December 02, 2010
Forbes released its annual Business of Hockey report yesterday, and with it arrived the usual eye-opening revelations. Like, for example, the New Jersey Devils turning a profit (yea!) but losing value as a franchise despite a new arena (boo!); and the Phoenix Coyotes being worth just slightly more ($134 million) than the domestic box office gross for "The Last Airbender" ($131.6 million).
They're not the first publication to rank the GMs, but their approach to evaluation was rather uncommon:
Our criteria for the list: average regular-season points accumulated during the past five full seasons (2005-06 through 2009-10), plus bonus points for postseason appearances and advancements. Annual postseason points increase in five-point increments based on how far a team advances, from five points for a first round exit to 25 points for a Stanley Cup championship. Total points are then measured against payroll over the five-year period to determine which GMs turned out the best product for the money. Consideration was limited to GMs in their jobs for at least four years of the five-year period and who remained active into this season.
What this leads to is a list with a few surprises, given the weight Forbes assigned to postseason success.
According to Forbes, here are the 10 best "bang for the
buck" GMs in the NHL. The
point scoring for each GM can be found in this photo gallery. Here, we
present the payroll and "dollars per point" figures Forbes computed:
1. David Poile, Nashville Predators
Payroll: $196.9 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $397,778
2. Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks
Payroll: $228.5 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $420,037
3. Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings
Payroll: $242.2 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $428,675
4. Darcy Regier, Buffalo Sabres
Payroll: $221.2 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $438,889
5. Don Waddell, Atlanta Thrashers
Payroll: $187.4 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $444,076
6. Ray Shero, Pittsburgh Penguins
Payroll: $181.1 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $444,963
7. George McPhee, Washington Capitals
Payroll: $207.6 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $448,380
8. Jim Rutherford, Carolina Hurricanes
Payroll: $213.5 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $455,224
9. Garth Snow, New York Islanders
Payroll: N/A; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $455,627 (Ed. Note: Forbes listed the Islanders payroll at around $141,700; that's impossible even for the Islanders, so we'll assume it's $141.7 million.)
10. Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs
Payroll: $223.3 million; Payroll Dollars Per Point: $480,215
• • •
First, let's point out the obvious cheat: Waddell is no longer a general manager. But his inclusion on the list ahead of guys like Shero and McPhee is rather stunning given the meager returns for the Thrashers in his tenure.
Here's the breakdown of Waddell's entry on the list:
Regular-season points: 422
Postseason points: 5
Payroll: $187.4 million
Payroll dollars per point: $444,076
Among GMs with more than two years on the job, Waddell's average annual payroll ranked next-to-last in the NHL over the past five years. Yet his club won 12 more games than it lost over that span. He was promoted to team president before this season.
Waddell and Snow iced dirt-cheap teams that NHL parity carried to average non-playoff seasons. And yet here they are.
Burke was a surprise. Wilson being as high as his was ranked was too, when you consider the Sharks' payroll.
Our takeaway from this list: Three of the top four GMs also have three of the top four longest-tenured coaches in the NHL. In Poile's case, they should have placed Barry Trotz in the photo with him, considering how his coaching has kept the team competitive.