by PuckStopsHere on 07/02/09 at 02:14 AM ET
Last year, I wrote that a team is poorly run if they go into the draft and free agent signing period without a clear coach and general manager. These are the key times when a team is built for next season (and beyond) and not having the people in charge that will run those teams when those decisions are made is a problem.
The Florida Panthers do not have a clear general manager for next season. After Jacques Martin left to coach in Montreal, they have had Randy Sexton as the acting GM, but it is expected that somebody else will be brought in long-term. That is a crazy way to run any organization. Whenever the new GM comes into place, it will be too late for him to make any major moves for next season. He will basically inherit a team and not be able to make significant changes to it for months. Should Florida decide they want Sexton as GM, they should make it official. Sexton has GM experience. He was the Ottawa Senators GM during some of the franchise’s darkest years when they were among the worst teams in the league. That doesn’t give him the most impressive resume, but it is better than some people who are hired as NHL GMs.
The New Jersey Devils do not have a coach. This is far less serious than the Florida Panthers lack of a GM, but it is a limiting factor. Everyone knows that Lou Lamoriello is in charge in New Jersey. His coach has been generally treated as a disposable part that is replaceable on a relatively frequent basis. His last coach, Brent Sutter has jumped to the Calgary Flames and has not yet been replaced. There are rumors that the next coach could be former Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire. If he is hired that would give New Jersey a very good coach. However if he isn’t, the Devils will be forced to take on a first year coach with little attachment to the team. They would be stuck with somebody who knows he is not likely a long-term solution. That limits the quality of candidates you can hire. The process of having a coach on board when the team is built creates a stronger working relationship which is important in attracting top coaching talent.
It is an unforgivable mistake that the Florida Panthers have entered the free agent signing period without a GM in place. That cannot help the team at all. It will probably prevent them from having a very productive off-season. The New Jersey Devils have a problem that they have not hired a coach yet. It is not as serious, but the longer this situation continues, the weaker the pool of coaches they can draw from and the weaker the bond between the team and the coach.
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