Yes, there needed to be a change in the Maple Leafs' front office. Yes, John Ferguson Jr. was not getting the job done and needed to be replaced. However, the way Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) handled this situation was absolutely disgusting.
Just imagine what it would be like to be John Ferguson Jr. For the last few weeks you have had to endure scathing comments from the fans, the media, and your employer.
The lack of confidence from your employer has to be the worst; especially when that employer is subtlety letting everyone know that you're not a good General Manager, you're going to be fired shortly, and a number of replacements have already been contacted. MLSE openly made all the preparations for JFJ's execution. Fortunately, their actions have been condemned by many high-ranking officials in the NHL.
The majority of Leaf fans can be very irrational sometimes. They have insulted and ostracized JFJ to a point that is disrespectful and downright disgraceful. I understand his track record was less then stellar, but that does not give people the right to go on Facebook and create groups such as "John Ferguson Jr Must Die" and "John Ferguson Jr has royally f**ked over the Toronto Maple Leafs." I don't like J.P. Richardi. I don't like what he's done to the Blue Jays. I think he should be fired. However, I don't want him to die and I'm certainly not going to put the blame all on him.
Making JFJ the scapegoat for forty years of futility is ridiculous. Most of the blame should fall squarely on MLSE.
Like any other corporation, MLSE only cares about making profit. Regardless, of how the Leafs fare every season, MLSE will always have financial success. If doesn't matter if the Leafs are the best team in the NHL or the worst, fans will still fill up the Air Canada Centre. Therefore, in the eyes of MLSE, there's no need to fix the product because people are willing to pay outrageous prices to watch a mediocre hockey team. Even if one person canceled his/her season tickets as a way of protesting the on ice product, there would be 100 people waiting to take that person's place.
The real victims - along with the fans - are MLSE's "neglected children:" the Raptors, the Rock, TFC, and the Marlies. These entities have had to fight for attention while the Leafs get the majority of support. There are probably people at MLSE who only care about the Leafs and wouldn't mind if the other teams disappeared. Fortunately, the neglected children understand that in order to have financial success, you have to have a winning product. Some have found that success (Raptors and Rock), some are building towards that success (TFC), and unfortunately, some have floundered (Marlies). However, this in turn allows the four teams to have a loyal and intelligent fan base.
To his credit, JFJ acted very professionally despite the way he was treated. He will probably find work somewhere else very soon. Truth be told, he was probably relieved he would never have to work for MLSE ever again.