The worst GM in the NHL award goes to…

September 4, 2012, by

For those of you somewhat new to Blue Seat Blogs, for the last couple of years we have branded awarded certain GMs around the league as the “worst GM in hockey” for their risky trades, unspectacular drafts or financially unsound signings. Keep in mind we base these nominations on moves made (or not made) within the last year or so.

Two seasons ago the trophy went to Darryl Sutter (formerly of the Flames) for being the worst GM in hockey. Sutter at the time had crippled Calgary’s farm system, handed out more no-movement clauses than anyone in the league and had recently traded franchise cornerstone Phaneuf without receiving a single prospect or draft pick in return. He didn’t last too much longer after that.

Last summer there were too many GMs to pick from, so we offered up multiple candidates including Chuck Fletcher (Minny), Paul Holmgren (PHI), Dale Tallon (FLA), and Greg Sherman (COL). We polled our readers and the award eventually went to Sherman. If you are interested in the logic behind some of these picks, please read last summer’s post.

On to the nominations…

Scott Howson – Columbus Blue Jackets

Howson may be this summer’s runaway pick, thanks in large by his mishandling of Rick Nash. Obviously his hands were a bit tied, but it isn’t the trade itself that nominates Howson. It’s how he handled the overall process.

As I wrote back in March, Howson could have sold the eventual trade of Nash as a Boston trading Bourque for a chance to win the Cup type scenario. Instead he publicly ousted his star player and voluntarily put himself in a Dany Heatley/Ottawa situation. As a result, most of his leverage was lost.

This summer his trade demands were so high many potentially suitors hung the phone up on him leaving just the Rangers to make a trade with. No matter how you slice it, instead of the fans turning on Nash, they turned on Howson. It’s only a matter of time before CBJ axes him.

Pierre Gauthier – former GM of the Montreal Canadiens

PG was fired at the end of March, but I am still going to nominate him since he was the GM of Les Habitants for pretty much all of last season and two mediocre years before that. Everyone up in Quebec blamed the firing of Jacque Martin and subsequent promotion of Randy Cunneyworth (the dude who couldn’t speak French) as the move that did Gauthier in. However, there were other moves made that were worthy of this nomination.

Michael Cammalleri was abruptly traded after some negative, but vague comments about the team’s direction. Although Gauthier claimed to have been working on that trade for months, the timing was really bad. You don’t trade a 30-40 goal scorer in the middle of a game against your biggest rival (the Bruins). To boot, I thought the team could have received a lot more for Cammy than oft-injured Rene Bourque, who finished the season -16 with 8 points in 38 games for MTL.

Scott Gomez should have gotten kicked to the curb long before this offseason’s buyout, which the new guy Marc Bergevin took care of.  His buyout was rumored, but not confirmed.

Brian Burke – Toronto Maple Leafs

This nomination would probably be hotly contested if this were a Maple Leafs blog, but the fact of the matter is Burke took over the Maple Leafs in 2008 and has had little results during his tenure.

Brian should have blown that roster sky high and rebuilt from scratch. Instead, he has not drafted well, he makes blockbuster trades, which you could argue the beneficiaries either way and he throws too much money/cap space at mediocre players. At the end of the day, the team hasn’t moved out of the basement of the Eastern Conference.

Mike Komisarek, who can barely skate and has 19 points in his last 3 seasons, takes up $4.5m of cap space and he has a NMC/partial NTC. PS – Six other players on that team have similar clause, none of whom actually deserve it.

Garth Snow – New York Islanders

The Islanders have finished last in the division for 5 straight seasons. I know they are rebuilding, but there have been many teams who have rebuilt their franchises at a much quicker pace.

Snow doesn’t exactly let his picks marinate in the AHL, which seems counter-intuitive considering they preach about developing young players and the result is a team built on the backs of 18-19 year old kids. Not exactly a winning formula if you ask me.

I mean is anyone still high on Okposo, Bailey, or Niederreiter, all of whom were top 10 picks? And what the hell do they do with Rick DiPietro? He’s had three relatively healthy seasons and only 1 where he put up decent numbers. BTW – he is still signed for another 9 years.

This year’s runner up is Steve Tambellini of the Edmonton Oilers. Unlike Garth, the man has made the right top end picks, but at some point he has to stop going through coaches like they’re rolls of toilet paper. I am also not sure I buy the whole “rebuild” philosophy when you spent over $60 million in cap space last season.

I got my eye on you Steve-o.

Categories : Around the League


  1. SalMerc says:

    Can I make Gary Bettmann a write-in candidate?

  2. Walt says:

    As much as I hate the Fishmen on the island, I can’t fault Snow for everything. Let’s never forget who he works for, Wang, and his getting involved in every minor detail!

    Burke is second to Gauthier, who was not poor, but piss poor! How dare he hire a non-Frensh speaking coach, what a joke that is, was, and will always be. Did Scotty Bowman speak French when he won all those cups for the Canadians? On second thought, I love him, he gave us a wonderful Christmas gift that will continue to give for years to come, McD, and took out our trash for us. Dear Pierre, I’m sorry for putting you in the same class as Brian Burke.

    For years I thought we had the worst GM in Glen Sather, but after all those years of hiring re-treads, someone got to him, and he started dradting well. Oh wait, that was Gordie, my wrong!

    After looking at your list, it’s a wonder that the owners are doing what they are, and planning on shutting down the season. If they get smart, they fire the entire list, re-tool, and start anew, with some good business people who understand not just the hockey side of the equation!

  3. Dave says:

    The Gomez buyout is official?

  4. Glen says:

    I think Howson gets it and not only because he botched the Nash situation. Truthfully I can’t think of a single move he has made that has worked out. His trade for Carter was a bust. The signing of Wisniewski, while not terrible was definitely a severe overpayment. The extension with Mason has worked out terribly. Hard to believe he has yet to make a single good move of consequence yet keeps his job.

    • cole says:

      I agree with you on all accounts. However, the sad truth is (I can speak from some experience because Columbus is my 2nd team, behind the Rangers of course) that when you play in small markets, the Flordias, Phoenixs, and Columbus’ of the world it is very hard to lure talent. Sometimes overpayment is a necessary thing to get solid players. Am I saying Wisnewski is worthy of that contract, absolutely not. But if he keeps up the production, stay healthy and helps develop the kids on the blueline this is definitely not the worst signing in the world.

  5. mikeyyy says:

    Not Howson….

    I like him, he has good skill he gives us for our retreads….if you get him fired…then we won’t have CBJ as the offloading of people we don’t need.

  6. TxRanger says:

    Was Howson their GM when we traded for Zherdev? I mean, Fedor isn’t all that great, but it might’ve been better just to keep him.