The NHL has released its three finalists for the league’s General Manager of the Year Award and conspicuously absent was Senators GM Bryan Murray’s name.
The Award, voted on by some ambiguous blend of NHL GMs, a panel of NHL executives and members of the print and broadcast media, is given out annually to the top GM. (Note: Wikipedia indicates that 40 individuals vote on the Award -- each NHL GM, five NHL execs and five members of the media. In the NHL press release that I saw, there was no specific mention of how many people get a chance to vote.)
Bryan Murray’s omission is the kind of result that instinctively channels the inner-fanboy in most fans, but it’s worth remembering that this exercise to evaluate or recognize a GM’s accomplishments for one season’s work is ridiculously inane. This isn’t the freshman fifteen when the months of binge drinking, eating fast food and cafeteria catch up to student in short order. It takes years before the true efforts of a GM can be grasped and properly evaluated.
How inherently flawed is the concept of the award?
While Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero and Anaheim’s Bob Murray have spent time crafting their respective teams for years, first-year GM Marc Bergevin from the Montreal Canadiens was surprisingly named one of the three finalists.
From the NHL’s press release:
Under the direction of Bergevin, in his first season as an NHL general manager, the Canadiens were the NHL's most improved club. After finishing fifth in the Northeast Division and 28th in the overall League standings in 2011-12, the Canadiens (29-14-5) rallied to clinch the Northeast title and the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed on the final day of the 2012-13 season. Bergevin hired Michel Therrien as head coachfor his second stint behind the Canadiens’ bench; selected C Alex Galchenyuk with the third overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft; strengthened the roster with summer signings D Francis Bouillon, LW Brandon Prust and RW Colby Armstrong; and acquired RW Michael Ryder in a midseason trade.
Yes, props to Bergevin for not bungling that 2012 third overall lottery pick, bringing in two retreads and for acquiring a 13th forward, a 3rd/4th line guy. Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh here. The move to shed Erik Cole’s contract while add an impending UFA and power play specialist in Ryder was shrewd. But, for all of the lauding of how significant it was to rid the organization of the money and term owed to Cole, shedding that money means nothing if you can’t use it in an efficient manner. And as Canadian city that insane levels of media/fan scrutiny and playing within a province with high taxation, it’s not like the bulk of that savings will be reinvested in an inflated contract to grease the wheels and pique the interest of a free agent, right?
In looking at the candidates from this season, the formula for what merits candidacy seems to be, a GM must be at the helm of a team that: a) exceeds expectations; b) regresses to the mean; or c) has a healthy Sidney Crosby on its roster.
All that Bryan Murray and his amateur scouting staffs have done over the past few seasons is overhaul the organization and amass an assortment of talent and depth at each position. But hey, even if his peers and other respected members of the hockey community cannot recognize that, most Senators fans can. Hell, even Craig Button agrees.