On the surface, Dave Nonis's first year as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs went spectacularly. Taking the reins after the dismissal of Brian Burke, Nonis watched as his team surged into the top eight in the Eastern Conference and then, in a stunning turn of events, stayed there.
That's right. In less than half a season, Nonis managed to do what no one else had been able to do in years: he got the Leafs to the playoffs. (Sure, he did very little in the way of building that team, but he was in the big chair when it happened.) Looking at it this way, you can understand why MLSE might decide the time was right to give Nonis a healthy extension. That's exactly what they did.
Tim Leiweke, President and Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, announced Thursday that David Nonis has signed a five-year contract extension in his role as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Ownership and management felt it was critical to extend David now for a lengthy period of time and to reward him for the progression of the Leafs and Marlies,” said Leiweke. “This extension will allow David the time to build his kind of team to produce steady results, year after year. Everyone is excited about his ability and grasp of the NHL landscape and today’s new contract agreement will offer the Leafs consistency and a long-term vision.”
Minor quibble: not everyone is excited. While Nonis's accomplishments in six months on the job look pretty incredible when juxtaposed with his predecessors, they look a lot less incredible if, you know, you look at them.
First of all, it's been suggested -- and backed up with stats -- that the Leafs' run to the postseason was a lucky one, somehow managing to occur despite abysmal possession numbers that typically belie the notion of a contending team. If that's the case, they're bound to come back to earth in the near future. Or maybe that's what the last 10 minutes of Game 7 versus Boston was.
Or maybe their fall from grace doesn't happen at all because Nonis truly improved them in the offseason, buying out Mikhail Grabovski and signing Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson? Some believe this to be true.
Others feel a potato would have made better decisions. Speaking of juxtapositions, Pension Plan Puppets didn't feel Nonis compared favourably to North America's most beloved tuberous crop:
Colton Orr: Dave Nonis chose to re-sign the facepuncher at 925k for two years. The potato could not, and Orr walks as a UFA. Strong opener by the potato.
Mikhail Grabovski: Nonis opted to buyout the Leafs' strongest center, who, after spending a year playing some of the toughest zone starts and competition of any forward in the league, had certainly earned more icetime by any sane definition of the word "earned." The potato did not buy out Grabbo, which also saved a compliance buyout that the potato could use elsewhere, if it were a sentient human being.
Tyler Bozak: Nonis chose to re-sign the possession black hole and Phil Kessel-inhibitor for 5 years at 4.2M (get it? 42?). The potato could not re-sign Bozak, as it cannot enter into a legally binding agreement, so he walked as a UFA.
David Clarkson: Nonis signed the 30 year old Clarkson to a 7 year, 5.25M contract. The marginal upgrade on Clarke MacArthur reportedly left money on the table to come to Toronto over Edmonton, but it's hard to imagine a world where that contract doesn't haunt the Leafs in 3-4 years. The potato did not sign Clarkson.
I like the way this potato does business.
And yet it's Nonis, who only looks like a potato, who will continue to run the Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future, perhaps into the place from which potatoes grow.