Month: December 2010

GETTING TRADED – MORE THAN JUST CHANGING TEAMS!

Phil Myre St-Louis Blues

I played in the  National Hockey League  for 14 seasons. I always considered it to be a great privilege. It was very rewarding, fulfilling and it brought me a very good life style. However, a career in Professional Sports comes with great sacrifices and a high price to pay. There is the constant challenge to produce,  juggling for positions and ice time, the physical demands on your body, injuries etc…One of the most difficult situation to deal with is getting traded, especially in mid-season.  

I’m writing this blog as the anniversary of the first time I was traded approaches. December 12th , 1977 is the date when I was traded for the very first time.  For almost six seasons, Dan Bouchard and I shared the net almost equally with the Atlanta Flames. We battled for playing time from day one. It was a healthy competition that benefited the team as we never finished worse than 6th in goals against as a tandem. For an expansion team, that was quite an accomplishment. Leading up to that date, Dan had demanded a trade or more playing time. Cliff Fletcher, our General Manager, had to make a decision. Emile Francis, the St-Louis Blues Manager, was seen watching our team and I knew that a trade was eminent. It did happen, ironically on Dan Bouchard’s birthday. The press release read as follows: “Atlanta traded Phil Myre, Barry Gibbs and Curt Bennett to St.Louis for Dick Redmond, Bob MacMillan and Yves Belanger and Blues’s 2nd round pick, Mike Perovich, in 1979 Amateur draft.” When reading this, fans analyse the repercussions of the trade on either team but few people care that 6 men and their families have just had their lives changed forever.  

I received the call from Cliff in the morning and the very next day, I was in St-Louis practicing with the Blues wearing my mask with the Flames logo on it. (somebody must have a picture of that) A lot of different emotions went through my mind. I had been the very first “Flame” selected in the expansion draft. My heart was with that team and that city. But emotions are quickly overshadowed because things happen so fast. You must focus on a new challenge. As a player, you go from one color to another, a different dressing room with new players who look different but yet, have the same goals and basically the same regiment. It means having to stay in a hotel for a few weeks or months, adapting to a new coach, a new city. But singers are happy when they sing. As athletes we are very focused on our career and as long as we do what we love and pursue or passion, it seems like we go on without skipping a beat.    

However, the people you leave behind are the forgotten ones. They pay the highest price. Your wife suddenly becomes a single parent and she is left behind to handle all the details of the move in addition to dealing with the household by herself. I am very lucky that my wife, Nicole, is a very strong, energetic, determined person. (one of the reasons why we’re still together after 38 years) She has had to deal with this and other situations throughout my career as a player but also as a coach and scout.  

I stayed in a hotel for a few weeks and then rented Barclay Plager’s house, supposedly for the rest of the season as “Barc” was coaching our minor league team in Salt Lake City. Nicole and our daughter, Stephanie, who was only 1 ½ years old, moved to St-Louis in late January. We sold our house (our first house as a couple) to David Shand, a player for the Flames. We stored our furniture until we could find a permanent home. The team was struggling and the coach, Leo Boivin, was fired in late February. Guess who became the new coach? You guessed it: Barclay Plager. He needed his house back and we had to move out. Now we had to start looking for a new place to live, again in the middle of a season.  

 It was a trying time, both professionally and personally. The Blues had lost several players to the WHL because of financial problems and the team was in disarray to say the least. On a personal front, we were confronted with many obstacles but thanks to Nicole’s ability to handle all that came her way, I was able to focus on my game within the turmoil and I was voted the player of the year for the Blues.  I played for the Blues one more season before experimenting my second trade to the Flyers. That one happened during the off-season amid some very unusual circumstances. More to follow…in a later blog…  

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!  

Phil Myre

WANT TO BE AN NHL GM?

WANT TO BE AN NHL GM?

