Like mother, like son. From 1958-63 Craig Button's mom, Bridget, served as a secretary to Punch Imlach, the fiery fedora-wearing general manager of the Maple Leafs. Now, more than four decades later, Craig has joined the same Maple Leafs family after accepting a pro scouting position.
"When I was about eight or nine, whenever the Leafs came to (Montreal), King Clancy or Punch would take me into the Toronto dressing room because of the past connection with my mom," Button said yesterday. "Of course, waving a Canadiens banner at the time did not go over very well.
"I think one of the biggest things I can bring to John (Leafs general manger John Ferguson) is that I am familiar with what it is like in the GM's chair. He ultimately makes the final decisions. I just want to provide him with enough info to help him make them."
During his stint as the GM of the Calgary Flames from 2000-03, Button helped build the foundation for the Cinderella Flames team that came within one victory of a Stanley Cup championship last spring. Before joining the Flames, Button served as the Dallas Stars director of player personnel.
"He's a guy I respect very much," Ferguson said. "He can do the job without me having to connect the dots."
The additions of pro scouts Button and Shawn Simpson headline Ferguson's revamping of the Leafs scouting staff.
Augmenting the amateur staff are recent part-time hires Real Paiement, who will oversee the Maritimes and Quebec Major Junior League, and Fred Bandel, who will be based in Minneapolis. Former pro scout Mark Yanetti, meanwhile, will shift over to the amateur ranks on a full-time basis.
Dave Morrison, a former amateur scout with the Vancouver Canucks, will scout the Windsor-Sarnia-Detroit area, including the NCAA, OHL and USHL, for Toronto.
Peter Ahola, an amateur scout out of Helsinki, joins Jan Kovac and Nikolai Ladygin on the European staff headed by Leafs director of European scouting Thommie Bergman.