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Management positions in the National Hockey League, or any professional sport, boil down to a fairly complex relationship between tools and practitioners.
For instance, an owner gives a general manager the tools of money with which to construct his team, and the surrounding personnel and authority to pursue those ends as he sees fit.
Obviously, this takes place to varying degrees. Some owners, like Charles Wang, are stingy with money and overly involved in the day-to-day operations of the team he owns. That's his right, of course, since he's the one signing checks for everyone from the team president to the assistant equipment managers, but that doesn't make it easy for Garth Snow to do his job.
At the other end of the spectrum, though, are larger-market teams, ones that draw crowds and generate significant revenues and for which the owners have little interest in telling the hockey people they're paying to run a hockey team what they should be doing in the running of it. It leads one to wonder why Wang, or any other meddlesome owner, doesn't just make himself the GM, cut out the middle man and save a million bucks a year.
The point, though, is that from the above relationship springs another, similar one. Just as the GM can only do so much with the tools he's given by his owner, so too can the coach only do the best he can with the tools his boss gives him.
This was the problem Alain Vigneault faced this year, and what ultimately led to his being fired despite the fact that he is far and away the best and most successful coach in franchise history by just about any metric.
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