Just How bad Was JFJ

Pierre McGuire was on the Fan this am, the fan doesn’t post too many of their insiders clips on the net so it’s hard to get clips for you. However, I got a good chunk of it. McGuire was saying how far back the Muskoka Five set the Leafs franchise. “If they hadn’t refused to waive there no movement/no trade clauses the team wouldn’t be in this 3-5 year rebuilding program., I guarantee it.”

Well, a couple of things come to mind…

1. If the queen had balls, she would be king
2. the following scene from an absolute classic:
“Tommy: Let’s think about this for a sec, Ted, why do they put a guarantee on a box? Hmm, very interesting.
Ted: I’m listening.
Tommy: Here’s how I see it. A guy puts a guarantee on the box ’cause he wants you to fell all warm and toasty inside.
Ted: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
Tommy: ‘Course it does. Ya think if you leave that box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter.
Ted: What’s your point?
Tommy: The point is, how do you know the Guarantee Fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” says the little fairy, but we’re not buying it. Next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser and your daughter’s knocked up, I seen it a hundred times.
Ted: But why do they put a guarantee on the box then?
Tommy: Because they know all they solda ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That’s all it is. Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for right now, for your sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality item from me.
Ted: Hmm. Okay, I’ll buy from you.
Tommy: Well I… What?

So, the guarantee isn’t that important. We all know the truth. The question is what put us in the mess? If you listen to Wilbur, the pressure to succeed was so great on JFJ he couldn’t do the things he wanted to do. I scream bullshit. Look where failure got him. FIRED. I also don’t buy that he acted differently because he didn’t have job security. There are lots of GM’s out there on 1 year deals who don’t mortgage everything on nothing. This guy was a complete baphoon. He will never be a GM again in the NHL. As one exec told me, he will be a GM again, but only of a Walmart! These deals that he made were so brutal. Every single one of them. I don’t blame any of the players for not waiving their clauses. The jerk on the other side was willing to give it and hey they each earned it. Who was JFJ bidding against when he signed any of the guys he gave the NTC’s too? NO ONE. Did he have to up the anti on Tucker because someone else was going to go higher? NO. Did someone threaten to overpay McCabe? Nope…He was bidding against himself in almost every case. Oh no, he wouldn’t have gotten Kubina…alone, and no offense to Kubina, but what the hell was this one guy going to add to this franchise???

I just love the argument that ownership screwed this up. I don’t buy 1 cent of it. You don’t get to the GM level by being a yes man. All of the sudden you are an order taker? Give me a break. If that is true, then JFJ is more spineless then I originally thought. The guy was making big bucks. He knows only hockey. He had to know that his reputation was on the line with every move he made. The question is was he just to stubborn to listen to those around him? Did he really act totally alone on these moves? Forget the board. The board wasn’t telling him to go sign Pavel Kubina. Was the board out there trying to replace him? Sure, that may be the case. Was the board in disagreement over his status. Sure. Did that undermine him? Absolutely. Did that force him to make stupid moves? Hell no. I don’t buy it for one second. He was apparently turned down one time by the board, and that was to blow things up entirely. I know that may sound hypocritical. Wait though, before you pounce. Ask yourself this? Do you want that tool doing the rebuilding. We got nothing for Sundin. We got Van Ryn for McCabe. The damage Cliff did in blowing up was pretty minimal. The guys he got back have been OK. Not great. OK. They haven’t been complete disasters (save for the village idiot who for some reason Wilson seems to like). I didn’t want it then and I re-enforce it today, JFJ was not the man ever to do the re-tooling.

