Saturday, April 28, 2007

New GM out of the spotlight? Yeah right!

There was a great article in the Dispatch today about the Jackets new President, Mike Priest, and how he wants to do his job, and do it out of the limelight. Priest is going to be much more concerned with the business side of the team, so out of the headlines should be pretty easy. (Until next spring when they decide to raise ticket prices yet again.)

Rumor has it that the new GM would like to operate out of the spotlight, also. Compared to MacLean, that should be relatively easy. The new guy could have his office in a glass cube at the corner of Broad and High and be less in the spotlight than MacLean was.

But, I wonder if Columbus will let him operate in the background and not out in the forefront?

This is traditionally a "FIRE WOODY/COOPER/MacLEAN" type town. Whoever is viewed to be at the top has their head on the chopping block in this town almost immediately. And while Columbus has done a solid job supporting the Jackets, we're still pretty new at the NHL thing, and who was introduced to us as the head of the org in all facets? The General Manager.

So, even if the next GM comes in with a glittering resume, a clean record, a plan, and #1 center that makes Hitchchock drool, his predecessor set a certain level of expectation for what he's to be responsible. Doug painted the picture to the residents of Columbus that the GM is the guy who answers the questions on the radio and in the paper. That the GM is the guy responsible for Rick Nash under performing in December. That the GM is ultimately responsible when his collection of talent can't crack the playoffs when the three teams that came into the league at roughly the same time have all done it.

Now, I don't disagree with that last one at all, on the ice it was time for something. But the others are going to have the regular Columbus fan ready to question the new guy right away. Regular Columbus fan is the guy who cheers for the Jackets but wasn't a big hockey fan before their arrival. He kind of understands the business side of things, can explain offsides, probably owns a jersey by now, but still has the Columbusite "FIRE COOPER!" attitude at heart. You know, he's Bob Hunter. (Except for the offsides thing, Bob is still working on that one.)

So, the natural evolution here should move the onus on the coach more than the GM. But, thanks to the work that Doug did here - and he did a LOT of good things for hockey in Columbus - the next GM is going to have a hard time operating out of the spotlight for a couple years.

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