It is a season of front-office change for the Maple Leafs: New people brought in with new ideas.
First, it was Brendan Shanahan who joined the Leafs, as the President and Alternate Governor. In July, Kyle Dubas arrived as Assistant GM to Dave Nonis. Brandon Pridham was brought in to assist Nonis.
So what would entice a man who spent the last 12 years with the London Knights to come to Toronto?
“When I talked to Brendan and Dave, I sensed a lot of energy. A lot of good things going on,” Mark Hunter, the new director of player personnel, recalled. “They hired Kyle and were really looking for new ideas. With myself and Kyle they are going to get new ideas.”
The Leafs' interest in Hunter was to bring in a winning culture. And while he will apply those different perspectives and ideas, his biggest contribution will primarily come from his first-hand evaluation of talent.
“I’m going to be on the road and give feedback being the eyes and ears for Brendan and Dave,” Hunter said. “I’m going to make sure I’m gathering the right information.”
Where traditionalists put a premium on size, Hunter seeks skill. His ability to evaluate talent will mesh well.
Hunter has coached in the past, including a stint with the St. John’s Maple Leafs back in 1996-97, but management is where he’s always wanted to be.
The timing of it worked out perfectly. Hunter’s kids are all grown up, so more time can be spent away from home. And the Leafs' new philosophy on hockey is what really opened the door for him to display his ideas.
“It’s a different time right now with analytics right now and you have to be open minded. I’m pretty happy about being with this organization and being with Dave and Brendan," he said.
Hunter still has another week of transition as he helps new Knights GM Basil McCrae learn the ropes of his old gig, before it is full steam ahead.