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Victor

How popular are VHL GMs with their teams' fans?

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Here's a weird thought experiment I decided to conduct: how popular would VHL GMs be with their teams' fans if that was something they had to take into account as they might in the NHL and elsewhere in the real world? The thought came about when I was updating the spreadsheet in this thread which neatly puts all GMs' records stacked up against their predecessors and also serves as a guide to VHL franchises' high and low points. So, when considering things like franchise history, the GM's own history, their recent success (or lack thereof), how do the league's current head honchos stack up?

 

Malmo and Moscow - @Advantage and @Victor

MAL.png MOS.png

Let's just get this out of the way straight away – Malmo and Moscow are just happy to be here for the time being. Not only did their respective GMs, Chris Miller and Victor Alfredsson, bring VHL hockey to their cities for the first time, but they are also by some distance the biggest names currently involved with either organisation, both looking at previous tenures as GMs and the success of their player agencies. It will take a while for expansion team fans to turn on their founders and 1-2 seasons in is far too early for that to even be on the table.

 

Verdict: Completely accepted and adored omnipotence

 

Calgary - @Bushito

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The tenure of Tyler Barabash in Calgary has been one of redemption for both GM and franchise. Calgary is a team with one of the richest past's in the league, but there were fewer bright sparks than rough patches after the early 30s, and the very real threat of contraction will have brought Wranglers fans firmly down the ground. The team survived and got Barabash instead from Stockholm, but there will have been serious doubts – this was after all the GM who twice disappeared during cup runs, both in Davos in S31 and Seattle in S43. Slowly, those demons have been banished and after going through three finals together, winning one, the fans will have been won over and Barabash + Calgary is a successful match which might well continue for the foreseeable future.

 

Verdict: A happy marriage between GM and franchise

 

New York - @Spade18

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The Americans are going through a rough patch at the moment, with the current longest cup drought in the league and fans having been spoiled by a period of continued success from S32 to S53. It's not an easy environment to be in for a relative rookie GM, although Colton Rayne does have years of service as a player on his side. Nonetheless, he was part of the Americans team which came closest to winning it all most recently, the S60 losing finalists, so exactly how much goodwill that affords is anyone's guess. Overall, as New York stumbles through the season as a fringe playoff team having already taken steps to become a main contender in the last two off-seasons, patience will be running worryingly thin.

 

Verdict: Teetering on the edge of fan revolt

 

Editor's note: Written before the GM change in New York although reasonably relevant still. @Esso2264

 

Seattle - @Banackock

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No GM has been in charge of the same team for as long as Blake Campbell and through 3 strong generations he has built up a lot of goodwill with the Seattle public. The near-misses without making the finals in S53 and S63/64 will continue to hurt but at least the Bears have consistently been in the mix for the cup for most of Campbell's reign. Plus of course there was the underdog cup victory in S59. Realistically, there won't be many Bears fans who remember their glory days while most will have lived through the painful years from S30 to S50 (S43 cup aside), therefore expectations are lower than in other franchises and have been exceeded for most of Campbell's time. The key will be how long does he decide to carry on as there is a small, if remote, risk of overstaying as GM in search of the perfect send-off.

 

Verdict: Enough goodwill has been built up to last to retirement most likely

 

Toronto - @Devise

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This is the very type of team+GM combo which inspired this article. It is very likely that in a real world scenario, GM Ryan Power would be a highly divisive figure and there would be Toronto fans (especially those more inclined to hype up draft picks and their team's prospects) who would be looking to take him down from the day he was appointed in S63. Of course, Power's results talk for themselves and at this point most Legion fans will be happy to have ended the league's longest cup drought and gotten a new taste of the heyday of the threepeat. However, Power's is a high risk approach and it will be interesting to see what happens next – will he stick around for his first ever rebuild and potentially have fans turn on him if things go south or will he resign and leave his successor with little to work with? The latter approach is not dissimilar to Power's stepping down from the Cologne job back in S45 and you wonder if German fans, now without a VHL team, put some of the blame on Power for laying the path for the Express to be contracted despite him delivering their only Continental Cup.

