The Myths Of The General Manager Job

October 18, 2011, by

One of the fun parts of being a fan is making up your own trade ideas. I am not the first to say that these ideas never work out, nor will I be the last. It is very difficult for GMs in the league to make a trade, let alone do one on a whim with very little research and preparation, like most of the trade proposals that come from fans. I do it all the time too (I almost never post them), and I have yet to hit any on the head.

The reason is that for a trade to work, there are many factors that we know, but even more that we don’t know. We, as fans, only know what we read about. Everything else is assumed. The GMs have scouts telling them what they like, they have owners telling them about any internal salary cap, they have coaches telling them who needs to stay or who needs to go, they have club president’s telling them any of the above. However, all that is internal.

What tends to plague a lot of these trade scenarios –that for some reason turn into rumors via the power of the internet– is that they assume too much. J.C. Bradbury at the now defunct Sabernomics published an article about the top four myths for GMs in baseball, but the myths themselves apply to every sport:

  • GMs can buy low and sell high – This is my favorite myth, because it’s something that I’ve been trying to get across for a while. GMs are not morons, they understand when someone is slumping or streaking. Mistakes happen, and will always happen, but the notion that GMs sell based on peaks and valleys is ludicrous. So, in summary, Mats Zuccarello’s trade value (minimal) hasn’t gone down because of his slow start (his trade value was never really that high). Also, Erik Christensen’s trade value won’t go up with a hot streak. Brian Boyle doesn’t magically net a great return until he scores 20 goals for a second time.
  • The number of free agents at a position affects the price of free agents at a position – A little background about me, I have an MBA with a concentration in marketing, so determining market value is something I’ve been taught. That said, this generally applies in real life, it’s the law of supply and demand. The higher the supply, the less the cost. That is not the case when the demand is limited, and when the supply originates from the demand. For every UFA, there is a team that needs to fill that spot on their roster. Not every UFA is going to find a new home, but the demand is still there.
  • Every trade has a winner and a loser – Trades are made because both sides believe they can better their teams, be it now or in the future. No GM makes a trade with the intent of harming their franchise, except for Mike Milbury. Players may not pan out the way the GM has planned, but that doesn’t mean the intent to make the team better was nonexistent.
  • Players peak at 27 and old players are worthless – Veterans are a necessity to any Cup contender. They provide necessary leadership and experience that is invaluable in the playoffs. Short term deals are preferable here, but that 30 year old superstar who was superb last season is more than likely going to be just as good this year.

I’m going to add my own myth here: Other teams want your teams scraps. They don’t, or else there would be a waiver wire pickup.

Big time S/T to the guys at River Ave Blues for finding this article three years ago.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. The Suit says:

    This should get posted at hfboards, the trade proposals at that site are usually laughable

  2. bob says:

    I like your myth.I have to laugh when some of our fellow fans come up with trade scenarios.They actually think the package gets better by adding more crap to the pile.Its still shit no matter how high it is piled.And I liked Mike,without a doubt he ruined the Isles for years.Besides that he is a complete moron.

  3. Matt J says:

    Well who won the Eric Lindros trade? Nordiques got Forsberg and he would be vital to winning them (when they relocated to Colorado) the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile the Flyers didn’t exactly tank with Lindros and had a shot to win a few cups, they just never got a good goalie.

    Yes i’d say that trades have a winner and loser but sometimes it’s more black and white than that. Also, the Gretzky trade would you say the Oilers since they won a cup after they traded him got the better end of the deal? Not exactly.