Last summer, whispers began to circulate that the Jackets were interested in hiring an experienced "hockey person" to act as a senior advisor to General Manager Scott Howson. For a time the local fishwrap was throwing Rick Dudely's name around, but Dudley took a job with the Leafs. The move didn't materialize in the summer as many expected, but today the team announced that Hall of Famer Craig Patrick was hired, and given the title of Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations.
Patrick's most recent NHL role was with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he served as GM from 1989 to 2006, when his contract was not renewed. He won two cups in the '90s with the Pens, and was responsible for drafting Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin. His work in the '90s and early 2000s led to success for the Pens, but when the team ran into financial trouble, his hand was forced into making poor trades and signings. He is a three-time recipient of the NHL's Executive of the Year Award.
Along with his successful Penguins teams, Patrick is also well known as the assistant coach/assistant GM of Team USA at the 1980 Olympics, the Miracle on Ice squad.
Personally, I love the hire. Any time you can add another experienced voice to the executive team, it's a win. There is some sentiment that Patrick was past his prime as a GM in the mid-2000s, after mixed results at the draft and some poor trades, but the reality is the draft is a crapshoot and every GM has deals he wishes he could take back. The difference with Patrick, is that in the later years as GM, the team's financial situation was such that he was almost forced into bad trades to save cash, like sending Jagr to Washington for what amounted to three bust prospects and some cash.
Patrick will advise Howson on trades, signings, and he will evaluate the players in the organization from top to bottom, including junior and college prospects. It will be interesting to see what changes will take place this season after Patrick has a chance to evaluate what the team has.
In case your thinking about it- no, I don't think that Patrick was hired because Howson is on the hot seat. Howson is here for the time being, and Patrick was brought on board to cement the decision making coming from the management team. This was a move to help Howson.
Overall, I love it. It's great to add such an experienced hockey mind to the organization.