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Are you comfortable with Nonis steering the ship?

This will be relatively brief: while we could say that there has not been that much activity in this part of the hockey world since the Leafs were eliminated by the Bruins several weeks ago, it’s not as though nothing has happened.

Even before last week’s (surprise?) trade, we saw Dallas Eakins leave the organization to take on his first NHL head-coaching job, Leo Komarov head to the KHL and Colton Orr being re-signed.  There was apparently a cheeky little deal in place that would have sent a player to Toronto from Tampa (along with Lecavalier, who would be bought out and then re-sign with Tampa), but that was too larcenous even for the NHL to accept.  And we will finally see the long-awaited Komisarek buy-out this week.

But of course, the big news was indeed the deal that brought young netminder Jonathan Bernier to town.

That last transaction may have been the beginning of Dave Nonis placing his imprint on this roster—and the team’s future.

There are decisions to be made this summer, and those roster scenarios will kick in this week as well as during and after the upcoming entry draft.  Things will likely really kick into gear after the draft, as all 30 NHL teams prepare for free agency on July 6.

It feels like the Leafs are poised to do some damage for the first time in a decade.  They have some youth, they can skate, have some grit, too, and now have two young number-one goaltenders (whether both will be around come training camp, I don't know).  They are developing two of the most promising young mobile, offensive defenseman in the game in Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly.  They've amassed an interesting player pipeline, with some skill and size.  And they are coming off an impressive showing in the playoffs against the eventual Cup finalists from Boston.

They have spent years assiduously building the roster to a point where they may well be able to compete with the best in the Eastern Conference.  As we discussed here not that long ago, I believe they need three or four more “pieces”.  Some of those pieces will likely be more easily attainable than others.

The man in charge now is Dave Nonis.  He’s not going anywhere.  He’s clearly calling the shots.

Less than a year “on the job”, but here as the top lieutenant to Burke for years before that, are you comfortable that he is the right guy to get this team to the level they must achieve to be legitimate contenders?

I’ll let you run the show on this one:  I have my own ideas, but I don’t have anything too dramatic to say about Nonis.  As I’ve said here before, I like that the temperature in the front office has been dialed way down since January.  I can live without bravado and hubris, and without proclamations about “moving up in the draft” and such things on a regular basis.

Nonis is his own man, and seems to put a higher premium on goaltenders, for example, than did his predecessor.  But is his blueprint really that much different from Burke’s?

What are you seeing in his decisions to this point that might provide some insight as to whether he is the right man for what the Leafs need to do next?  What do they need to do next?

What is a “Dave Nonis” team?  And do you even care if there is such a thing?

Maybe you are more apt to believe that a GM is best advised not to be beholden to his reputation or a pre-prescribed script to make the team over in his own image.  Maybe you believe a good GM simply needs instead to be able to adjust on the fly to an evolving roster and a changing league.

In other words, you maybe don’t care how we get there, as long as we get ultimately get there.

Is Nonis the man to get us there?

42 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Wow, what a difficult question. I really hope he is, but as always, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Is he making a concerted effort to bring in the guys that he thinks take the team in the right direction? Yes. He obviously, along with Carlyle, I don't think its fair to separate them when roster evaluation is the topic, is making changes. No bigger change to me than essentially telling the goalie that got you to the playoffs for the first time in 9 years that you would rather have someone else between the pipes. Bernier being brought in screams to me that there is no faith in Reimer in the front office.

    Buying out Komisarek, is a move that because of optics that Burke couldn't have made, in my opinion. While I approve of this move, I don't approve of signing Orr to a two year deal for a million per. If a face puncher is what you feel you need, sign a cheaper one. Remember Orr was in the minors under Burke, Wilson wouldn't play him. And this was perhaps Ron's best move.

    I guess what I want in a GM is someone that will in certain circumstances, make a coach play a player. The Gardiner episode, is at the forefront of my thinking here. If Kostka doesn't break his hand in the playoffs, Gardiner might not have played at all. That to me is unacceptable for a player with such an immense skill set. He needs to play, whether here or with the Marlies. More pressbox time doesn't do anyone any good in Jakes case.

    All things said I guess, I have to say that I don't know. In my opinion there is so little to choose from when we are talking about GM's and coaches at the highest level. Unless you are a Bowman, or a Ken Holland, I think that there is little difference between everyone else. They all do some good things, they all fail to a certain degree. I will say this, I am happy the position has gone to someone who is more low key. The Burke circus is happily out of town. I for one, couldn't listen to him anymore. Too many failed promises and mantras. The team under delivering didn't help his cause either, I suppose.

    As far as Nonis goes, lets wait to see what he does at the draft and during the free agent season. At least before we start dedicating statues or transit stops in his honour. It is clearly a case, to me, of what have you done for us lately.

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    1. It would seem we both see the Reimer "picture" the same way, Jim. As for the broader assessment of Nonis, I agree, it's early and we have a ways to go before we can really get a distinct sense of where he is taking this team.

