It seems Harold Ballard may be dead but his spirit lives on...within Maple Leaf president Richard Peddie's brain. What else could explain his continual humiliation of Leaf GM John Ferguson. He has promised Ferguson contract extensions and then withdrawn the promise. He spent the summer looking for a mentor for a GM who was in the job for 4 years. On the Fan 590 yesterday Scotty Bowman, one of the candidates said he was interviewed twice by Peddie who seemed to show no interest in Bowman. Is he nuts?
More recently, he is running around telling the media Ferguson was unqualified for the job and it was a mistake to hire him. This is coming from a Ferguson supporter. Yeah who needs friends like this. Harold Ballard also enjoyed humiliating his employees and one that bother me the most was his treatment of Roger Neilson, one of the best coaches in the last 30 years.
In 1978 a reporter approach Ballard following a loss regarding his thoughts on the coach, Neilson. Ballard just blurted out that he was fired. Which is how Neilson found out, through the media. This was Thursday evening and the Leafs had a game on the Saturday. The Leafs had no assistant coach so there was no one who could even step in on an interim basis. GM Jim Gregory approached a few people but was turned down, including his assistant GM and previous Leaf coach Johny McLellan. McLellan had stepped down as coach in 1973 because of health reasons and wouldn't step back behind the bench.
Meanwhile, Neilson was still running practices. The coach was extremely popular with the players and Leaf captain Darryl Sittler approached Ballard about reconsidering. He agreed on the one condition that Neilson start the game on the Saturday with a paper bag over his head. Neilson refused and went to speak to Ballard. They reached a compromise and Neilson didn't step behind the bench until after the national anthem was sung. He received an extended standing ovation and Ballard go to play out his little drama.
Back to the present. Richard Peddie is likely the biggest liability right now within the MLSE organization. Replacing the GM and coach is pointless unless responsibility for the hockey team is taken away from Peddie.