Friday, 25 May 2012

The Canadiens introduce Rick Dudley as their new Assistant GM

So the Canadiens finally bring over Rick Dudley from the Toronto Maple Leafs, the hold up being tied to language regarding his non-compete clause which apparently states he will not divulge draft info gathered while working with the Leafs.  Some argue that there would be little advantage in that since the Canadiens are picking before the Leafs in most rounds, and especially in the first where we pick 3rd and the Leafs have the fifth pick.

I disagree with this view.  I think the Canadiens would benefit massively from sharing info with Mr. Dudley, and I think it is fair that this agreement has been reached.  Mr. Dudley got this information from scouts working for the Leafs organization, and it wouldn't be fair for the Canadiens to benefit from it.  In a number of industries, when an executive gets hired by a competitor, such non-compete clauses specify what areas are off-limits to discuss and within what timeframes.

As far as the benefit the Canadiens would receive from comparing info, I think the clear advantage would be in the later rounds.  Some outstanding Canadiens picks in very recent years such as Morgan Ellis, Brendan Gallagher and Darren Dietz now seem inspired.  Colin Sullivan gathered a little bit of ink lately for a seventh rounder, he was a kid with little to draw attention except his size and skating ability, but now that seventh round choice is looking good, in that he is developing nicely and is headed in the right direction.  These players were probably scouted once or twice, and background checks done as well as interviews, and on this basis they were selected when still available in the later rounds, due to whatever factors.  These selections are not quite hunches, but they're not as researched as the likely candidates in the first and second round were.

With this in mind, imagine that Trevor Timmins and his staff have quite a few dark horses that, due to less than ideal size, or injuries, or a late birthday, or poor linemates on a horrible team, or an experienced goalie ahead of a potential draftee on the depth chart soaking up all the starts, have not had a chance to shine and shoot up the rankings.  The Canadiens scouts hope to grab them in the later rounds.  These guys will have been scouted as I've said before only a couple of times, but the backgrounders and interviews will confirm what they showed on the ice and we'll get an organizational, let's say, tumescence for them.

So let's say Mr. Timmins and his team have 10 dark horses.  If he was able to pick Rick Dudley's brain and run these names past him, and finds out that he also absolutely loves 8 of them and completely agrees that they are diamonds in the rough.  One thing that does is it validates your scouting and your hunches.  Another is that it alerts you to the fact that other teams see what you see in these dark horses, and maybe you need to revise your board and create a Top 8 dark horses and leave the other two for free agent tryout contracts.  Also, maybe Mr. Dudley has info from an uncle or neighbour that the shifty small but very talented forward you're considering in the fourth round is undoubtedly the giant dick and pain in the butt that everyone says he is, so maybe you wait until the fifth or sixth for him.  As we should have done last year.

So I have no doubt that the Canadiens would derive an advantage from being able to copy from the Leafs exam sheet, and being able to consequently change a couple of answers.  I fully understand Toronto's reluctance to allow Mr. Dudley to join the Canadiens prior to the draft.

In general, his joining our staff is good news.  We saw what happens when a lone wolf GM tries to do everything by himself and micromanage every facet of the team.  The results are apparent by analyzing recent roster moves, and by the tone of comments from players such as Jaroslav Spacek.  Instead of that approach, Marc Bergevin is confident enough to surround himself with smart hockey guys, that's great news.  It allays the fear some might have had in a rookie GM being faced with such a monumental task.  Mr. Dudley along with Larry Carrière is a good brain trust with vast experience to support him.

As I've stated before, we now must also attend to the succession plan, and be ready when another team raids our front office for talent, or people decide to leave for whatever reasons.  We have to have personnel ready to assume higher positions in the organization when someone at the top moves on.  We have to have people in the front office learning the ropes and being groomed to succeed when an opportunity arises, either in Montréal or elsewhere.  It won't hurt us to have five or ten people who were groomed at the University of the New Forum working in other organizations.  They'll be good contacts to have, and a pool of candidates to draw from when we have openings as well.

