Ottawa's First GM: What Might Have Been
I was doing some Sens-related research last night and I came across a Wayne Scanlan article that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, in February 1991. In the article, Scanlan outlines what the fledgling Senators and CEO Randy Sexton were looking for in a GM. Scanlan also outlines 10 rumored candidates for the job (as well as some sleeper picks) and I thought it would be interesting to look back at what might have been.
According to Scanlan, the Sens were looking for the following in their first GM:
1. A hockey man.
2. A hockey man who found time to complete a college degree.
3. One who can accept being fourth banana in a structured chain of command in which the senior troika has no hockey background.
So who did Scanlan mention fit the bill?
Age: 35, from Providence, R.I.
Status: Director of hockey operations Vancouver Canucks.
Resume: Harvard Law School grad; player agent/lawyer for five years.
Plus: One of the new breed executives, matches the Senators corporate image.
Minus: He is viewed by some as confrontational, a loose cannon. And have you seen the Canucks lately?
Where is he now: President of Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames; member of Rugby Canada's board of directors
Age: 53, from Renfrew.
Status: Head coach Colgate University.
Resume: 14 years at Colgate; WHA head coach with Cincinnati and L.A.
Plus: Ex-school chum (St. Lawrence College) of Senators' CEO Randy Sexton.
Minus: No NHL experience. Better coach than GM candidate.
Where is he now: Sadly, Slater died December 5, 1991 in Syracuse, New York
Age: 46, from Vancouver
Status: General manager OHL's Sudbury Wolves.
Resume: Washington Capitals' scout for three years; built winning hockey programs in every OHL city he's been: Niagara Falls, Toronto, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. Has Wayne Gretzky as a reference.
Plus: A master builder. McMaster rescued Sudbury from the ashes to a winning club with the league's best attendance.
Minus: He's not a member of the NHL boys club, if that matters.
Where is he now: Since 1999, he's been an amateur scout with the Columbus Blue Jackets
Age: 43, from Toronto.
Status: Assistant general manager L.A. Kings.
Resume: 10 years with Kings, has been a Kings scout and head coach at affiliates in Houston and New Haven.
Plus: Sound hockey man who makes his home in Ottawa.
Minus: Old school NHL type.
Where is he now: Currently a pro scout for the Nashville Predators
Age: 38, from Montreal
Status: Head coach, Montreal Canadiens.
Resume: NHL coach of year 1988-89; head coach with Sherbrooke (AHL) and Hull (QMJHL).
Plus: Established, recognized hockey name. Ex-Gatineau cop has plenty of local connections.
Minus: Fiery temper. Not the corporate type. His only degree is from Police Academy.
Where is he now: Sadly, Burns died in 2010 after a five-year battle with cancer.
Age: 43, from Saskatoon
Status: GM/head coach Canada's national team.
Resume: Coached Canada to gold, 1987 Izvestia tourney; coached national juniors to championship, 1982, first gold in six years.
Plus: Renowned coach and teacher, excellent with young players.
Minus: He's used to calling all the shots; also not likely to abandon Nats with the 1992 Olympics looming.
Where is he now: King is currently the Development Coach with the Phoenix Coyotes
Age: 43, from Ottawa
Status: assistant coach, St. Louis Blues.
Resume: Coached Salt Lake City to IHL championship (1986-87); head coach Peoria (IHL); assistant coach Chicago Blackhawks (1987-88); NHL goalie.
Plus: Excellent teacher, people skills.
Minus: Little recruiting experience.
Where is he now: Thomas is currently the Vice President and Assistant GM of the San Jose Sharks
Age: 41, from Verdun.
Status: Assistant coach, Calgary Flames.
Resume: Coached Canadian juniors to gold medal, 1990; playing coach in Switzerland; Dave King's Hockey Canada assistant 1985-90; NHL player.
Plus: Personable, bilingual hockey man. Adapts well to structured situation.
Minus: Like Slater, more coach than GM.
Where is he now: Currently the Advisor to Hockey Operations for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL
Age: 47, from Montreal.
Status: Scouting director Montreal Canadiens.
Resume: Managing director Sherbrooke (AHL); assistant coach, Quebec Nordiques; played for several NHL teams.
Plus: veteran hockey figure and scout.
Minus: The Habs way may not be Senators way.
Where is he now: Boudrias is currently a scout for the New Jersey Devils
Age: 38, from Rockland.
Status: Associate coach Quebec Nordiques.
Resume: OHL coach of year 1985-86, led Guelph Platers to Memorial Cup title; head coach St. Louis Blues 1986-88
Plus: Young, bilingual, with local connection.
Minus: Not much GM experience.
Where is he now: He's an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins
Ultimately, none of these men were chosen as Ottawa's first GM. In 1992, Mel Bridgman was named to the post. Bridgman would only hold the post until 1993 and was replaced by Randy Sexton. The most interesting names mentioned in the Scanlan's "sleeper category" are familiar hockey names. Pierre Dorion, Ottawa's current Director of Player Personnel, was just as teenager in 1991, but his father, the late Pierre Dorion, Sr. was chief scout of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time and a dark horse candidate. What might have been if Ken Hitchcock, then an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, had been offered the job?
Source: Scanlan, Wayne. "10 men who would be Senator's GM." The Ottawa Citizen 3 Feb. 1991: C2. Print.