Generally in our ‘What Would You Do Wednesday?’ segments we place our readers in the shoes of the general manager or the head coach, since those are the two people with the most direct impact on hockey operations. Today we’re going to do something a little bit different, instead looking at ownership.
The best owners in hockey tend to be the ones who provide stable financial backing for their teams, employ an expert or experts in the top hockey operations job(s), give them a mandate and then stay out of the way. The question today is two-fold: Who should be in that top job or jobs, and what should their mandate be?
Different NHL teams use varying managerial structures to run their clubs, and the model the Oilers are using is increasingly common, with a long-time hockey guy with general manager experience at the top of the food chain as President, a designated general manager handling the day-to-day operations of the team and then an assortment of other top executives reporting to the G.M. The top end of Edmonton’s current structure looks like this:
- President, Hockey Operations: Kevin Lowe
- General Manager: Craig MacTavish
The WWYDW question here is two-fold. First, what kind of structure should the team have? Should it have a president acting as a buffer and sounding board for both ownership and the G.M. or should the team simply have a general manager and cut out the middle man? Second, should Lowe and MacTavish retain their current positions or should they be replaced – and if the latter, who should replace them?
The other, related part of this exercise is exactly what the mandate should be for the general manager. I’m stealing a little from commenter BlazingSaitls’ point this morning, but the options basically look like this:
- Work hard to upgrade the Oilers immediately (radical). This involves making trades to add help on defence and centre and wherever else it’s needed. We aren’t asking for a specific plan here, just whether the manager(s) hired should focus on revamping the team right now even at the cost of futures, possibly including things like the team’s 2015 first round pick.
- Work hard to upgrade the Oilers immediately (moderate). As with the first option, this involves making trades to add help on defence and centre and wherever else it’s needed. The difference here is that there’s a readiness to be patient, to allow the manager(s) to make tweaks while still hanging on to prospects and draft picks because as much as it’s important to make advancement now it’s also going to be a few years before this team is in its prime.
- Controlled rebuild. Given that the Oilers aren’t going to contend this year, it makes no sense to burn futures to address the present. Instead, the focus should primarily be on next season, which means mostly staying the course except when moves can be made to improve for 2015-16.
- Tank. Hey, who doesn’t love Connor McDavid?
This is where we turn things over to the comments section: As owner of the Oilers, what would our readers do about the current management group, and what mission would they assign to their new/returning managers?