I'm sure there are different levels of work put in based on the number of free agents a team has, whether or not there are holes in a lineup that need patching, and the job of finding players who can build up the minor-league affiliates so there's a capable player who is ready when called upon to fill an injury. However, let's say that your GM was astute and had a solid minor-league affiliation who needed no holes patched in its lineup. And let's also assume that your GM took care of the free agents and holes in the NHL lineup that needed to be signed or re-signed. It leads me back to the question: what does that GM do all day?
The one thing I know happens is that general managers, like the players, tend to get away from the game after the free agency frenzy dies down. They vacation with their families, they engage in hobbies and activities they enjoy such as golf, and they do some charitable work. In other words, they get away from hockey as much as they can for a few short weeks in the summer as much as they can before the looming season starts again. However, if your team was eliminated in April and training camps don't open until September, that's a long five-month break for the guy who is responsible for the on-ice product.
Granted, there are now development camps that engage the GMs in assessing the talent in their systems that run over the summer. The rookie tournaments usually kick up at the beginning of September. In looking at the calendar, though, there is approximately three to six weeks of time where there isn't a lot of activity for GMs whose teams didn't advance past the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. What exactly do these guys do with all that extra time of not running a team?
If you're looking for examples, I can provide a couple. The first guy I have to ask about is Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. The Jets have yet to make the playoffs since arriving in Winnipeg, and look like they are going to miss the playoffs again this season. Yes, I can boldly make that prediction in July because I'm not sure what Cheveldayoff is being paid to do on a daily basis. He made one free agent signing, he let a couple of players walk, and he's currently negotiating with restricted free agents and the one guy who is going to arbitration. He's probably spent more time diffusing the Evander Kane situation than he has working the phones and drawing up contracts. Sure, he was at the Jets' development camp where he saw potential future Jets playing hard, but he could have sent his head scout to do the same work.
Therefore, since the Jets have not been a playoff team since April and the only player transactions made were the signing of Mathieu Perreault and couple of AHL players, Kevin Cheveldayoff, what would you say you do here?
Another GM who done relatively little in terms of improving his team in this offseason is Florida's Dale Tallon. Oh sure, he dumped trucks of money on free agents who needed the lure of the greenback to wander down to Sunrise, but he hasn't improved his team a whole bunch. They also drafted Aaron Ekblad first-overall at this year's draft, but I could have trained a chimp to do that. Ekblad was clearly the best player coming into the draft, and the Panthers made sure they claimed him. Heck, my dog knew Ekblad was going first-overall. It's not like Tallon had a lot of work to do in researching this kid.
So after unloading a pile of money on second- and third-line players on July 1 and 2 that will make these players virtually untradeable in the future based on their production and after drafting the consensus best player in this year's draft, the Panthers have gone silent. While the players they've add will make them a marginally better team, they are still going to miss the playoffs in a competitive Atlantic Division. So Dale Tallon, what would you say you do here?
I'm willing to sit in with a GM for a few days and see what he actually does all day. Since my local NHL team's GM was mentioned in this article, he would be the ideal candidate for this experiment. I am, though, extremely curious what these two men do now that the craziness of free agency and development camps are over.
Anyone want someone to sit with them for a week as a shadow?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!