"John Ferguson Jr.'s major miscalculation eight years ago as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs has served to stabilize the Boston Bruins goaltending for what should be years to come. Now that Ferguson has joined the Bruins as executive director of player personnel, he finally can cash in on the ability of the best player he drafted in his nearly five years in Toronto.
Ferguson thought he was doing the right thing when he traded Rask to the Bruins for Raycroft. He thought Justin Pogge was the future No. 1 goalie in Toronto, meaning Rask, the No. 21 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, was expendable, especially if the return was Raycroft, a goalie who was supposed to be entering his prime.
As if Maple Leafs fans weren't angry enough about watching Rask become an elite NHL goalie, imagine how they'll feel if the person who traded him out of Toronto gets to raise the Cup with him in Boston. "To join an organization of this stature with this kind of success behind them really was a great fit for me," Ferguson said earlier this summer after Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced he had joined the front office. "It's a great opportunity to join Peter and a tremendous group with a record of winning. I just look forward to jumping aboard, grabbing an oar and helping the club win."
Being that he's back in the Eastern Conference, back in the same division as the Maple Leafs, Ferguson's past is an obvious storyline. He's not running from it. "There are different reasons for it, but the entire experience [as Toronto GM] was invaluable and I wouldn't trade it for anything," Ferguson said.
Toronto made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2004, but Ferguson barely put his stamp on that team because he was hired Aug. 29, 2003, only 44 days before the 2003-04 regular season began. The Maple Leafs didn't make the playoffs again under Ferguson, who was fired Jan. 22, 2008.
"I said it at the time, and it's interesting too, I felt they had fired a better manager than they had hired," Ferguson said. "The five years of experience there really was invaluable in so many ways. Managing a club on your own, to have that seat, have that experience, really is nothing that frankly you can adequately prepare for. "I felt very prepared for it. … But there really is no substitute for that experience."
While the decision to trade Rask has turned out to be a boon for the Bruins, Chiarelli is adamant in his belief of Ferguson as a talent evaluator. For the Bruins, Ferguson's past six seasons as the San Jose Sharks director of pro scouting is a better indication of what he now brings to Boston.
The Sharks reached the Western Conference Final twice, won the Presidents' Trophy, and had four 100-point seasons during Ferguson's tenure as an aide to general manager Doug Wilson. He left the Sharks after last season to take the job with Boston.
"I spent time with him during his time in Toronto and he got a raw deal; he really did," Chiarelli said. "This is a smart hockey man. This guy works hard and he knows players. I've known him for a long time and I see how he works and I see how he thinks.
"In this business there are people that lose jobs and learn from those experiences and get better. … He's a smart guy, a humble guy, and he's really going to help our organization."
Ferguson said San Jose's ability to maintain success while infusing young players into the lineup on the fly will be a model he brings with him to Boston. "To recognize when it's time to turn things over and bring in some youth and add some speed and energy, those are things that really stood us well," Ferguson said. "There were a couple of years where it looked like it was dropping off a little bit, but last year with the additions of [Tomas] Hertl, [Matt] Nieto, and the evolution of [Marc-Edouard] Vlasic and [Justin] Braun, [Joe] Pavelski and [Logan] Couture, it was a growth on the fly. To have sustained success over time, it requires that."
Ferguson's role with the Bruins requires him to spend the bulk of his time working with the Providence Bruins, Boston's American Hockey League affiliate. He also will be involved in all the Bruins' personnel decisions and will go on scouting trips as well.
Odds are he won't encourage Chiarelli to trade Rask."
Now raise the cup with Rask in Boston and really rub it in.
Oh Lufa Land!