Posts Tagged ‘General Manager’

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When the Edmonton Oilers inked forward Zack Kassian to a three-year deal last month, it did a lot more than just secure their bottom-six forward group.

It signified that the 26-year-old has finally turned a page on his battle with alcohol addiction, and in the process revived a career that once looked to be nearing its end, something Kassian credits to Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.

“It doesn’t happen without Peter Chiarelli, who gave me the opportunity,” Kassian told Jason Gregor of OilersNation.com.

“I told him that day I was going to prove to him he made a right decision and today we’re sitting here with a new contract. I still feel I need to keep proving myself. It doesn’t stop now that I have the new deal. I just need to keep working and proving people right.”

Despite rarely finding the score sheet, Kassian serves as a key contributor for the Oilers, playing with an exuberant edge while occasionally chipping in with a timely goal, assist, or scrap to fire up his team.

In 79 regular-season games last season, Kassian registered seven goals and 17 assists to go along with 201 hits – good for 23rd-most in the NHL.

With his foreseeable future now secure in the City of Champions, Kassian realizes that it’s time to prove that his battle with alcohol is behind him for good.

“For me, I made a promise to my family, to the Edmonton organization, and, most importantly, to myself that I wasn’t going to drink again, and as soon as I made that decision I feel like that’s when everything started climbing back upwards,” Kassian said.

“I feel like if your mindset is you’re not going to drink again, you’re not going to drink again. You make a tough decision and stick with it. I think that’s where I’m at now with it. Obviously, I have a lot to lose, which helps with the team we have in Edmonton.”

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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Monday that general manager Dave Gettleman has been fired. Gettleman had been the Panthers’ GM since 2013.

“After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Dave Gettleman of his duties as general manager,” Richardson said. “I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.”

As Richardson admitted, it’s a surprising decision at this stage of the offseason, especially considering Gettleman built a roster that went to the Super Bowl in 2015.

The Panthers did severely regress in 2016, finishing the season 6-10, but there were no signs that Gettleman’s job was in danger.

He inherited a roster that was hard up against the cap due to poor contract decisions by the previous regime, making the Panthers’ run to the Super Bowl even more impressive, though the roster remains worryingly top heavy.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports Gettleman’s deteriorating relationship with Richardson was a factor in the decision, with the issues stemming from Gettleman’s handling of the Josh Norman situation last offseason, which ended with the Panthers removing the franchise tag from the cornerback and allowing him to sign with the Washington Redskins in free agency.

The timing of the firing is even worse considering that Carolina’s former assistant GM who was the likely in-house favorite to replace Gettleman, Brandon Beane, left to become the Buffalo Bills’ GM in May.

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The cost of doing business has risen significantly for the Golden State Warriors this offseason, and it’s put the team over the budget that owner Joe Lacob set.

“Joe is good in that we had a number heading into free agency as to what the budget was, and we’re way over it,” general manager Bob Myers told the Warriors Plus/Minus podcast with Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson.

This had been expected for some time, however. The Warriors were fortunate enough to have Stephen Curry on a bargain contract the last few years, something that helped them sign Kevin Durant last summer.

Yet in the last few weeks the Warriors locked up Curry to a five-year super-max contract, inked Durant to a two-year, $53-million deal, and re-signed Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Zaza Pachulia. They’ve also added players in free agents Omri Casspi and Nick Young.

In all, approximately $335 million has been spent by the Warriors since July 1, putting their salary commitments for 2017-18 alone at about $136 million. That’s well into tax territory, with the luxury tax threshold set at $119.3 million next season.

Still, Myers says as long as the Warriors are winning, it’s worth it to Lacob.

“Here’s the thing to know about Joe,” Myers said. “He’s really competitive, and he wants to win. And so you have to balance that, like anyone does, with running a business. … you have to balance spending with running a business with trying to win championships.”

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The Carolina Hurricanes are one of the NHL’s most intriguing teams, featuring exciting up-and-comers like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Noah Hanifin.

But despite its young stable, Carolina has yet to translate its talent into on-ice success, finishing with just 87 points last season to push the NHL’s longest active playoff drought to eight years.

The Hurricanes struggled mightily within their own division last season, stumbling to an 11-15-4 showing against Metropolitan foes. None of last year’s 16 playoff participants had a losing record against their own division, so it’s no surprise the Hurricanes were once again left watching from the sidelines.

“If you look at our record last year, we had a .500 or better record against every division in the league except the Metropolitan,” Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis told NHL Network Radio on Friday. “Last year, it was one tough division to be a part of. It’s not going to get any easier.”

Four teams in the Metropolitan Division finished with more than 100 points last season, including the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the repeat Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina finished seventh in the division, ahead of only the New Jersey Devils.