      As you note, there are a lot of good hockey people out there. I'm sure Nonis is one of them. Like you, I'm not sure he is a notch above, however. Thanks Jim.

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  2. No, I completely lost faith after the Bernier trade. It's not that it was a terrible trade (although it could be, if next year sees Reimer as the Leafs #1 and Frattin a consistent performer for the Kings), but more that it demonstrated a total lack of awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Goaltending was the only area where the Leafs were pretty much set, and that was where he chose to act first. I would have preferred to work on defence primarily, with a first line centre a distant second priority (I say distant, because 6th in league scoring is good enough for me).

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    1. I hear you, Oliver. In isolation the Bernier trade is a supposed upgrade, but I guess we have to assume there are more moves to come- specifically, building the back line, as you suggest. Thanks Oliver. I'll put you in with the Nonis doubters at this point...

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    2. Leafs Team Save % was 0.917, which ties them 9th in the league.

      Salary cap wise, it was one of the lowest goaltending caps.

      Why change that is just mind boggling, unless the management didn't have faith in their current goalies.

      My faith in the management is very low, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the following next year:

      Bernier is the #1 goalie but has a lower save % than Reimer
      Leafs fall to the bottom of the league (bottom 10)
      Something stupid is done at the trade deadline to try to make the playoffs and a 1st round pick, Gardiner, or Reilly is traded.

      The year ends with hopefully Nonis canned, and the new GM's first move is to fire Carlyle.

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    3. Hi Chuck- as you allude to, I think the answer to the Bernier deal lies, in part, in the fact that management does not have faith in Reimer.

      I don't know if your projection will unfold, but it is a mildly distressing one from a Leaf fan perspective. It's clear you're hoping for another new start with Nonis and Carlyle gone at the end of next season!

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  3. Well I was a big Nonis guy to start. As you said Michael, the simple fact that he wasn't front and center making ridiculous statements and holding combative news conferences was refreshing to say the least. I liked he made some hard decisions at the start of last year such as sending Connolly down and trading Lombardi for peanuts. This trade however, has really shaken my faith in him. I hope things work out and they may well but I still don't see the point in trading for a guy who is as of right now a marginal up grade on the back up goalie. Bernier's potential is of the charts but it has also been 7 years since he was drafted and he has yet to come even close to that potential. I just don't get this trade. I also don't like his insistence that there will be a competition for the number one spot. I find it disingenuous at best and downright bullshit at worst. There is no way Reimer starts game 1, none barring injury to Bernier, I have more chance of sleeping with Kate Upton. I just don't like it period.

    With rumors breaking tonight on Sportsnet that Letang would like to come to TO if a deal with the Penguins can't be reached is there a deal there involving Reimer? Lord knows the Pens actually do need an upgrade in goal and Reimer would do that. I'm not saying a 1-1 deal but there maybe the basis of something. I honestly think Reimer is gone before too long.

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    1. I see the Bernier deal much the same as you, Willbur. There isn't a chance this is a competition- not when you give up three assets for the new guy. He's the number-one. Nonis has to say what he is saying publicly. Reimer will be moved at some point, injuries aside. (How's that Upton thing going, by the way, Willbur...?)

      Letang was news to me until yesterday. Again, lots of speculation, much like Clarkson coming to Toronto for sure. Let's see what actually happens and we'll have plenty to bat around from there. Thanks Willbur.

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  4. At the end of the day, it is the players who win it or lose the Stanley Cup. I assume however, that the possibility of a Stanley Cup is largely the result of the work of the manager. I am sure there is more to it than roster moves, but player decisions are the best staple we have to assess a manager’s performance. As far as Nonis and the Leafs go, we have a pretty small sample size to make any judgement. Then again, the little work I have seen by Nonis in the player personnel area makes me nervous for the future.

    One area where Burke excelled was in attracting college and euro free agents, the “found wallets” he liked to talk about. While his personality may have come to grate on some, he seemed to possess a certain magnetism that attracted the likes of Tyler Bozak, Ben Scrivens and let’s not forget the Monster, whose talent became sublimated by the most bizarre goaltending management I have ever seen. I know, Nonis is not yet one year into the job, but it is noteworthy how we were entirely passed over by this year’s class of “found wallets”.

    The trade deadline. What a fiasco! While Jay Bouwmeester, surely the tonic the Leafs needed, slipped away to St. Louis for a song (pardon the pun) Nonis is chasing after Mikka Kiprusoff. Talk about having your priorities upside down and inside out! And then, a wasted draft pick on a player they apparently have no intention of signing, Ryan O’Byrne, when there were several capable defensemen on the Marlies. I know that most of us don’t give a damn about mid-round draft choices, but it seems to me that Dave Morrison has done a lot with those middling picks over the years. Why waste them then? I defer here to Branch Rickey, the father of the farm system concept: “There is quality in quantity”.

