The one downfall of being an NHL player is that it’s not a lifelong job. The average American retires around 65, but for the average pro hockey player it’s 33. While it’s a highly desirable job, earning high salaries, and entertaining millions, there’s still plenty of life after hockey.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was asked which current player he thought could become a good NHL GM, and his answer was not surprising.
Sidney Crosby is a hockey junkie. He loves the game. He loves to talk about the game, he follows things closely. He has a great awareness of what’s going on. I don’t know if he’ll go into management but it won’t surprise me. If he did go in, he would be all in. He’s got a real passion for the game and that reflects in knowledge and a thirst for knowledge about all things hockey.-Bob McKenzie, TSN
So it got us thinking, which current/former Golden Knight would make a good NHL general manager?
Jason’s candidates: Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Shea Theodore
Ken’s candidates: David Perron, Nate Schmidt, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
There are many elements that go into being a successful general manager, the biggest one is accepting the harsh reality of the business side of hockey. The Islanders Lou Lamoriello is a great example of being a stone-cold executive, even Vegas’ George McPhee has an icy side. Maybe it’s education, or it comes with experience. Pacioretty felt the chill up in Montreal where he was constantly made the scapegoat. From the fans, media, to team executives, #67 had a lot on his plate. However, he still managed to score 226 goals for the Canadiens. Pacioretty accepted his high-profile role as an American captain in Montreal, and professionally handled his daily responsibilities, no matter how combative they were. In the end, he was traded by the organization he gave it all for, and it didn’t phase him. By then, he had already been schooled about the dirty business.
After one year at his local high school, Pacioretty moved on to a hockey prep school, then to the USHL, and lastly the University of Michigan before becoming an NHL player. Since the age of 15, the Connecticut native was heavily recruited and scouted, so he’s well aware of that process.
As captain, Pacioretty needed to work the room and find balance with all of his teammates. Even loud, overbearing teammates like PK Subban. Being captain allowed him insight on how the team was built. What the front office was doing right and what went wrong. With several failed seasons in Montreal, I’m sure the 31-year-old veteran took note of the poor decisions made by the organization.
His experience early on with the recruitment stage, witnessing of building up and tearing down rosters, adding in his tough skin and Pacioretty has the resume to become a future general manager. (written by Jason)
Man, I miss David Perron. Perron is one of the most intriguing players both on and off the ice.
His hockey mind is always on full display when he’s playing as he just seems to have a knack for finding holes in the offensive zone where he can hold onto the puck for a little longer than anyone else who has ever worn a VGK jersey. He sees the game at a different speed than most and I’d have to think that would translate well into scouting as well as team construction.
Off the ice is where he really made me believe he has what it takes to be a GM though. He’s one of the few players in Golden Knights history who really cared about stats and even advanced stats. He’d talk about Corsi, zone starts, through-percentage, and many other pieces of data that proved he’s a true hockey junkie.
The intelligence he displayed in breaking down complex game situations as well as his understanding of the salary cap and the business end of hockey has me believing he would be not only the most likely to become a GM, but also the best future GM of any current or former Golden Knight. (written by Ken)
When I was a kid I’d sometimes hear my old man bitch and moan about his old boss Mr. Spacely. I’m sure Stastny overheard the same curse words from his Dad, but it was mainly about NHL coaches, GM’s and owners. From birth, Stastny was exposed to professional hockey giving him the ultimate head start. Over time, it would be hard not to pick up the inner workings of a professional franchise.
Like Pacioretty, Stastny went through the USHL and NCAA to eventually the NHL, learning the process of recruitment and scouting. He had early success in the pros, and inherited a high hockey IQ. Current Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has complimented Stastny’s vision and understanding of the game. Florida Panthers coach Joel Quennevillle echoed the praise. With his deep, deep hockey roots, career success, and his cerebral approach to the game, Statsny could very well be an NHL GM. (written by Jason)
I’m well aware that this might be a bit of a weird one considering the incredibly bubbly personality that’s not common among GMs. But Schmidt is one of the smartest defensemen in the league and when you get him going on hockey, he’ll talk your ear off just like he will about anything else.
Everyone likes Nate, which could really come in handy in both managing his own players as well as dealing with other GMs if he were to ever make that leap.
Schmidt has always been one of the best Golden Knights in diagnosing the issues that are going on when the Golden Knights are scuffling. (You’ll notice, when they lose, he’s almost always one of the players to talk to the media.) I’d expect that to be able to translate if he were to be watching the games in the suite as opposed to sitting on the bench with his teammates.
Finally, he’s already done a little GMing for the Golden Knights. Remember this? (written by Ken)
First let’s start with Theodore is a defenseman, and many GM’s were former blueliners. Now, let’s get to the real reasons. The 24-year-old didn’t play more than 34 games before he became a Golden Knight, however, he already had 20 playoff games under his belt. A victim of age and skill, Theodore was used like a rubber ball in Anaheim. Getting called up, and sent down the next day was the norm for the first-round draft pick. Used mostly in the AHL, the Ducks weren’t afraid to use him regularly in the postseason. It didn’t seem to hurt his development either. In 2017, when he first began the year with the AHL Chicago Wolves, Theodore understood it wasn’t about his talent but more about his exemption status. It was then that he learned about roster decisions being best for the club and not the individual. Which I’m sure was explained to him by two organizations.
