James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Admit when you're wrong

Thursday, March 14, 2013

While winning in fantasy hockey requires success and smarts (and luck), being self-aware enough to acknowledge your mistakes - and maybe even learn from them - is another key.

Naturally, it’s not just a key trait for fantasy hockey team-building. Good business leaders, politicians* and real-life GMs know when to cut their losses and/or alter their current course. It harkens back to that Albert Einstein quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Sure, there are times when regression/puck luck show that you shouldn’t be too radical when reacting to good times or huge slumps. But there does come a point - usually year after year - when you need to take a long look in the mirror and admit that change is in order.

In the last two days, we’ve seen examples of insanity from two regional rivals: the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.


Look, I’m not saying that former Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson cannot be a clever guy. He certainly has a knack for handling the media, as I recall a pretty staggering amount of people Tweeting about how good of a guy he was following his inevitable firing.

Still, when you’re a franchise that’s as hapless as the Oilers, do you really want to add a name associated with the OTHER worst team in the West to your front office? If you base your mental images on nothing but the association that comes with the successes and failures that an executive has experienced, you wouldn’t trust Howson and current Oilers GM Steve Tambellini to deliver a pizza.


Few things in hockey management top the hilarity of Flames GM Jay Feaster thumping his chest about how much “better” Calgary’s been than Edmonton in recent years and how proud he is not to burn the current Flames structure to the ground. That’s the equivalent to mocking a Pinto endlessly instead of upgrading your own shabby little vehicle. (Especially because, in the case of the Flames, they’ve typically spent in the top five or 10 in the NHL to drive their jalopy into the ground.)

To a very small extent, it’s hard to blame Feaster TOO much for his ridiculously stubborn stance. As far as I can tell - with no insider access whatsoever, mind you - the Flames hired him because they didn’t want to go into a rebuild. Apparently one flukey, lightning-in-a-bottle run to within one game of a Stanley Cup victory can justify a decade of wheel-spinning and money-wasting.

I’ll admit I was wrong (at least so far) in endorsing Miikka Kiprusoff as an interesting redemptive project. While he’s an acceptable 2-2-0 since returning from injury (including a win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night), Kipper’s overall numbers are so stomach-churning it’s tough to fathom. I can deal with a mediocre 4-5-2 record, but an .878 save percentage is far below even mediocre backup status at the NHL level. At least since the 1980s ended.

That’s the thing, though; most of us who gambled on Kipper (or at least recommended him with some reservations) can reassess things and move on. In Calgary’s case, the Flames’ management is sinking so deeply in the quicksand of their own denial that it’s hard to imagine this franchise ever really getting on the right track unless they purge their front office of all the many men in comical denial of this underwhelming roster.

At least the Red Wings only seem silly about rolling the dice with Jonas Gustavsson.

* - Assuming they exist/still exist.

Jump for Corey Perry’s suspension and more.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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