While caught in a very competitive business, the General Managers of the National Hockey League form a certain camaraderie, where they understand that there are things that you can do and others, well, that you shouldn’t be doing. Those things are not necessarily written anywhere and as a matter of fact, are often quite legal, but GMs across the NHL know that there are certain things that you don’t do to one of your fellow General Managers. If you choose to break that code, you end up paying for it one way or another.
No one knows more about this than former GM and now President of the Philadelphia Flyers, Paul Holmgren. In a book recently published by reputable author Jay Greenberg, “The Philadelphia Flyers at 50“, he writes that one of the reasons Holmgren stepped down from the general manager’s job was because he sensed other GMs didn’t want to deal with him after he signed restricted free-agent Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet in 2012. While the NHL’s rule book allows such action, it is frowned upon by General Managers and it’s not surprising that other teams’ GMs, sometimes perhaps under pressure by their own ownership, refused to deal with the Flyers after that.
“It’s hard to do this job if you have a bad relationship, or at least a perceived bad relationship, with any number of GMs.” ~ Paul Holmgren
Holmgren said that even though RFA offers are legal, they are really frowned upon and that his relationship with a lot of other GMs changed.
In spite of that hard learned lesson, it seems like Holmgren hasn’t learned anything. In the same book, Greenberg writes that at the 2013 draft, the Montreal Canadiens dangled Max Pacioretty and the Canadiens’ 25th overall draft pick for Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers’ 11th overall pick, which turned out to be Sam Morin.
By divulging such confidential information from very private conversations with other GMs, Holmgren is once again putting the Flyers, and this time his current GM Ron Hextall, in a very difficult situation. Who in their right mind will want to discuss potential trades with an organisation who might turn around and publish the names of the players involved in those trade talks, particularly if those players are still with their respective teams?
How has this “news” affected the relationship between Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin and his captain? You can bet that there has been a meeting between the two men, and the level of discomfort must have been enormous. And who knows if that relationship is tarnished because one (former) GM couldn’t keep his mouth shut?
Oh don’t get me wrong, some information often “leaks” about potential trades, sometimes even on purpose. But those remain rumours, never confirmed information like the one you would publish in a book. Something tells me that Holmgren has cost the Flyers more than what he brings, and who knows what the future holds for that team with him at the helm of hockey decision? But if GMs didn’t like the offer sheet, you can bet your wage that they hate his latest leak of confidential information on a team for which the player still plays for, and Hextall might have some real difficulties to have other GMs return his calls.