Nice guys like Ferguson always finish last

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Only if you walked a mile in his shoes could you know the pressure carried by the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What's infinitely fascinating is how simple the job is, if you ask the millions of armchair GM's in Leaf Nation. You know the fans of which I speak.

Having worked with John Ferguson for the last couple years -- as employees of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment -- I can tell you he is a great and smart hockey guy.

Ferguson has passion for the game. He has NHL knowledge and, most of all, he has class while doing business and while away from the rink.

He was approachable and forthcoming when talking hockey. Unfortunately, he clammed up when cameras or tape recorders were present.

It is for this reason fans never saw the conversationalist. They only saw the JFJ who would play it safe on the record, as it were.

The harsh reality in this hockey mecca is that every syllable uttered by the Toronto GM is scrutinized to the nth degree.

No GM has an easy road in the NHL, but the man who leads the Leafs must have a thick skin and a gift of the gab. Ferguson had one of the two.

Getting fired can't be fun, but after five stress-and-pressure-filled years treading water in the Toronto hockey fishbowl, this man can now consider a big family vacation.

Leaf fans can be more than a little harsh when searching for an outlet for their frustration. It is for that reason I'm glad John Ferguson is walking away with his head held high en route to other hockey opportunities.

After T.O., any other gig would be a cakewalk.

-- Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with Leafs TV. Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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