Very interesting interview with Jim Devallano

Thurday evening, late, the Fan590 in Toronto was doing an interview with Jim Devallano.

It was extremely interesting to listen to what he had to say about the Leafs and JFJ, having been there before when Detroit was an awful team in the early 80’s.

The first thing he said was that it is ALL about the draft. This was true even before the salary cap. The key to a winning team and an organization with longevity is the draft, and player development from within.

Where it gets interesting though is what he had to say about JFJ. He feels that it is vital that the Leafs be patient with him and let him do his job.

He also addressed the *bad* Leaf signings. He pointed out that the way you build from within is to “fill holes”. There are times, when a team is rebuilding that they simply need to fill a roster out. The best bet is to get veteran players and accept that the team is not going to challenge for a cup, while the organization rounds itself out from the farm system up. The wings did this also!

I found it an interesting perspective from a guy who has done it before in a hockey-crazy city no less. I have maintained all along that the Leaf signings were not *bad* ones this year and that they can’t simply play the whole farm team for the sake of going with youth. JFJ filled holes, and di dnot commit to long term deals doing so.

Unfortunately, JFJ probably doesn’t have a long shelf life with an origanization that has shown no tendency towards patience for about 25 years now.

The REAL interesting point to this is that the cap may in fact be the Leafs biggest asset … it may protect them from themselves.

So… if the Leafs go with Tellqvist/Aubin next year, and they sign a bunch of short term deals for players past their prime… and they aren’t successful again, try to keep a view on the bigger picture. Look to the drafting and player development. See if there are solid NHL’ers on their way up in the future.

Once the foundation is laid, THEN it is time to go out and get a couple big name free agents to round out the roster, not before.

35 Responses to Very interesting interview with Jim Devallano

  1. Aetherial says:

    Just as a side note…

    Toronto fans may also want to remember the Blue Jays. They sucke for years, but slowly got better. They developed a core from within… and then, when they were *close* they went out a bought some key free agents. They put together awesome teams.

    BUT … they didn’t do it until they developed a solid core.

  2. The-President says:

    So what are you saying, you don’t want Ferguson to make a run at Elias, Chara, or Danny Markov. You want to wait! This is Fergusons last chance to make an impression. He better sign some impact players this off season or else hes done. We already have a good core of players, all we would need to do is get 3 Free agents and we would be serious contenders, like I said in my past article, Chara, Elias, and Danny Markov. And a side note, the Blue Jays didn’t even have a familiar face on their team, they sucked completely.

  3. curtman96 says:

    I agree 100%. We have a solid core of youth, smart free agent signings this summer can make Toronto a serious contender. The only thing that might not put this team over the top is if JFJ doesn’t sign a proven #1 goalie. Or if he signs a goalie but doesn’t sign a talented winger or defencemen because of cap space.

  4. Aetherial says:

    What I am saying is that we should not be judging JFJ necessarily on the current success of the team this past year, or next year.

    The trick is to not immediately look at what you need to be a contender, because Frankly, I don’t think the Leafs are that close right now that they can possibly turn it around…

    So, lets say the big name free agents want 5-6+ million per year for 3-5 years. A bonafide star in his prime might be worth that (Elias, Chara) as they will be around when the foundation is built. What is more likely a wise decision is to do more of what they did this past year, use free agency to fill holes with some experienced players to help the kids develop.

    Once the young D starts to round into a solid group, and Rask or Pogge look like a bona fide number one starter, and Wellwood, Stajan, Suglabov, Steen, Ponikarovsky + whoever have matured into solid NHL players … THEN you see who on the market is available to make you a contender and at what price.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying… this team needed a SERIOUS overhaul, which does not happen in one year or two. The whole organization needed to be rebuilt. Don’t judge the work of JFJ on whether ornot the Leafs make the playoffs… it is not necessarily the best yerdstick to use right now, especially in a cap environment.

  5. 92-93 says:

    “He feels that it is vital that the Leafs be patient with him and let him do his job.”