    Then there is the Bernier trade. This one, for sure, is a roll of the dice. I take it as a given that Nonis overpaid on this one, but Reimer’s job security is not the issue for me. What worries me most is the relative equivalence of the goaltenders in question. For reasons that defy facts, and mystify me to no end, everyone (groupthink) seems to have placed Scrivens’ performance ceiling as a high-end backup. I saw nothing in Scrivens’ performance to suggest that his ceiling is limited in this way. In fact, I see the potential of the three as too close to call. Scrivens plays the position like no other goaltender, primarily because he is a smart innovator. My fear is that, if he doesn’t languish behind Quick, Ben Scrivens may well turn out to be the best of the three.

    Finally, we come to the L’Affaire Lecavalier. While I am always one to admire creativity, the logic of this one escapes me. I am just wondering what compensation they imagined to receive for the 30 million dollars or whatever it would have cost to buy out Lecavalier. Well, it’s not my money. Perhaps something interesting will result from the compliance front, but the futility of this particular discussion reminds me of the pointlessness of running around after Mikka Kiprusoff. It just looks like a time waster (albeit not the deadly bullet that Kiprusoff represented). Much better to wait and see what the compliance buyouts bring, or if you want to go down that path, then look to a player that the opposite team has no intention of re-signing, like DiPietro, for example (imagine how it feels to sign his cheques).

    As I said, the body of work with the Leafs is small. The jury is out I guess. Then again, so far Dave Nonis has given us good reason to stay awake at night.

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    1. What you present today Bobby C. is not a condemnation, but perhaps a cautionary tale when it comes to Nonis. The jury, as you say, is out. But the hints we have do give pause for questions, eh? Thanks Bobby...

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  5. I'm OK with the Bernier trade, though of course I will wait and see. If it's true that the Leafs kept shots against to the outside this past season, then we can assume that Reimer's save percentage was thus inflated, as we would have faced a high number of low-probability shots. So even if his numbers were equivalent to Bernier's, Bernier may be the better goalie in the long run. Plus Reimer's injury history is always something that worried me - every time he took a puck to the noggin my heart stopped.

    Ultimately, I think Gardiners emergence, plus with Reilly, and to a lesser extent Percy and Finn coming up on the back end, we could finally see a Leaf team built from the net out. We might have the foundation of a deep playoff team here. As long an Nonis doesn't trade those players away.

    I concur, however, with what someone else said above. The Orr resigning is troubling not because we'll have an enforcer, but potentially two dressed every night, and that's a waste. As we noticed with Gardiner - he didn't play until Carlyle's hand was forced. Can Nonis control Carlyle? Does Nonis have the stomach to fire him sooner rather than later if the team fails to come together, if he fails to ice the best men? That may be his first true test.
    -PeterZeroOne

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    1. Hi Anon (PeterZeroOne)- stepping back a bit, I wonder how much, if any, input Nonis had into the hiring of Carlyle. As VLM readers know I am not an anti-Carlyle guy, though I do have my own questions about personnel deployment from time to time. Just as Wilson and Burke evidently did not agree on how "tough" a team they each wanted, are Nonis and Carlyle on the same page going forward?

      I agree that we have some talent emerging on the back end in the players you mention. I'm guessing Nonis will continue to look to add as he can. Thanks for posting, PeterZeroOne.

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    2. Yeah, that's exactly it - can Nonis and Carlyle be on the same page? Nonis is inheriting a coach, and that was a central problem with Burke's tenure. More to the point - since Tim Leiweke is taking over now as head of MLSE, and he himself is inheriting Nonis, is Nonis on a short leash?

      Look at Craig MacTavish - he was recently appointed GM by the owner, and took that opportunity to dismiss a very recently hired coach to get the guy he wanted. I somehow don't think that, if he wanted to, Nonis has the same leeway to dump Carlyle, simply because he's not Leiweke's guy.

      If Carlyle and Nonis aren't on the same page, are we doomed to a Coach/GM mismatch again until one or both are fired? That is, until we have another disastrous season?
      -PeterZeroOne

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    3. You quite correctly introduce the "Leiweke" factor, PeterZeroOne. He seems to think he knows how to build winners, though I don't know how much he had to do with the success of the organizations he was associated with previously.

      Like most supposedly "successful" senior management hires in business and in sports, he wants to bring in his own guys. We'll see what this means for Nonis and by extension, Carlyle, over time.

      I'll say this: can he be worse than Peddie, who was awful on the sports side and in terms of how he came across representing MLSE? Or Anselmi, who was handed the TFC franchise and essentially ran it into the ground?

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  6. Mixed bag so far and very small stuff. (trading Frattin and a 2nd rounder shouldn't be the cause of wrist-slicing)So it is hard to judge. Arriving in the job when he did left Nonis with no time to really impact 2103.

    His commitment to acquiring young talent with upside requires proving as does his related judgement capacities.

