The Rock needs a Brian


A couple of years ago, the Toronto Raptors hired Bryan Colangelo as their new president and general manager. Colangelo was a successful GM in Phoenix, and is widely respected throughout the league. He replaced Rob Babcock, a rookie GM who did a lousy job with the Raptors and made them into a laughing stock. Hiring Colangelo was seen as a very important move for the Raptors, showing that they were willing to spend the money to hire the best person to rebuild the team, regardless of how much it cost.

This past month, the Leafs hired Brian Burke as their new president and general manager. Burke was a successful GM in Anaheim, and is widely respected throughout the league. Ignoring Cliff Fletcher’s brief stint as interim GM, Burke replaced John Ferguson, Jr., a rookie GM who did a lousy job with the Leafs and made them into a laughing stock. Hiring Burke was a seen as a very important move for the Leafs, showing that they were willing to spend the money to hire the best person to rebuild the team, regardless of how much it cost. (It also showed that they were willing to give Burke complete control over the hockey operations, something that Ferguson did not have.)

The Toronto Rock currently have Mike Kloepfer as general manager. This is his first such job in the NLL (i.e. he was a rookie GM when hired), and he has done a lousy job with the Rock, turning them into a laughing stock. Superstar Colin Doyle was traded away because he didn’t get along with rookie coach Glenn Clark — this before Clark had ever coached an NLL game. In return, the Rock got Ryan Benesch, who went on to be named Rookie of the Year in 2007. But Benesch was inexplicably benched for the last two games of 2008 and the first two games of 2009, and then traded to Edmonton for draft picks. Once in Edmonton, Benesch admitted that he had also had disagreements with Clark, and so he was also shipped off. The inescapable conclusion: “Disagree with Coach Clark, and you are outta here. We got rid of Doyle and Benesch for doing it, so don’t think your job is safe, regardless of how good you are.” The Rock are in trouble if Luke Wiles or Lewis Ratcliff (or, God forbid, Bob Watson) have issues with Clark. I wonder if Rock management has considered the possibility that if both Doyle and Benesch had issues with Clark, maybe it’s Clark who should have been fired?

See a pattern here? In all three cases, a rookie GM took over and screwed up the team. In two of those cases, he was then fired and replaced with someone who is successful and respected. And the guy’s name was Br[i|y]an. We can only hope that the Rock will follow the same pattern (even though they’re not owned by MLSE like the other two). So who’s the Rock’s Br[i|y]an?

The best GMs in the league right now would have to be Darris Kilgour and Marty O’Neill. Darris (who’s a helluva coach as well) is likely a Bandit for life, and I can’t imagine the Rock being able to lure him away from Buffalo, so count him out. Marty O’Neill has been named GM of the year for two straight years. He’s the original GM of the Minnesota Swarm, and they have improved every year. It’s likely that O’Neill won’t want to leave Minnesota while the Swarm are still improving, so until they’ve peaked he’s not likely going anywhere. Now, it’s possible that having my vote to win the west this year is not what O’Neill would consider to be the aforementioned peak, so he is probably out until at least the end of this season.

Would the Rock follow their fellow Toronto teams and grab a name from the past (Cliff Fletcher, Don Matthews, Cito Gaston)? There are three former Rock GMs currently in the NLL: Ed Comeau in New York, Johnny Mouradian in San Jose, and Terry Sanderson, who’s an assistant coach in Calgary. It’s unlikely they’d go back to Sanderson (who’d immediately trade for Josh again) since they only fired him two seasons ago and replaced him with the current guy. Comeau was never really given a chance — after only six games, he was fired and replaced with Sanderson. Mouradian is the only real possibility here, since he is the only one who wasn’t fired; he left to become the San Jose GM and coach. He’s since been named GM of the year and inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame.

Other possibilities:

  • there is a Brian that has experience in the NLL — Brian Silcott. He’s never been a GM, but he has been an NLL and MLL player and MLL head coach, and he is the VP of the Portland LumberJax.
  • Brian’s brother Kurt Silcott was the GM of the both the Buffalo Bandits and the Calgary Roughnecks. He’s currently employed by the Knighthawks, though not as their GM.
  • Jamie Batley was GM and head coach of the Chicago Shamrox, and has also been the coach of the Colorado Mammoth.
  • Chris Hall was the head coach of the Calgary Roughnecks for several years, though he’s never been a GM.

I know! I have the solution. It’s foolproof. Hire Whoopi Goldberg and have her channel the spirit of the late Les Bartley. She’d have to change her name to Brian first.

Update: Less than four hours after I posted this, the Rock have fired Glenn Clark and hired Jamie Batley as head coach. No mention of replacing the GM, and no mention of what’s happening to assistant coach Jim Veltman.

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