Steve Yzerman’s first season as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning was the definition of success. He pulled the right strings to guide his team to within one game, and one goal, of the Stanley Cup Finals.
That Yzerman is a good general manager isn’t a surprise. After all, he was one of the NHL’s best players and spent his entire career with one of its winningest franchises.
Former players do not always make the best general managers, however. Islanders fans can’t be too happy with the job that Mike Milbury did while the general manager in Long Island.
Then there was the whole Wayne Gretzky debacle in Phoenix.
Which current players might make great front office guys?
They would need to have a good hockey IQ, know what it takes to win, and the experience to go with it.
Here are 10 guys who could make successful general managers.
Which current player would you like to see lead your team some day?
Toews has a long way to go before he has to weigh his post-playing career options, but Captain Serious seems to have all the makings of a front office great.
He is intense on the ice and seems to live and breathe the game. At only 23 years old, he is the captain of the Blackhawks, has won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal.
Toews has seen how to build a winning roster, and also the pratfalls of the salary cap. Watching the Blackhawks rebuild will give him valuable exposure to managing the cap.
Besides, can you imagine negotiating a contract across the table from that intense glare?
To be a good general manager you have to be a leader first. Getzlaf is that.
As captain of the Anaheim Ducks, he is the face of the franchise on and off the ice. He is still young and also has a way to go before he would be a general manager, but he already has accomplished a great deal, which will pay off in the front office.
Getzlaf has won a gold medal and a Stanley Cup and knows how to win.
After he plays for 10 more seasons, he will have seen it all and be able to lead a team to great success.
Even though Madden is unsigned, it appears he wishes to play as he has not announced his retirement.
If and when that day comes, Madden would be a good general manager candidate. His resume boasts 13 NHL seasons, a Selke award and he was part of three Stanley Cup Championships.
He played for New Jersey during their recent glory days and saw how Lou Lamoriello managed that team through those years.
Madden has always been a grinder, paying more attention to the defensive side of the game. That type of player learns the dirty part of the game and will know how important it is to have players like that on their roster.
It’s easy to imagine a Madden-run team playing tough and grinding defense, and winning.
Hopefully he won’t treat coaches with such disregard as Lamoriello seems to.
Malhotra is a defensive and face-off master who has played for five different NHL franchises. He is a locker room leader who commands respect from his teammates.
Playing for that many franchises has given him a perspective on how not to build a team (New York Rangers, Columbus) and how to put together a consistent contender (San Jose, Vancouver).
That kind of experience will lead to making the proper decisions. Like Madden, Malhotra will know the value of guys who can win face offs, play defense and kill penalties.
Don’t be surprised to see Malhotra watching games from a press box in the future.
Is there a player in the league who plays with as much heart as Martin St. Louis does? Undersized, he could have listened to the critics who didn’t believe he could play at the NHL level.
But he has played at that level and has the hardware to prove it. Stanley Cup? Yes. Art Ross? Yes. Hart? Yes.
That drive to prove himself will pay off in the front office as well.
St. Louis has played the majority of his career with Tampa Bay and has seen them build a winner, fall down the standings, and rebound back to contention. That is valuable experience that could make him a great general manager.
Not to mention that he has a mentor in Steve Yzerman now. Who better to teach him the transition from great player to general manager?
Depending on whom you root for, you either love Chris Pronger or hate him with a burning passion. His style of defense finds a way to rub opposing players, and fans, the wrong way.
Despite that he knows his hockey. He has 17 years of experience playing in the NHL and has seen it all.
He has won a Stanley Cup, played in two other finals series, and won a Hart Trophy and a Norris Trophy. Pronger knows how to win.
Playing for five different franchises also has exposed him to different philosophies on putting together a franchise. Some good and some bad, but he will know what mistakes to avoid by the time he takes over.
Pronger is also a fun interview as he never hides his displeasure with the press. As a fan, it will be fun to watch him deal with the press as a general manager.
Iginla has been a great player for the Calgary Flames, but as mentioned earlier, not all great players make great general managers.
Iginla could be a great one.
He has the hockey smarts, is a tremendous leader, and guys would love to play for him.
If the Calgary Flames were to hire him some day, the fans, community and players around the league would respect him. Iginla could use his reputation to influence free agents to come to Calgary, and what coach would ever want to question him?
Perhaps Iginla could finally win that cup as a general manager.
Gill will never be confused with Bobby Orr. He is not that type of defenseman.
However, he has the discipline to play a shutdown game and has being doing so for 14 seasons in the NHL.
Defensive players often make good front office people as they concentrate on things like defense, breakouts and positioning more than your snipers do. Because of that they pick up the important, less glamorous aspects of what wins.
Gill has seen winning as well. He won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Penguins in 2008-2009, so he has seen a winning franchise put together.
Gill also played four years of college hockey, which gives him the book smarts to manage the salary cap and manage a franchise.
Morrow has spent his entire 11-year career with the Dallas Stars. He has seen them be a Western Conference force and watched them struggle.
He has always been a glue type of player who can score, but also play a complete two-way game. As the Stars' captain he will have had experience as a leader that can translate well to the front office.
As will his hockey knowledge.
It also helps that his father-in-law is former head coach Guy Carbonneau. He would have valuable support and insight into hockey as a general manager.
Could Morrow take over for the Stars someday?
You have to wonder what Nicklas Lidstrom can’t do. So far in hockey he has done everything.
Lidstrom has won every trophy imaginable and is simply the best defenseman of the current generation.
Nineteen seasons of NHL hockey have given him the experience and knowledge of what it takes to win in this league. Not to mention that all 19 of those seasons were with the Detroit Red Wings, who do the winning thing better than most.
As with Yzerman, he experienced the best franchise in hockey do it year after year.
If he wanted it, he could take that experience and build a winning hockey team anywhere.