The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/23/11 at 11:06 AM ET
Updated at 1:27 PM with a 11-minute McNamara interview: As Paul’s already posted, the Grand Rapids Griffins announced that long-time GM Bob McNamara is departing the team after 15 years with the organization, choosing to pursue “new opportunities” in hockey…
“It’s been a great run over the last 15 years, beyond what I could have imagined when I came to Grand Rapids,” said McNamara. “But as difficult as it is to leave this organization, it’s time for me to look for a new challenge. Staying in one place for so long doesn’t happen very often in our industry, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with outstanding players, coaches and front office staff and enjoy the incredible support of Griffins fans. Most of all, I’d like to thank [owners] Dan DeVos and David Van Andel for the opportunity they gave me, the trust they placed in me, and the friendship they showed me throughout the years,” added McNamara.
But the end of the press release offers an intriguing shift in terms of who’s going to make decisions about the Griffins’ roster on a day-to-day basis:
After careful consideration of both McNamara’s departure and the changing dynamics of the sport, the Griffins have opted to forego hiring a new GM. Instead, they’ll work with the Detroit Red Wings to implement the model used by nearly all of the AHL’s 30 teams, in which the NHL club has primary responsibility for the hockey operations of its AHL affiliate. Under this new structure, various day-to-day responsibilities of the GM will be reassigned within the Griffins organization.
“Our affiliation with Detroit has evolved to the point where the Red Wings supply nearly all of our players,” said [Griffins president Dan] DeVos. “Over time they’ve taken on greater responsibilities and a larger and more active role in our hockey operations, so we’re confident it will be a seamless transition to this new model.”
McNamara tells the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema that he has no problems with the gradual shift, but his role did diminish as time went on:
Over the years, though, his job description gradually changed. As the Red Wings focused more on player development and began signing the majority of players, he was left with fewer decisions to make. Eventually, McNamara decided it made sense for him to seek other opportunities.
“From an ownership standpoint, there are not many teams anymore in the American Hockey League that have their teams run the program. The NHL guys kind of make the decisions,” he said. “So it was kind of a mutual thing. It’s been on my mind for a while, and it’s something I’ve talked with ownership about over the past year or so.”
McNamara is hopeful he’ll be able to find a new job in hockey in the next several weeks, but has nothing concrete currently lined up.
“(Hockey) has been my life. That’s my goal, and I hope that what I’ve accomplished in Grand Rapids for 15 years means something,” he said. “I’m hopeful something will pan out.”
Update: Here’s McNamara speaking to the media, per the Griffins’ YouTube channel:
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