Ottawa Needs To Hire From The Outside For Their New General Manager

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It’s been well documented the struggles that Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray has gone through, as his battle against colon cancer was something to rally around for the team. At the age of 72, he’s obviously getting up there in age and he needs to slow down his workload. To nobody’s surprise, he has stated that 2015-16 will be his last as the Senators general manager.

He could still take on a lesser role with the team after that, but at the end of next season Ottawa will have a vacancy to fill. And I have to say that they need to hire somebody else instead of hire from within. The Senators front office staff is very small to begin with, and it looks like they are falling behind the eight-ball a bit.

Advanced statistics are taking over the hockey community, and Ottawa is one of the few teams out there that doesn’t have a person hired to specifically research these new stats. You can’t live and die by this new research, but by not finding new information they are at a disadvantage compared to other teams. It’s why the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Erik Condra, because they are an extremely well-run franchise and see the value in him as a cheap bottom-six forward.

And look at the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are hiring any breathing human being that is good with numbers. Compare their front office list to Ottawa’s, who only have five listed under “hockey operations.” The Leafs have three employees with the title “hockey research and development, analyst,” which is code for advanced statistics person. The Senators need to add to their personnel, not keep it the same.

Adding an advanced stats employee is a bit of a side-note to my main point, but it is relevant to this topic anyway. It seems like either Pierre Dorion or Randy Lee (the current Assistant GM’s) have an inside track at getting promoted, and I think that’s taking it too far.

If they were to add another very smart younger AGM then I would be fine with promoting one of them. But it seems like the Senators are content with letting Murray step down and simply placing Dorion (the more likely option) as the GM.

Mar 23, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators right wing Erik Condra (22) skates with the puck in the first period against the San Jose Sharks center at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Other organizations are adding smart people, and Ottawa needs to do the same. There may not be many traditional GM names out there on the market, but you don’t need to find a veteran. Steve Yzerman was of course a former player, but he also knows what he’s doing. Not many could have predicted how much of an impact he has had. Kyle Dubas is the AGM of the Maple Leafs, but as of now he is essentially the GM.

He wasn’t on many people’s radar, but he’s innovative and I would trust him to run my team. My point is that organizations are showing that there is lots of talent out there (even online–many bloggers have been hired) so it would be beneficial to add to the front office. It would be nice if they went out and hired someone similar to Dubas or another AGM from another team.

The fact that Ottawa does not have a big management group is just an extension to my frustration that they hire from within too much (like giving Dave Cameron the job right away without checking other coaches). Obviously I can’t criticize them before even making a move, but I feel that it’s important they hire an outsider.

Promoting from within is sometimes just too lazy, and I really do think there will be better options

The team is sometimes too set in its ways, and a fresh face could be nice. Honestly I’m not sure how much different Dorion would be compared to Murray. We’ll never know what kind of influence he had on the team, but we do know that as director of scouting he had a solid resume for the Senators. So at least he knows prospects well and can develop them.

However, nobody really knows about his talent evaluation skills and trading skills. I fear that it’s too much like Murray’s, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t great either. For example, he seems like the guy who wants to hold onto players for too long. If you’ve ever seen him interviewed (especially about prospects) you would know he is the most positive person in hockey.

So I don’t know what is talent evaluation is like, as I feel like he’s still someone who believes Jared Cowen can be a solid player. Maybe I’m off on that guess, but considering his personality and similarities to Murray it wouldn’t surprise me. Just take a look at an interview with him at the 2011 draft and see how positive he is:

We can’t truly evaluate how Dorion (or even Lee) will be as a GM, but I don’t think they should take over in Ottawa. The management group has been together for a long time, and somebody new (or a few people) need to come in and add some different perspectives. Because they need to take that next step in order to become Cup contenders. Promoting from within is sometimes just too lazy, and I really do think there will be better options.

This isn’t a slight to Dorion and Lee, instead I just think that Ottawa should strengthen their management group because they have the opportunity to do so. Teams around the league are taking laps around the Senators with all the smart people they are hiring, and it’s about time they at least hired an intelligent GM (not that Murray isn’t) to replace Murray once he moves on.

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