Another angle is Theodore’s 2018 offseason holdout. The young defenseman and his agent challenged the offering by the Golden Knights and went head-to-head with the shrewd McPhee. Not only did it show self awareness, but also proved he understood the business of negotiating. At his age some players would have caved to the threats of an experienced GM. Not Theodore, who ended up signing a seven-year deal.
With plenty of seasons ahead, looking for future work isn’t a concern for Theodore. His hockey IQ will continue to get sharper over the years, as well as his understanding of the process of constructing a roster. Starting off as a young player, by the time his contract expires he’ll be a veteran leader in Vegas. Theodore will have seen the future highs and lows of this organization, which could help him prepare for a role in the front office. (written by Jason)
No one was more aware of the importance of roles on a hockey team than Bellemare. But the quality that makes me believe he’d be a great GM is his honesty. Whether it was about the team’s play, his contract situation, former teams and teammates, or anything else, Bellemare always had a way to give the blunt honest truth but say it in a way that didn’t feel as harsh as the reality.
Another guy that’s liked by pretty much everyone, Bellemare has seen hockey at many different levels and in multiple countries. I think he’d be strong in scouting, he’d be able to recognize the needs of a team, and he’d be easy to work both with and for. (written by Ken)
Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Rob Blake and Ron Francis are all hall of fame players turned GM’s who have had levels of success. At some point in time, a former Golden Knight player will likely hold the title of GM, who would you hire?
Of course my #1 choice to be a GM after his playing days would be” RYAN REEVES!!!! He would assemble an intimidating group that would thump the crap out of the league. As those of us that have actually PLAYED hockey … Heart & intimidation would rule over all!! I’m sure his two first moves would be to obtain Tom Wilson & Evander Kane (both can SCORE and intimidate with the best of them). YEA …. you go Revo, give us some old time hockey!!! Can you say T-Mobile BULLIES????? 🙂
Can you say worst team in NHL history?
No actually, the worse team would be the KB pussycats! 🙂
Doc, always interested in your comments. So for context, what was the highest level of hockey did you play?
THE hockey GOD
i am guessing pee wee
Grew up in Midwest, played HS hockey. … Then moved to Phoenix, in my early 20s and became a cop. During most of my 20s played in a number of very competitive “industrial” leagues as they were referred to. (Lots of ex pro like players who had “retired” to the desert). During the 70s our team scrimmaged with the Phoenix Roadrunners while they were in the Western Hockey League … then … After they were picked to join the WORLD Hockey League, we “played them” quite a few times in run up to their training camp for that. (Look up the name Howie Young) Actually got in a few “dust ups” with him in these games. That was great! Anyway, played consistently into my mid 30s, then had two significant knee injuries and that about put my hockey playing away. (I’m 6’2 & played around 212 lbs at my best. Mainly as a D man … some left wing) Obviously I loved the physical game! 🙂
Doug … I wrote a detailed info reply about my hockey playing to you earlier today, but coming back to the site now, I see it’s gone??? I guess Ken deleted it???? It’s like WTF ????????? Anyway the very short version …. from HS up thru my mid-30s played in very intense leagues, with a number of ex pro players. I even told you to look up HOWIE YOUNG. When we scrimmaged many times with the Phoenix Roadrunners back in their WHL & WHA days I got into a few scrapes with Howie. He’s a legend tuff guy and I had a blast playing against him. At 6’2 and 212 lbs, I could mix it up with the best of em!
As much as I like Reaves and think he should be on this team, (unlike Ken) GM, not going to happen.
I think the first three choices on your list are exactly where they should be for the reasons you both mention. Bellemare may possibly be a match also. Interesting story in this boring time we’re all going through. Nice work.
I’m leaning towards a guy you didn’t mention. I love Stone in that role. Everyone loves this guy. Nobody plays harder(Carrier maybe), and he does it all. He’s a kleptomaniac on the ice. He’s an inspiration to all around him. He scores he plays defense. He’s personable too. He can play the heavy, the hardliner. IMOP, Schmidt can be Stone’s foil, his sidekick. He can maybe make a call to a player at night, smooth things over, be a go between a prospective player and Stone. Also, Schmidt can smooth out feelings amoung teammates. Like you said, he can carry the load with the media, put a happy face at a difficult situation, be a punching bag if need be. An assistant GM is like the Sec. Of State or Good Cop/Bad Cop. Sometimes he has to play a supporting role, Schmidt is perfect.
Doug … I wrote a detailed info reply about my hockey playing to you earlier today, but coming back to the site now, I see it’s gone??? I guess Ken deleted it???? It’s like WTF ????????? Anyway the very short version …. from HS up thru my mid-30s played in very intense leagues, with a number of ex pro players. I even told you to look up HOWIE YOUNG. When we scrimmaged many times with the Phoenix Roadrunners back in their WHL & WHA days I got into a few scrapes with Howie. He’s a legend tuff guy and I had a blast playing against him. At 6’2 and 212 lbs, I could mix it up with the best of em! This is not as detailed as my original comment to you, but hopefully Ken will keep his editorial hands off! 🙂
Hey Doug, If you ever want to talk hockey or anything, just e-mail at DLWilliams2008@aol.com
DOC – Does the name Tommy Cooper ring a bell since you keep referring to yourself as an old man.
Hey easy … I’ll be 70 in June, so you tell me if that is old or not. And no, as I set here I don’t recall the name Tommy Cooper. But of course my memory is a hit & miss proposition!
don’t forget Schmidt when being interviewed by ESPN knows how to cry on cue-
a very cool skill for a leader