Leafs' Dudley expected to join Habs
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY
|Rick Dudley, a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs management team, is said to be joining rival Montreal's front office. (QMI Agency)
NEWARK, N.J. - When Rick Dudley does officially join the Montreal Canadiens as the team’s assistant general manager, the Maple Leafs will be losing a key resource from their front office.
Sure, with Brian Burke, David Nonis, Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle already in the mix, the Leafs management box at the Air Canada Centre can be a pretty crowded place on game nights, especially when consultant Cliff Fletcher is on hand as well.
But as one prominent NHL general manager noted prior to the 2011-12 regular season, Dudley brings unique skills and experience to the table that separated him from those other Toronto executives.
“Those other guys all have backgrounds from working with teams and in the league front office, but (Dudley) is the only guy in that group that comes from a pure scouting background,” the GM said.
Now it appears he is leaving the Leafs fold after just one season, reportedly heading five hours east to join the Canadiens, Toronto’s most fabled rivals.
Indeed, the question no longer appears to be “if,” but “when.”
Dudley was playing the situation coyly on Sunday, acknowledging that he was aware the Habs had asked permission to talk to the Leafs about him, but claiming no offer had been tabled by Montreal.
Not that it matters.
Those in the know claim it’s just a matter of time before the Canadiens put a contract in front of Dudley.
What remains to be worked out are a number of delicate issues, not the least of which is that Dudley has been heavily involved in the Leafs draft plans and has been on hand to personally scout some of the top prospects such as Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Keep in mind that the Habs select third overall, two positions ahead of the Leafs. That’s why Burke reportedly would prefer the move not be made until after the draft in Pittsburgh next month.
It is no surprise that incoming Habs general manager Marc Bergevin would want to bring Dudley in, considering the history the two men had in Chicago with the Blackhawks. As assistant GM of the Hawks back in 2006, he served as a mentor to Bergevin, who had retired as a player and was entering the world of scouting.
Loiselle, for the record, was one of the candidates interviewed by the Canadiens in their GM search before the Habs settled on Bergevin.