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I've been a GM for a long time now...


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For a large chunk of this week I was trying to figure out what to do for a media spot, and it came to me about an hour ago: I thought it would be an interesting idea to create a 'top five favorites' list based on my experiences as a general manager, and I've been one (or in the capacity of one) for nearly twelve seasons now; first I was an interim GM of the Saskatoon Wild for the majority of S63, topped off with a championship; then from S64-S69 I was the official GM of the Saskatoon Wild which included our record breaking S69 season; and from S70 to the present I have been the GM of the Toronto Legion, which has had many highlights such as taking Calgary to seven games despite being woefully outmatched, or defeating Seattle in five despite being similarly outmatched.


So without further ado... from five to one: 

#5 - Slaying Seattle.

Alright, well... the S74 Seattle Bears weren't as strong as other teams Bana has fielded, but they certainly had monsters that Toronto had to slay. This is one of my favorite moments as a VHL GM simply because my team was the underdog and everyone expected Seattle to walk over Toronto. After defeating Seattle we moved onto Vancouver, and remained competitive with the team that eventually won the championship... in fact we were 3-2 in the series at one point! 

Back to Seattle though. I remember Bana joking about Seattle's goaltending loosing the series for them, but Toronto really pushed for a more complete meltdown of the Bears in a very particular way. The first set of sims concluded and the series was tied 1-1; Seattle won game one 5-2, which was actually something that we all predicted as a team if I recall correctly, but Toronto winning game two 4-3 while overperforming against the Bears was a bit of an eye opener. I adjusted my lines, sent in new strategies, and Toronto practically coasted to a four to one series final. 

Game three and four? Toronto won game three in OT, but outplayed the more talented Bears quite heavily... that's my opinion, of course, but it was reinforced at the time by the game four ass kicking we gave the Bears. We took game four by a score of 7-2, Seattle simply couldn't compete that game, and our weaker roster had pushed the mighty Bears to the brink. One more sim later and we're cheering in the locker room, and Toronto made a statement by shutting the Bears out in the final game of the series. 

It was awesome. The atmosphere was honestly amazing, and I swear you could feel the excitement build as we fought neck and neck with Vancouver following Seattle. 





#4 Surprising the league in S72.

S74 was a stronger season for Toronto, but S72 was one where we barely squeezed in through Vancouver. Toronto finished with 70 points, one above Vancouver's 69 (nice) and six above the Dragons 64. The best thing about making the post-season was rising above all the nay sayers and Debbie downers. It still feels like the entire VHL disregarded Toronto as easy wins, a very bad team, and mocked the roster as terrible and unskilled. Yet, as far as I can tell, we were the team that made the playoffs above two better suited teams. 

And then we took Calgary to seven games. 

Sure, we didn't win the series, but it was an honest attempt and we came very close to surprising the league even further. 

I remember Jubis (was he the GM then?) and the rest of Calgary getting cocky on the forum and Discord. Toronto was down 2-0 in the series after 5-2 and 3-1 wins over Toronto, but we battled back and shut them up real good and really fast. The smug-like behavior turned into genuine worry as Toronto tied the series at two a piece in the next sim, and played toe to toe with Calgary in those sims. Calgary won game five in regulation to take the series lead, but Toronto tied the series once again -- on home ice -- with a 2-1 victory. 

Toronto lead game seven 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. 

Calgary would win 4-3, but Toronto wasn't an easy pushover team like so many thought they would be. 

Now the question I anticipate is... why is this above defeating Seattle? To put it simply I enjoyed this series more than the Seattle series, it felt great to prove everyone who dismissed Toronto wrong, and while we didn't win anything spectacular we accomplished a goal of proving people wrong. We did that, and we did that in a satisfying way. All the TPE charts, all the people saying we didn't have a chance at making the playoffs, all the people stating their opinions like facts. 

Well they were wrong. 

And Toronto proved them wrong.

"I meant Toronto won't win the cup," you said? Carry on with the lame excuse after trash talking Toronto the entire season, and you know who you are. :')





#3 Taking over Toronto.

