The Guys Pulling The Strings

I recently read, or at least the parts they sent me, a terrific book called Behind The Moves, put together by Jason Farris, and I have to say, diving into the world of NHL general managers can be a fascinating thing indeed. All these men in suits are trying to do is win a Stanley Cup and not get fired.  Two big things, I suppose. They make backroom deals, uproot families through trades, and cross their fingers that the young guys they draft don’t turn out to be busts.

The book is comprised of interviews with these mostly high-profile general managers, which leads to a veritable smorgasbord of quotes, and instead of just rambling on, I thought I’d give you a sampling of what can be found here:

“The deals are fun. Face it, it’s the highest-stakes poker game there is. If you’re good at it you stay in the game. If not, you get canned.” Brian Burke

“There isn’t a man on that team who should make any all-star team, but as a group they are almost unbeatable. It only goes to show what harmony, loyalty, pep, and cohesion can accomplish when linked together and wisely directed.” Lester Patrick talking about the 1933 Red Wings

This is a dog-eat-dog world, the NHL. Over 170 general managers in the history of the league, so many thousands of people out there who would like to be a general manager in the league….If you don’t perform, the game will eat you up and spit you out.” Jim Devellano

“For the most part, it’s all business now and the stakes are a lot higher financially…I think the need to win today and the pressure to win today on a general manager is quite different than it was 15 years ago –10 years ago even…Montreal fans had Sam Pollock for all those years and without a doubt, that core of fans cared about what happened, but the world didn’t care. Today it’s the world, the hockey world.” Bryan Murray

“If you’re getting into this business, one of the reasons you need experience is that it’s a competitive business and you’re going to be tested at every turn as a manager. You’re going to be tested by your patience, you’re going to be teasted by the owner’s patience, you’re going to be tested by the media, be tested by your coach, be tested by your players, and be tested by your peers. They’re going to give you offers where it’s going to be a battleship for a bathtub, and I think that’s why you need the experience of being around for awhile, because when you get into that (GM) club, those people are there for a reason. They’re the best in the world at what they do.” Ken Holland

“There are lots of different stories for these guys. Circumstances have a lot to do with dictating what happens (for a GM). If we hadn’t got Gretzky out of the WHA when we did, you wouldn’t be wasting your day sitting here bullshitting with me. How do you really know…whether a guy is qualified to be a general manager in this league for a number of years or why did he lose his job after two years? It’s a lot deeper question than people have answers for.” Glen Sather

“I think the big secret is not to juggle people all the time. But it’s not easy if you don’t have a good team. Patience, I guess, is probably the most valuable asset a team can have. Take young players and all of a sudden they don’t do well, so a GM gets rid of them and they do well somewhere else. The big thing with a manager is to be careful with young players.Especially if the manager isn’t coaching and the coach is anxious to win games. So the GM and coach have to have a lot of communication (about the plans for each player) because young players can blossom.” Scotty Bowman

“We went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1999 and I can tell you I know way more now than I did in 1999. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear yet to be enough (to win the Cup) but I know way more now. It needs to be that way but you always feel like you’re racing agianst the clock Can you get something done before you run out of time.” Darcy Regier

“You always knew which ones you could trust and which ones you needed to be careful around. It’s a den of thieves. The business is such that you don’t necessarily care about the ethics if it’s going to help your hockey club.” Jay Feester





11 thoughts on “The Guys Pulling The Strings”

  1. 99 Bottles of Beer – The Gomez variation

    46 games since the last time I scored
    46 games with no goal
    I skate around & make a pass to no one.
    47 games with no goal.

    47 games since… etc. etc. etc…

  2. 46 zillion dollars I make,
    46 zillion I make
    If one of those zillions should happen to fall
    I’d only have 45 zillion dollars, that’s all.

  3. we used to lament, each goal gomez gets cost the team 1 million bucks. we have progressed, thru choice of our own to putting the million dollar tag on each assist………… dem’s da real deep blues sugar

  4. Chris, I’d sure like to know what Gainey was thinking to. Usually such a thoughtful guy.
    I’m surprised at my little bio there. I didn’t know it was going to be so front and centre like that. I had also written them a lengthy review that they’re putting up soon.

  5. Hey, that’s one good looking guy.

    That quote by Lester Patrick is amazing. I love it.

    My Gomez Bit:

    99 chances to prove myself
    99 chances I’ve failed
    Still, no matter how badly I play
    I’ll still get a wonderful million a goal

    In the last few days a trend has started on Twitter and around Montreal about Scott Gomez. It’s a running joke that says “Scott Gomez hasn’t scored a goal since __________” with each person filling in the blanks.

    For example:

    “Scott Gomez hasn’t scored a goal since Moses’ mother put him in the basket”

    A few of my own:

    Scott Gomez hasn’t scored a goal since the Phoenix Coyotes were considered a good idea.

    Scott Gomez hasn’t scored a goal since the first day politics was thought of as corrupt.

    Scott Gomez hasn’t scored a goal since the invention of color tv.

  6. Scott Gomez hasn’t scored since Alaska was part of Russia.
    Scott Gomez hasn’t scored since Sarah Palin was a virgin.
    Scott Gomez hasn’t scored since the last time I did acid.

  7. Dennis – I’m not on Twitter at all. I’ve checked out a few Twitter feeds but beyond that I’ve never gotten into it. I don’t have the most exciting life so I doubt my Tweets would be of interest to anyone. 🙂

    Nice ones about Gomez. The Palin one makes me thing of a certain movie called Nailin’ Palin. Do not Google that at work.

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