August 29, 2003
TORONTO -- The two-month search for a new hockey mind in Leafs Nation is over.
Former St. Louis Blues executive John Ferguson is taking over the reigns from Pat Quinn as the 12th general manager in Toronto Maple Leafs' history. Quinn continues his coaching duties for a sixth season.
| John Ferguson was named Leafs GM on Friday. |
Criticism is never too far from the Leafs and the franchise's GM search and the new GM himself have been taking hits in the media since it was announced the organization was going to split Quinn's portfolios. Would the next GM just be a puppet for the mighty Quinn? Why has the process taken so long? Why haven't there been more "name" candidates? Why is Quinn helping to select his own successor?
"Has there been some bulletin-board material for me?" asked Ferguson. "Sure, but that's just going to fire me up." The organization had said right from the beginning it was looking for a young, up-and-comer that could grow and learn the position. That's exactly what they got in Ferguson.
Quinn pointed all along to the relationship between Scotty Bowman and Ken Holland in Detroit as the model. It has always been his intention to give up the GM job since accepting the position in 1999, but things were working well so why change?
"We have good people here," said Quinn. "It's not about me deciding on my own or now someone else is going to make all the big decisions. We as a group are going to go forward. John (Ferguson) is not going to be alone in this. He's going to want and have a good organization around him and that's what's going to make us better and that's all I want."
Under Quinn the Leafs have been to the Eastern Conference Final twice and made it past the first round every year except last season when they lost in seven games to the Philadelphia Flyers. While management isn't satisfied without the Cup, there had been evidence the arrangement was working.
Ferguson brings a resume filled with experience, despite being just 36 years of age, and the pedigree of a former NHLer and hockey executive. He is the son of Montreal Canadiens legend and former Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers general manager John Ferguson Sr..
"Today is something else," the elder Ferguson told the FAN 590 on Friday. "You dream of your son maybe playing for a National Hockey League team someday, but this is something special, having him end up the general manager of the Maple Leafs."
| The gritty, former Montreal Canadien, John Ferguson Sr. has suddenly become a Maple Leaf fan. |
After five years as assistant general manager for the St. Louis Blues, Ferguson was promoted to vice president and director of hockey operations in 2001. He was also the president and general manager the Worcester IceCats, the Blues top minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League.
With the Blues, he negotiated all player contracts and was in charge of both the pro and amateur scouting operations for the club. Prior to joining the Blues, he was a member of the scouting staff of the Ottawa Senators.
Along with his scouting background Ferguson was first a player agent. This led to a stint with National Hockey League's hockey operations and legal departments where he analyzed NHL standard player contracts, the salary arbitration process and the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Not only has Ferguson got it done off the ice, but he did succeed to a certain extent as a defenceman. He played collegiate hockey at Providence College, where he graduated with a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1989.
His professional playing career consisted of four seasons in the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators organizations, but didn't play any games at the NHL level.
After his playing days were over, he enrolled at Suffolk University Law School and graduated Cum Laude three years later. In 1996, he was admitted to the Massachusetts State Bar.
Ferguson and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: son, John, and daughters, Emily and Grace.