Now initially I didn't want anything to do with the VHL being a VHLM GM and I had no interest in any VHL GM positions, but slowly I warmed up to the idea as I talked more and more with Devise. I know from experience that the VHLM is honestly a bit chaotic, it can wear you down with the repetition, so when I started discovering that a VHL GM job was a little more relaxed in some regards my interests started to rise. I like using military terms, so I'll put it in this perspective: Being a VHL GM is like being an intelligence officer, your job is to analyze everyone else and create long term plans that yield the best chances of success. Meanwhile, as a VHLM GM... you're a drill sergeant (drill instructor) focused on retention and teaching. 

There's nothing wrong with that, and there are different levels of engagement each individual GM will elevate too. It is a purpose orientated league and you have to be willing to meet expectations passed onto you by the commissioners, and a big focus of those goals are retention and teaching. As a VHLM GM you're essentially the individuals responsible for keeping retention high, and while you have help from the recruitment team, most GMs become the default individual a new user will talk to because they're either that players GM or someone who's reaching out and offering help. 

It's a different beast thought. It's not the same type of pressure, but there is pressure that comes with the role. You've only got eight seasons (maybe less) with your core, and you have to find ways to make that work better than every other team. You've got to navigate a salary cap that fluctuates as players grow and regress, sometimes the cap moving up or down too. You've got to keep players happy, keep drama down, and be approachable for your roster. If I had to compare between being a VHL GM and a VHLM GM, I'd choose being a VHL GM every time... for the moment, anyway. 

That's a polar opposite of what I initially thought would happen.   




#2 - Saskatoon's S69 Season. 

Well you knew it was going to be here, and you knew it was going to be close to the top of my list. Saskatoon absolutely dismantled the league, I've covered it a dozen times or more now, but the reality of actually being the GM of that team is both an anchor of pride and achievement. We had a full roster of active players (at the time they were active, including the controversial DeYeeto topic) and were a **** hair away from tying or taking the overall team record... er, uh, record. 


There is so much to say about this team, but honestly it has already been covered over and over again. I'll keep this one shorter because it is one of my favorite moments as a GM, but I don't need to reiterate already typed and spoken words. Here's a glass to the S69 Saskatoon team. 





#1 - Working with Elmebeck.

I miss this guy so much, I really do, and I never met him in person. If there was one individual I wish I could bring back from the dead more than any other non-relative, it would be Elmebeck. He was an awesome person, and the world is a darker place without him. I often sit here and wonder what I should have done more, I wonder if I could have done more, and how I should have done it. I continue to carry this guilt around with me because I feel like I could have been a little more involved with some conversations. I envied his life style, and the images he shared with me, including the occasional drunk or excited video he'd send to my Discord DMs. Beautiful winter scenery covering his property, his excitement over a new chain saw that would make heating his home so much easier, and on a funnier note... how he'd have to get dressed just to go to the bathroom in his outhouse. 

He didn't have a toilet inside his home. 


He had to dress up in -30c temperatures just to take a dump or a piss, and he did it. 


There was something peaceful about the life he lived.

There's a lot of great memories with Elmebeck, and the impact he left behind for so many members... whether or not they're still here. 

Rest in peace, my friend. 

Edited by Peace
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review: Heartfelt MS post Peace, mainly at the end but even before it's a nice reflection on your time as a GM, what you have done up to this point. And I can relate to most of these because I'm with you in Toronto and had the privilege of getting to talk to Elmebeck, as for the S69 Saskatoon wild..... I was on the receiving end of that. Anyway I don't think I need to say that the spacing in this is great, there's good spelling, it's well detailed and you did a great job recounting past events. 10/10 Peace.

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I stand by my goalie sucking. He will be banished!  :P 

Time flies in this role if you enjoy it. This off-season will commence my 33rd consecutive season as a GM in this community if you count my 5 seasons prior to Seattle in the M. 28th without. 

You’ve done a decent job and despite our differences, overall I’ve enjoyed your presence with Toronto. Keep it up Peace and good luck moving forward with the team! 


Edited by Banackock
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