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Shanahan says Maple Leafs in no rush for new GM

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- It is traditional for teams to hire a general manager first and let him choose his coaching staff.

However, when a coaching candidate with the stature of Mike Babcock suddenly becomes available and expresses interest in coaching your team, you jump all over it.

That is what Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan did in hiring Babcock who coached the Detroit Red Wings the past 10 seasons.

Now Shanahan, who will turn his attention to finding a new GM for the Maple Leafs, said he's in no hurry.

"Next will be meeting more with Mike and getting a plan," Shanahan said Thursday. "As much as Mike and I have talked, we have more to talk about. For me, I am still interested in pursuing a general manager if the general manager fits. For the immediate days, it's more about Mike getting to know our organization from top to bottom."

Shanahan was hired as the team's president following the 2013-14 season and stayed mostly in the background in his first year. He was more of a presence this past season.

Shanahan fired coach Randy Carlyle, replacing him with interim coach Peter Horachek. The Maple Leafs struggled under Horachek and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Shanahan also extended a team-appointed suspension to center Nazem Kadri for being tardy arriving at practice.

Shanahan has been very active since the Maple Leafs season ended reshaping the team's front office including firing GM Dave Nonis and the coaching and scouting staffs. But Shanahan has assistant GM Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter working at his side.

"My plan hasn't changed from the end of the season," Shanahan said. "It's about finding the right people. I am not as concerned about the timing. I think we are in real good shape for the draft. If we find the right guy, we'll move on the right guy."

Shanahan was asked if he is comfortable attending the NHL Entry Draft in Florida June 26 and 27.

"Throughout the year, Mark Hunter has been preparing our draft," Shanahan said.

Shanahan wasn't sure if the Maple Leafs would have a GM in place by the draft, and whether

or not he would attend the draft if that's the case.

"We all have relationships with people," Shanahan said. "I think some people call me and some people call Mark. If we are approaching the draft and we don't have a general manager in place at that time, I will probably just put something out telling people to call me. I do think at a certain point you do have a point person to communicate, but that is not my focus right now.

"My focus is for searching for someone that is the right fit and if we do have to go to the draft and we have to make decisions as a group right now, I am confident in the people that we have that we can make those decisions."

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