NHL owners, collectively or one-at-a-time, have the IQ of mushrooms. How else do you explain the fact that they continue to employ any number of general managers who, year after year after year, continually fail to produce winning teams.
Let’s take the Edmonton Oilers. A team extremely rich in tradition and successful history…maybe too successful. I realize Daryl Katz has only had a bird’s-eye view of the debacle in Alberta’s capital since he became owner in February 2008. But how long does someone in his position have to watch the train wreck before they act? And act smartly!
Here’s the problem: Just because someone is intelligent, well-spoken and played in the NHL for a number of years, does not automatically make him a good general manager. Kevin Lowe was essentially hand-picked by outgoing GM Glen Sather when he bolted for Manhattan a decade ago. As a player, Lowe was rugged, tough, not overly talented but extremely strong-willed. As a general manager, he sucked big time!
Aside from the astonishing trip to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final (thanks, almost entirely, to Dwayne Roloson), the Oilers have stunk for a decade. A decade! For eight of those years, Lowe was in the GM’s chair. Then, two years ago, Lowe chose Steve Tambellini as his successor.
My God…that’s like asking Captain Smith, just as his Titanic kisses the iceberg, who should succeed him. Lowe wouldn’t know a good GM if the guy bit him in the ass. Yet, here we sit watching Steve Tambellini (intelligent, well-spoken, played in the NHL for a number of years) helm the Oilers to the worst record in the NHL – a dubious title they had never acquired before this year.
And the buffoonery continued as Tambellini opted for Pat Quinn as the club’s head coach. I don’t care if the guy did win a World Junior Championship and an Olympic gold medal. A chimpanzee wearing a tie could have coached those teams. The measure of a coach is how he works a club that may not have all the talent in the world. This year, Quinn’s workin’ that club right into the basement. And perhaps you’ve forgotten that it was Quinn, in December 1986, who signed a contract to become the President/GM of the Canucks – while he was still coaching the Los Angeles Kings!
Good thing for today’s crop of GMs that owners are just like mushrooms – keep ‘em in the dark and shovelling them s–t – and they’ll think you’re doing a great job!