So you want to be a General Manager in the National Hockey League? Let me tell you what you’re in for! You have lots of hockey knowledge and you’re a great talent evaluator. That won’t be enough to be successful. You’d better be ready to multitask, have great vision, and see the big picture for short-term and long-term planning. Most of your conversations will focus on money rather than on player’s skills and performances. You will need “legal” support to help you with contract negotiations, complicated player movement, qualifying dates, injury reserve by-laws and understanding the thick CBA manual among others.  

Don’t count on a long summer vacation. Most of your changes, trades, additions and subtractions on your roster will be done during the off-season. You’ll be in and out of budget meetings and you’ll be answering more questions about money from your owners than on players themselves.  

Very few trades are made based on hockey anymore. It’s an exchange of contracts. It’s very difficult to find a trading partner who is compatible on both the hockey needs and the salary. The upward scale of player salaries and the new collective bargaining agreement in 2004 have put a great deal of pressure on GM’s to perform. There’s a new breed of executives now whose college education is a priority over their hockey experience.

Have general managers really adapted to the new CBA? Some teams operate with a self-imposed budget and others just automatically work within the cap borders. Teams are assembled during the off-season. It’s a fine line between putting the best possible team on the ice in September and keeping available budget or cap room for mid-season changes. Some are learning that you need to have some “wiggle room”. For example, 25 games into the season, Washington acquired Scott Hannan who makes 4.5 million without giving up a comparable salary (a rarity in itself) because they had room on their cap. This may be a trend in the future.

In conclusion, don’t quit your day job yet to become an NHL General Manager. But if you do get the job, make sure you surround yourself with good hockey people and a good “bean counter”. Be ready to work 24/7 and put out a lot of fires. Delegate the trivial “stuff” and concentrate on what’s important:

BUILD A TEAM AND WIN HOCKEY GAMES.    

HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY

Phil Myre

GOALIES EQUIPMENT A BIT MUCH IN THE NHL!

big equipment and glove on goalies

 

Has anybody noticed how big and bulky the upper body goalie equipment has gotten? As the equipment has evolved and served as a better protector of goalies, I have a feeling that it’s gone overboard again and goalies are taking advantage in the interest of protection. There are more layers on the chest pads and shoulder pads than on my wife’s lasagna. The layers provide protection but also give extra height to the shoulders and make the goalie taller and take up more space. 

Some of them literally look like the GOODYEAR BLIMP! 

EQUIPMENT has been a major influence in the evolution, improvement and style of goaltending today. They can get down on the puck; use the paddle down without fear of injuries. The mask is bigger to protect the face and very few body parts are exposed for the puck to cause an injury.   

More kids today are attracted to the position because they don’t have to deal with the physical fear of injuries and the pain thanks to better protective equipment. I remember several of my friends who tried to play goal, but after getting hit by the puck a few times, they quickly returned to their forward position.   

I’ve been coaching goalies for many years. In the last 10 years, I can count on one hand the times that a goalie was injured by the puck during a practice or game. In my era, we had to deal with injuries almost every time we stepped on the ice. The face, knees, elbows, collarbone, shoulders, neck and even toes were not protected well enough to prevent injuries. The catching glove didn’t give much protection to the hand. The equipment was so heavy that few of us wanted to add additional parts for fear of limiting our movement. So we dealt with it.     

One could always tell who the goalie was in the dressing room by the colorful bruises on his body

The leg pads width and length have been reduced to fit the height of the goalie but I don’t see the leg pads as a problem. I don’t understand how the league is allowing the oversize catching glove. The glove with the “cheater” (yes, it’s called a cheater) between the thumb and the wrist which has absolutely nothing to do with protection and serves as a blocker. There is no question that protection should be the priority when designing goalie equipment. But I think that goalies are getting away with a lot more than mere protection when it comes to upper body, catching glove and pants. 

 Technology today has designed a bullet proof vest for police officers to wear under their shirt to save their lives. There has to be a way to protect the goalies without giving them the BLIMP LOOK.  .  . The goal is to protect the goalie not to reduce their goals against average.  

I hope I can renew my Goalie’s Union Card …. 

Have a good HOCKEY DAY! 

Phil Myre