The last Stanley Cup winning coach, GM to have also won as a player
Winning the Stanley Cup as a player doesn't mean you're going to win as a coach or executive.
Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe said a lot of wild and crazy things on Monday during the press conference to announce the firing of general manager Steve Tambellini and hiring of Craig MacTavish.
The whole thing was must-see TV. The Lowe portion of the press conference was essentially him stepping on a rake for 20 minutes as frustrated Edmonton beat writers and columnists asked him tough question after tough question relating to the Oilers' rebuild and what direction the team is taking.
My favorite line from Lowe came in response to a series of questions from Edmonton Journal columnist John Mackinnon on how fans are running out of patience with the team's rebuild.
The money line: "I’ll say that there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”
Lowe of course was referring to the six Stanley Cups he won as a player with the Edmonton Oilers (five) and New York Rangers (one). Anybody who watched the Wayne Gretzky experience in Phoenix (both as a coach and executive) is probably well aware that success as a player has nothing to do with success as an executive in the NHL or any other professional sport. Especially when the championships as a player came more than 20 years ago.
It's not only an entirely different role and job, but the game has significantly changed from where it was even 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 30 years ago when Lowe was hoisting the cup as a player in Edmonton. This is a point that MacTavish actually made more than once during the same press conference, so that's at least a good thing for Edmonton fans that somebody in the organization is aware of that.
Still, I was curious. I wanted to find the last Stanley Cup winning coach and general manager to have previously won the Cup as a player. You have to go back a few years.
(Quick point: I'm well aware that Lowe is neither the Oilers' coach nor general manager -- he's the president of hockey operations. Different role, I know. But again, the point here is that winning as a player doesn't mean anything when it comes to winning in an executive or coaching position, and that's what I'm interested in.)
To find the last Stanley Cup winning coach to have won as a player you have to go back to the 1999-00 New Jersey Devils and their coach, Larry Robinson, who won six cups as a member of those powerhouse Montreal Canadiens teams in the '70s. What's interesting about Robinson is that he only coached eight games for the Devils during the regular season, taking over for Robbie Ftorek during one of general manager Lou Lamoriello's famous in-season coaching changes even when the team was already really, really good.
The coaches to win the Stanley cup since then: Darryl Sutter, Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma, Mike Babcock, Randy Carlyle, Peter Laviolette, John Tortorella, Pat Burns, Scotty Bowman, and Bob Hartley. Out of that group Babcock, Tortorella, Burns, Bowman, and Hartley never played a game in the NHL. Laviollete appeared in 12 games while Julien appeared in 14, recording one point.
And now the general managers.
The last cup-winning GM to have won as a player was Bob Gainey, the architect behind the 1998-99 Dallas Stars, who won six cups as a member of the same Canadiens teams as Robinson.
The cup-winning general managers since Gainey: Dean Lombardi, Peter Chiarelli, Stan Bowman, Ray Shero, Ken Holland (twice), Brian Burke, Jim Rutherford, Jay Feaster, Lou Lamoriello (twice), Pierre Lacroix. Only a handful of those guys played in the NHL while most of them spent time in the board room rather than on the ice prior to winning cups as GMs.
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