Steve Tambellini is one guy I'd like to see them take a serious look at if the opportunity (or need) presents itself. Or maybe Rick Dudley. Those two would be at the tops of my list if I'm looking for a new GM.
And it's not like this wouldn't be an attractive position, either. You can go up and down this league and you won't find a better core of four young players to build around than Crosby, Malkin, Fleury and Whitney. If you throw Orpik and Armstrong in there, it looks even better. Combine that with another lottery pick coming this year (possibly the first or second overall), a new owner and a sparkling new arena...
For the longest time I was one of Patrick's biggest supporters. The guy has been around hockey all of his life and he comes from one of hockey's greatest families (then again, that certainly didn't do much for Brother Glenn now, did it?). I disagree with those who say he's lived off the deals he made more than 10 years ago. He made a LOT of smart deals and shrewd signings in the mid-late 1990s as well...nothing that really approached the level of the Francis deal, but they were still smart moves. And I will be forever grateful to the guy for having the foresight to start dumping salary three years before the lockout. That foresight is a big reason why we've got Crosby and Malkin right now.
He had some blunders, but so has every GM. And believe it or not, he could be worse.
(NOTE: For some real fun, jump on www.hockeydb.com
and look at the draft history of the New York Islanders starting around, oh, 1995. If I'm an Islanders fan, I don't know how I've stopped myself from jamming a pistol in my mouth to this point.)
He's taken a lot of heat for his poor job of projecting the effect the new rules would have on the game and as a consequence, some of the poor signings he made this past offseason. I'm willing to give him a little bit of a pass on some of that. No one knew exactly what to expect of the new game and anyone who says they did is flat-out lying. And many of the teams who were the biggest players in free agency haven't found themselves faring all that much better than the Pens this year. Not that that makes it OK...I'm just saying he wasn't the only GM to misfire on free agency.
Here's why I think he needs to go. His long-term record of drafting and development has been beyond awful. His handling of the coaches at the NHL and AHL levels borders on embarrasment and may have damn well cost this team the three prospects they got back in the Jagr deal, not to mention just about every prospect this team drafted in the mid-1990s (look at those drafts and tell me how Greg Malone managed to keep his job). Both Patrick and Malone can thank Michel Therrien for partially bailing their *** out on that one.
He fell into the same trap that most of us fans did this offseason - he allowed free agency to replace the rebuilding process instead of supplementing it. Maybe part of it was an honest attempt to make one last Cup run for Mario, but it doesn't excuse the money and years that he doled out on some of those deals.
The risk you take in making a change is that there are no guarantees it'll get better. The new ownership and new GM could end up being the next coming of Detroit (I'll reserve the Sens comparisons until the Sens win a Cup). Or it could end up being the second coming of the Bruins or Islanders. But if you get a respected hockey name - a guy like Dudley or Tambellini in the fold, I'd feel a hell of a lot better about that transition.