The Mailbag: June 15
It’s another Monday, and that means its time for another mailbag! Not going to bother with a long description here, but I’ll sneak in a few plugs. Last week, I joined a few of my Beavurritos teammates in talking to Julian McKenzie of the Canadian Press about racism in the NHL video game series and how EA SPORTS plans to address it (springboarding off of my article on here), and a previously recorded podcast with James from OFFSIDE finally had its release. Before you treat your eyes and ears to those, however, let’s dive into the questions:
What are even the odds that the NHL's playoff plan proceeds as-expected?
Between parts of the US hitting a second wave and positive test results in the ARI, BOS and PIT organizations is there a chance everything just becomes too risky for the players to agree to?
— Ian (@le_canuck) June 15, 2020
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be skeptical of the projected timeline right now. While I’m doing my best to be ready for the season as they would like to schedule it, the speed in which North America (it’s worse in the US, but it seems unfair to absolve the Canadian process entirely) seems to be rolling out its phases and the lack of clarity within them has me genuinely concerned that we’re not going to get out of the woods with this virus any time soon.
Given that so many of the cities that the NHL are interested in hosting the games in seem ripe for a re-explosion – Vegas, for example, is an all-but-confirmed hub despite casinos and resorts more or less being back to pre-COVID policies, I would not be shocked to see the whole thing get pushed back or come crashing down. So, don’t go full Chicken Little on this yet, but also don’t count your chickens either.
How do you feel about folks that like sports to function "as a distraction" during hard times? I've always felt that was a privileged approach to viewing sports, but maybe I'm being too harsh.
— Daniel K (@KDizzle53) June 14, 2020
I think it’s a really interesting debate that’s happening right now, and perhaps one that I can’t give the fullest of opinions on as a relatively unaffected person (between being at a lower-risk on the COVID front, and a non-marginalized demographic on the social front). With that said, I can give somewhat of an opinion.
Distractions aren’t inherently a bad thing. When adversity becomes your 24/7/365, it’s very easy to get burnt out. Hell, if we’re being honest about the whole thing, sports as entertainment are a distraction from the stressful parts of our own lives even in perceived good times – they are supposed to serve as ways to get our mind off things, though the rise of the die-hard fan has mutated that concept a little bit.
Looking at the more serious form of this conversation that’s happening in the NBA right now, as to whether they’re doing the “right” thing by coming back as a leader in black-led entertainment at a time where the black community is creating a vitally needed social wave, I can see the pushes and pulls. It’s easy to say that the NBA won’t take away from coverage on the news networks, but having that potential outlet to escape all that’s going on in the world could take away from people watching the news or joining the protests. This could be mitigated by bringing the movement to the games, but we already know that this is a very polarizing concept to a lot of people.
All and all, it’s a lot more complicated than it should be. Sports should be a distraction for people. At the same time, between the battle against the virus and the battle against racism, this is a once-in-a-generation moment for our society. If we want this distraction in the future, we must be active now, and if there’s evidence that coming back will take away from that, it would be selfish to do so.
Any advice for someone who's determined to create hockey related content but doesn't know where to start?
— Hamish (@Hammmer47) June 15, 2020
The great thing about this hobby/industry/whatever you’d like it to be is that there isn’t a defined starting line, finish line, or even a route. It’s a complete freestyle with a couple of general recommendations that will help you along the way – like sailing a previously-unknown ocean. Everyone’s path is different.
That is to say, there’s no specific “way” to start. Ultimately it comes down to this – do you have something you want to talk about? Do you know how you want to talk about it? If you have those marked down, then go ahead and try it. There are tons of free venues to host your writing, videos, audio, graphics, whatever route it is you decide to take, and social media allows us to find eyeballs we weren’t previously familiar with.
You can get into the more meticulous, job-like planning once your ball rolling. But as for how to get it rolling? Push yourself and it’ll join you.
Leafs question – Is there any chance that the top 6 doesn't include Cody Ceci when the playoffs start? Maybe 44-23, 8-2, 38-94?
Non-Leafs question – What is the most compelling novel/series that you've read, and are you reading anything now?
— Doug Stevenson (@dougiejr88) June 15, 2020
I think it’s definitely possible, but the degree of certainty is a total crapshoot. The X-factor here is the fact that the players who would be breathing behind his back (Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren) are young enough that if they’ve spent these past three months doing more training than lounging, they could very well show up to resumption camp with enough of an extra gear to steal that spot.
If they don’t quite have that, though, I imagine Ceci stays in. He has a comfort level with eating up minutes and he’s played in a variety of roles over the years. You more or less know what you’re going to get with him. What you get isn’t necessarily good, but it’s also not quite as bad as it’s made out to be.
Hopefully, though, one or both of the kids find that gear, because I’d rather give the minutes to someone on the upswing than someone on the way out the door.
As for books – I’m currently digging through Anatoly Tarasov’s “Russian Hockey Tactics”; it’s as interesting as the rumours say, though very hard to find a copy of. A friend lent it to me and I’m way behind on getting it back to them, so I want to get it done in the coming days.
I have no idea what the differences between a team president and a gm are. Do you think being a good gm means you are gonna become a good team president or are they completely different career paths?
— Bri🦔 (@BriGrey) June 14, 2020
The Team President job description honestly varies on a team by team basis. Some are very involved in hockey operations, some are more involved in the business side, and some do both. Some are professionals hired for these specific roles, some are ex-pros looking for something that isn’t as head-on into the hockey decision making as being a GM, and some are additional branding for the GM themselves.
For example, here is the description that the AHL’s Belleville Senators had for their public posting of that role last month:
Develops and administers operating budgets including review and approval of budgeted expenses and achievement/reporting of budgeted revenues
Manages American Hockey League (“AHL”) relationship and attends AHL Board of Governor (or other) meetings with the Team’s Governor or Alternate Governor(s), unless the Owner determines that attendance is not warranted in the circumstances As directed by the Owner or his appointed designate, liaises with the General Manager and/or Coach on budget, community events involving team/players, scheduling and hockey relations in general
Manages non-hockey staff, including annual performance and salary reviews
Serves as Alternate Governor at the option of the Owner
Manages day-to-day operations of individual departments and their activities as it relates to budget, time schedule, business/marketing plans, and specific deliverables
Monitors and coordinates with the City of Belleville staff as necessary to ensure that building operations and maintenance activities that are the city’s responsibility are completed to the satisfaction the Corporation
Coordinates with staff of Capital Sports Holding Inc. who have the concert industry and promotor relationships to secure concerts, family shows, and other non-hockey events for the CAA Arena Coordinates with leadership of Capital Sports Holding Inc. in regards to functions and services that will be provided to Belleville from the Kanata office. These functions would include but are not limited to legal, finance, human resources and IT.
This seems like a description fit for a “true” team President, and the vast majority of what you see there is unrelated to what most expect a GM to do from a Hockey Operations standpoint. I could see a GM that’s very involved in day-to-day operations and actually managing his staff being able to cross over into a legitimate President-type role, but if they’re more of an independent, hockey-focused worker, then their experience with that title would likely be more of the figurehead variety.