Slow and Easy or Fast and Furious?
With Cliff Fletcher poised to take over the Maple Leafs - the official team announcement came just before noon today that John Ferguson Jr. has been fired - the interesting question is this; how will Fletcher try to fix this team?
To answer that, it's worthwhile to look at his first moves when he was hired the last time to run the Leafs, back in July, 1991.
The Leafs were coming off a 57-point season and had missed the playoffs five of 10 years, meaning they were probably in worse shape then compared to now.
Fletcher, then 55, came in with a five-year, $4 million contract, albeit one that wasn't set in stone until the following September when Steve Stavro gave up his battle to have Fletcher either fired or reined in.
"There's not going to be any quick cures," vowed Fletcher.
So what was his first big move? Did he stockpile draft picks and prospects?
Uh, not quite.
Instead, in September he swung a deal with Edmonton to bring in three veterans - goalie Grant Fuhr, winger Glenn Anderson and forward Craig Berube - in a whopper of a deal. Fuhr was coming off a shortened year due to a drug suspension, but Fletcher proclaimed him to be the "cornerstone to a new foundation."
In exchange, the Leafs surrendered a package of young players including 23-year-old Vince Damphousse, Luke Richardson (22), Scott Thornton (20) and goalie Peter Ing (22).
Damphousse retired in 2004 with a Stanley Cup ring from Montreal and 432 NHL goals, 314 for teams other than the Leafs.
Richardson has played 1,385 NHL games and is still skating for Ottawa. Thornton is also still playing and gunning for 1,000 games-played.
And what about the three players the Leafs received?
Berube was moved four months later in the monstrously successful Doug Gilmour deal with Calgary. Fuhr was peddled 18 months later in another deal that brought short-term help to the Leafs in sniper Dave Andreychuk. Anderson lasted all the way until March, 1994 before being traded to New York.
As of today, Fletcher now runs the Leafs again. But will he take the same approach?