and... He's standing right behind me, isn't he?"
Bryan Murray is watching his team implode before his eyes. Brian Burke is under constant fire in Toronto. Jay Feaster has been handed a mess to clean up in Calgary. And even previously untouchable veterans like Darcy Regier and Lou Lamoriello are seeing their reputations tarnished thanks to underperforming teams.
What's a struggling general manager to do? Well, a few things, actually. And since surveys tell me that a majority of my readership consists of current NHL front office executives, I thought I'd help them out by putting together some tips to guide struggling GMs through difficult times.
DO: Attempt to quickly improve your roster by phoning any colleagues who you think might be willing to part with star players cheaply.
DO NOT: Angrily call your service provider demanding to know why Darryl Sutter doesn't seem to be returning any of your voicemails.
DO: Arrange to deliver a motivational speech to the team before their next game.
DO NOT: Pause before you begin speaking, look slowly around the room, and then ask the head coach "What happened, did all the good players call in sick today?"
DO: Seek to create more cap room by making creative use of waivers, minor league assignments, and buyouts.
DO NOT: Seek to create more cap room by putting rocks in a sleeping Ilya Kovalchuk's pockets and rolling him into the Passaic River.
DO: Reassure the team's owner that you have everything under control.
DO NOT: Try to end the conversation prematurely by making static noises and saying "this reception is terrible, I can barely hear you", especially since he's sitting across from you in your office.
DO NOT: Make a trade just for the sake of making a trade.
DO: Be sure to remind every reporter you speak to that you don't intend to make a trade just for the sake of making a trade. Several times a day, if possible. Until the end of time.
DO: Ask your assistant GM whether he has any ideas for improving the team in the short term.
DO NOT: Ask your assistant GM why he keeps pulling out a tape measure and taking measurements around your office as you're talking to him.
DO: Hang up the phone immediately if Bryan Murray calls to ask if you'd be interested in trading for Sergei Gonchar.
DO NOT: Forget to set your phone on fire and beat it with a baseball bat immediately afterwards, just in case.
DO NOT: Callously throw your underachieving franchise player under the bus.
DO: Show the proper respect for your underachieving franchise player's many years of loyal service to the team by, instead, gently and lovingly placing him under the bus.
DO: Pop your head into the owner's office and say "Hey, you're doing a TV interview with Pierre McGuire right now? That's a great way to get a positive message out to our fans!"
DO NOT: Put too much thought into why McGuire responds "Uh, yeah, TV interview…" while awkwardly sliding his resume under a file folder.
DO: Answer any questions about your coach's job security by emphatically telling reporters "I want to be absolutely clear, we are not so much as even considering a coaching change at this particular moment".
DO NOT: Follow that by pausing briefly, looking at your watch, and then saying "OK, this particular moment is over now, right?"