Fans and media alike are always wanting to know about "The Plan" for the Oilers. Does the team have a plan? What is The Plan? Why won’t Steve Tambellini tell us The Plan? There is a strong feeling that it is a right of theirs to know the answers to these questions.
I am here to tell you mangers shouldn’t outline their plan and you shouldn’t want to know the details of The Plan. Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this as a show of support for or against the approach as GM of Steve Tambellini. His body of work to come will determine the outcome of his legacy as an Oiler general manager. I am writing this to outline how I think strong managers with longer track records function and why they keep their plans private.
A manager I have always admired is Lou Lamoriello. He has been the New Jersey Devils manager since 1987 (25 years). In that time he has won three Stanley cups and with this years post season run it is his fifth cup final.
Not too shabby.
He fiercely guards his club’s secrets and privacy. Can anyone tell me one time he came out, stood behind a podium and outlined his plan? Never would happen. He operates to produce victories and not shake hands and kiss babies. Are there times that the fan base gets frustrated? Sure, but going to the cup final every fourth year in the last twelve probably helps get them over it.
The opposite of a private manager like Lou is the Toronto Maple Leafs Brian Burke. He chooses to be the face of the franchise. He has also been successful. He won a cup at the helm of the Anaheim Ducks and assembled many of the pieces that are still making the Canucks so strong. He was my GM when I was in Vancouver. I really liked and respected him, plus he was entertaining.
But why does he lay out his plan so often in the media? This makes no sense to me at all. It does get the Leaf fans excited, but when he fails to accomplish what he said he would do it makes it look like he failed. It puts the team in a position of bargaining weakness. As a fan you don’t want that.
For example, near this year’s trade deadline he publicly announced he was looking for more size up front. Why say it out loud? For whatever reason he didn’t get any. Could it be that every other GM knew what wanted? When another GM with a good sized forward he is looking to trade hears that, does his asking price not automatically go up? Of course! He knows you want it.
I don’t get it. Maybe he should watch the show Canadian Pickers – those guys know how to bargain! When the LA Kings pulled off their big trades last year, it blew the doors off of everyone. I can’t remember any media members calling that. I loved it. The Kings management group played their cards tight to the vest. They did not lay that out for the world to see until it was completed.
I believe that it a major strength to have as a club. In my opinion managers should not lay out their master plans. Yes, at times it will frustrate the media and fans but if it even makes the difference in one trade or free agent signing it is worth it. Lou Lameriello is the manager that all others should copy. Sure he has made a few mistakes but his track record suggests he knows what he is doing.
You’re starting when?
I will never understand why the NHL schedules such a long break between the conference finals and the cup final. I am sure that building availability is one part and maybe the guys are tired, but they should want to keep all fans engaged. I feel the cup finals lose steam with the time off.
Next year fire the final up right away!