Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Wayne Gretzky Goes on a Firing Spree!
According to TSN.ca, the Phoenix Coyotes have already begun the process of gutting their management team and starting from scratch (again) after a woeful season which saw the Coyotes finish dead last in the Western Conference with 67 points.
Although not many will be surprised at the front-office shakeup, it's hard to imagine that Wayne Gretzky, who is unfailingly loyal, will simply kick good buddies Barnett and Fletcher out the door altogether ... at least not without a cushy payout pillow to fall on.
General manager Mike Barnett, assistant general manager Laurence Gilman, and Senior Executive and Vice President of Hockey Operations, Cliff Fletcher have been let go.
Barnett joined the Coyotes as Vice President and GM in 2001, leaving behind a successful career as a player agent with Wayne Gretzky as his marquee client.
Under the management of Gretzky and Friends (or "Friends of Wayne", as Mirtle might call them), the Coyotes have made a number of bad decisions that have left the club with dim prospects for the present and future. Signing over-the-hill veterans such as Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick, and Owen Nolan only blocked the younger players from getting more ice time while eating a large chunk of salary cap space at the same time.
The Gretzky Era has seen The Great One hire good friends for important positions, rather than hire based on merit. Claude Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ulf Samuelsson, Grant Fuhr, Keith Gretzky, and Tom Kurvers were all brought on board because they just happened to be part of Wayne's nice entourage.
The scouting staff, in turn, made a pile of questionable picks (Hello, Blake Wheeler) that have left the Coyotes with a fairly meager pool of prospects from which to draw from. With poor attendance and a weak market, the Coyotes' franchise is going to need somebody with some exceptional talent to turn that club into a success. Will Gretzky finally do the right thing and hire the best candidate, even if he's not a good friend?
(Cross-posted at The Fanhouse)
I will have to disagree with the questionable prospects for the Coyotes. According to the Hockey News, the Coyotes have four in the top 50.
Blake Wheeler is the dark horse, sure, but he has been showing strength with his Gopher hockey team.
One thing is for sure that hiring friends to work with you is sometimes not the best strategy.