But the Hurricanes have made a handful of key additions this offseason that could soon see playoff hockey return to Raleigh for the first time since 2009. To kick off the summer, Carolina acquired netminder Scott Darling from the Blackhawks, then added his former Chicago teammates Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger after they first found their way to the Vegas Golden Knights. The club also reunited with free agent Justin Williams, who was a part of Carolina’s Cup-winning squad in 2006.

“I think the learning experience of last year, coupled with the players we brought in this year, everybody understands just how important those games (against our division) are,” Francis added. “We can take a step forward and find our way inside the playoffs and not on the outside looking in next year.”

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Rest easy, Toronto Raptors fans, because team president Masai Ujiri intends to be with the franchise for a long, long time.

“I’m a Toronto Raptor, and I’m hoping to be a Toronto Raptor for life, whether you guys like it or not,” Ujiri said Friday in a news conference to reintroduce Serge Ibaka.

The New York Knicks were reportedly confident that they could lure Ujiri away from the Raptors to serve as their replacement for Phil Jackson in their front office. With former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke now with the Knicks in an advisory role to general manager Steve Mills, there was certainly reason to worry that he would consider a move.

Ujiri did, however, just recently sign a multi-year extension with the Raptors in 2016, so even if he wanted out (which it doesn’t sound like he does), Toronto would have sought compensation for his services.

The Raptors have yet miss the postseason since Ujiri came aboard in 2013, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 and taking two games from the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames

It wasn’t just the Texas lifestyle that drew free agents to the Dallas Stars.

So too did Ben Bishop, the Stars’ new netminder who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings earlier this offseason and later signed a six-year extension with his new club.

“When we were talking to all of these free agents during the interview period, (Ben’s) name always came up,” Stars general manager Jim Nill told “NHL Tonight” on Wednesday. “He’s a quality guy. He’s got a great resume and I think that’s a big part in what enticed a lot of these players to want to join us.”

The veteran goaltender split last season between the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning, where in recent seasons he established himself as one of the NHL’s top netminders. In 2015-16, he appeared in 61 games, producing 35 wins and a .926 save percentage to finish as a Vezina Trophy finalist.

The Stars hope Bishop can replicate that play in his new surroundings. It’s undoubtedly a big upgrade for Dallas, which struggled to keep pucks out of its own net last season, as the tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi owned an NHL-worst combined save percentage of .893.

Niemi has since moved on, with the Stars buying out the final year of his contract, leaving Lehtonen to hold down the second-string duties behind Bishop.

Dallas has talents like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg, but it’s Bishop’s addition in the crease which Nill believes was the catalyst for Dallas’ offseason makeover.

“Ben was a big pickup for us,” Nill added. “He was probably the one that started this turnaround for us this signing season. We made the trade for him and he showed the commitment to want to be here.”

In addition to Bishop, the Stars also dipped into free agency to add shutdown center Martin Hanzal on a three-year deal, while former Montreal Canadiens winger Alexander Radulov was recruited on a five-year pact. The possibility exists he could complete one of the league’s most intriguing trios with Seguin and Benn.

After finishing with just 79 points last season, the potential exists for a big bounce-back in Dallas, with Bishop sure to play a major role in the upswing.

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After back-to-back years of deep playoff runs for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team suffered a setback in 2016-17 by missing the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. And though the team is laden with talent, general manager Steve Yzerman refuses to overlook last season due to previous success.

“We’re in a different spot today than a year ago. Because a year ago, we were coming off Game 7 of the conference final, and that was coming off reaching the Stanley Cup final,” Yzerman said, according to Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times. “This year we didn’t make the playoffs. So let’s take a step back here and let’s not talk about going for it here in June when we just missed the playoffs.”

It’s a very reserved mentality for the man in charge of a team that finished the 2016-17 regular season with 94 points, the same amount as the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators, but one point shy of the amount needed to qualify for the Eastern Conference’s second season.

Yzerman isn’t letting himself, his players, or the team’s fan base rest on past laurels, however, viewing last season as a disappointment, and refusing to blame the lost campaign on the knee injury which limited captain Steven Stamkos to just 17 games.

“We’re a better team with Stamkos, obviously. …

“We definitely can look at areas where we need to improve with the players we did have on the ice,” Yzerman added.

The Lightning’s overhaul began with the passing of the torch between goaltenders Ben Bishop (traded to the Los Angeles Kings and now with the Dallas Stars) and new starter Andrei Vasilevskiy at the 2016-17 trade deadline. It continued with the offseason’s first big splash when forward Jonathan Drouin was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

Yzerman isn’t done his summer work and remains focused on making the Lightning a contender again in 2017-18 and for the long term, saying “I think it’s going to be good for a long time.”

While the Predators may have demonstrated once again that teams need only to qualify for the postseason by the slimmest of margins in order to have a shot at lifting the Stanley Cup, Yzerman seems intent on not leaving the fate of his team in the hands of the competition.

Should have been there, but we weren’t,” Yzerman said.