John Ferguson Deserves Some Thanks

Dustin PollackContributor ISeptember 29, 2009

Ok Leaf fans don’t exit the screen just yet, here me out first.

Like most other Maple Leaf fans from about 2004-2008, I wanted to pull my hair out at almost every transaction former GM, John Ferguson Jr. made.

Andrew Raycroft, Jason Allison, Jeff O’Neill, Eric Lindros, Brian Leetch, as well as many others were players picked up by Ferguson, were basically disasters or were signs of plain bad managing.

Raycroft was as good as having Carlton the Bear in between the pipes, Jason Allison was as speedy as former Toronto Raptor, Oliver Miller (if you don’t remember Miller click here for a photo and you can picture how fast he was on the hardwood), and Brian Leetch’s tenure in Toronto was as almost as long as Alonzo Mourning’s.

Yes, I could go on for days about giving Tuukka Rask away for Justin, unloading 10 draft picks (including three first rounders), and giving Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle, Mats Sundin, and Darcy Tucker no trade clauses, but why bother?

Ferguson is gone and finally the Leafs are moving in the right direction. I don’t think I’m alone when I say the preseason has been a breath of fresh air watching the young kids dominate all over the ice.

But where did they all come from?

Yes, Christian Hanson and Tyler Bozak were picked up by Brian Burke near the end of last year and Nazem Kadri was drafted 7th overall this past summer, but what about the others?

After all, as of right now only one (forward Viktor Stalberg who scored six preseason goals) of the so called “kids” has gotten the nod from coach Ron Wilson to be a part of the lineup come the season opener on Thursday.

Another so called “kid” made a name for himself on the backend even with the strong forces they already have. Carl Gunnarsson, who had a goal, an assist, and was a +3 in eight preseason games.

But where did these two “kids” come from?

Stalberg, 23 and Gunnarsson, 22 are both too old to have been drafted this past summer or even the summer before that when Cliff Fletcher was in control.

For those of you who haven’t been able to figure it out here’s a hint, JFJ.

John Ferguson drafted both Stalberg and Gunnarsson while GM of the Leafs. Unfortunately Ferguson didn’t hang on to his job long enough for him to watch both of them develop.

So I guess no matter how many mistakes Ferguson made, as we look to the present, with Stalberg rumored to be playing on the top line with Stajan and Blake and Gunnarson most likely atop the Toronto Marlies defense core, I guess we kind of have to say...

Thanks John.

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