    This is exactly what I am trying to explain to Nords, who believes that JFJ should be fired based on his two seasons on the job (which were interrupted by a wholesale systematic change and he inheirited a team with virtually no farm system).

    i do agree with Nords that in toronto, such patience is not likely to be plentiful so i have kinda taken the middle ground, suggesting that THIS offseason is a make-or-break period for JFJ. if he cannot lure some key free agents – and not necessarily big-name free agents like Elias or Chara – but KEY effective free agents who do their jobs and do them well … its time to let JFJ go.

    i think from an overall organizational standpoint, JFJ has really done a great job – that is his background after all (scouting). but at an NHL level, he has made some very questionable moves and decisions that have nothing to do with filling holes (although that is a good point too when one looks at the Allison, O’Neill, and Lindros signings – all justified in my opinion).

    but his decisions concerning Domi (pressure from above), and ESPECIALLY his decisions NOT to move either McCabe or Antropov at the deadline are pretty bad non-moves. I know there is a defence to made for his McCabe decision but to me he doesn’t seem very capable as an NHL GM and has no confidence in his own ability to make these moves.

    i am hoping that JFJ makes the key free agent moves this offseason – again, names like Langenbrunner, Carter, McKee, even Dempsey are all solid signings that are not huge. they don’t need the HUGE names. they have a core, they have the young players that can be cycled through the line-up, and they even have some tradeable assets (Tucker, Antropov – if he is qualified, Tellqvist, McCabe if they do the sign-and-trade).

    this is a 90-point team, 2 pts out of the playoffs, 8 games above .500 … the changes that need to be made are pretty superficial when you really think about it. the free agent signings – like Gillick’s during the late-1980s and early-1990s – should be sensible ones and the free agent players that are signed must be immediately considered to be part of that core (again, guys like Langdenbrunner and McKee seem like guys that can be part of a core group).

  6. 92-93 says:

    not a very wise decision to put your eggs in one basket.

    i would love to have these names. but if the core is not strong enough, what happens when Elias and Chara go down with injuries?

    the leafs will fold.

    they need to continue to build on the core that they have: their four young forwards (Steen, Poni, Stajan, Wellwood), their call-ups (Suglobov, Pohl, Williams), their role players (Kiger, Tucker, Ondrus), and their franchise players (Sundin, Kaberle).

    that means they have to get SENSIBLE names that fit into this core (names like Langdenbrunner, Carter, McKee, etc.). not saying that Chara and Elias shouldn’t be targeted by the Leafs, but they must continue developing their core and shedding the fat …

    ‘the fat’ = Domi (buyout), Belak, Berg (retirement), Allison, Khavanov, Richardson, and depending on their respective situtations considering their health – Lindros (wrists) and O’Neill (psychological).

    as for your Blue Jays comment — i mean, i really have no words for it. are you talking about the Blue Jays franchise from 1983-1993?!

  7. 92-93 says:

    this is precisely what Nords and i have been talking about for the past few months.

    its hard to preach patience to this franchise and its fans considering its history and considering the media.

    but patience is necessary if we want a team like Detroit, Colorado, or New Jersey that is competitive every year!

  8. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    The Blue Jays have always, and will always suck. They will not make the playoffs.

  9. 92-93 says:

    to me its clear that in the next year or so the leafs will have to round out their system with a key prospect deal.

    what they have: great goaltending depth (Racine, Pogge, Rask, Tellqvist) and two-way defensive depth (white, Coliacovo, Bell).

    what they need: FORWARDS – especially young wingers. Earl and Suglobov are solid young players but we really don’t know what they are capable of just yet.

    so over the past few months, i’ve been proposing various trades to teams that have involved trading one of Pogge or Rask to other team’s for their prime forward prospects (not guys like Malkin or anything like that).

    i’ve suggested Anaheim trade RW Perry (considering their depth there with Ryan, etc) for Tucker and Pogge because of Anaheim needs some better goaltending prospects.

    the same can be said for Washington .. who might be willing to part with Eric Fehr for Pogge and Tucker.

    Chicago, same glaring weakness in goal, maybe they are willing to part with Jack Skille.

    Same goes for the Isles, nobody after DiPietro … they can offer names like Nilsson and Tambellini.

    what i said about Suglobov and Earl can also be said for Rask and Pogge too i guess. and maybe that is what is needed in the near future – for these two guys to prove that they can reall play well – especially in the AHL (which Rask is at least a couple of years away from). that way, their value goes up. maybe by that time, Earl becomes a top-notch forward. who knows? its especially unpredictable when it comes to goaltenders – a notriously up-and-down and unpredictable lot. and that is the problem really, Pogge and Rask – for all the hype surrounding them – still haven’t played any games in the AHL and are not exactly at the point where they can garner such names and trades. hopefully that will change over the course of the next two years.

    just a suggestion.

  10. 92-93 says:

    brush up on the history …

  11. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    yeah right, JFJ only signed short term deals because hes a terrible negotiator and couldn’t get the players on long term deals. you are a talented writer, but i disagree with a lot of your points. yes drafting is important, but getting a superstar player in his prime on a long term deal is what the team really needs to do. Successful teams build around a few strpong players. JFJ needs to fucus on getting linemates for kabby and sundin

  12. epfq says:

    I just would like to know how the hell everyone knows JFJ personally.. i mean they must in order to know he doesnt have good negotiating skills.. how else would they.. or else it would just be a stupid opinion!!!! STOP WITH THESE RIDICULOUS ASSUMPTIONS “he doesnt know how to negotiate” .. how in the blue blazes would you know.. some people are pathetic and rely to much on mislead information!

