“They Haven’t Talked In Months”

We have all seen “Moneyball” right? If you haven’t you should.

The rocky relationship portrayed in the movie between Billy Beane and Art Howe was quite the spectacle.

Obviously, it’s Hollywood and they have to sell the story, but you would be surprised how much of that stuff happens in real life, especially in the game of hockey.

Now you know why phrases like “bringing in their own people” exist.

It all comes down to trust.

You see all the jockeying and back stabbing really does happen, it happens after a win, it happens on the bus, in the boardroom, or during late night calls, or at the hotel or after a loss, it can happen anywhere. It just happens and it happens a lot more than you think.

The organizations that get it right have harmony and peace, but I’m sure they still have they severe disagreements.

The dynamic between the coach, player and management is really quite something if you think about it. In the hockey world everyone deserves credit. I’m sure you have all seen “The Last Dance” right? If you haven’t you should. Clearly the dissension in the ranks amongst arguably the best basketball dynasty that will ever exist was pure drama. The concept of a team and organization was bantered around quite a bit during that amazing documentary. Obviously, we all know that the players play, that coaches coach and managers manage, but in the sports world everyone wants their due, they want to feel valued and appreciated.

Photo Credit the NHL

They want their time in the spotlight, their time to shine, but at what cost?

Whenever you have strong willed personalities, a passion for winning and extremely self confident people the balancing act often tips is many different directions.

We all know relationships are extremely difficult and that you have to put time and effort into any relationship for it to work, be successful and flourish. The same can be said about the hockey world.

Obviously, in the junior hockey ranks there are more and more people and organizations choosing to have the two pronged attack, carried by just one. The GM and Coach role is a pretty damn popular occurrence nowadays. The Assistant GM’s and Head Scouts have their ear when it comes to draft time and building towards a championship caliber team, but let’s face it the “boss” has final say. Well, not so fast.

If you have an owner that wants to be hands on, then you might all be in trouble at that point.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with one hockey executive a few years back.

I was shocked that a coach that had just come through town the week before got let go.

“I’m shocked about what happened,” I said.

“Why, that coach knew it was coming, he told me he hadn’t talked to his GM for weeks or maybe even a month,” the hockey exec said.

At that moment I don’t know if I was more shocked at the subsequent firing or the fact that two very good hockey minds, people and grownups hadn’t spoken or communicated about the team that both shared a remarkable passion for weeks on end. Like seriously, what’s up with that?

To me that sounds a lot like sabotage, but eh that’s life in the hockey world as a coach and GM.

One longtime pro and current coach said this when it came to the topic.

“It’s normal to disagree, but when things get that bad and they do get bad, that’s when you have to talk and communicate even more.”

You see they get it.

It all comes down to philosophy, culture, personalities and relationships.

It all comes down to fulfilling your role and not stepping on anyone’s toes. The smartest hockey exec’s don’t micromanage, they empower.

The smartest and most successful coaches, teach, motivate, communicate, hold everyone accountable, but above all they empower.

The best Head Scouts and Asst. GM’s stay in their lane, they don’t cross over to all the other facets of the game. They voice their opinions, they do all the homework and report back. Sure they project and have the ear of everyone involved in the organization, but the good ones or the best ones always stay in their lane.

The most successful organizations have all of their roles defined, outlined and above all followed.

That’s the true sign of a championship relationship and winning culture.

The organizations that are wishy-washy, when it comes to communicating usually end up in turmoil and disarray behind the scenes. Those are the stories that usually come out, but for the most part they stay rather quiet and subdued in the hockey world.

The next time you hear this phrase,

“They hadn’t spoken in a month, the organization has decided to part ways,” you will better understand where they all started, how far they have come and that the end could have been predicted. That’s life in business side and hockey ops side within the game of hockey.

When anyone wants more recognition or credit for what they do, that’s when things get murky, that’s when selfishness comes to the forefront and “team” suffers.

Whatever happened to unity and the concept of team work in this day and age, it’s rare, but the best people and organizations still trust it and embrace it, that’s why they win and that’s why they win the games that matter most.

“I wonder if they have spoken to each other.”?

That’s life in the hockey world, or the fast lane, in an organization that doesn’t prioritize their roles and solidify their communication and relationships.

On the surface everything might look great, behind the scenes it’s an absolute disaster.

I wonder how many organizations are going through that right now?

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