Friday, 11 September 2009

How To Alienate People In One Move

You can put your worries to rest, kids. I was not detained by any federal air marshals nor was I arrested as a hockey-motivated terrorist. I made it to Portland safe and sound, and I'm slowly getting acclimatized to the new time zone, the new city, and the new surroundings. We don't have mountains where I come from, so it was pretty spectacular flying near one as we descended into Portland, Oregon around 4pm local time. But while I'm here, I will continue blogging because I'm like that. Or I have an addiction issue. Or something. As hockey marches forward, so does HBIC. And, for one former NHL executive, it might be a long, long time before he has any connection to another NHL team after his latest move.

Doug MacLean, who most recently was seen driving a rising Columbus Blue Jackets team into the ground, has decided to partner with Jim Balsillie in his efforts to buy the Phoenix Coyotes as an advisor to the PSE group. For anyone involved in the NHL, the mere mention of Balsillie's name is cancerous for all reasons, so having MacLean partner with the Balsillie team is simply career suicide.

For all the former Rogers' Sportsnet hockey analyst did to try and self-promote himself on telecasts as a shrewd and wise hockey man, this move completely blows up any concept of that notion, and also casts a long, dark shadow on any integrity that MacLean claims to have. MacLean was, for a long time, a vocal opponent of Balsillie, using every form of media he could to try to undermine Balsillie's moves. As he said on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown last night, a show he frequently appeared on, this move came as a bit of a surprise.

"I was totally blown away when they approached me about would I consider talking to them. I think I can be a great bridge to bring this together.

"I hope they see it as a positive that now the Balsillie group has an NHL guy in their group that can help bridge this and make it work."
An NHL guy? Seriously? Are you kidding me?

Don't forget that this is a man who, as a coach, has had pretty decent success, but as a general manager, has left behind some rather bad memories in both Miami and Columbus. Sure, he's been involved in hockey for over two decades, but overall NHL success, outside of his one Stanley Cup appearance with Florida in 1995-96, has been pretty mediocre. But he's "an NHL guy" because he works in the industry right? The old boys' club is still operating, right?

As Bob McCown pointed out, this is a classic flip-flop. The guy goes from ripping on Balsillie one day to helping him the next. And not just "helping" Balsillie, but advising him on how to defeat the NHL's bid so that Balsillie can tear a franchise out of Phoenix for his own purposes. Yet he's "an NHL guy", so the NHL should be all smiley-faces and roses about this, right?

Let me just run down a quick list of people who never want to see Doug MacLean associated with their team ever again:
  • The Florida Panthers and their fans.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans.
  • The NHL Board of Governors.
  • The NHL executives.
  • Gary Bettman.
  • Every owner except those of the Coyotes at this point.
  • The fans of the Phoenix Coyotes.
  • Bob McCown.
Now, that may seem a little harsh, but in this war of attrition between the NHL and Jim Balsillie, if you're not with the NHL, you're against them. There is a distinct and definite line drawn between the two parties, and you're on one side or the other. There is no middle ground. None. So don't try to pretend there is.

As McCown told MacLean, ""You've crossed over a line that you drew pretty clearly in the sand". And I fully and completely agree with McCown. For MacLean to deny this or try to talk his way out this shows exactly why he isn't running an NHL team any longer. It comes down to credibility and integrity - two concepts of which Doug MacLean has no concept.

If you wanted a definition of career suicide, look no further. I can't imagine any situation where an NHL team would want Doug MacLean in their organization for any reason after pulling a stunt like this.

Nice move, Doug. As McCown stated last night after the interview, he'll never appear on Prime Time Sports again as long as Bob McCown sits in the driver's seat. And that's the definition of integrity.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

MacLean is well connected in hockey circles. It could either be, as you say, career suicide (a last ditch attempt to get back into the game) or it could be that the aversion to Balsillie is not nearly as great amongst the GMs in the NHL as people are lead to believe. I don't know which one it is but I find it hard to believe that he would be that stupid.

mtjaws said...

I enjoyed McLean when he was with the Panthers. But that's probably because we made it to the Finals. I'm not up to date on his problems with Columbus, but this is definitely the wrong move to make. As you said. Nobody should join Balsillie until he somehow wins, which I hope never ever happens.