 

Verdict: It's all good for now, but who knows for how much longer

 

Vancouver - @Beaviss

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Keaton Louth would probably be best advised to not set foot in Quebec City for a few more years and any remaining Meute fans who followed their team across the country won't be forgiving him any time soon. On the other hand, Vancouverites who finally got a VHL franchise are more likely to give Louth a free pass for little while longer. For everyone in between, and objectively speaking, Louth's GM reign so far is hard to judge. While the Meute/Wolves franchise has not won a lot, they were in the contender conversation much more frequently in the past than they have been recently, with just a S62 trip to the finals to show. Yet Louth has kept the team in the playoff picture for his whole tenure in an increasingly competitive VHL and has never sacrificed the future to do so, adapting to deeper draft classes and prospect pools quicker than most. Results will need to start to come but the right intentions can be seen.

 

Verdict: He'll never be universally loved but still has time to win over some sceptics

 

Davos - @ShawnGlade

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Things could have been getting tetchy if S66 continued the way it started for Davos, closer to last place than a playoff spot. The Dynamo have turned it around and the next few seasons will make or break Shawn Glade's young GM career, which started in a rebuild after the S61 cup-winning team was blown up. VHL fans are accustomed to rough rebuilds as long as there are tangible results at the end, while Davos fans are significantly less demanding now than they used to be when they seemed to be able to win whenever they wanted to (S11-S38). As a result, Glade has a bit of time but as someone with no prior GM reputation nor a history with the Swiss franchise, he needs to make sure to deliver sooner rather than later.

 

Verdict: Could still go either way

 

Helsinki - @Quik

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Matt Bailey returning to GM Helsinki after 45 seasons is a highly underrated storyline. On the one hand, the VHL has changed completely since then so how much weight does that really gold? On the other, Bailey is a VHL Hall of Famer, a Titans legend, and the fact there won't be many fans who remember the S15 Continental Cup only adds to the mythos. Despite that, Bailey couldn't have picked a more challenging team to come back to as Helsinki is THE spoiled team of the modern VHL. Back-to-back champions on two separate occasions in the past 20 seasons and coming off the reign of arguably the league's most successful GM in Mitch Higgins, the demand for instant success is higher in Helsinki than probably anywhere else at the moment. Therefore, despite as good a start as can be reasonably expected, even two finals appearances won't last Bailey too long if he can't get that coveted Continental Cup.

 

Verdict: Safe for now, but under more scrutiny than in most other teams

 

Riga - @hedgehog337

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As a local and one of Latvia's finest VHL exports, Benjamin Zeptenbergs always would have a hardcore level of support regardless of results you would think. Fortunately for him, he doesn't need to worry about that because he's also had results to back him up. Zeptenbergs is now on 14 seasons of managing Riga, more than any GM in the franchise's past, and with 3 Continental Cups is also more successful than anyone before him. It would be a stretch to say he's put Riga on the map – the Reign kicked off their existence in S8 with four finals in five seasons and have won championships at regular intervals ever since – but Zeptenbergs probably elevated them from a good team to arguably the VHL's most successful. Perhaps some feathers will have been ruffled in the last 3 seasons, as the Riga GM has been very publically vocal about the team's disappointing playoff results and the underperformance of goalie Kallis Kriketers, but you feel fans will side with him on that. After his busiest off-season yet, Zeptenbergs is now building his third main core of his tenure and can probably retire as a hero at any point.

 

Verdict: Guaranteed (local) legend status whatever happens from now on

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23 hours ago, Victor said:

No GM has been in charge of the same team for as long as Blake Campbell and through 3 strong generations he has built up a lot of goodwill with the Seattle public. The near-misses without making the finals in S53 and S63/64 will continue to hurt but at least the Bears have consistently been in the mix for the cup for most of Campbell's reign. Plus of course there was the underdog cup victory in S59. Realistically, there won't be many Bears fans who remember their glory days while most will have lived through the painful years from S30 to S50 (S43 cup aside), therefore expectations are lower than in other franchises and have been exceeded for most of Campbell's time. The key will be how long does he decide to carry on as there is a small, if remote, risk of overstaying as GM in search of the perfect send-off.

 

Verdict: Enough goodwill has been built up to last to retirement most likely

 

Verdict: G.O.A.T

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I'd be interested to see what People think of the VHLM GMs, we are a more rowdy bunch and I bet it would get interesting fast!

 

Also I can confirm that @Bushito is extremely popular with his players, Bush takes care of his own and we all respect him for that.

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