 1996 event Team Canada, loaded with All Stars and future Hall of Famers, featured a team with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph, Joe Sakic, and more. With a strong but lesser talented team, the USA, under Lamoriello’s management, defeated the Canadians in a best of three final – including twice in Montreal.
The elephant in the room with Lamoriello is that his greatest managerial achievements are from times well past. There have been no Cups in Jersey in 12 years now (minus a season for the missing 2005 campaign). However let’s not forget that the Devils overachieved recently, as they made the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2011/12 season.
I don’t think the Leafs are going to be a factor in the upcoming season, mainly due to roster problems. However it will be interesting to see where they are in a few seasons. That said, the new GM is 72 years old so perhaps there needs to be a three to five year plan instead of anything really long termed.