    I liked that he looked at the our Ok goaltending and made a move to potentially improve it. Serious contenders rarely become so with OK/good goalkeeping. Watching Riemer struggle with rebound control and his lack of fluid athletic body control gives one a sense James has a ceiling that might not be high enough. More than anything today goalies need to be extremely athletic. The challenge for Nonis is that neither Riemer nor Bernier have enough experience to be as certain as some would like.

    Nonis has shown an understanding of how absolutely crucial the position and having it played at a very high level is. Only a rube would say Bernier will or will not be elite. Too early for that, but I like Nonis' attitude here. A crucial position, he has a #1 who has never played a full season at the NHL level and is an UFA next year. Seems as though he is thinking ahead.

    It is too early to judge individual things. I am not crazy about the Orr signing but don't lose sleep over it. After all this wasn't a JFJ 5 year, no trade deal. Criticizing or applauding one or two moves is for the intellectually lazy or the bored. Until he has made more of a mark and we get a sense of the whole picture he is putting together, assessing is a flip of the coin , likely influenced by irrational attachments or prejudiced statistical analysis, more than knowledge of the whole.

    Unlike others I cannot lose nor grow faith until things actually play out on the ice and the W's and L's accumulate in the standings. Patience is required. Sorry fellow long suffering fans. Now if he was to do something really boneheaded in free agency, well given our recent history in that field, I may quickly lose faith. I haven't seen in Nonis an ego that cries out to make big splashes and grab headlines. That in itself is a positive breath of fresh air!!

    Perhaps that means I am OK with him for now. More by default than choice however. Sorry if I appear a fence-sitter for the present time.

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    1. I don't think it's fence-sitting Bmaximus, just a reasonable perspective which reminds us all that it is awfully early to make thoughtful assessments.

      I posed the question today not because there is any urgency to judge the job he has done, but more to get a general sense of the comfort level Leaf supporters have in the guy who is running the show.

      What I am getting, albeit from a small sample size, is that people are indeed prepared to wait and see. They like some of what he has done so far, are unsure about certain moves but generally appreciate the different tone he brings to the job.

      For now, that's OK. As you say, Bmaximus, ultimately "wins and losses" will sway our view...

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    2. I've been a Leaf fan for many years and I've seen the Leaf teams perform up and down with different general managers. Before Burke, I was daily looking at the sports page hoping that something would change the current rut that the team was in. Burke came to my rescue and made exciting changes and proclamations. Unfortunately, his strengths had their downfalls. Nonis, I feel, has similar Burke philosophy but more 'down to earth' rationality towards his job. I'm confident that Nonis can take us to a higher level.

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    3. For me, drgreg, one of the fascinating things about being a Leaf fan (a sports fan in general, I suppose) is how fans can see the same picture so differently. Whether it's how a certain player performs or how a GM goes about their business, we often see a wide disparity in perspective and point of view.

      Unless we're talking about Gretzky or Orr and everyone agrees that they were "the best", it's in the eyes of the beholder, I guess.

      I sense Nonis gives you a sense of tranquility, which may not be a bad thing!

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  7. Depending on how much you want to believe some reports, Nonis was pretty much the GM during Burke’s tenure with the Leafs. Was not Burke in Europe during some fairly critical periods of Leaf free agency and trade deadlines, leaving Nonis as the top guy handling important negotiations? If this was the case, we are not starting the Nonis era, we are already a number of years into it.

    I wonder if the question “Are you comfortable with Nonis steering the ship?” may be less important than the question – How much influence will Tim Lieweke have on Dave Nonis? The Lecavalier gambit could only be attempted with approval from Lieweke. And it is hard to believe Lieweke did not have significant input into the Bernier deal. I’m not saying Lieweke was the originator of either move, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t (have to?) give his blessing ahead of them.

    If I was to assess Nonis’ main move so far, what I see is he acquired the best goalie in the league outside present NHL starters, giving up two players in the bottom half of this past year's NHL roster. The principle piece for LA in the deal was Frattin, with Scrivens with no place to go in LA except to the bench for all but 15 games a year. So essentially this was a Frattin for Bernier deal, and I think LA has taken more of a gamble than the Leafs. I believe Nonis has to get a ton of credit for this trade – though I wonder if Lieweke helped it come about using his LA connections.

    Perhaps a bigger test of Nonis would be what Toronto would be willing to give up to get Letang from Pittsburgh if that trade comes about. Lance Hornby says the Leafs might have to give up Gardiner plus picks. Hard to pass on a guy who's been mentioned as a Norris candidate, but could Gardiner turn out to be just as good as Letang in a few years?

    We’ll have a much better indication of what type of GM Nonis is after the draft and free agent signings. Ask if I’m comfortable with Nonis then. Right now I’m not sure if I’m excited or nervous.

