John Ferguson is entering his fourth season as general manager of the Maple Leafs. Ferguson became the 12th person in team history to hold the role when he was introduced August 29, 2003.
One of the most important parts of my job is being patient.
I believe patience is more important in hockey than in other sports. In football and baskteball, players often step onto an NFL or NBA roster straight from college. There’s no real need for patience.
Compare that to hockey, where a player may not reach his prime until his mid-to-late twenties. We drafted Nik Antropov in 1998, nine years ago. Kyle Wellwood has established himself as a regular this year. He was a 2001 pick. Players are typically three to five years away from playing when we draft them and I tell my staff, you can do the best job scouting and drafting players in the NHL, but if you trade all those picks away, no one will ever know.
You have to strike a balance.
Montreal Canadiens GM Sam Pollock used to say, never fall in love with a hockey player or a horse. That’s good advice but you have to be wary when you move a player. My dad always told me: never trade a player to someone who knows him better than you do.
As I said, it’s a balancing act. Sometimes you have to act, just to keep everyone honest. There are times where change is helpful, even if you think it might end up being a lateral move. You’ve got to have some turnover on your roster.
If a player really disappoints you, and you’ve looked objectively at your options, it’s OK to move decisively. As I said, patience is important but sometimes in this business, it’s good to show that you have a little bit of an edge.