The quarterfinals finished up yesterday with Don Waddell beating Brian Lawton in what was a pretty tight race. Not of course, as tight as Mike Milbury's quarterfinal victory, but tight nonetheless. In today's match-up, Milbury will look to continue his Cinderella run, but he'll be facing his toughest opponent yet, the decidedly unvenerable but still very much terrifying Doug MacLean. Milbury has mostly been winning off his long-term track record so far, which is a bit odd in a tournament trying to determine the league's worst general manager from 2005 to 2012. But today, for the first time, he faces an opponent with a similarly terrible long-term track record to go along with a terribly blunderous post-lockout performance. A list of each man's five most damaging post-lockout moves comes after the jump.
(11) Mike Milbury
- Contributing in some way to Rick DiPietro's fifteen-year contract. He wasn't the GM when this deal was signed, but he was still with the organization, and did contribute to some of the early negotiations. I don't really hold this one against him, but with a limited set of moves to choose from, this one still tops his list.
- The long-term impact of Alexei Yashin's long-term contract. The deal was signed before the lockout, so it doesn't really make sense to include it. But... it has impacted the franchise every single season of this CBA, and the hit to the Islanders' budget (which tends to hover around the salary floor) has been substantial.
- Signed Garth Snow to a three-year deal in July of 2005. The cap hit on the deal was $0.75M, which doesn't sound awful, but Snow had been a terrible goalie in the season prior to the lockout (.899 save percentage in 39 games) and was only a back-up in the KHL during the lock-out. The deal was also a 35+ contract (Snow was 36 when it was signed), which meant that he was stuck on the books for those three years no matter what. Predictably, Snow was terrible in 2005-06, putting up an .886 save percentage in his last year before becoming the team's general manager.
- Signed Alexei Zhitnik to a four-year deal in August of 2005. The cap hit on the deal was $3.5M, which was about 9% of the cap at the time of signing. Zhitnik would turn 33 in October of 2005, so the deal bought his 33-36 year-old seasons. As you might expect, Zhitnik did not perform up to expectations. He played for the Islanders, Flyers, and Thrashers under that contract and wound up being bought out by Atlanta.
- Traded Mike Peca for Mike York. Peca was going to be UFA the following year, and York was in his prime, so the deal actually made pretty good sense at the time. York actually scored over 50 points in 2005-06, but by the midway point of the 2006-07 season he had been traded (by Garth Snow) to the Flyers for a neglible return, so they may have been better off just sticking with Peca.
(2) Doug MacLean
- His time as an analyst. I know that it shouldn't even really be included here, but MacLean's time as an on-air personality shows just how bad he must have been at his job. I'm aware that Milbury is an on-air personality too, but he often (though not always) comes across pretty well. At the very least, he can make a sensible point from time to time. Doug MacLean spews nonsense so frequently it hurts.
- Traded Francois Beauchemin and Tyler Wright for Sergei Fedorov. Fedorov was a big name at the time he was acquired, but he was also going to turn 36 that December and had two and a half more years left on a contract with a $6.08M cap hit. Fedorov did not live up to that contract, scoring just 113 points in 185 games with the Blue Jackets in parts of three seasons. That Francois Beauchemin ended up becoming a pretty darn good player just makes things look that much worse.
- Footing the bill for Adam Foote. MacLean signed Adam Foote to a three-year deal in August of 2005 that would pay him $4.6M per season. That's 11.8% of the cap for a big physical defenseman's 34-year-old to 36-year-old. Shockingly, Foote was a major disappointment.
- Rushed Gilbert Brule to the NHL. Brule was drafted in 6th overall in 2005, and the Blue Jackets tried to bring him straight to the NHL, but he suffered two serious injuries (sprained clavicle and broken leg), which cost him most of his season before he returned to junior. In 2006-07 he spent the whole year with the Blue Jackets, but he wasn't ready. Brule ended the year with 19 points in 78 games as well as a -21 rating. The next year was no better, but the Blue Jackets never sent him to the AHL. This was a pattern in Doug MacLean's tenure as GM and is one of the biggest reasons that the team was so poor for so long.
- The Anson Carter experiment. Carter had a great year with the Sedins, but the Canucks refused to pay him because they knew that the was a passenger on that line. Doug MacLean paid him. The contract wasn't horrendous (one year and $2.5M), but it's exactly the kind of deal that typifies why the Jackets could never get over the top.