Leafs circus remains, just different clowns

JIM CRESSMAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- The circus atmosphere surrounding the Maple Leafs seems familiar to Brad Marsh and Dave (Tiger) Williams. The ownership bungling reminds them of their playing days during Harold Ballard's reign of mayhem.

"It seems this conversation is like the movie Groundhog Day, it goes on and on and on," Marsh said at London's Rogers Sports Celebrity Dinner.

"It was very much a circus when I was there under Harold and unfortunately it's almost the same now as the focus is off-ice rather than on-ice and I feel sorry for the players because it's such a tough environment to play in without all this outside stuff.

"At least when I was there you could point the finger at Harold. Now you don't know who to point at." Marsh said, referring to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.'s multiple owners.

Williams also pulled no punches yesterday.

"You can't do anything where there's lack of leadership," the most penalized player in NHL history said.

"They (must) get one person to lead that hockey team and they had the right guy and that was Pat Quinn. They need a guy like Anaheim got in Brian Burke. Some people want to hire somebody that's a bit weaker in character so they can control him, but they've got to start controlling their own egos down there and start hiring the best people possible.

"Not that John Ferguson Jr. has done a poor job. It's tough when you got 18 guys telling you what to do."

Doug Gilmour was the third ex-Leaf at the head table and he still is employed by the team as a player adviser and in player development, so he was a little more diplomatic.

"You don't know what's happening with the board. Everybody is on pins and needles right now, so we're continuing on as far as our jobs are on the management side and the players have to do their jobs as far as playing," Gilmour said.

Marsh said one of the problems in Toronto is that no one really knows who is running the ship. "Nobody knows because there's so much in-fighting and the people running the ship don't know their you-know-what from a hole in the ground, and I'm not talking about John Ferguson Jr., I'm talking about the guys with the suits."

Marsh said whether Ferguson stays, or the Leafs go in another direction: "Hire the hockey person and let him run it. And it's almost going to have to be some arrogant SOB who comes in there and says 'screw ya' and runs it the way he wants.

"It's a shame one of the flagship franchises, if not the flagship franchise, is a shambles."


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