A look back at the men who have run the Toronto Maple Leafs

Since 1917, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had 12 general managers, starting with Charles Querrie in 1917. There are many colourful personalities on that list, including Conn Smythe, Hap Day and Punch Imlach.

Brian Burke is expected to be the Maple Leafs' 13th general manager

Brian Burke helped build the Anaheim Ducks side that won the 2007 Stanley Cup. Will Burke be able do the same in Toronto for the Maple Leafs? ((Dave Sandford/Getty Images))

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a long and checkered history. 

Since 1917, the Leafs have had 12 general managers, starting with Charles Querrie in 1917. There are many colourful personalities on that list, including Conn Smythe, Hap Day and Punch Imlach.

The one with the highest percentage of wins is Pat Quinn. He was the GM for four years and had a winning record of .608. 

The name behind the second highest win percentage may be a surprise to many Leaf fans. That honour goes to none other than John Ferguson Jr., with a winning record of .569.

Here's a list of the men who have run the Leafs since 1917.

Charles Querrie (Arenas/St. Pats) — 1917-27

  • 127 -133 -10 (.488)
  • 2 Stanley Cups (1918, 1922)
  • The first GM in franchise history, he won Toronto's first Stanley Cup in 1918 and another in 1922, when the team was known as the "St. Patrick's." But in 1919, Querrie saw his team post the worst record in franchise history, finishing with a .278 winning percentage. The dismal result was not entirely his fault since he had to sell off most of his star players to fight a legal battle with Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingston.

Conn Smythe — 1927-57

  • 774 - 617 - 274 (.556)
  • 7 Stanley Cups (1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951)
  • An avid horse owner, his biggest coup as a GM might have started on the track. In the fall of 1930, he bet a bundle of money on his 100-1 underdog, Rare Jewel, at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack. His horse won the race, and he used the winnings to help buy star defenceman King Clancy from the cash-strapped Ottawa Senators. Two years later, Clancy and the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, Smythe's first as a GM.

Hap Day — 1955-57

  • 45 - 67 - 28 (.402)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Though Conn Smythe was the GM on paper between 1955-57, Hap Day was the one doing most of the work. Though he won seven Stanley Cups with the Leafs — one as a player, five as a coach and another as an assistant GM — he didn't last long in the position, and his tenure is punctuated by the manner in which he left. After a lacklustre couple of seasons, Day, who was a partner in Smythe's sand and gravel business, was publicly criticized by Smythe, inciting the future hall-of-famer to resign his post.

Punch Imlach — 1958-69, 1979-81

  • 433 - 359 -159 (.547)
  • 4 Stanley Cups (1962, 1963, 1964, 1967)
  • Imlach's tenure with the Leafs created many strong emotions among fans and players alike, both good and not-so-good. But here's something you might not know about his GM prowess: in the 1974 draft, while with the Buffalo Sabres, Imlach selected a little-known centre from Japan's Tokyo Katanas named Taro Tsujimoto — little-known, because he didn't exist. Imlach made him up because he was bored. It took weeks for the NHL to realize it was a hoax, and now official records call the selection an "invalid claim."

Jim Gregory — 1969-79

  • 334 - 324 -130 (.508)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • An example of what Gregory had to deal with in the Ballard Era: everybody and their mother knew in 1978 that the Leafs' owner wanted a tough guy for the team. Actually, he wanted Dan Maloney. So, Gregory made the obligatory call to Detroit GM Ted Lindsay about Maloney, and the Leafs got what Ballard wanted. They also gave up two first-round picks plus solid winger Errol Thompson in the process. Even though Gregory was working on a shoestring budget, his Leafs still managed to make the playoffs in eight of the 10 seasons he was GM and memorably upset the dynasty-bound New York Islanders in the quarter-finals of the 1978 playoffs.

Gerry McNamara — 1981-1988

  • 166 - 302 - 67 (.355)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • McNamara is best remembered for what he did as a scout for the club. In December 1972, he travelled to Sweden so he could take a look at a goaltender. What he saw was a playmaking, speedy 21-year old defenceman named Börje Salming. He recommended signing the Swedish defenceman, who became one of the most beloved Leafs of all time and essentially paved the way for the European invasion of the NHL. But as a GM? He's saddled with the worst winning percentage in Leaf history.

Gord Stellick — 1988-89

  • 28 - 46 - 6 (.378)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Stellick is still the youngest GM ever appointed in NHL history. He was hired at the age of 30 but only lasted one season under Ballard before resigning, citing too much interference by the owner. An example: Ballard insisted on a coach who didn't want the job. Leaf great George "Chief" Armstrong, who Stellick hired as a scout, told anyone who would listen that he didn't want the coaching job after John Brophy was fired. He got it anyway and lasted the rest of the season even though he didn't like the job at all. When Stellick wanted another coach for the new season, Ballard refused, and that helped Stellick decide to leave for the Rangers.

Floyd Smith — 1989-1991

  • 61 - 84 - 5 (.421)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Lasted twice as long as Gord Stellick. In  Smith's first season as GM, the Leafs made the playoffs, which was memorable for all the wrong reasons thanks to a Sergio Momesso shot from centre ice that beat Leaf goalie Alan Bester. Next season, with all of Smith's deals, the Leafs dressed 48 players and Smith gave away next year's first round pick to New Jersey in return for Tom Kurvers. The pick turned into Scott Niedermeyer. During Smith's tenure, Harold Ballard passed away, and a bitter fight emerged over control of the team. This fight ultimately paved the way for Smith's dismissal and the arrival of Cliff Fletcher.

Cliff Fletcher — 1991-1997, 2008

  • 226 - 219 - 58 - 8O (.508)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Widely regarded as the man responsible for turning the club around after the dark days of the 1980s and best remembered for what Leaf fans now call "The Trade." On Jan. 2, 1992, Fletcher sent Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Alexander Godynyuk, Craig Berube and Jeff Reese to Calgary for Jamie Macoun, Rick Wamsley, Kent Manderville, Ric Nattress and Doug Gilmour. All five players, especially Gilmour, became essential to the Leaf resurgence of the early 1990s. The 10-player swap remains one of the most lopsided deals in league history.

Ken Dryden — 1997-1999

  • 75 -73-16 (.507)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Though the GM on paper, Dryden gave a lot of managerial duties to assistant GM Mike Smith while he took care of his responsibilities as president. But he did have a bit of a hand in one deal if reports are accurate. Legend has it that before the 1998-99 season, Dryden was in a convenience store in the west end of Toronto getting some ice cream when he ran into player agent Don Meehan. The two chatted for a while, and Dryden walked out of the store thinking he had a chance to add a major piece to his roster puzzle: Curtis Joseph. The netminder signed with the Leafs later that summer, and that season he led them to an appearance in the conference final.

Pat Quinn — 1999-2003

  • 169 -109 - 35 -15 (.608)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Quinn has the best record of any Leaf GM. While he held the managing spot for the team, the Leafs made the playoffs every year and only failed to make it out of the first round once, in 2003. But they never made it to the Cup finals, losing out in 1999 while he was a coach and again in 2002 when he was coaching and managing the team. His most notable acquisitions include fan-favorites Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker, plus Alexander Mogilny and Eddie Belfour, among others.

John Ferguson Jr. — 2003-08

  • 145 -110 -10 -30O  (.569)
  • No Stanley Cups
  • Every single facet of his tenure has been scrutinized backwards and forwards, but here's something that might surprise you: through all the pressure, controversy and ridicule thrown at him, JFJ still managed to post the second-best record as a general manager in Leaf history, behind Pat Quinn.