You know, suffering through a losing streak is hard on anybody's fandom. Watching your star players stand around on the ice while the other team blows you out of the building makes you want to scream. But just when you thought it couldn't get any worse in Raleigh, our absentee owner suddenly decided to turn into a Grade-A Classless Asshat for no apparent reason.
In case you somehow missed it, Peter Karmanos was the keynote speaker at the Greater Raleigh Sports Council's quarterly meeting today. Apparently, he decided that it would be a good idea to come out and throw Peter Laviolette under the bus in front of god and everybody. And for no apparent reason. WTF?
You can find the whole article here:
I won't parse it all out, but I do want to point out a couple of things. First of all, there was this lovely quote:
"I didn't like our coach," Karmanos said. "His public persona and his
private persona were two different things."
Well, when you consider that Laviolette always seemed to be a really nice guy in public, the only way to interpret that quote is that PK is calling Laviolette an asshole. Worse, PK then insinuates that Laviolette was the reason that Eric Belanger sucked while he was here. (Funny, I always thought it was his lackluster effort and lack of production, but what do I know...). He then makes the following idiotic quote about Belanger (among others):
"He's now a key part of the Minnesota team," Karmanos said. "And that happened
with quite a few players and you just can't afford to lose those kind of
Seriously? Isn't it JR's job (with PK's blessing) to determine which assets we keep or lose? And who exactly traded Belanger? That's right. JR traded him. And for what? Big Slow Vagisil - ... I mean Big Joe Vasicek. Let's face facts. It was evident from day one that Belanger didn't want to be here. Or at least he sure played like he didn't. And if Belanger is so damn good, then why isn't PK blasting JR for not getting more than Big Slow Washed-up-Czech for him in that trade?
And what other assets did Laviolette lose? Craig Adams? Kevyn Adams? Anson Carter? Jeff Hamilton? Dan LaCouture? John Grahame? That Melichar guy? I guess JR's trading of Andrew Ladd, Erik Cole, Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore doesn't count as losing assets. Or maybe JR's errors are overlooked because of his past acquisitions of such sterling talent like Jan Hlavac and Jamie Storr. . .
I just don't get it. Asshole or not, Peter Laviolette brought the Stanley Cup to Carolina. You'd think that a Cup win would be worth some serious respect from the man that profited most from it. Or at least you'd think it would be worth enough to keep PK's classless piehole shut. For an organization that prides itself in being "like a family", you'd think they wouldn't be trashing the guy who actually made this team (and market) relevant for the first time in years. Though, I guess this organization is analogous to a family; but in the "let's pull the plug on Grandma so we don't have to spend our inheritance to pay for her hospice care" kinda way.
On a final note, I'm not a former Harvard teammate of Jason Karmanos, so nobody told me why PK felt the need slam Lavi. I can only give you my opinion as to why I think he decided Laviolette needed to be trashed today. My impression is that this reeks of desperation. Basically, this team has underachieved for 2 and a half years. When that happens, you can either blame the players or blame the coach. Since blaming the players means blaming your GM and yourself (as the people who ultimately make the sign/trade decisions), it is much easier to blame the coach. So they fired Lavi as the scapegoat for the players not producing. And rather than hiring a new coach, they brought back Paul Maurice to save some serious coin. As a result, the Canes are still sucking on a nightly basis. We are still hovering just below mediocrity (sorta like Toronto the last 2 years - go figure . . .). The coaching change has been a net wash at best. We're really doing no better (win/loss) than we were under Laviolette. So PK's either got to blame himself and JR for the non-productive talent, or for their bargain-bin coaching hire: Paul Maurice. You can bet that neither of those are going to happen. So to deflect the blame from their failings, he throws Lavi under the bus.
Feel free to disagree with my rationale for this boondoggle if you want. But in my opinion, trashing Laviolette for no reason was uncalled for, and just plain classless. I lost a lot of respect for PK and this organization today.
As the old saying goes, Mr. Karmanos: "It takes one to know one."