The Worst GM In Hockey Award? Your call. (Updated)

August 22, 2011, by

It’s funny. Last summer I had a much easier time giving former Flames GM Darryl Sutter The Worst GM In Hockey Award. Sutter presided over one of the worst farm systems in the league, he had handed out more no-movement clauses than any other GM in the game, and he sent his organization back years when he traded franchise defensemen, Dion Phaneuf to Toronto without receiving a single prospect or draft pick in return.

As it turns out, Calgary’s ownership didn’t disagree with me. Sutter “stepped down” last December.

This summer has been a different story. Not because there have been any shortage of dumb moves, but because there were so many GM’s that made risky trades and financially unsound signings, it’s hard to pick just one guy. So this year I am going to do things a little differently. Rather than anoint the worst GM in hockey myself, I am going to let you decide.

Let’s look at the candidates.

Dale Tallon – Florida Panthers

Tallon is an interesting character. Out in Chicago everyone credits him for being the architect of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup Championship team. On the other hand he got blamed for their dismantling due to bad contracts. He was also fired that off-season for not submitting offers to their restricted free agents before the deadline, which cost the organization millions.

Of course this post is about what he’s done in Miami, which has been under scrutiny by the 26 people who go to Panthers games.

Tallon signed Tomas Fleischmann – a guy who scored 23 goals once – to a 4 year/$4.5 million per year contract. He also gave the enigmatic forward a no-movement clause. Tallon then traded for Brian Campbell, the most overpaid defensemen in the league ($7.1 mill per until 2016), and he signed oft injured Ed Jovanovski to a 4 year deal worth $16.5 million. Jovanovski signed this contract at age 35, meaning his cap-hit will remain for the next 4 years regardless of what happens to his position on the roster.

But hey, at least they gave up picks for Kris Versteeg!

Chuck Fletcher – Minnesota Wild

There is no franchise that disappoints me more than the Minnesota Wild. They play in arguably the best hockey market in the country, yet year in and year out they play .500 hockey, despite an abundance of resources. This summer they finally got aggressive, and to say the moves they made were risky is an understatement.

Fletcher traded Martin Havlat for Dany Heatley. On paper this seems like a fairly even swap. However, Heatley’s cap-hit is for $7.5 million vs. Havlat’s who’s cap-hit comes in at $5M. Plus there is also the fact that Heatley burns through coaches and organizations like Amy Winehouse burned through an eight ball of…yea you’re right, too soon.

Fletch also traded away all-star defensemen Brent Burns (he of 17 goals) to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi. Sure Seto scored 31 goals in 2009, his second year in the league, but he’s average 20 goals and 39 points since then. A change of scenery may help the kid, but do you really give up one of the best offensive defensemen in the game for a guy who needs a change of scenery?

What may save this trade and ultimately Fletcher’s rear-end, is that he managed to also get Sharks prospect/B.U. sophomore Charlie Coyle and a 1st round pick (Zack Phillips), while giving up just a 2nd rounder.

Paul Holmgren – Philadelphia Flyers

Paul Holmgren is either a genius or a fool. There’s no middle ground when you trade your 26 year old franchise player (Mike Richards) and turn the team over to a 37 year old (Chris Pronger). It’s a ballsy move. Trading one dimensional sniper, Jeff Carter to Columbus was probably the right move. But missing out on Tomas Vokoun, who signed with the Caps for 1 year/$1.5 mill, makes the 9 year contract Philly gave to Ilya Bryzgalov look silly. Especially since Vokoun is a much better goalie than Bryz.

Greg Sherman – Colorado Avalanche***

Sorry folks, I forgot to add this bum (I write these posts at like 1-2am). Thanks to our readers for pointing it out.

Sherman traded away Chris Stewart, a rare combo of goal scoring ability and size along with Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second round pick, to the St. Louis Blues for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first round pick. 

Still that trade wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the move for Capital’s goalie Semyon Varlamov, whom he traded for with a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in 2012 or 2013. Varlamov is mediocre at best.

