The NHL's new breed of GM
It's been scantly more than a month since the Los Angeles Kings inked new general manager Dean Lombardi — the consensus star among the candidates out there — and in that time, three other NHL clubs have since added GMs.
May 24: Colorado Avalanche hire Francois Giguere
May 25: Pittsburgh Penguins hire Ray Shero
May 26: Boston Bruins hire Peter Chiarelli
The dates sort of have an interesting symmetry to them, although that's the case in far more ways than one. Given how Shero's hiring played out, with the former Nashville Predators assistant having his choice between the Penguins and Bruins (and choosing to stay far away from the management in Beantown), it's not a stretch to say the hirings were all intertwined.
What's interesting, too, is how all three men were in the assistant GM role with other organizations — Giguere with the Dallas Stars, Shero with the Predators and Chiarelli with the Ottawa Senators. As was pointed out during last Saturday's Satellite Hotstove, the assistant's job has traditionally gone to a "number-cruncher" rather than a hockey man — a description that fits all three like a (hockey) glove.
None of the three played in the NHL (or even minor pro), all are in their early 40s and are well-educated. (Giguere, for instance, is a certified accountant — something many woebegone franchises wish they had at the helm this season.)
Where Chiarelli and Shero did play was the NCAA, where both logged four years in the early 80s, and did so in the same division — the ECAC. A native of St. Paul, Minn., Shero was a high-scoring left winger for St. Lawrence University; Chiarelli came from Nepean, Ont., and studied economics at Harvard, where he captained the team during his final season.
Another similarity? Lombardi, Chiarelli and Shero all have law degrees, a distinction that is increasingly becoming a requisite qualification for the GM position.
What it all means is that the days of the Bobby Clarke types running a team's hockey operations are going the way of the dodo. After all, three of the most recently turfed GMs — Dave Taylor, Mike O'Connell and Craig Patrick — were all ex-NHLers who were replaced by guys without a lick of on-ice experience in the league.
While this is a changeover that's far from complete, the four newest additions to the GM fraternity mean that for the first time in a long time, the Brian Burkes outnumber the Clarkes.
At this point, only 12 of the NHL's current 29 GMs — the Islanders post is vacant — played more than a handful of games in the NHL: Buffalo's Darcy Regier (26 career games played), Calgary's Darryl Sutter (406), Carolina's Jim Rutherford (459), Chicago's Dale Tallon (642), Edmonton's Kevin Lowe (1,254), Montreal's Bob Gainey (1,160), Minnesota's Doug Risebrough (740), the Rangers' Glen Sather (658), Philadelphia's Bobby Clarke (1,144), San Jose's Doug Wilson (1,024), St. Louis' Larry Pleau (94), and Washington's George McPhee (115).
(In addition, Atlanta's Don Waddell played one while Detroit's Ken Holland had four.)
It all makes you wonder: Is hockey's next great mind more likely to be sitting in a rink or buried in law school texts?
And how surreal is it that one ramification of Gary Bettman's 'New NHL' is that those guiding teams are beginning to have more in common with the league's commissioner than the players on the ice?
The lawyer from New York may have won in more ways than one.
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