  13. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Ok since I could talk, (was born in 92, year of Jays first WS) the Jays have always and will always sucked.

  14. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    kabby got him to agree to 4.25 million, eddie got him to agree to 4.5 million, allison got him to agree to 4.5 million, antropov got him to agree to over a million. when players lure im into high paying contracts ALL THE TIME it means he can’t negotiate. He couldn’t get carter to sign last season, and he wont get McCabe to resign this season. i dont know him, but if you look at what he’s done, its obvious that he cant negotiate.

  15. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Carter said in the paper that Ferguson didn’t want him. In which case Ferguson is a jack ass.

    Although Gary Roberts said he’d still be a Leaf if he stopped saying “well people want to be a Leaf”, while it may be true, you can’t base your hole negotiation on that. It ain’t gonna get you an all-star team for free.

  16. 92-93 says:

    fine – i guess youre off the hook because of your age. but you should buy some Blue Jays VHS tapes on EBay to learn more about them (i’ve got them all … just type in the search field ‘blue jays’ ‘vhs’ or ‘video’).

  17. Aetherial says:

    The point was that Elias and Chara are the kind of players that *could* still be around to help the team when the core is solid.

    What was wrong with the Blue Jays comment. They sucked, they built from the draft… until they got close, then they bought/traded for the final pieces.

    Their building to a championship was textbook!.

  18. Aetherial says:

    Thought your response was directed at my post…

  19. Aetherial says:

    Then you missed what was a TEXTBOOK example of building towards a championship.

    Blue Jay fans could *feel* the championship coming, and when the core was there… they DID go out and get the right pieces.

    Those teams were awesome. I would say that I have not seen better until perhaps the Red Sox of 2004… even then it was a close call.

    The Jays had it all, speed, power, starting pitching, Defense, and Ward and Henke to mop it all up.

    WAMCO – White Alomar Molitor Carter Olerud

  20. Aetherial says:

    Here is what REALLY bugs me about JFJ.

    The non-moves at the deadline. Now they will lose McCabe for nothing (or spend too much). The Oilers reportedly wanted Belfour, although that deal may have been reversed given his health(?).

    The thing is, I think MLSE was pulling the strings. They wanted a shot at the millions that 2 home dates would bring.

    What JFJ has done is to solidify the scouting and minors. He has started the foundation building. It doesn’t immediately translate into Stanley Cups, but it is a necessary start.

    The signings this year were filling holes and biding time. The Leafs were a competitive team, which was the only reasonable goal they had.

    I just feel that in Toronto, if they do not make the playoffs next year, he will be gone and some other non-name stooge will be brought in to suffer along with the rest of us…

    UNLESS! The signing of Colangelo (sp?) is an indication that MLSE finally recognizes the need to get a proven commodity at the top?

  21. Aetherial says:

    I would be tempted.

    It would be SOOOO tough to part with a goalie Rask or Pogge this early as you never know which, if either, will develop.

    Also, a young D-man … tough call. With Colaiacovo being questionable at this point, they are not as deep as they were. Realistically, only 2, MAYBE 3 of their current young D-men will be solid NHL’ers

  22. Aetherial says:

    Fair enough, except for one thing… JFJ did WELL to not sign players to long term deals.

    Do you think Hatcher and Rathje are working out in Philly? … not at THAT price for that term!!

    How about Khabibulin, or Aucoin in Chicago?!

    How about Foote in Columbus.. soli, sure, but 3 years a 4 million+ .. WTF!?

    Would you rather have Kaberle, in his prime, in the current NHL or Foote? Give me Kaberle at that price any day of the week thanks.

    JFJ did one CRUCIAL thing. He did not commit long term to anyone. In fact, his only real mistake was the extra year on Domi and Belak … so I am not seeing the point about him being a bad negotiator who couldn’t get players on long term deals.

  23. Aetherial says:

    Belfour was a mistake although they thought he was the best option out there for them.

    Antropov probably a little overpaid but not as bad as you think.

    Kaberle … look at his contemporaries and then tell me he is not worth it. He is worth every penny in today’s NHL.

    Allison was incentives and the thought was that if he meets those incentives, he will be worth it. What went wrong there was that he could meet the incentives and still not be worth it because of the other aspects of his game. Remember… when he was signed the Leafs needed scorign up front desparately. He DID bring them that.. too bad that was all he brought to the table.

