It has been speculated that John Muckler is out as GM of the Ottawa Senators because he defied owner Eugene Melnyk’s direct order to go out and get Gary Roberts at the trade deadline.
If that’s indeed the case, then Melnyk is nothing more than a meddlesome micromanager who should stick to pharmaceuticals and Barbados tax havens instead of sticking his nose in hockey operations.
Melnyk is the owner of the team and he’s free to do as he pleases. Muckler is 73 years old and has made some questionable personnel decisions, but he has also done some great things in Ottawa. He has been a part of five Stanley Cup teams and his record as a GM both in Buffalo and Ottawa is impressive. It’s Melnyk’s right to fire Muckler, but to do so because he didn’t get Roberts would be a travesty.
And there’s an interesting back-story to all of this. There is speculation that Panthers GM Jacques Martin set an exorbitant price for Roberts from the Senators as a way of getting back at them after the Senators fired him. But there’s also a story out there that Panthers owner Alan Cohen ordered Martin to bleed the Senators because of a drug patent dispute he once had with Melnyk.
The price for Roberts was apparently Antoine Vermette and a first-rounder, which would have been a ridiculous package for the Senators to surrender. In the end, the Panthers got prospect Noah Welch, which is all Roberts was worth. If he had been worth more, somebody would have offered more.
After all, wasn’t Roberts a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins team that lost to Muckler’s Senators and failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs? The Roberts who almost willed the injury-depleted Toronto Maple Leafs into the Stanley Cup final five years ago would have been a great addition. The current one, not so much.
The fact is, Gary Roberts is a very strong personality and is more than slightly self-absorbed. As powerful a force as he can be, he can just as easily destroy a team’s chemistry Â– something the Senators had in abundance Â– as enhance it.
Muckler probably recognized that and refused to make a deal that would have been detrimental to his team. For him to pay for that with his job would be a shame.
SHED A TIER In the days leading up to Friday’s NHL draft, you’ll be hearing a lot about Kyle Turris and the fact that he plays “Tier II” hockey for the Burnaby Express.
The only problem is, there is no such thing as Tier II hockey. What used to be known as Tier II is now referred to as Jr. A.
People who run Jr. A leagues and teams get quite touchy about that.
There is major junior Â– not Major Jr. A as many people call it Â– which encompasses the Ontario, Western and Quebec Leagues. Then there is Jr. A, B, C and D hockey, but no Tier II.
BIG FISHIN’ The story that won’t seem to go away is Toronto Maple Leafs chairman Larry Tanenbaum and his apparent insistence on getting rid of GM John Ferguson. The only problem for Tanenbaum is he doesn’t have enough support on the board to do it.
So rumors are that he’s going about it in a different way, thinking that if he can deliver a top-caliber candidate to the Leafs, he could convince the board to fire Ferguson and hire his choice for the job.
If that’s the case, you have to think Tanenbaum is going big on this one. Reason would dictate that he’s got to be putting out feelers for the likes of Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell or former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke.
Ken Campbell’s Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey News.com. Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at email@example.com.
One of THN’s senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken’s expertise delivered to you every issue.