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Despite No Out-Clause, Blues’ Armstrong a Maple Leafs’ GM Dark Horse

Despite not having an out clause in his contract with the Blues, could the Toronto Maple Leafs pursue Doug Armstrong anyway?

The search for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next general manager is in full swing, and one name that has quickly gained traction is Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues. The active general manager for the Blues, Andy Strickland reports: “Contrary to some reports and speculation out there, according to a source close to the #stlblues, Doug Armstrong does NOT have an “out-clause” in his contract.” He adds, “This is a huge off-season for the Blues with three first-round picks. Armstrong has three years remaining on his deal.”

All that said, for some reason, the talk linking Armstrong to the Leafs isn’t necessarily slowing down.

Darren Dreger of TSN responded to Strickland’s tweet saying that the only way around this would be the Maple Leafs reaching out to Blues’ ownership and getting permission to talk to him and the Blues then granting him an out. And, Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic followed up on that idea in his recent column on Monday.

LeBrun noted that Armstrong’s experience, championship pedigree, and ability to handle the pressure of the Toronto market make him an intriguing candidate. And, if Brendan Shanahan is willing to jump through enough hoops to make it work, there’s a possibility he might try.

LeBrun explains that despite recently signing a five-year contract extension that extends through the 2025-26 season with the Blues, Armstrong’s strong relationship with Blues owner Tom Stillman could potentially facilitate a move to Toronto if it aligns with his aspirations. While it remains uncertain how Stillman would react to such an approach, the possibility cannot be ruled out.

LeBrun writes: “…if the Maple Leafs approached Stillman about it, maybe he would be OK with it if it’s something that Armstrong really wanted. Maybe, maybe not. Pretty hard to know exactly how Stillman would react.”

This Might Be A Tough Sell to the Blues

One might argue that it would be an arduous process for the Maple Leafs to secure Armstrong’s services, as prying away a GM still under contract for multiple years is uncommon. However, Armstrong’s track record and capabilities may make the effort worthwhile. Shanahan would have to weigh the potential benefits against the challenges involved. How much time does he need to get someone in place? What does it look like if he goes this route? Where would this leave the Blues? Would the Leafs have to provide compensation?

Brendan Shanahan Doug Armstrong Maple Leafs
Brendan Shanahan Doug Armstrong Maple Leafs

From Armstrong’s perspective, it’s hard to know exactly where he would sit. Strickland suggests he’s got unfinished business with the Blues, but the team has also gone through some dramatic times with their star players, none of the least of which has been very public criticism of their effort level. Every year, it sounds like the Blues might be rebuilding, but each year they push that conversation down the road.

He has also shown a keen interest in Canadian hockey as during a LeBrun interview in October 2019, Armstrong expressed his admiration for the role of a GM in Canada. He has been extensively involved in Team Canada, including managing the World Cup-winning team in 2016 and being part of the management staff for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. His current position as the GM of Canada’s team at the World Championship further highlights his dedication to the national program.

Armstrong Would Be a Long Shot At Best

While it remains speculative whether Shanahan would pursue Armstrong or if Armstrong himself desires a new challenge in Toronto, the likelihood that this comes to pass is low. That said, so many insiders picking up on the story seems to suggest there’s more than just smoke surrounding this idea.

The combination of his credentials and connections within Canadian hockey makes him an intriguing option for the Maple Leafs. As the Maple Leafs’ GM search unfolds, it will be interesting to see if Doug Armstrong’s name continues to gain momentum or if other candidates emerge as frontrunners.

Next: Dave Nonis Joining Flames Management Team Alongside Craig Conroy



  1. Barry

    May 23, 2023 at 12:13 am

    I like Craig Button’s choice better…..George McPhee!!, esp if Vegas wins the Cup this year, and he is hopefully looking for another challenge. But the point has been made that neither Armstrong or McPhee would put up with having to clear decisions thru
    Shanahan, and then to the board…they would want complete autonomy…kinda like the guy who just got canned…looks like there are some issues that will need to be ironed out!??

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