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  8. Solid post, Steve. Lots of food for thought. The Lieweke factor, as PeterZeroOne also referenced above, may indeed be much bigger than most observers initially thought.

    The Letang thing is intriguing. If I'm Shero, I'm looking for a lot in return...I wonder where that ends up?

    Thanks for chiming in, Steve.

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  9. Brian Burke as a hockey GM - signings, trades and drafting was an EXCELLENT GM. I can't emphasize this enough - in Toronto's crazy media market, he was terrible. All his bluster and pomp got him into way too much controversy for him to survive here long-term, but as a strictly hockey mind - EXCELLENT. Were Mike Komisarek/Tim Connolly bad signings? Absolutely. Did it really prevent the Leafs from bringing in another player of consequence? No, I don't believe so. Look at the following core players he's acquired - JVR, Phaneuf, Lupul, Gardiner, Franson (Bozak?) - what did he trade away for these players? Essentially, Brett Lebda. OK, obviously more, but I hope you get where I'm going. As for Kessel - we gave up too much for him, even Burke would admit that, but at least we got something in return that still plays hockey in the NHL - at an elite level. Would you rather have Andrew Raycroft or Vesa Toskala???

    As for Dave Nonis - the move to send Tim Conolly down and trade Lombardi isn't given enough credit. And in terms of Jonathan Bernier, I like James Reimer and I think Scrivens is an OK back-up, but goaltending is SO IMPORTANT in the NHL, if a player with Bernier's potential is available, you almost always have to make a move. What happens in the unlikely, but still very possible, scenario that Reimer can't handle the grind of a 65+ game season? Then what? Being an NHL GM isn't like going to the grocery store - you can't just get what you want when you need it. Bernier was available now and while I agree (Nonis probably would too) that top-4 D and top-1 C are more pressing, it doesn't work like that.

    In terms of the price paid, I love Matt Frattin, but the pieces sent to LA are not IRREPLACEABLE, and the possibility of landing a 2nd #1 goalie is too valuable to pass up.

    Dave Nonis hasn't done enough yet to know anything, but the Bernier trade certainly didn't break my faith with him. Plus, the Stanley Cup is still wet with champagne, give the man a break, he's done WAY more than 29 other GMs so far.

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    1. A well constructed post, Adrian. I will say this- to your last point, Nonis has already been active this off-seaosn, though the Cup was handed out just a few short days ago!

      I agree (and have mentioned this here in the past) that Nonis deserves credit for the Connolly/Lombardi moves. It freed up space for Carlyle to play young players who needed ice time at this level.

      And I agree that the price for Bernier is was not steep- not if you believe Bernier will be a good NHL goaltender. (My concerns with the Bernier deal have nothing to do with asset "cost"....)

      More moves to come, I sense. Thanks Adrian.

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  10. Hi Michael,

    In the wake of the Lecavalier buy-out today, can you expand a bit on the "cheeky little deal" where he was to be traded to Toronto, bought-out, and re-signed by TBL? I don't recall hearing any rumours to that effect, so I am wondering what I missed.

    Appreciate your writing.

    Cheers.

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    1. Hi Josh, I don't want to mis-lead you. But I think a VLM reader posted here over the past few days about a supposed attempt by Nonis to trade for Lecavalier (and a player from the Lightning). Who the Leafs were going to give up, I don't know. But the idea seemed to be that the Leafs would use a buyout on Lecavalier, and he would then re-sign with Tampa at a lower salary.

      Again, I'm sure Toronto was obviously getting something (a young player?) out of the deal, and TB was saving money, if the story is correct- but the league said no way.

      Maybe others have a clearer picture if this was close to being factual. Take care Josh.

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  11. Hey Michael,

    Personally...I haven't been a big fan of Nonis lately, especially with the Bernier trade. I feel vehemently that it was a poor case of cap and asset management particularly when goaltending was our strongest position last season. And then when you consider the unknowns involved with young goalies, it just baffles me. With that said, I generally believe in the vision Nonis has set this team on and I think he'll still get the team there. I just hope he doesn't make any moves simply because he knew he was too quiet in Vancouver and that's what got him canned there. I believe this team is well on it's way in terms of developing from the ground up and we don't need to make a big splash just to 'contend faster'. We'll see how the team looks like by the end of the summer I guess. I still trust Nonis but I am keeping a close eye on him from now on.

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    1. I understand your hesitation around the Bernier deal, Sasko. I can see the arguments from both sides, though I've stated my view here already.

      This is indeed a crucial summer for Nonis and the Leafs. The 'contend faster' dilemma you raise is always right in front of the GM in Toronto. It's the eternal challenge of being patient enough to build a roster that could be good for a long time, versus doing the same thing, but with a different strategy to make it happen quicker and the inherent risks of that approach.

      There are rarely easy solutions. That's why these guys get paid what they do- and get fired when their approach doesn't work,. Thanks Sasko.

