With Bryan Murray potentially stepping down as the Senators General Manager this off-season, there is going to be plenty of talk surrounding Ottawa's front office. If Murray steps down (like most people expect him to), it seems like there would only be one candidate to replace him, and that's his right-hand man, Pierre Dorion.
One year ago we weren't so sure if somebody new would be coming into the organization, but now it seems pretty obvious that the reins will be given to Dorion. While that answers the GM question, Ottawa's front office is still very thin compared to higher spending teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs. Beyond Dorion, there's Randy Lee as an assistant GM, head scout Bob Lowes who probably has some pull, and...Daniel Alfredsson.
Alfredsson seems like the only other name in the front office that could potentially have some influence on what the team does in terms of player moves. This is his first season in the front office, and his title is just "senior advisor of hockey operations," which essentially means that he'll give his input on certain things, but he's mostly just feeling his way around the rink for this brand new job.
So right now he isn't calling the shots, but we've seen countless numbers of former star players turn into GM's either with their old teams or with new ones. The thing is though, I don't want Alfredsson to ever become the Senators GM. Why would I want that, you ask? It's simple. Currently there are 22 GMs who have played in the NHL.
Most of them played a while ago and most were just average or above average players. However, there are a few executives that used to be star players in the not-so-distant past. There are five names that come to mind, which includes Joe Sakic/Patrick Roy, Trevor Linden, Brendan Shanahan, and Steve Yzerman. Now, only Yzerman is actually a GM, but Sakic is essentially a co-GM with Patrick Roy, Shanahan holds the highest position with the Leafs, and Linden has an ever-increasing role with the Canucks alongside Jim Benning as President of Hockey Operations.
So while only Yzerman may have the title of General Manager, the other four get scrutinized or praised for many moves their teams make. My point is that former players turn into GMs all the time, and every so often even star players come back into the front office role. There is a very real possibility that Alfredsson keeps climbing the ladder in the Senators organization, and that's a slippery slope.
Yzerman and Shanahan have done a tremendous job in Tampa Bay and Toronto, respectively, although those are not the teams that they played for in their careers. If they were to get scrutinized, it's essentially just another executive that fans are spewing hate at. But with Linden, Sakic, and Roy it's different. Those three played most of their careers with the teams they are apart of now, and they are unanimously loved in those fanbases.
They are closely tied to the team they played for now, and as a fan it is hard to do anything but look up to them as amazing players. However, all three of them have been under fire recently because of their teams performances. The Avalanche have not been a good team under Sakic and Roy's tenure, as their 2013-14 season was clearly a mirage. What happens when a team struggles over the course of two seasons? Fans blame the management. And it's understandable, because Roy and Sakic have made some bad moves, and they definitely are not good enough to compete with the best of the best in the West.
Now memories of Sakic and Roy may be tainted for Avalanche fans, since they have such recent negative thoughts towards them. It may be hard for them to remember them as players only because as humans we tend to have a recency bias for many things. The same thing applies for Linden, as he was a seen as a hero in Vancouver. He most likely hasn't had as much of an effect on player personnel as Sakic and Roy do, but as a resident of Vancouver, I can tell you that he is getting some backlash from fans.
Whether it is deserved or not, the image of Linden certainly isn't as pristine as it once was. When the Canucks make some more poor decisions down the road, you can bet that Linden will get some more heat along with Benning. The same goes for Sakic and Roy, as they seem to be running a team in an extremely odd way and their image is changing from what it once was. This is a long-winded way of saying that I don't want to see the same thing happen with Daniel Alfredsson.
If he were to become a GM in the coming years, it would most certainly be with Ottawa. The good news is that it won't be for a few years until Alfredsson would even be considered for the GM job since Dorion will get a run with this team for a while. Would he be able to do it? Perhaps, although we have no idea what kind of hockey mind he has, nor do we know how much smarter he will get. However, that is besides the point. Even if he was doing a great job, he would inevitably make some bad moves, like every GM does. In that scenario, in no way do I want to be criticizing my childhood idol.
This season I occasionally see the hashtag #FireCameron on Twitter. Imagine if it got to the point where the hashtag was #FireAlfie? I wouldn't be able to handle that.
In my eyes, Alfredsson symbolizes the Ottawa Senators and he always will. Him leaving for Detroit tainted his reputation a bit, but I think most people have put that behind them, including Alfredsson himself. The only thing that would worsen his reputation from here on out is if he were to become General Manger of Ottawa. I don't ever want to think of Alfredsson as anything but a great hockey player and one of the best leaders out there. He should definitely stay with the organization, but I worry about him getting a higher-profile position.
To be honest, he does not have to be GM for this scenario to shake out. Sakic, Roy, and Linden aren't even technically General Managers, but they clearly influence how the team is run. So in a sense this article could be titled "Why Daniel Alfredsson should never be GM, Assistant GM, or President of Hockey Operations of the Senators," but that isn't as catchy.
There's a very real possibility that Alfredsson is a bright hockey mind that has a knack for player evaluation and development. In that case, it would be wise to keep him in the organization. And he may potentially become a great GM, but I worry about when things go south for him.
Until Erik Karlsson finishes his career, he is the greatest Senator of all-time, and I want to keep my fantastic memories of him. If he were to come in and ruin this team like Roy and Sakic have done, my childhood and teenage memories of the Senators would be ruined. His overtime goal to send the Senators to the Cup Finals, his hit on Darcy Tucker, and his 400th goal should be remembered, not any failings he will make in the future. This is nothing about him as a hockey mind, as I selfishly would rather be able to criticize someone I am not so connected to.
Please, let's keep him with the team but do not make him a high level executive. Alfredsson is a future Hall-of-Famer, not a future horrible GM.