Fire Ferguson, hire Steve Simmons as next Leafs GM

In Toronto, as we all know, the dream of winning a Stanley Cup for the first time in more than 40 years takes priority over combating international terrorism, finding a cure for AIDS, and putting the brakes on global warming. (Among other back-burner issues.)

With that unwavering focus in mind, Toronto Sun sports columnist Steve Simmons takes the old adage of “tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, then tell ’em, and then tell ’em what you told ’em” and elevates it to an art form.

The “tell ’em” part, for the benefit of those who abstain from the Sun, consists of “fire John Ferguson Jr.” (Repeat as necessary.)

Indeed, the Leafs general manager has done a mediocre job since being hired in 2003, especially when it comes to handing out bloated contracts to the likes of Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina, and making questionable deals to shore up his goaltending. Also, Toronto’s current point-per-game pace is unlikely to secure a post-season berth for Mats Sundin and Co., and three consecutive non-playoff years would be a huge black mark on JFJ’s record.

But lest we forget, even for one moment, Simmons is there to remind us. Again, again, and again.

Like an Energizer bunny beating a blue-and-white drum, Simmons never stops.

Check out this partial chronological overview of the anti-JFJ crusade led by Simmons since Day One, with single-sentence summaries for those who lack the time or inclination to read the original columns:

I’m really, really iffy on the choice of John Ferguson Jr. (2003)

Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you, John Ferguson Jr. (2004)

John Ferguson Jr. lucked out with the Eric Lindros signing (2005)

Richard Peddie, John Ferguson Jr.’s boss, must be fired (2006)

John Ferguson Jr. might get fired after Pat Quinn gets fired (2006)

An oh-so-brief reprieve for John Ferguson Jr. (2007)

It’s September, and John Ferguson Jr. will be fired if the Leafs miss the playoffs (2007)

It’s October, and John Ferguson Jr. absolutely must be fired even though the playoffs don’t start till April (2007)

John Ferguson Jr. couldn’t balance a checkbook and must be fired (2007)

John Ferguson Jr. will be fired, and everybody in hockey knows it (2007)

You have to ask: who really patented the phrase, “You’re fired”? Was it Donald Trump? Or was it Steve Simmons?

Of course, as we all know, Simmons will get his wish. Columns or no columns.

Every GM goes down sooner or later, whether it’s Scotty Bowman in Buffalo or Doug MacLean in Columbus.

And after the fateful press conference sometime in 2008, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment should step up and give Simmons his shot at the GM job.

Why not?

Simmons would be a lot more quotable than JFJ–even if he’s prone to repeating himself. He’d come cheap. His record likely wouldn’t be much worse than Gord Stellick’s (28W-46L-6T in 1988-89). He might even consent to be mentored by Bowman.

Most importantly, in the next five years, the Toronto Maple Leafs are at least as likely to win the Stanley Cup with Simmons as with anyone else. That’s the key thing.

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