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    2. I'm surprised some Leafs fans are unhappy with the Bernier deal. Why would the Leafs not want two excellent young goalies on their team instead of one? When did Reimer become a sure thing? I feel like most fans agree that goalies are a total crap shoot and almost impossible to predict, and yet those same people are trashing Nonis for protecting the team against that very thing?

      1. You can't win without a great goalie. This is insurance that the Leafs will have one.
      2. Reimer hasn't played more than 37 games in a season, he is not fully proven.
      3. If both Reimer and Bernier develop into #1's then the Leafs have one hell of a trade piece down the road. If neither develop we're screwed!
      4. Dave Nonis was an integral part of building this team the playoff outfit that stands before you. I for one intend to give him some respect for this and the benefit of the doubt.
      5. Hey, the Kings won a cup with Bernier as the back-up. Right?!!

      Thanks for listening.

      Jason

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    3. Hi Jason- always happy to provide as forum to toss opinions around.

      I do see your point. I won't try to speak on behalf of others. I'll just say for myself (at the risk of repeating my earlier comments here):

      -I'm not concerned about Reimer's psyche, though I do feel strongly he deserved better than this.

      -Even if Bernier has some "great" moments in the Leaf net early on, almost all capable NHL goalies provide that. In other words, when they're hot, they are really, really good. When they're not, they are at best mediocre, or worse.

      -Reimer already provides what I just described. In fact, I would argue that his injury season aside (2011-'12) he's been pretty pretty darn consistent compared with a lot of NHL goalies.

      -If Bernier proves, over time, that he can lead us to a Cup, well, it will be a great trade, obviously. But is he really that kind of goaltender?

      -If we could have scored into an empty net, Reimer would have upset the Bruins. What would Leaf supporters think then? That's all the more impressive given how far the Bruins went in the playoffs this spring.

      -Reimer played in this market, behind this Leaf defense. Bernier played on a low-scoring team, yes, but one which plays a very tight defensive style.

      Should the Leafs look to always upgrade? Absolutely. GM's look to improve the roster at all positions, all the time.

      But as I posted earlier on this subject, the concept of two young goalies is a nice idea. It just almost never works. It just doesn't.

      So Reimer will be gone. Teams don't need (and can't afford) two young number-one goaltenders.

      Again, those are just my views. I've only begun to discuss what I find hard to embrace about the deal. But as I always say here, we all see things a bit differently!

      Thanks Jason.

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    4. I have no issues with Nonis at this point since there is not enough information yet to make a judgement.
      I do like his calm, calculating demeanor.
      I also like that he is willing to use his resources...if he has to bury millions of dollars in the minors because the youngsters are playing better and need playing time than so be it.

      As for the goaltending debate I wonder if there is a new trend in the nhl where its advantageous to go with more of a true tandem until the playoffs to keep the goalies well rested and healthy. Look at the teams that went with a 65%/35% split or thereabouts...Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Vancouver, Toronto, St Louis. Contrast that with the playoff teams that went with a starter who played 80-90% of starts: NYR, San Jose, Detroit, Minnesota, NYI, Montreal.

      The game is faster, harder hitting, everyone shoots harder. You have shootouts (which must be very taxing on the goalies). The game has evolved. Perhaps we are seeing an evolution in how goalies are deployed?

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    5. You're right, the game is changing, apollo678. Whether the means the way goaltenders are deployed is shifting, I'm not sure.

      Teams certainly need two guys who can play, but when push comes to shove, there is always a number-one guy. Pittsburgh used two because neither was good enough. Same in Vancouver. Chicago won with Crawford. Rask was the man in Boston. In the end, they were both bona fide number-one guys.

      I still think teams need one guy they can rely on, with a dependable back-up. Two young goalies who want to be number-one is not a good recipe, in my mind.

      As for Nonis, we all agree it's very early to make major pronouncements...Thanks, apollo 678.

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  12. Hi Michael
    Your subject is timely - I have been wondering the same thing and hopefully reading various comments has educated me somewhat on situation.

    Since Nonis and Lieweke are now the key to where the Leafs go in the future I decided to do some research.

    1. Nonis

    -His playing career is U.S. NCAA hockey and one year pro in Denmark. It does not include Canadian major Junior A, which is still primary development system for NHL players nor NHL playing experience. These factors do not disqualify him, but are nice to have.

    - He has been fortunate to have a GWF (Great White Father) for most of his career. He has followed Brian Burke three separate times in his career, and obviously it has worked out for him. However, after three years in Vancouver, he was fired for missing the playoffs the last two years. But he landed very nicely in Toronto biding time until Burke wore out his welcome??

    - It is difficult to tell how much was Burke, and how much Nonis. As you know, I am a Sam Pollock disciple, and I have high regard for Holland and Detroit Red Wings. Theoretically, Don Waddell with Red Wings background should have done fantastic job for Thrashers, but it did not work our that way for many reasons, primarily ownership but also Waddell.

