There are a lot of bad teams in the NHL this season. And with bad teams, come the bad general managers who built them.
It's an open secret that being an NHL GM is perhaps the most secure job in the history of industrialized society. These guys are bulletproof, rarely ever watching the axe fall at the head of the table and allowing mediocre executives to continue making poor managerial decisions so long as their membership to the Old Boys Club still stands.
Frankly, change is long overdue.
So, here are four GMs whose rear ends should be hotter than the core of Mount Vesuvius.
4. Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia
When Chuck Fletcher came to Philadelphia in December of 2018, expectations were for a quick turnaround.
The Flyers simply needed some new blood in a front office that had been ruled by Paul Holmgren for years. Their core was already built. Their prospects were close. All Fletcher had to do was add a bit of window dressing and the banners would come rolling in.
That has not been the case.
Not only have the Flyers missed the playoffs in two of Fletcher's three seasons at the helm - with their only playoff round victory coming in 2020 against a Montreal Canadiens team that earned its post-season spot in the bubble's qualifying round - but that window dressing Fletcher was tasked with isn't exactly an interior designer's dream.
Giving up a first, Robert Hagg, and a second-round pick swap for Rasmus Ristolainen, arguably the worst analytical defenseman in the entire league, would be bad enough. But paying the Coyotes a second-round pick in order to take Shayne Gostisbehere and open the cap space to do it is even worse. And that's just the beginning.
Where the Flyers find themselves is essentially right back where they were when Fletcher first came aboard. He's already overseen one roster reboot. Why should he be given another one?
3. Doug Wilson, San Jose
How many senior citizens can you tie boat anchors to before people start questioning your job status?
It's downright remarkable just how little heat Doug Wilson has taken for the mess he's created in San Jose. This was a team with real championship aspirations not too long ago. A team that loaded up for a Cup run, even convincing Kevin LeBanc to accept a one-year, $1 million deal so they'd have the cap space to do so.
That didn't work. And now, the Sharks find themselves in the NHL's basement, mired in salary cap hell with a cavalcade of immovable contracts that worsen by the minute.
Acquiring Erik Karlsson was great! Handing him $11.5 million over eight years almost immediately after doctors reportedly removed half of his ankle bone was not. Neither was handing Marc-Edouard Vlasic an eight-year deal at age 31, just in time for his play to fall off a cliff, as so many players of his ilk tend to do. Or giving Martin Jones $5.75 million over six years to be a sub-.900 goalie before buying him out this off-season sure wasn't the brightest idea. Or signing Evander Kane to a seven-year deal despite his notoriously checkered history. Or locking an already-aging Brent Burns into a deal that doesn't expire until his 40s.
Need I go on?
The Sharks cannot win with these contracts on the books. And Wilson can't move them, either. He's stuck, trapped in a prison he meticulously built himself.
Letting him fix this mess is like hiring the guy who burned your house down to be in charge of the remodeling.
2. Marc Bergevin, Montreal
What has Marc Bergevin, like, done, exactly? What has he REALLY accomplished?
Sure, he led his team to an improbable Stanley Cup Final appearance last season thanks to an unforeseen combination of injury, shooting, and goaltending luck. That is true. You can't dispute it.
What you also can't dispute is how Bergevin followed that up by losing half of his core to free agency that off-season, got dunked on by an opposing offer sheet, and watched his team fall all the way back to the basement.
If that's your crowning achievement, your butt should be sweating right about now.
Bergevin is the king of mediocrity. His ability to build a roster that looks juuuuust formidable enough on paper to squeak into the playoffs each year is honestly remarkable - the dream of an owner whose margins live or die on two home games of post-season revenue.
A decade into his tenure and the needle has barely moved. The Canadiens are 4-12-2 at the moment. They're still incapable of scoring goals, still pressed up against the cap's ceiling, and still allergic to drafting and developing their own talent.
That is a staggering failure in roster constructing, one that demonstrates Bergevin's inability to identify young talent, and, in the event that he does, willingness to flippantly deal it away in pursuit of a contention window that never truly opens.
If Bergevin hasn't built a contender by now, why would you believe he'll ever do it?
1. Jim Benning, Vancouver
Jim Benning is not on the hot seat. Jim Benning is sitting in the flames.
Listen, I could sit here and write a well constructed argument for why Benning is not only worthy of the hot seat, but should be considered the worst active general manager in the NHL, And I'm sure my editor would love that. He might even give me a crisp high five, which would make my day. But that would be a fruitless endeavour.
No, I'm simply going to let Benning's transactions speak for themselves.
- Louis Eriksson for six years at $6 million per
- Tyler Myers for five years at $6 million per
- Brandon Sutter for five years at $4.375 million per
- Erik Gudbransson for three years at $4 million per
- Luca Sbisa for three years at $3.6 million per
- Jay Beagle for four years at $3 million per
- Derek Dorsett for four years at $2.65 million per
And that's just the tip of the iceberg, baby.
No one is better at throwing ludicrous sums of money at replacement-level players than Jim Benning. Not a single name on that list deserves the money that Benning paid them, and not a single one deserves the term they were given, either.
In the cap era, NHL rosters are built largely through the erosion of the middle class. Superstars rake in the big bucks while the rest of the lineup gets filled out by role players on deals either near or at the league minimum, or rookies on ELCs.
Not Benning, though. No, the guy is so insistent on keeping that middle-class player alive that he's willing to bid against himself for their services, thereby plunging the Canucks into a cap hell from which they can never escape.
Even when Benning did manage to dig his way out of the rubble and shed $12 million in salary by sending Eriksson, Beagle, and Antoine Roussel (another awful contact) to Arizona this off-season, he miraculously shot himself in the foot in the process by taking on a rapidly declining Oliver Ekman-Larsson whose deal will not expire until 2027.
Canucks fans deserve better. Hockey fans deserve better. Heck, Elias Petersson and Quinn Hughes' - whose primes are being wasted thanks to Benning's repeated incompetence in building a competitive team - deserve better.