Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #19, Brendan Shanahan
19 As president of the Leafs, Shanahan is the man responsible for returning the most hallowed franchise in hockey to greatness. After a year of sticking to the shadows and sussing out the team’s problems, he pounced, firing two dozen staff, including the coach and GM. He then convinced Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello to join the rebuild—and, just as importantly, persuaded Larry Tanenbaum to bankroll his master plan (Babcock’s eight-year, $50-million contract makes him the highest-paid coach in NHL history). Shanahan delivered the rare, unapologetic truth to Leafs Nation—the rebuild will be long, and it will be painful—and traded Phil Kessel, the team’s second-highest scorer, as proof. Though on-ice talent is still sorely lacking, there is a new culture in Leafland that runs from the front office down to the dressing room. The players, coaches and staff have bought in, and even the harshest of waffle-throwing fans can’t help but be optimistic. Shanahan has the city just where he wants it.
Up Next: Landing a high draft pick and acing the selection. The team’s future depends on it.