GMs playing the change game
With the season flying by, managing change or affecting it is no small trick for general managers, especially in the salary cap era. What to do and when to act is of paramount importance when it comes to not being left behind -- both in the here-and-now and in the future.
We've so far seen the age-old approach of firing the coach to turn a struggling team around. In Philadelphia, the Flyers are successfully redefining their game under
The Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes were a little more creative with the change game. The Sens fired their goalie coach. When GM
Getting rid of the position coach seemed to put Ottawa's goalies on notice. The net result was six straight wins after five consecutive losses, the last of which was an ugly 6-1 deal in Atlanta where neither Leclaire nor
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes named a new captain, which is somewhat of a novelty when the player who had the C removed from his sweater remains on the roster as
The reality is that the Hurricanes have been Staal's team for some time and it was time to acknowledge that fact with a reasoned approach to the team's direction as a whole, the captaincy a piece of the plan. President/GM
Harsh? Maybe. Brind'Amour and the rest of the vets instinctively couldn't like the message. That's human nature. But as guys who have been around a while and won a Stanley Cup together, they can't argue with the logic. It's now easier to imagine a quicker turnaround for the Hurricanes with a core led by Staal and goaltender
Rutherford's explanation of "why now" boils down to not being delusional about the team's playoff chances this season: "We're far from being a bubble team, never mind a solid playoff team," he says. "It is not what we anticipated, but for many reasons, that's where we find ourselves in the standings. But we can't wait until the offseason to invoke changes. You have to react quickly in the cap era. When you have a chance to win it all, you have to go for it. When it doesn't work out, you have to quickly move on. That's what we're in the process of doing."
At the other end of the spectrum sits GM
Last year, Shero made the bold coaching move that worked out so well.
"It was my first time in that situation as a GM," he says. "I'd come to admire and respect what Michel had done for the organization. Still, I didn't like the way we were going. I had to remove myself emotionally and look at the situation from a distance. It wasn't easy, but I'm glad it played out the way it did."
No kidding. A host of other GMs around the league are taking stock of their teams and trying to create an equally impressive result, if not this season, then in the near future, by any means necessary.