October 09, 2012
Clearly, the Peterborough Petes did not see their situation improving any time soon. It's rare to see a major junior team oust its general manager after the start of the season, let alone this early, but former NHLer and TV analyst Dave Reid is out, as per Sunaya Sapurji's report, after two-plus seasons in which the Petes posted a 48-84-4-6 record on his watch.
This was clearly a situation where something had to give, to paraphrase Petes captain Slater Koekkoek from last week. The Petes, with a roster nearly entirely stocked by Reid's acquisitions, are tied for last in the Ontario Hockey League with a 1-5-0-0 record and minus-14 goal differential, with the only win coming over their cellar-dwelling cohabitants, the Ottawa 67's. Meantime, the fact former GM Jeff Twohey is is presiding over a league-leading Oshawa Generals team only adds to the feelings of anger.
From the team's statement:
The decision was not an easy one but was based on a business decision taking all factors into consideration. The Board of Directors has a responsibility to our season ticket subscribers, fans and sponsors and as a result, the action taken was necessary.
In the interim, hockey operation responsibilities will be split between Head Coach Mike Pelino and Director of Player Personnel Mike Oke. Business operations will be overseen by Petes President Jim Devlin.
It reads like a situation where the Petes' board felt like it was better to act now while the season could be salvaged, pending the question of what there is to be salvaged. Peterborough is coming off successive ninth-place finishes in the OHL's Eastern Conference. Reid was also criticized for not getting enough return when marquee talents such NHL first-rounders Matt Puempel (this off-season) and Austin Watson (last January) were traded to Western Conference contenders. (The main return in the Watson trade, right wing Chase Hatcher, has zero goals in 29 games for Peterborough.)
Meantime, it's their best player, Koekkoek, who's been vocal about saying the team needed change. Koekkoek is also advised by Murray Kuntz, who represents Watson and Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner (the first prominent player the Petes traded after Reid came on), so there's dots that possibly connect.
There is some recent precedent for a team making an in-season change and rallying to make the playoffs. Last season, the Saginaw Spirit climbed from ninth to fifth after firing coach-GM Todd Watson in early December. In 2010-11, the Guelph Storm waited until November to bring in Mike Kelly to replace Jason Brooks as GM and made the playoffs. In the Western League, the Everett Silvertips did the same after Doug Soetaert was dismissed.
Pointing that out glosses over the issues the Petes have had so far this season under coach Mike Pelino, whom Reid hired in the spring of 2010 (and who still has time on his contract, a concern for the small-market franchise). Injuries and having top-line centre Alan Quine miss time due to mononucleosis are only a convenient explanation. Last Saturday, the Petes suffered a last-minute 4-3 road loss in Barrie. The Petes, who surely could have used the one point for the regulation tie, had their best defenceman, Koekkoek, on the bench when the winning goal was scored even though they could have utilized their timeout in case the NHL's 10th overall pick needed a breather. That's just one moment, but it does speak to why the proud franchise has issues beyond who wears the GM's hat.
There is little defending Reid's decisions, but as was the case when Twohey was let go in 2010 after 17 years on the job, Peterborough has bigger challenges than what happens on the hockey side. Acting now is intended to reduce the chance of having to deal off another marquee player, as they have in the past 24 months with high NHL picks Puempel, Watson and Ryan Spooner, dating back to fall 2010.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.