We see it in every day life all the time. People who excel in one area aspire to do something else. Not everyone is a good manager. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good at something. I have run into this countless times. Leading sales people aspire to be sales managers. When they become sales managers they hate it, they are miserable. Why? Simple, they aren’t selling anymore, they are bogged down in red tape and process. So they have the title and yet they are miserable. JFJ sounded like he was good at contracts (stop laughing). Maybe he was good at negotiating them when he was provided with limitations. I would like to say he was a good talent evaluator but we all know that just can’t be true. Who knows, I am sure he has a home in hockey. Right now he is a scout (stop laughing). I don’t think he has the makeup to be a GM in this league. It’s really quite simple. I get asked a lot, whether I think Burke was the right guy for the leafs. The answer is absolutely. Why, because he is the one guy who can handle the board and the media. As much as I love Doug Wilson and think he would have been a better GM choice, he would have gotten killed here. He is too quite, too thoughtful. If Richard Peddie walks in to Burke’s office and says ya know, this guy on Columbus looks pretty good, we all know where Burke is going to put Peddie. There will be no discussion, no second thought. If McCown wants to rip Burke on the air, Burke isn’t going to run from the Bobcat. That is the type of person the Buds need at this point.

So I agree with you Pierre. We may not agree on the why or the who is to blame but the Muskoka 5 really hurt this team. It says here the blame falls squarely on JFJ. He may not have started the country club atmosphere, he allowed it to remain, he installed the coach who did nothing about it. He signed the players, it all falls on him. When history looks back no one will say, oh yeah that guy from the Ontatio Teachers Pension fund really screwed the leafs up, they will say JFJ did.

8 responses to “Just How bad Was JFJ

  1. I second that emotion,well layed out argument.Kaberle was probably his only signing that was market value.

  2. JFJ is certainly #1 on the hit list for blame. I don’t even see how that could be questioned.

    That said, while all the NTCs he gave out were brutal, it wouldn’t have been completely unreasonable for him to think that those guys could still be moved if things went bad. After all, guys waive their NTCs all the time, as long as they’re going to a better team/situation.

    JFJ may have figured that he was giving up some control, but that if things went to hell the NTC guys would be willing to move.

    Or maybe he just knew that if that happened, it wouldn’t be his problem to deal with anymore.

    • torontosportsmedia

      He was hired because he was supposed to be smart and smart about the new economics that were coming. He got completely schooled by agents and fellow GM’s. No excuse for that…one word to remember..Belfour!

  3. I don’t want to COMPLETELY defend JFJ here but…

    He didn’t have anything to work with. Pat Quinn was the original guy who mortgaged the future by trading away pick after pick along with prospect after prospect. The cupboard was completely bare, and I feel that JFJ had nothing to do with what he had. In all seriousness, what the hell would you do with Mikael Renberg and Robert Reichel? Pat Quinn signed every guy that was on the downward slide in their career, and JFJ had to feel the brunt of that.

    Of course JFJ is to blame for the bad contracts that he signed over the course of his tenure in Toronto…

    • torontosportsmedia

      When he took over it was his team. He got to hire his coach, he got to sign who he wanted to. There were no anchors then. He decided who he wanted back.

  4. You forgot a few more of JFJ’s sins:

    The post-lockout team only started winning once his UFAs got hurt and they brought up the kids in their system (some eye for talent).

    Almost every UFA he signed is no longer in the NHL.

    Right after the lock-out, the Leafs were the only team not to buy-out a player. Their large salary commitments handcuffed the club. The largest pool of UFAs in the history of the NHL and JFJ completely mis-read it. He signed a bunch of one-year deals thinking all the big UFAs would be available the following summer. Then Thornton, Iginla, and all the others signed long-term deals leaving JFJ and the Leafs in the lurch.

    Logan – None of this had anything to do with previous administrations. And for the record, JFJ traded more picks than Quinn.

  5. You forgot a few more of JFJ’s sins:

    The post-lockout team only started winning once his UFAs got hurt and they brought up the kids in their system (some eye for talent).

    Almost every UFA he signed is no longer in the NHL.

    Right after the lock-out, the Leafs were the only team not to buy-out a player. Their large salary commitments handcuffed the club. The largest pool of UFAs in the history of the NHL and JFJ completely mis-read it. He signed a bunch of one-year deals thinking all the big UFAs would be available the following summer. All of them signed long-term deals leaving JFJ and the Leafs in the lurch.

    None of this had anything to do with previous administrations. And for the record, JFJ traded more picks than Quinn.

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