The Shanaplan is getting six more years of runway.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced late Tuesday that Leafs president and alternate governor Brendan Shanahan has signed a six-year extension with the club until the end of 2024-25. The Toronto native and 21-season veteran of the NHL had taken the position in the summer of 2014 after leaving the league as its senior vice-president of player safety.
Under Shanahan, the Leafs’ downward spiral bottomed out and the club began reaping the benefits of a series of high draft picks, including No. 1 overall Auston Matthews in 2016. Prior to that, Shanahan put building blocks in place such as coach Mike Babcock, who will mark his own fourth anniversary next week and Kyle Dubas, who began as assistant general manager as Shanahan’s first major hire in 2014 and last year replaced Lou Lamoriello as GM.
Shanahan also supervised an extension of the team’s sports science department, backed Dubas on a shift to analytics research and in a popular move, brought Dave Keon back in the family and ended the honoured number system by retiring a total of 19 numbers, while restoring an older and bolder primary team logo.
“When MLSE approached me several months ago to discuss an extension, I told them this would be quite simple as I’ve had no desire to leave what we’ve started here,” said Shanahan. “I’m thankful to the board, our coaches, trainers, management and office staff, and especially our players for the professionalism and dedication they display every day.
“I’d also like to thank our incredibly loyal fan base. The trust and passion they’ve shown is truly inspiring and drives us to never quit until we reach our ultimate goal.”
That would be a Stanley Cup, with the Leafs qualifying for the playoffs the past three years. But the first cracks in the Shanahan-Babcock-Dubas triumvirate were detected last year when the coach could not get more out of the team’s stars and the Leafs failed to finish off Boston in the first round before losing in seven games.
However, Dubas put to rest any thought Babcock would not be back for the fifth of his eight-year contract last week. Babcock and Shanahan were also seen sitting together at a recent Marlies game.
“Brendan’s positive impact on this team has not only been felt on the ice, where the team is on an impressive path, but throughout the league, with the Leafs alumni, and in the community,” said board chairman Larry Tanenbaum in the release. “We look forward to continued success under Brendan’s leadership over the next six years.”
Rarely seen MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl was also quoted.
“One of the things we are most proud of at MLSE is our team leaders’ impact on each of our team’s successes and our company’s culture, and Brendan is a perfect example of that. He brings a championship attitude to the team and the entire organization.”
Shanahan turned 50 earlier this year. If he lasts his entire term, he’ll have been at the executive helm of the club longer than any man since the late Harold Ballard.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019