Brendan Shanahan is going from handing out suspensions to running the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Shanahan will oversee all team operations for the Maple Leafs after he was named the club’s president and alternate governor Friday. It’s the first front-office job for the 45-year-old Toronto native and Hockey Hall of Famer.
Shanahan had been serving as the NHL’s director of player safety as well as the league’s vice-president of hockey and business development. He took over the disciplinarian job from Colin Campbell in June 2011 and will be replaced by Stephane Quintal.
The Leafs said in a statement that Shanahan will begin in his new role immediately, adding there will be no further comment until a Monday news conference. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president Tim Leiweke and Leafs vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis are expected to be at that news conference along with Shanahan.
Nonis’s presence indicates he’s safe, at least for now, even after Toronto’s season went off the rails last month and the Leafs failed to make the playoffs. But when the Calgary Flames hired ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke as president of hockey operations in September, Jay Feaster was present — and then fired two months later.
It’s unclear what direction Shanahan will want to take the franchise in. In this job, below Leiweke and above Nonis on the totem pole, he’ll have a say about coach Randy Carlyle’s future and potentially his replacement.
The Leafs were officially eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday, though it was a streak of eight straight regulation losses in March that dropped them from second in the Atlantic Division.
As first reported by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Leiweke had been looking into the possibility of shaking up the front office of his hockey team after the Leafs’ recent collapse.
“Very challenging time right now for our group mentally,” Carlyle told reporters in Florida after a 3-2 loss Thursday night.
Shanahan, who grew up in the Toronto neighbourhood of Mimico, had 656 goals and 698 assists in 1,524 career NHL games for the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.
At the time, commissioner Gary Bettman — who reportedly lobbied for Shanahan to get hired by the Leafs — praised him for his work in the department of player safety. Shanahan has been at the league office since 2009, but his “Shanabans” with accompanying video explanations have revolutionized suspensions in the NHL.
“I think his contributions to the game, based on what he’s doing now, will even exceed what he did in the 21 years that he played,” Bettman said in Toronto on Nov. 11. “He’s making a real mark on how the game is played, making it safer for current players and generations to come.”
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 11, 2014