    2. Lieweke

    He comes across much better in interviews than Nonis, but confidence as a public speaker is not much of a criteria. This man is very obviously an experienced sports executive attained thru LA group that owned three sports franchises. Note: He was replaced by LA group prior to hooking up with MLSE?

    He appears to understand what a special situation the Toronto market is, and with communications companies owning the company the quality of the product should be more important than it was under the Pension Plan.

    I agree with you that Ownership, GM and Coach must be on same wave-length and since the man with the gold calls the shots, both Nonis and Carlyle may have short leashes as neither one were Lieweke's hires.

    3. Conclusion

    It is still too early to make a decision on whether Nonis is the best option. For the most part, he has been careful to not screw up the works and improve media relations. The success the Leafs had last year is a nice building block.

    As far as Bernier Trade, I view this much as you do. I believe that two No. 1 goalies does not work and that he sees Bernier as better option. In reality (see Kiprusoff chase), I believe that he thinks (and I agree) a veteran backup is the best approach. While I thought Frattin has good potential, in getting Bernier he has acquired a good chip for upgrading the Leafs, although I suspect the chip is Reimer.

    The draft and free agency period should help to clear up some of the mystery.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Ralph (RLMcC).

      It's funny, I remember saying when the Leafs hired Nonis (no knock on him) that I feel the Leafs should be in a position to hire the best hockey executive in the world. (They probably thought they did that when they hired Burke.)

      Now, that notion of hiring the 'best' hockey executive means that "guy" has to be available. I don't know who was "available" in January. Not many people. Nonis was promoted because he was "there"- not the best criteria to promote someone.

      That doesn't mean he's not a solid hockey guy. I'm just not sure his "track record" as second-in-command or as GM in Vancouver makes me feel like we have the best hockey guy out there.

      As you and others before you mentioned, we should make no mistake, Lieweke's influence will be huge.

      Thanks Ralph.

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  13. Even with all his shameless, larger than life, self-promotion and hubris, I felt I knew what Brian Burke brought to the table when he arrived in Toronto. We heard his 'plans' and watched him make some significant deals and some burdensome UFA signings that didn't turn out as well as anyone had hoped.

    With Nonis, I like the 'dialed down' tenor of the organization, yet I sometimes feel that 'old TML fears' are lurking (in the decisions over which we have no control) that will define our enjoyment of the team in the near term. We are in the 'great unknown' respecting the real possibilities and plans that Dave may be pursuing, while holding the cards close to his chest.

    Perhaps the reason that Nonis preferred to play 'second fiddle' to Burke is that he seems to be a guy who likes to work with quiet autonomy while allowing the 'thicker skinned one' to absorb the constant fan/media attention. I can identify with the 'autonomy' issue, when I think about my own experiences relating to those who choose to question my work before seeing the result of a 'work in progress'.

    It seems that every attempt to satisfy the desires of those making such queries is insufficient to the vision (let alone to justify the energy required to manifest the fullness of understanding being sought by the enquirer). The 'moving target' of a developing framework in the context of a league competing for the same assets, must be that much harder to describe than many of the frustrations I have experienced while attempting to 'share the vision' of more concrete realities.

    All that to say... as much as I am baffled by the Bernier acquisition and the 'sleight' that Reimer could (should/would?) feel, I am ready to see more of the unfolding plan before I am prepared to assess the work. But, therein lies the difference in my 'answer' to your titular query... I believe my 'comfort level' with Nonis has more to do with fear of the unknown than anything specific respecting the beginnings of his 'plan'.

    I think he has done well to describe his willingness to make changes and appears to be less of a 'player's GM' in the sense that Burke seemed better at 'honouring' most players with his comments (and distinctive principles). Perhaps we miss the Burke 'sense of honour' when it feels as though Reimer has been thoroughly and offensively 'cast aside'.

    I think James is NOT UNaware that the Bernier acquisition could be taken as a sleight or vote of non-confidence, yet I believe that he has the character to overcome the perception (or the reality) of such a state. I further believe that Dave Nonis actually knows this about the young man's character, and has taken this into account (respecting the Bernier decision).

    If such personal perceptions 'bear out', I am very interested to see what our GM is able to 'pull off' in the coming days. Perhaps building (strengthening?) 'from the net out' will see our D needs addressed shortly. Perhaps, the 'pieces' may not come in the order of D then 1C, but I'm excited to see what we have as the summer comes to a close.

    (And I was pleased to see him try to pull off the 'Vinny and an asset for a buyout' scenario before league squelching... he's certainly learned some of the Lombardi/Franson possible ropes from Burke and seems willing to be a bit more 'creative' than I thought might be the case).

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    1. A thoughtful post, as always, InTimeFor62. My guess is we will have even more to analyze in the weeks ahead when it comes to moves the Nonis is anticipating...