Having lots of hands on deck will allow more coverage, more support for our prospects.  We shouldn't hear stories any longer like Ryan McDonagh's, when he explained that before the trade in June 2009, he was looking forward to attending the Canadiens development camp since he hadn't heard from anyone in the organization in a long time and was wondering what they expected from him.  We should have a staff of people keeping in regular contact with our prospects and visiting with them and giving any support they need.  We can do that if we have staff on hand to allocate this area to.

To fill these junior roles, I am partial to former Habs who wore the bleu blanc rouge with pride and honour.  I nominate Vincent Damphousse and Hal Gill, off the top of my head.

Vincent had to remove himself from consideration for the head job due to family commitments.  Most people know he's going through a divorce right now, and the prospect of the travel involved in the job was not feasible in his mind, he needs to be a stay at home dad.  He may be amenable to a junior role though, one that allows him to mostly stay in Montréal.  As his boys get older and he has that situation under control, he can start to assume more responsibility.

As far as Hal Gill goes, I'm not sure if he's ready for retirement from active duty, he may be able to get a contract to play somewhere, but if he wants a job with us, let's give him one.  He seems to like Montréal, his family does as well and they stayed here when he was traded to Nashville.  He's shown calm and leadership in his time here, and we've been able to overlook his Leaf and Bruin antecedents and have grown to love the guy.  He's funny, he's smart, he commands attention, let's get this guy working with our prospects on the ice, let's give him an office upstairs, let's find out what he likes to do and what he's good at, and harness the potential of that guy.


  1. Concern over an NHL worker leaking confidential information to a new team is akin to worrying about whether your children will be crosseyed if you marry your sister. When dealing with a gene pool that is as small as that of the NHL - i.e. 32 people in any given organization who may switch to a similar role in a new organization - non-compete clauses are always going to problematic to enforce, so I see no reason to lose any sleep heading into the draft. If a coach is fired, there is always the concern that their knowledge can be used by an opposing team. At least this isn't the CFL, where the GM's and coaches draw lots each season to see which color ball cap they'll wear. Nor is this similar to the brouhaha Pat Quinn caused when he signed with the Vancouver Canucks (accepting a $100,000 signing bonus, no less), while still intending to coach the LA kings for six more months...

    In the case of the Leafs versus the Canadiens, I think that there is little chance that they will be looking at the same prospects in the later rounds of draft. The Leafs will be looking for thugs who are the intellectual equivalant of their team captain, while the Canadiens will be looking at slight shifty forwards who speak french.

  2. In this strict instance, I can understand Brian Burke's trepidation. It hardly seems fair that one organization would get all of another's draft info right before the draft itself, without incurring any costs or providing compensation. In any case, Marc Bergevin took care of this by ensuring that Mr. Dudley wouldn't work on the 2012 draft with his gentleman's agreement with Mr. Burke.

    If Brian Burke had had similar concerns about free agency on July 1, or even anything beyond, then these would have been more difficult to address.

    And again, you're quite right Skierguy that the NHL is a relatively incestuous industry, and it's impossible to not suffer leaks from one team to another. If Mr. Bergevin and Mr. Burke managed to work out an acceptable deal, if Mr. Dudley had an escape clause in his contract and accepted the Canadiens' offer, then everyone should be happy in this instance.

  3. Interesting that you mention the Justin Schultz situation in another recent post. Even money has him signing with none other than Toronto. As Brian Burke was responsible for drafting Justin, he knows him very well. The Ducks with sue Toronto for tampering if indeed Justin signs with them. Some say that the people most obsessed with security are thieves, as they know too well what is possible.....

  4. Yeah, apparently the Leafs are already in hot water for allegedly tampering with Justin Schultz.

    If I was Brian Burke, I'd approach Anaheim and trade them a conditional pick for his negotiating rights, and make it a sweet enough offer that the Ducks aren't so steamed anymore. That might make this whole thing go away.