Monday, 28 May 2012

Pierre Gauthier's micro-management muzzled Trevor Timmins

Okay, so relatively recently, I stepped forward, in the name of blogger accountability, whereby one’s opinions are attached to oneself and one must defend them or repudiate them when they are demonstrated to be false, and admitted to having offered an opinion on this forum that was not as bang-on as practically everyone of my other posts. It was a trifling matter, not a big deal at all, I’ve held my personal glasnost on this matter, everyone else was allowed to Air their Grievances, we’ve moved on since then, and we’re all better friends for it.
I am now moved to attend to another matter. After last year’s draft, many posters decried Pierre Gauthier’s organizational decision that he would speak to the media about the draft, not Trevor Timmins. These posters stated that this was Mr. Timmins’ one opportunity to shine each year, and he was the most well equipped to speak on the prospects that were chosen by the Canadiens, so that to prevent him from doing so was a disservice to him and the team.
I took the opposite view. I have worked in many organizations where the policy is that only the President or his designates or the person ultimately responsible on scene is allowed to speak to the media. This ensures that the organization can shape its message and that it speaks with a united voice. Right or wrong, this practice is familiar to me, so it didn’t faze me that Mr. Gauthier would decree that the Canadiens would function that way. I argued that his head was on the chopping block if these decisions don’t pan out, so he should be the one to speak for the organization. It made sense to me at the time.
I now officially retract that statement, and concur with the others that Mr. Timmins should be allowed to speak on matters of the draft and the team’s prospects. Marc Bergevin’s way of doing business, of decentralizing decision-making and of allowing subordinates to spread their wings is a much preferable climate than Mr. Gauthier’s now-revealed Reign of Terror.
I still think that both communications strategies have value, but what the posters decried last June, and they were proven right, was that Mr. Gauthier was micro-managing, behaving in an imperious manner, and was clipping the wings of those in what should have been his entourage. In this they were proven right. Since he was let go, we were told the Ottawa cookie story, the fact that his players feared/detested him, the Mike Cammalleri game-worn jersey story, the knee-jerk quality to some of his decisions, instead of a committee approach… I defended his communications strategy as nothing to worry about, as an accepted business practice. The detractors were proven right that this behaviour was symptomatic of something fundamentally wrong with his management style and his persona. I wanted to come forward and admit that.
So I was wrong on that count. That’s two that I’ll admit to. I kind of forget what was the first one, maybe I’ve blocked it out. We do what we can to preserve our self-image.
As far as the love for Mr. Timmins , I agree that he’s shown a good eye for talent, but what has me even more excited is the statement by Mr. Bergevin that he will beef up the scouting team, and Mr. Molson’s assertion that the team will not spare any effort or resources to win. Taken together, this is a very positive development.
We sometimes pine for the days of Sam Pollock, for a wizard who would routinely pull a rabbit out of a hat, and would outfox other organizations. Those days are over, we won’t be able to fool other teams as we have in the past, there is too much available info out there for us to rely on that to succeed. What we can do is build a solid organization, with strong teams in the scouting and player development areas. We can have young lieutenants getting their feet wet and being groomed to take over if the next Guy Boucher or Julien Brisebois is cherry-picked by another organization. With these strong management teams, what we can do is outwork the other teams, and ensure that we get the best prospects possible and then give them all the advantages they need to reach the NHL and contribute to our next great dynasty.

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