If the Canadiens can celebrate their centennial for two years, surely we can
celebrate look back on the last decade for a month or two into this new one. Come Olympic break time, we may need the filler.
And so, without further ado: The latest chapter in Lighthouse Hockey's fabricated All-Decade Team: Who to pick at general manager?
I know what you're thinking: "The choices are far too many and far too qualified!" But you know, none of this would be possible without the contributions of each and every one of them. (You may consider what "this" is during your next post-loss meditation session as you get out your Milbury doll.) Yes, all three GMs of the 2000s played their part in making this beautiful little baby we're currently watching.
Whether the choice should be the one most associated with last decade, or the one who did the best job last decade, I can't really say. "All [blank] Teams" are really just nebulous discussion starters anyway.
More on each of these GMs after the jump, but we'll start with the easiest one:
Neil Smith (2006 - 2006)
Signed: Mike Sillinger, Brendan Witt, Tom Poti, Chris Simon, Andy Hilbert
Shipped out: Himself
Technically drafted (2006): Kyle Okposo, Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figren, Andrew MacDonald, Rhett Rhakhshani
Coaches hired and fired: He didn't have a choice. No really -- he didn't have a choice.
The only thing as amusing as the bizarre, Wang's World-like context for Neil Smith's 40-day tenure as Islanders GM is what Smith was doing soon afterward:
"Advis[ing] corporations and businesses on leadership development, management techniques and team-building."
No doubt he speaks to corporate gatherings and shares all the, uh, the team-building, committee-wielding ... "lessons" he picked up from Wang. That had to be a fun 40 days for all involved.
I've heard people pine for Smith (though not so much in Garth Snow's last season or so). I've heard people ridicule him after hearing his on-air commentary or citing his Rangers association. It's impossible to know what to make of what he would have actually done with the Islanders. The Sillinger signing was excellent, the Witt one was ideal for Ted Nolan. The other three were roster depth moves any GM might do.
A vote for Smith is a vote for irony, or the unknown, or one's own version of alternate histories.
Garth Snow (2006 - present)
I almost want to put an asterisk by 2006 for Snow, because like Smith Snow inherited Charles Wang's "committee" approach, the reins of which were not released until late 2007 or early 2008, depending on who you cite. While his earliest moves were meant for a club that thought it could and should compete with Nolan players, it wasn't until Snow got a year of this GM thing under his belt and convinced Wang to let him choose his own path (and his own coach) that we truly saw Snow's approach. Obviously, I'm generally happy with independent Snow.
Brought in: For the Nolan: Ruslan Fedotenko, Jon Sim, Bill Guerin (captain), Mike Comrie, Josef Vasicek, Andy Sutton, Sean Hill, Victor Kozlov, Richard Park. Also: Doug Weight (captain), Mark Streit...
Let go: Arron Asham ... Brad Lukowich ... Andy Hilbert ... the Yashin Buyout
Drafted: John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Kiril Petrov, tall Nordic goalies
Traded: Marc-Andre Bergeron for Denis Grebeshkov ... Bergeron for a 3rd-rounded that became Kiril Petrov ... Ryan O'Marra, 1st-rounder, Robert Nilsson for Ryan Smyth ... Mike York for Randy Robitaille, part II ... Alexei Zhitnik for Freddy Meyer and the 3rd-rounded that became Mark Katic ... Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie for a 1st-rounder (portion of Calvin de Haan) and Dean MacAmmond
Coaches hired and fired: He didn't have a choice with Nolan, either, but he eventually acquired the power to make Nolan go and bring in his own, Scott Go-Go Gordon.
Also: Kept all of North America on pins and needles wondering who would be the #1 pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Okay, maybe 75% of North America didn't care, but the rest of sure were fooled.
Mike Milbury (
1995 2000 - 2006)
He was here before 2000, we know all too well, but the All-Decade Team has strict rules about considering only 2000-2009 performance. Thus, the ownership-forced Palffy trade and other highlights do not apply.
Signed last decade: Garth Snow, his eventual long-term successor; Mariusz Czerkawski ... Miroslav Satan ... Brad Lukowich; claimed Chris Osgood off waivers
Traded last decade: Kevin Weekes for the Raffi Torres pick (5th overall) ... Eric Brewer, Josh Green, a 2nd for Roman Hamrlik ... peanuts for Jason Blake ... Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt for Michael Peca ... Brad Isbister and Torres for Janne Niinimaa and a 2nd pick in 2003 ... Mathieu Biron for Adrian Aucoin ... Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and a Jason Spezza-level pick for some guy ... traded Osgood for not much at all ... Peca for Mike York ... Mattias Timander for a 7th-round pick that became Chris Campoli ... Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel for Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini
Also: Brought in Pronger! (Oh ... Sean Pronger.) Later: Lost Pronger for free! (Oh ... still Sean.)
Coaches hired and fired: Butch Goring (hired in '99), Lorne Henning, Peter Laviolette, Steve Stirling, Brad Shaw.
There were many more moves (though many famous ones happened before 2000). But I can only talk about Milbury so much anymore. Feel free to mention your favorites -- ha, he said "favorites" as in "favorite Milbury moves!" -- in comments.
Obviously we wouldn't have Kyle Okposo without whatever level of sign-off Smith had at the time.
Of course, we wouldn't have John Tavares or Mark Streit or Josh Bailey or any number of prospects without Garth Snow. He even turned a disgruntled Chris Campoli into a first-round pick.
BUT: We wouldn't have Snow without Mike Milbury, who signed Snow for his less-famous job of goaltender at the beginning of the decade. A-ha! Thus, we can only conclude: Without Mike Milbury none of this would be possible. He must be GM of the Decade. Or not.