GM Anholt has a difficult job. He will rarely, if ever, make everyone (or anyone at all for that matter) happy – it’s part of the job description. A few weeks ago I posted an article titled “The Case for Optimism”. In that article I talked about numerous reasons I believe fans should be cautiously optimistic about this season and beyond. I believe as strongly about that today as I did when I wrote it. I do however, want to address some of my comments about GM Peter Anholt.
Although this site has only been up and running for around four months, much has been written here about the team and the GM. Some of the early articles spoke frankly about my opinions on the Hurricanes organizational hiring process. You are welcome to go back and read those articles, but for the time being, let me simplify my thoughts…
Looking at the track record of failed hockey operations hires, I started to feel that the team was not doing a great job of evaluating job candidates. When Anholt was hired, whether true or not, the optics (to me) erred on desperation. That is not to say Anholt was desperate for the position, because clearly he was not. He didn’t need to take the position, and I applaud his willingness to step into the situation wholeheartedly. It was the Hurricanes organization that was desperate to get things back on track while financially ‘painted into a corner’. I felt at the time that the hire was too convenient and I didn’t believe that the organization had conducted a broad enough interview process. In retrospect, I’m not sure that the team had any other choice. Largely because of my cautious optimism towards the thought process and direction of the new-school BOD, I feel that, had they been afforded the time and finances, the team would have conducted a deeper and wider search for the new GM and likely did do a more thorough search than I was lead to believe before they removed the ‘interim’ title.
In “The Case for Optimism” I wrote,
Let me remind you that I strongly disliked the hiring of Peter Anholt as GM. I wrote about why in an earlier blog post, largely arguing that while Peter might be a great person and capable GM, the process of his hiring was a perfect example of why the Hurricanes have been managed in an amateur fashion. To summarize, my issue wasn’t with Anholt as much as it was about the organization needing to look beyond itself to find the best GM, not most convenient GM. Of course the team was/is financially hamstrung and Anholt made himself available, his hiring killed multiple birds with one stone.
Looking back on that quote, I want to clarify a few things. Firstly, I want to separate my dislike of the hiring process from the hire itself. I disliked the process, not the hire. My personal opinion on Anholt was that I didn’t have an opinion either way. I cannot stress this point enough. The reason I feel strongly about the necessity of a broad spectrum talent search and an in-depth interview process is that I WANT this organization to succeed and for success to be sustainable. I used the term “amateur” in the quote above because it is my opinion that inexperienced people, businesses, managers, and organizations tend not to do a good enough job of searching for, and attracting, top level talent. The word was not meant to be degrading to the organization. I meant it in the most literal way possible. My hope is that in every facet – whether marketing, on ice product, promotional work, accounting, hiring, human resources – the Hurricanes organization strives for professionalism. I want the organization that represents the city to pursue excellence in every way. The recruitment process is just one example, and despite my overly aggressive wording in the article, I hope my intentions were still made clear.
Secondly, and in light of the first point, I want to make it abundantly clear that, based on his work to-date, I am a big supporter of Peter Anholt. I believe Peter has a very clear vision for the direction of the hockey operations and I applaud his boldness. Based on everything I hear internally, Anholt has done a masterful job of slowly turning the overall attitude of team personnel. These sorts of things don’t change overnight, and I feel confident in the direction he has begun to take the team. I understand there are those whom question some of his moves, particularly from a pure hockey perspective. Asking questions is a good thing. I encourage fans to continue to be analytical and constructively critical. What I will also say is that I believe Peter is building something within the Hurricanes organization that transcends the on-ice product. He has been molding this team to be people oriented above all else – and I believe – his vision has played an instrumental role in the quiet positivity surrounding the team. There are no better examples than his work in getting Jordy Bellerive signed.
If Peter makes a trade that looks bad on-paper, based on his long term vision for the organization, I believe the move probably needed to be made from an angle other than on-ice production. Anholt is asking important questions. If a player doesn’t fit the mold of his long-term vision for the team – the GM has proven is will not hesitate to move the asset. Peter has made it clear that he wants people that want to be in Lethbridge, and he has done much to reaffirm that this (Lethbridge) isn’t such a bad place to be after-all.
Of course Peter could make a horrible trade as even the best GMs do from time to time. In fact, he will make trades he regrets. That is part of the business and something we need to understand as fans and observers. If/when it happens I will be the first to say it. But above all else – I will gladly take an every-man’s GM with big organizational dreams and the interpersonal skills to put things in motion than the alternative. Whether the hiring process was ideal or not, I think the Canes found a winner with Anholt and I wish him nothing but success.