How To Ruin a Team

How to Ruin A Team

The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup six times in the 50s, four times in the 60s, six times in the 70s and twice since; once in 1986 and once in 1993.

In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the teams were stable compared to today. The players were not leaving every other day to the highest bidder or constantly being traded. The teams were tighter and had for the most part the same players, coaches, and GMs.

In the 70’s, the Montreal Canadiens dominated the decade with six Stanley Cup victories.  Ken Dryden was in net, along with an all-star team on defense: Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, Yvon Cournoyer (aka the Roadrunner) along with Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, and Guy Lapointe. What a lineup!

The main players were intact for many years. Their coach, Scotty Bowman, was in there for five Cup wins in the 70’s and is one of the top coaches in history – he retired with a record 9 Stanley Cups wins. Incredible!

Yes, the game has changed; there are salary caps and more teams compared to the 70’s, but I will isolate some of their downfalls, which apply to any team or organization to this day.

When you have something really working, you don’t make major changes. You find what caused that successful time period. It can apply to one game, the week, the year, it doesn’t matter and you strengthen it.

Case in point, in 1979 Montreal won their 4th cup in a row. Rather than strengthening their successful actions, some major changes occurred, albeit some unavoidable, but nonetheless major changes. In the workaday world we call it “turnover.”

Closer to today, Montreal made it to the finals last year. Coming back to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs from a 3-1 game deficit and winning in the 7th game, beating solid teams like Winnipeg and Los Vegas along the way. The main reason – their stable goalie since 2007 Carey Price was solid with Phillip Danault winning face-offs and containing the opponents top scoring players, e.g., Austin Mathews, etc. Also, veteran Corey Perry played a major role both on the ice and off. For most of this year, Montreal can’t even win a game.

Major changes?  Carey Price hasn’t played a game this year; their defensive captain Shea Weber (6’ 4”) hasn’t played a game; Joel Edmundson (6’ 4”) hasn’t played a game, the last 2 due to injury. Phillip Danault was allowed to leave to the highest bidder and Corey Perry was offered only a one-year contract so opted for Tampa’s two-year offer instead. Both  would have stayed if handled properly. You can minimize major changes by working out what needs to be done to handle the situation.

In summary: reinforce your strengths. Don’t change successful actions or people. When you have to replace people, get the successful actions written up and don’t change them no matter who you put in place. Try and replace with someone who has a similar experience level; not a rookie that is new and untried while giving up your established all-star goalie, or not two rookies with zero experience while giving up your experienced coach or GM (General Manager).

Same goes with promotion: what works will continue to work and gets strengthened.
Hire experienced people, not rookies, and since everyone starts somewhere, if you hire a rookie, flank the new person with experience all around him.

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Louie Pateropoulos
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