Straight from the Secret Cave....
Somewhere near beautiful Downtown Larsmont....
On the Scandinavian Lutefisk' Largo....
THE MASKED FAN SPEAKS!
TOIMI.... In all hours of the day they toil, it might be dark, it might be light, but morning, noon and night they are at work. And toil they do, because once you sign on for the job, you are on duty from that point forward, it never stops. When they get a chance to "shutdown" for a bit, they might get some rest, they might not. Their sleep quality level has a way of riding along with the won-loss positioning of their teams. When their club is going well it can be an exhilarating rush of positive emotion, when it's not, there just might not be enough Pepto-Bismol on the planet to do anything about that lousy feeling in the pit of their stomachs.
And no matter what transpires, or doesn't, they will rarely get any accolades when things are going well, they most assuredly will get "the berries" when they aren't, and everything they do, and I literally mean everything, gets put into that fan and media laboratory with its big microscope out there for all to see. It can be a dizzying blender of accountability, achievement, stress, frustration and nebulous standards to be placed into.
Welcome to the world of the NHL General Manager. Part coach, part scout, part accountant, part CEO, part psychologist, part concessionaire, part salesman, and part marketing guru.... I think you get the picture. When things are rolling you are all but invisible, and when they are not you just might be burned, hung, or both, in effigy. But really, it is probably the most integral position within a hockey club if you think about it. And that is what prompted me to give it a closer look.
You can make the argument, and quite a few Minnesota Wild fans will, that this was an unproductive summer for the club in terms of assembling their roster for the 2008-2009 campaign. And since one Mr. Douglas Risebrough from Guelph, Ontario is the man on the hot seat, if you will, he is under a lot of scrutiny for what did, or more accurately put, didn't, happen for the Wild this off-season. Fan angst has been ramping upward relative to DR and where the Wild stand in the scheme of all things NHL.
So in separating fact from fiction and myth from reality, how does DR rate in and amongst his peers in the league? He certainly is in possession of a great hockey pedigree being the 7th overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1974 entry draft. He won 4 Stanley Cups as a member of the Seventies Habs machine that dominated the league in that era. His teammates on those Habs clubs are a veritable who's who of professional hockey.
He was traded to the Calgary Flames right before the 1982-83 season and was either a co-captain or tri-captain for 4 of his 5 seasons there as a player. The Flames made it to the Stanley Cup finals there once when he was still playing, losing out to his former club. Risebrough was known to play an aggressive in-your-face style of hockey in his playing days, while also exhibiting strong leadership qualities on and off of the ice.
He retired after the 86-87 season, becoming an assistant on the Flames coaching staff. He was a bonafide fan favorite. He won a fifth ring as an assistant coach when Calgary won the Cup in the 1989 finals. He was then promoted to assistant GM for the 89-90 campaign, and then became the head coach for the 90-91 season.
After that season DR was also named as the club's GM, and served as both coach and GM for the 91-92 season but relinquished the coaching duties before the season was complete. He continued on as the team's GM until November of 1995. DR served as the Vice President of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers from 1996 to 1999 at which time he was brought on board with the new Minnesota organization by former owner Bob Naegele Jr's. Group.
As a player, coach and manager, DR was generally well liked during his time in Calgary until one infamous trade placed him onto the "manure roster" (you can translate that if you want) of just about every diehard Flames fan in the province.... PEACE
MFAN NOTES: next week, more on Risebrough and the Wild! NHL training camps are right around the corner... OUT!