Monday, March 5, 2012

Grading the Organ-EYE-zation: Front Office Edition

I'm a big fan of Harvey Mackay. Mackay likes to point out that a successful organization structure has not one, but two people at the top. You have your outside person and your inside person. Think Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Or George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Or Theoden and Wormt--Nevermind. In these situations, the President plays the role of Outside Man, and the veep plays the role of Inside Man (No, no. Not Clive Owen. Focus, people.) The Outside Man is the guy who's the face of the organization and the Inside Man is the one who's got his hand on the pulse of the industry, or world. The Inside Man can't succeed without a charismatic and intelligent Outside Man. And the Outside Man can't succeed without the intel and planning of the Inside Man.

In the case of the Wild, those roles fall to Fletcher and Flahr. Fletcher is no slouch by himself, and has set the direction of the team. But Flahr is the one whose job it is to know that Jonas Brodin has no business falling all the way to number ten overall. Or that Mikael Granlund is a steal at number nine overall. Or that Charlie Coyle needs to be a part of any deal involving Brent Burns. Without Flahr knowing who can play and who can't, we'd be considering James Sheppard 2.0, and the Flames or Canucks would be enjoying the services of Granlund and Brodin.

So I think it's tough to separate the grades of Fletcher and Flahr. Between the two of them, I'm leaning toward a B as they close in on their third season. Yes, they have yet to make the playoffs in the Fletcher Administration, but they've stocked the cupboards. They've had a few misses on trades. The Chuck Kobasew deal is a miss at this point, but you have to give the guy props for making a deal when one had to be made. He managed to out-Lamoriello Lamoriello in the Zidlicky trade, setting himself up nicely for July 1st of this year, in one of his smartest deals yet. Meanwhile, Flahr has successfully navigated Fletcher into uncommon territory wherein the fanbase has something to be excited for as the future arrives.

And let's not give Fletcher any quarter over hiring Todd Richards. Big mistake. But he had the stones to know when to admit his mistake and correct it by firing Richards. And under the presumed pressure to go with a proven coach like Ken Hitchcock, Fletcher once again went with a rookie and chose Mike Yeo on the heels of Houston's run at the Calder Cup in 2011. That takes courage. I'd rather mistakes be made as an act of courage than in an act of brazen stupidity, as the previous regime was prone to.

I'm sure that he'll have his very own AJ Thelen at some point, but hopefully we'll wait a long time for that. And perhaps Harvey Mackay will have some sage advice for when that happens.

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