Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Back and hopefully better then ever. Apologies for not being more frequent with my posts as of late, but now that the season is officially over, (congratulations the Penguins and all that) I'm hoping to get this going again heading into the draft, free agency, and of course, next season.
So where do the Panthers sit now? Let's start at the top. General Manager Jacques Martin is now the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers' GM search has been underway for a week or so now, being led by Mr. Bill Torrey and Assistant GM Randy Sexton. On the list of potentials include former Panthers' coach Doug McLean, former Panthers' broadcaster Denis Potvin, and former Panthers GM Rick Dudley, as well as TV analyst Pierre McGuire and ex-Wild GM Doug Risebrough.
Personally, I think it's time for new blood. We know what the past holds. 1 successful season, 9 years since our last playoff game. Nostalgia aside, this is a pretty weak list. Doug McLean led us to the finals as a head coach... a mere 13 years ago. Since then, he was the head of the Columbus Wild from day 1 of the franchise in '98 until he was fired in 2007 after 9 years and zero winning seasons. Yes, they were an expansion team, but they didn't exactly make progress in their first decade under McLean's leadership.
Denis Potvin we all know and love. He lost his TV gig a couple of months ago now, and probably knows the Panthers better than anyone, being with the organization since its inception. We all feel bad for Potvin, but as far as being a GM, that's as far as his experience goes to my knowledge. What Potvin actually knows about being a GM, I don't know, and I'm not sure why his name is on a list of potential candidates, other then Panther fans feel bad for him.
Pierre McGuire is an interesting option, simply because he's been in television the last 12 years or so. (See Barry Melrose). And how much McGuire actually knows about the Panthers and their needs is yet to be seen.
Then there's Rick Dudley, GM of the Panthers from 2002-2004. Remember that 2003 draft? Nathan Horton over Eric Staal? Anthony Stewart in the first round? Now to be fair, Dudley may have been a victim of the whole Mike Keenan debacle, as Keenan was promoted to the GM position upon Dudley's firing. And Dudley has been an assistant GM in Chicago, who you may remember just made it to the Western Conference Finals after a lengthy run of terrible hockey. But do we really want to give this guy another shot?
Now all that being said, the Panthers' front office cannot simply make this hire based on fond memories of years gone by.
Doug Risebrough has GM experience. He has success on his resume. He has built a playoff team from the ground up before. The Wild were division champs just 2 seasons ago. And maybe most importantly, the Panther fans don't have pre-existing memories of the guy. You have to inject this team with a winning mindset. Pete DeBoer was a good start last season, and was almost enough on its own to get the Panthers into the playoffs. Now let's get a guy up in the office who knows how to win.
There will be more to come as the rumors continue around the vacant GM position, as well as the upcoming draft. Thanks for checking back, as always!