    Yeah, some not great signings… but you have to lilsten to what Devellano said; you just need to get guys, veterans preferrably, in there to play and take up space while you build. It is not pretty or glorious, but it is reality.

  24. 92-93 says:



    as a kid i went to the exhibition stadium and i remember my grandmother (huge blue jays fan) saying that the jays could never have a better outfield then Barfield-Moseby-Bell… and Gillick somehow managed to put WAMCO together … in the YEAR AFTER the 92 championship … unbelieveable. the Phillies are a lucky franchise.

  25. 92-93 says:

    i really think that JFJ should be given a better shot then 2 seasons as GM. that’s my main point. he hasn’t proven that he can make those big, smart, NHL-level moves but there were factors that were working against him last offseason. my worry came in when he didn’t make solid, smart moves at the deadline (i mean, if the rumours are true and they are just rumours, Antropov-for-Malone was passed up!). not trading McCabe – huge mistake _– UNLESS JFJ knows something we don’t and is confident that McCabe is going to sign for 3 years and 4.5 million (but from what i am hearing, its more like 5 years and 5+ million).

    i just think that when Gillick was building his core, their were some names that were acquired through free agency that were kind of meant to be short term fixes (Candiotti, Cone, Maldanado) but most of his free agent signins were meant to guys that were intergrated INTO core itself. that is precisely what the Red Wings and Devils have done over the past 10 to 15 years.

    i would love to see Langdenbrunner in Toronto. Elias would be amazing too – and i would definitely drop a lot of money on having him in T.O. … but how much cap space would that take up (the same question must be asked about McCabe’s resigning with the Leafs).

    anyways … i am pumped to see what JFJ will do … at the same time, i am kind of dreading it based on his recent non-moves. i am sort of at a crossroads with my opinions on him … i know he can do the solid little moves (resign aubin and kilger, draft pogge, rask, earl etc) but i also know what he hasn’t really done anything huge at the NHL level in terms of signing a key player.

  26. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    yeah, no team will ever win the cup because of season UFA’s, you have to build your team, and long term deals are the way to do it.

  27. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    if we are rebuilding then i’d rather givemore ice time to our young players than some old veteran who is overpaid and dying out.

  28. thatleafsguy says:

    We have been competitive every year this is the third time in 14 years that the leafs have missed the playoffs 96-97, 97-98, 05-06 plus one lockout year. Now that I think about it that actually isn’t very strong is it? Oh well, I don’t think you can say that Toronto fans aren’t patient alot of them have been waiting since ’67 for a cup. I went my entire youth with out seeing them hoist, I’m 27 years old now and even I’m wondering if I’ll ever see them win a cup in my life time. I have been very patient….the Leafs haven’t rewarded us fans for our patience.

  29. thatleafsguy says:

    Dude you are so wrong, they are the most underrated and disrespected team in the american league they are gonna fight boston and new york for their top spots this year, and yes the jays do have a name player his name is Vernon Wells.

    Jays win the WOrld Series this year: MARK MY WORDS.

  30. Aetherial says:

    The jury is still out. We definitely will need to see some significant moves in terms of getting younger and faster or having the guts to let McCabe walk.

  31. Aetherial says:

    You are simply, wrong.

    You go long term on franchise players only. That means maybe 2 or 3 guys.

    In a cap world, everyone else gets as short a term as possible.

    The reasoning here is sound and simple. If you make a bad deal and it is longer term, you are STUCK because of the cap. The examples of this can be seen over and over and over if you look for them.

    Look to the NBA especially.

  32. Aetherial says:

    You are ignoring one thing …

    a whole team of young guys has no one to learn from and quite probably their confidence suffers unnecessarily from getting pounded every night.

    You have to bring these guys up slowly and work t hem into the NHL level game … and you need to have veterans around them.

    NOBODY EVER builds a team with all young guys to start. There are no examples of it being done successfully and there never will be.

  33. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    When they don’t I’ll laugh at you sooooooooooooo friggin hard.

  34. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    this isn’t the NBA its the NHL, if every team only signed 2 or 3 long term players, the offseason would be more exiteing than the regular season. Guys that stay for many years become the base of a hockey team. A 2-3 man base isn’t much o build around. now of coarse short term deals dont always mean that the player will stay with the team for a short period of time, but most players ony stay with their team for about 5 or 6 years these days. the longer a team is together the better it plays together. besides if you make a bad deal you are not “STUCK” look at the mogilney incident.

  35. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    thats what coaching is for, so i suppose Buffalo isn’t a sucessful team?

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