Bad Owners Are Why Terrible NHL General Managers Stay Employed

GMs like Marc Bergevin, Peter Chiarelli, and Garth Snow, aren't held accountable for their poor moves thanks to clueless owners who don't know hockey.
April 10, 2018, 3:07pm
Photos by Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports, Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Garth Snow of the New York Islanders, and Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers conducted exit interviews with their players this week in an attempt to assess what went wrong with their failed seasons. But who sits down with these general managers to evaluate where they went wrong? What about their roles in these disastrous seasons?

Since that never seems to happen, I administered my own exit interviews with all three GMs at the same time in an effort to get an explanation for how their teams fell woefully short of the postseason and why it seems they are untouchable.

Below is the transcript of that meeting.

A masked man removes black hoods from the heads of the GMs, who are tied to the chairs. The man stands in the corner of the room.

Me: Gentlemen, I appreciate your willingness to come to this safe house voluntarily and discuss the jobs you have been doing.

Chiarelli: Voluntarily? I'm tied to a chair that's anchored to the floor with my hands cuffed behind my back. I can't move. I can't escape.

Me: Yes, we call this tactic "Lucic-ing" someone.

Snow: What do you want from us?

Me: I'd like to start by discussing some trades that, to put it nicely, didn't work out.

The GMs shift nervously in their chairs.

Me: Marc, how would you characterize the state of your franchise since trading PK Subban for Shea Weber, and Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin?

Bergevin: Je suis incapable de comprendre la question parce que je ne parle pas—

Me: Don't pull that French language shit with me. I know you speak English.

Bergevin: Fine. I screwed up, OK? Is that what you want to hear? I have no idea what I'm doing. I spend more time at my tailor than I do at the office and whenever ownership starts asking questions, I just confidently speak French and that usually fixes everything. But look at my roster. We don't have a game-changing, young defenseman and those guys don't just grow on trees.

Me: But you just said you traded two of them.

Bergevin: L’anglais est très—

Me: Enough. Peter, what about you?

Chiarelli: We had some unique issues on our blue line. Did I give up more than most teams would in order to fix those issues? Yes. But it's not like there were elite young defensemen on the market the past two years. Where was I going to find a PK Subban or a Mikhail Sergachev? It's not like GMs just part with those guys for less than they're worth.

Bergevin begins writhing in his chair, lunging toward Chiarelli.

Chiarelli: Oh, right. I forgot about that.

Snow: [laughing] What idiots!

Me: Ah yes, Garth, you certainly made some good deals. Landed Jordan Eberle and a pick that became Mat Barzal.

Snow: Thank you.

Me: Surrounded John Tavares with those players. He's a future Hall of Fame player still in his prime on a team-friendly contract.

Snow: Well, what can I say?

Me: You could say how despite all of this, your team was nowhere near the playoffs this year and you've won one playoff series since taking the job in 2006. You could say how despite the writing on the wall at the trade deadline, you held on to John Tavares, who may walk away for nothing this summer, and traded a third-round pick for [adjusts glasses] Brandon Davidson.

Chiarelli: Didn't I waive that guy this year?

Me: You sure did.

Snow: You want answers?

Me: I think I'm entitled to them.

Snow: You want answers?

Me: I want the truth!

Snow: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has salary caps, and those salary caps are guarded by agents. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Tavares and you curse the Islanders. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Tavares not being traded, while tragic, probably saved my job. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, probably saves jobs. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me as the GM. You need me as the GM. We use words like Hockey Men, Watch The Games, Loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent in hockey. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very content I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you become a GM and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Me: Do you deserve to be fired?

Snow: I did the job that—

Me: Do you deserve to be fired?


Bergevin and Chiarelli look at me. They are confused. I am surprised. Snow is practically out of breath.

Bergevin: Yeah, me too. I should be fired.

Chiarelli: Absolutely. Can me now.

Me: But, while I appreciate the honesty, I don't have that power.

The GMs look at each other and laugh. They stand up from the chairs and remove the handcuffs.

Me: What the heck?

Bergevin: Our owners are idiots. They don't know a thing about hockey. I traded one of the game's few superstars, someone that could have been our team's backbone for a decade, and my owner doesn't care. Pete over here might be intentionally trying to lose based on all his moves.

Chiarelli: [laughing] I know, right?!

Bergevin: And Garth? Man, he has had the type of owners we dream about. No expectations, no understanding at all about how to measure whether someone's doing a good job. He can go hog wild in there.

Snow: I can. I don't even wear pants most days.

Bergevin: I guess what I'm saying is, as long as you have a dumb owner that doesn't meddle or think he knows hockey when he doesn't, you can talk your way out of anything.

The man in the corner removes his mask. It's Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon.

Dundon: Gentlemen, which one of you would like to be the next GM of the Carolina Hurricanes?

All three GMs run screaming from the room.