That’s what Brendan Shanahan took as a good day during his term as czar of NHL player discipline.
“Our greatest compliment working in player safety was silence,” Shanahan said as he was introduced as the Leafs new president and alternate governor at the Air Canada Centre, Monday.
“It’s a little bit like being a referee. If people forget you’re there you know you refereed a very good game.”
Good luck with that.
There will be no more quiet days for the 45-year-old Shanahan. He has become the majordomo of one of the most intensely-followed sporting entities on the planet, a team packing up after a disconsolate late-season collapse.
Culture was the word bandied about often during Shanahan’s presser and in a real sense, that’s his job: president and CEO of culture.
It is a job to which he is immensely suited. He won three Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold medal and played with 11 players who own the crested blue blazer they give you when inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Never mind that Shanahan has never managed an NHL team. If he had it would mean the Leafs hired someone who another team had already dumped. Shanahan’s five years with the league and his role in a hockey summit to improve the game absolutely trump that hole in his resume.
“In 21 years in the league he made the playoffs 18 times and in the majority of those years he wore the C or the A on his sweater,” said MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke. “He knows about leadership.”
The Leafs interviewed at locker cleanout felt they had a good, if underperforming group. Leiweke disagreed, probably not terribly politely in speaking with the players earlier in the day and certainly in discussing Shanahan’s hire.
On the subject of culture Leiweke pointed to the resurgent Raptors and said “I don’t think the Leafs have that. This is something these two gentlemen (Shanahan and Nonis) are going to have to work at. I definitely think we lack an identity. Right now we are a team that lacks a direction and we want to change that.”
This is not, you may have noticed, a ringing endorsement of the leadership of the group which includes captain Dion Phaneuf and coach Randy Carlyle.
“Randy Carlyle is a good coach,” was all Nonis would give.
Likewise in his first real day on the job, Shanahan was naturally light on specifics.
For his part, Nonis returns his title of General Manager but suddenly finds himself recast as a member of a management team with a heavyweight boss above him. Long the moderating voice in three organizations for Brian Burke, this isn’t really new ground for Nonis.
“I have a boss,” Nonis said. “It’s Brendan and at the end of the day the boss always has the final say in everything. Any organization that I have been a part of that has had any success you work together and you find a way to answer any questions or concerns that one side or the other might have.”
To return to Leiweke’s Raptors comparison, it wasn’t a year ago that the team appointed Masai Ujiri president and GM and left Bryan Colangelo as an advisor. That arrangement lasted only a couple of weeks before Leiweke dismissed Colangelo.
“Last time I checked I didn’t have to fire Brendan,” Leiweke said. “I think in that situation we were trying to pay respect for Bryan and try to find a role for him in the organization. It didn’t work out. It was Masai’s team. It was his direction, it was his culture. This is Brendan’s team. It’s his culture and at the end of the day he makes all the decisions and we’re going to support that 100 per cent.”