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  14. Letang, Bolland, Clarkson... and who knows how many others are potentially available? Nonis seemed to have something up his sleeve when he said he expected to be busy over the next 10 days or so. Maybe that was the Lecavalier deal, maybe there's something major brewing. I can honestly say I have no idea what to expect of Nonis yet.
    So I suppose, to answer your question about my comfort level with Nonis steering the ship - I'm feeling a little queasy. Not full-blown sea-sickness yet, but I may pop a Gravol soon.
    The Bernier deal puzzles me, as it does many VLM'ers. I just don't see it as the kind of deal we need to be focussing on. I don't know if it's an improvement or not - if Bernier's so outstanding, why couldn't he beat out Quick? And could we honestly say Kiprusoff would have been an improvement? It seems more like Nonis has a "thing" about Reimer. And published reports now have him saying every player's available for the right price.... Me? I'd be locking up Kessel asap, then trying to find that elusive center and top 4 Dman.
    Ultimately, the proof of Nonis' acumen will be in the pudding of our play next year, over a full schedule. At the moment, I don't feel I have a really accurate picture of where we are, so I'm counting on the fact that he does. How would we have fared this year if we'd had to play the Western teams, for example, or had to play 82 games?
    For the moment, I'm giving Nonis the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not yet convinced our ship's course is truly set for smooth sailing. Pass the Gravol, please...

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    1. Playing a season and nary a game against a Western Conference team does make any assessment difficult, doesn't it, Gerund O', when it comes to how our roster is set up.

      A year from now we'll know a lot more, for sure. Will any of the players available (heck, now that Lecavalier is free, would he be a useful addition for a team like the Leafs that needs experience?) including some of those you mention consider Toronto, or embrace a trade here?

      I sense a lot of fans are still in a way-and-see mode when it comes to Nonis, Gerund. You're not alone!

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  15. The Bernier trade only makes sense if more deals follow and I certainly think they will. I'll be amazed if James Reimer is with the Leafs at training camp.
    Having said that, the Dave Nonis question will be much more clear by the end of the summer. My best guess is that Reimer goes to the Oilers for Sam Gagner. A fun time for NHL fans this week.

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    1. I sense you're on the money, BCLeafFan...if we thought Nonis was a 'stand pat' GM, we may have a different take on that question by next season. Thanks for posting.

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  16. Hi again Michael - I like your comment above that 2 unproven (or not fully proven) #1 goalies rarely ever works. And I'd agree - but again, GMing isn't like going to the mall - you can't just get what you want when you need it.

    Take a look at the numbers for Carey Price and Jaro Halak. Price played 41 games his first year in the NHL (2007/08). Halak played 6 games that year, and in the following season split duties with Price - CP52/JH34. In 2009/10, Halak's last as a Hab, he once again split duties with Price, but this time it was nearly down the middle - and it looked like Price had an off year. And of course, Halak played the bulk of the playoff games before being shipped to the Blues. In each of the 2 years Montreal had a tandem goalie set-up, they were successful - I can't personally re-call how those seasons went for them, but the numbers say they made the playoffs each year and had varying levels of success/failure.

    Hopefully, something similar to this plays out in Toronto. Two goalies co-exist for a brief time, while putting up strong numbers. The time with the Leafs allows management a good look at Bernier and how he handles the Toronto market, while also buying time to watch the continued development of James Reimer who really only has had one 'full' year with the club (call-up, injury year, lockout). This scenario is much more palatable than hanging everything on Reimer and then hoping that Scrivens can handle things if it doesn't work out.

    Could it all blow up? Of course, but there's always risk when you're trying to improve your club.

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  17. The recent Montreal example is fair, Adria, for sure. Interestingly, some say Price has gone backwards since, and Halak's career in St. Louis has kind of gone back and forth.

    There's no question they had some success together in Montreal, but it was not an ideal situation, I don't think. There is always an unhappy guy sitting, when both are number-one goalies.

    As you say, maybe things will work out. Being a GM is no easy task. Nonis is trying to improve the roster, and I understand his rationale. We'll see how this goes! Thanks Adrian.

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  18. Cameron TompkinsJune 28, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    If what I've read about the proposed trade with Tampa Bay was true, then I'm very impressed with Nonis. Trading for Lecavalier, only to buy him out so that Yzerman could re-sign him was an idea possibly possessed by genius. I'm not arguing for the particular details of the trade, because I don't know what we would have gotten back from Tampa. I'm impressed only because it's a very creative approach, and something Brian Burke would never have considered. Burke's puffed up sense of blindly obeying what he thought was the spirit of the CBA would have precluded even a discussion of that kind of trade. In that sense, I think Dave Nonis is really looking out for the best interests of the team in a way that Burke didn't. Sometimes I got the impression that Burke had conflicting loyalties between the Leafs and the league. I don't have that concern with Dave Nonis.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Cameron. Interesting perspective. There's no doubt Burke seemed reluctant to do anything that was not "in the spirit" of the CBA. Thanks for posting.

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