Sep 10, 2001
Well, there have been some interesting deals around the league during this pretty exciting off-season, and instead of looking at the faces and numbers, I would like to talk a bit about the General Managers of this fair league.
New York Islanders - Mike Milbury; 'Mad Mike' as he is affectionately known seems to be bulletproof. Despite all the floundering in the Island by his team, Milbury himself has stayed put, though he is always high on the who's next to get canned list. Milbury has acquired all-star centres to help lead his team to respectability, or at least to the point where the Islanders are no longer seen as a good time for backups and rookies and new lines to get their ice time. If Alexei Yashin and Mike Peca do not pan out, however, look for Milbury's head to be served to the remaining and returning Islanders fans left on a platter.
New Jersey Devils - Lou Lamoriello; While other teams have had to scramble to sign one of the many impact players who were unrestricted free agents, Lamoriello sat back and smiled. You see, Lou seems to have a plethora of players of NHL-caliber players playing on the Devils' AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats. In all his 15 years with the Devils, Lou has carefully cultivated and molded his team. He was able to reap the rewards with both of his Stanley Cup wins, and a lot of his top players were draft picks, and still are in their early 20's. I wonder how much gas the Devils will have for the playoffs this year, after reaching the finals two straight years, and having the Olympics interrupt the season for what could be as many as 9 players.
New York Rangers - Glen Sather; Sather is known for having built a very successful team around a rather large group of future Hall-of-Famers' for Edmonton in the late 80's, early 90's. Sather, after taking over the reigns in the Big Apple, has done very little in compared to the expectations that he came in with as far as rebuilding the franchise is concerned. Sadly, Sather has fallen in to the temptation of the deep pockets of Madison Square Gardens, once again trading the future, in the form of future first liner Pavel Brendl among others, for Eric Lindros. My question is: will Sather have to go through a Meet the Parents situation with Bonnie and Carl Lindros?
Philadelphia Flyers - Bobby Clarke; Sure, he may be very close to the most hated man in hockey for his very public musings on Roger Nielson, as well as the entire Lindros family, but he gets his job done. Comparing the past two seasons, the Flyers have had a negative drop in their points, power play and penalty killing, while seeing their goals against average increase along with their goals-per-game. Clarke, unlike Sather and Milbury is very unlikely to lose his job over his big deal this season, if only because he added to his team by losing, essentially, nobody. Lindros may have been responsible for the lack of powerplay production, but the team was able to function without him. Let's not forget, he was able to sign Jeremy Roenick from his friend over with the...
Phoenix Coyotes - Cliff Fletcher; The mastermind behind the Doug Gilmour trade that brought respectability back to the Leafs, Fletch is trying to do the same in Phoenix. Fletch has already brought in four Leafs that were drafted under him in Sergei Berezin, Danny Markov, Todd Warriner, and Mike Johnson. Berezin and Markov were acquired in trades that, like the Lindros deal for Clarke, cost Fletcher very little in terms of roster spots, as he traded away two sitters, Mikael Renberg, and Robert Reichel, along with a minor leaguer in Craig Mills, and a decent two-way centre in Travis Green. (Ok, so he's not the GM anymore, but he if he has something to say about the team, Mike Barnett will listen)
So...who is the big winner in this off-season full of address changes? The answer belongs to maybe the quietest man who serves his team with the loyalty of Bobby Clarke, the stick-to-itiveness Sather used to have, and drafts like Milbury and his staff have over the past few years.
Dallas Stars - Bob Gainey; While there have been very few trades by the Dallas GM, and more of free agent signings, the trick is not to find the best talent, but the best fit to an organization. Pierre Turgeon will find his style of play fit in perfectly with the Dallas organization. Underachiever Valeri Kamensky and overachiever Donald Audette should be able to find some level of comfort in a deep Dallas organization, that might be outplayed and outscored some nights, but always puts in the amount of work to win. Building a team takes the ability to admit a mistake, but has Gainey made any this summer?
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