Close call…

I was going to nominate Bryan Murray of the Ottawa Senators, another team that just can’t ever put it together, but they finally woke the f- up and started to rebuild this past year. Somehow Murray got a 1st round pick for Mr. Carrie Underwood (aka Mike Fischer) and a 2nd round pick for Chris Kelly. So he escaped being branded for now…

Anyway, feel free to disagree. The choice is ultimately yours people, so let’s put one of these guys in The Sin Bin…

[poll id=”56″]

Categories : Around the League


  1. John says:

    Suit, this list is wildly incomplete. How does it not include Greg Sherman?!

    He without a doubt deserves the distinction as worst GM in the league. Does the Chris Stewart deal ring a bell? What about the Varlamov trade?

    I vote for a re-do.

  2. Matt J says:

    Can’t give it to Dale Tallon because no matter what he did they would miss the playoffs.

    Chuck Fletcher made moves that could work out.

    Paul Holmgren because he took a team that was a cup contender into a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot.

    But we might be saying Glen Sather a few years from now if Brad Richards is blowing snow on the rink and not doing much else. I doubt that will happen though.

    • John says:

      Speaking of Holmgren, I don’t think he was necessarily in control during free agency. He took a lot of heat from management/Ed Snider to revamp the locker room and bring in Bryz.

    • The Suit says:

      Eh Tallon’s got some really bad money on that roster, not really a good strategy. Phoenix is a bad market, but Maloney has made sound moves.

  3. John says:

    Just as a continuation. I don’t think Dave Tallon should be on the list. Even w/ all those signings (four year deals for everyone!) he didn’t risk the future of the franchise. The team needed to get to the cap floor and w/ a weak free agent crop, he naturally had to overspend. Which for the time being, is okay. Most of these players are fillers, they’re nothing more than stop gaps. The organization has a long ways to go in terms of developing their own and even though 4 year deals for Fleischmann and Ed Jovanovski are head scratchers, they won’t have any adverse impact on the club.

    Tallon had to find a way to fill out the roster. Let’s face it, FLA is not a marquee landing spot. It will be a slow, gradual rebuild. These signings serve their purpose, keep the team from being a complete and utter embarassement for the next four years until they can stock pile and develop their draft picks.

  4. Chris says:

    Suit, I agree that Sherman should be in there as he gave far too much up for Varlamov who was close to being shown the door (one way or another) anyway. He makes moves that confuse the hell out of me. But there are a ton of candidates in the past 12 months for this ‘award’…
    Let’s all just be thankful Sather is nowhere near this category lately.

    • John says:

      Although if you asked the clown hats at the hockey news, they would probably say otherwise (about sather).

      • Chris says:

        naturally; THN must have been insulted personally at some stage by the Rangers because its astonishingly rare they give the Rangers ANY love

  5. pavel says:

    I say Sherman’s the worst GM of the year. The other GMs made ballsy moves, but at least you realize why they did it. I really don’t understand why the Avs traded Stewart and Shattenkirk for the latest draft bust and a 4th line center. And it’s been said, but if the Avs signed Varlamov to an offer sheet, they would’ve only had to give up a 2nd round pick.

  6. Ed says:

    Paul Holmgren has built a perennial contender that is built for the long haul now with two elite prospects in schenn and couturier as well as a time that is in a good position to win now.
    In fact, I would take Holmgren as my GM over Sather any day of the week. The only reason he’s not on here is home team bias. Any other teams blogger lists Sather in the top 3.
    O and I agree that Sherman probably deserves a spot up there if for that Varlamov trade alone.

    • The Suit says:

      This is rating GMs on the past year, not all time moves. Most Rangers fans historically do not like Sather, but most will admit, he’s done well this past year.

    • Chris says:

      Sather has done well, for the most part, for the past few years. Most other teams bloggers would NOT list Sather given the past couple seasons. Over the past decade? yeah sure, not the last few seasons though.

  7. KC says:

    You give credit to Bryan Murray for starting to rebuild?? He’s the reason they HAVE to rebuild, he has taken a Cup finalist and in five years turned them into a lottery presence. Sufferin’ sucatash!!!!
    I can’t defend the Jovo contract, but Tallon has added some respectability to his franchise. He may have added a bunch of average players, but that’s better than what they were putting on the ice the past few years. He had the cap room to do it, so ripping him is a bit unfair.

    • The Suit says:

      I was just judging Murray on this past year, not all time as I said earlier.

      Look Tallon’s moves are all long-term and thus risky. He’s under a lot of scrutiny. If you dont agree with it, vote for someone else 🙂