Open Mic: An Analysis of General Managers from All Sports

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJune 24, 2008

When I got the subject of this week's Open Mic, I was really excited, as I think a lot of other Bleacher Report writers should be. All of us sports fans, no matter what the sport, dream of being involved with our favorite team in one way or another.

Most of the time we fantasize about being the player that scores the Stanley Cup-winning goal, or the hitter that hits the walk-off grand slam to end a World Series. But sometimes we dream of being the coach of the team—or even the general manager that builds it.

First off, I think that no matter what the sport, being a general manager is a difficult job. All GMs have to rely on scouting—and if that doesn't come through, then on their gut instinct.

Either way, they still have to know their stuff when the time comes. No team has ever won with a GM who just winged it.

There are two important parts that consist of a general manager’s job. The first is the draft, and the second is the trade deadline. Both can be hectic times, with everyone expecting them to do their best.

At the deadline, GMs have to get the best players available. If they sniff a championship, they must take risks in order to land that final piece of the puzzle.

I believe that NHL GMs have the most difficult time at the trade deadline. With a tight salary cap, not only must the current season be taken into consideration, but also the future.

How old is this player? How long can he play at a high level? How long does his contract last? How much money will he get every season? And most importantly, if we trade youth to get him, will he re-sign with us after the season is over?

Those are all questions that the general manager of a hockey franchise must ask. In baseball, if there's money left in the owner's budget, that's all they have to worry about.

I believe that hockey and basketball GMs need the most input from their coaches. Unlike baseball, which is a sport that teams can win with individual success and no chemistry is needed, hockey and basketball teams must have chemistry on the court or ice in order to win.

Coaches must report to the general manager if it's apparent two players can't play together for one reason or another. Baseball is taken one player at a time, and football teams consist of two separate units.

The sport that is easiest for projecting the type of talent players will contribute is baseball. Unlike other sports, you're either good or you’re not.

If you get drafted early, there's a good chance you'll be on the big club within a few seasons. Get drafted late and you'll wallow in independent minor league teams for years and may never get a chance.

The sport most difficult to project is hockey. More often than not, players drafted after round five have made the top level team and thrived—while others, drafted in the first round, have failed miserably.

Henrik Lundqvist is a better player than Pavel Brendl. But did you know that it was Brendl (who's played in 78 NHL games since 1999) was chosen in the first round and Lundqvist, who has been a Vezina nominee for three straight seasons was taken in the eighth? That's why in hockey, you just never know.

The sport with the most "bust potential"? Once again it's hockey. Unlike baseball—where if you’re a good hitter, you hit, or a good pitcher, you pitch—hockey players have more than just one thing to focus on.

So many things determine a player's success—like ice time, line combinations and matchups. If a new and skilled player (Evgeni Malkin for example) is put on a line with guys like Sidney Crosby or Marian Hossa, it's impossible not to do well. But take Malkin and put him on the third line with guys like Georges Laraque and Adam Hall, and he won't have a third of his success.

A perfect example is Jamie Lundmark. Drafted by the Rangers in the first round, he was a scoring center throughout his entire junior career. But when he was called up to the NHL, he was put on the fourth line in a checking-center role where he didn't have the opportunity to score goals. Even though it's the franchise's fault, he is still labeled a bust.

Lastly, one of the parts of this open mic allows me to pick a franchise I would like to be run. In case you don't know already, I'll be the next GM of the New York Rangers.

With a large, mostly die-hard fan base, it's my job to make the high ticket prices at MSG seem like a bargain. Once Jagr is retired—be it this season or next—I would quickly revamp the franchise, and give it a whole new face.

It would no longer be the European-friendly, loose checking, finesse franchise as it has been for the last three seasons. It would transformed into a grinding, North American-style team that drives to the net and blasts shots on goal from every angle—no matter how bad.

The defense wouldn't be soft either. Players like Brooks Orpik, Mike Commodore and John-Michael Liles would be brought in to help with defense, protecting the goalie and quarterbacking the power play.

Forwards like Brian Rolston would be brought in to the Big Apple. while youngsters like Dane Byers, Lauri Korpikoski, Alexei Cheraponov, Greg Moore, and Bobby Sanguinetti would be called up to show what they have.

Well that's pretty much it. Hopefully this article will inspire you to send in your own article, because there's not one of us out there that doesn't dream of having his or her own franchise.


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