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Interview with Assistant-GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins Written by Jay - November 12th, 2009

Due to personal reasons, Pittsburgh’s general manager Spicy McHaggis had to step down for an undetermined period of time. With the approval of CMHL’s commissioner Habsfan93, Spicy has turned to Jay, Minnesota’s former GM to cover for him. The CMHL Times is glad to have the opportunity to sit with former commish, Jay

CMHL Times: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and welcome back to the CMHL

Jay:  Thanks!!!! I was glad and a bit surprised to see where the CMHL was 6 years after its creation. Habsfan93 just did an outstanding job running that league and he deserves most of the credit. The forum is still a very good way to trade and communicate with the other GMs but the website is just off the chart!! You can find pretty much anything on a player going from the round and rank he got drafted to all the trades he got involved in. I also have to mention all the GMs that have helped with all the tasks that come with the CMHL. People don’t always realize how much time is required to keep a league like that one to fall apart. It’s also great to see that some old timers are still around like Canucks, tetreault, hgimm just to name a few

CMHL Times: What’s the biggest difference between the CMHL right now and the CMHL when you left?

Jay: Not as painful!!! It looks so easier than what it was before. The simulation tool finally allows the commish to spend more time on other things than just sitting in front of the computer and watch games. The new management tool (SimonT) is just awesome and easy to use. You just can’t compare the CMHL today and what it was back in the days.

CMHL Times: Tell me more about your former team, the Minnesota Wild

Jay: AHHHHH…the good old days!! We really thought that we were going for the cup. With Luongo in the net, Forsberg, Markov, Pronger, Yzerman…it seemed like we had all the tools to go all the way. Then we went against Colorado in the Semi-finals. It was quite the rivalry between myself and Moll (in a good way) but at the end, the Avalanche ended our season and eventually won the cup a few weeks after. Then for different reasons, I had to step down not only as the Minnesota GM but also as the CMHL Commish. However, I knew that the league would be in good hands with Habsfan93 taking over. Look where that league is today!!! I’m glad to see that the GM that took my place is still in place. The team has struggled over the last few years but I’m sure they can turn it around

CMHL Times: So now that you are in charge of the Penguins since Spicy had to step down for a bit, did you find that you had to adapt to the new CMHL?

Jay: The basics are the same but you have to be more careful as far as the salary cap is concerned. You can’t just spend a crazy amount of money without thinking first. You also have to make the right choices as far as your farm team is concerned. However, I think it all comes down to a good short and long term vision and responsible choices

CMHL Times: Before you joined the Penguins, you were the assistant GM for the Phoenix Coyotes. Tell me more about it and your experience there.

Jay: I just came back on the forum and Gerv offered me the A/GM position just to help him while he was going through a busy time. It was a good experience to get familiar with the new CMHL. Gerv managed to build quite the team. Roy and Marleau are just cruising right now and with Fleury in the net, they might be 1 or 2 players away from being a true Stanley Cup contender. They are definitely a team to watch for the rest of the season.

CMHL Times: Tell me about the Penguins

Jay: A well rounded team with a good potential. A few good veterans (Guerin and Blake) that can bring a lot to the team. It is unfortunate that a lot of high draft picks got traded away but we still have our main draft picks for the upcoming years. The net is far to be a concern with Nabokov and Toskala. The D Squad is very talented with guys like Hainsey, Orpik and Burns. It will be interesting to see what Parise, Sharp and Pavelski can do for that team.

CMHL Times:  Where do you see your team at the end of the season?

Jay: Injuries to key players is definitely something you want to avoid. If Parise, Sharp, Guerin, Blake can stay healthy and Nabokov can steal a few games, we should be fighting for a playoffs spot. The first half of the season will be crucial since most of our games will be against other teams in our division. If we have a good start, that should increase our chances to make the playoffs.

CMHL Times:  Since your arrival, the team is 3-1 (lost to NYR 1-0). Did you have to change the lines at all?

Jay: Not really. Spicy knows what he’s doing and my goal wasn’t to change everything and make it my team. After all, I’m only replacing him for the time he’s gone. There were a few changes made to the PP and PK lines. I decided to give more responsabilities to Ron Hainsey. I wanted to take a bit of pressure off Orpik’s shoulders since he’s playing against the best lines in the league. I also wanted to have Parise and Sharp playing on the same line both on PP and 5-on-5. Pavelski and McDonald now have to feed these guys for the team to be successful.

CMHL Times: Are you shopping to improve the team?

Jay: I wouldn’t say shopping. I keep my eyes opened and look for good opportunities. Most GMs these days don’t let their key players go just because they don’t produce so it makes our job a little bit more complicated and interesting at the same time.

CMHL Times: There were a few trade rumors about Patrick Sharp and his 3.5M contract. Since you are just under the cap, it might be tempting to make a move that would involve him don’t you think?

Jay: Patrick is an important player on our team. He will be a Penguins for the next 3 years but it’s always nice to have more space under the cap so you don’t have to worry about getting that franchise player on the trade deadline that can make a difference during your playoffs run. Is Patrick Sharp on the trading block? I wouldn’t say so but nobody is safe and I will not miss a good opportunity to bring that team to the next level. Of course, since it’s Spicy’s team, he has the final word on any move I may make while I’m in charge.

CMHL Times: Tell me about the Manchester Monarchs

Jay: The Monarchs are doing great in the ICHF. Players like Salmela, Kennedy, Lewis and Segal (not the names you would usually hear) really stepped up since the beginning of the season. Bernier always finds a way to win so we’re very happy with the performance of our farm team so far.

CMHL Times: Do you plan to call anybody up soon?

Jay: There are a few players that we would like to see in the big league just to see what they can do for us but we don’t want to rush anything. As long as the Penguins are doing OK, we don’t feel the need of calling anybody up. Plus, we’re very close to the cap so we don’t have the margin we would like to have. However, injuries can occur at any moment during the season so we have to make sure our evaluation of each player is up to date so when the time comes, we call the right player up.

CMHL Times: Do you see yourself back in the general manager position instead of just being an assistant?

Jay: Absolutely. Like I said, I’m amazed to see where the league is standing and helping Spicy with his team just makes me want to have my own team even more. However, I’m aware that the league has 30 dedicated GMs that all have the same goal which is to win the cup. When my assignment is over with the Penguins, I’ll offer my services to any team that needs me or even better, maybe a team will free up! A good friend of mine, AsmodeanReborn, kind of did the same thing. He came back to the league after a long period of absence and he eventually ended up being in charge of the Carolina Hurricanes. Hopefully the same thing will happen to me.

CMHL Times: How did you react when you saw that the award for passion and intensity was given your name?

Jay: I was surprised and honored. I never expected something like this to occur so I guess my time as commissioner has been recognized by the other GMs. On the other hand, I would have never run that league without the help of Habsfan93 and the other GMs that got involved in the re-rating process, trade approval process, etc. These guys deserve a lot of the credit too.

CMHL Times: Finally, who will end up with the Stanley Cup at the end of the season?

Jay: You would have asked me that question a few weeks ago, I would have told you the Phoenix Coyotes!!! Now, I have to change my answer to the Pittsburgh Penguins!! Obviously, there are some very talented teams in both conferences. In the Western Conference, Vancouver is always scary to play against, the defending Champions, the Colombus Blue Jackets, will not go down without a fight and Phoenix seems to have the right tool in hands. In the Eastern Conference, New Jersey, Buffalo or Carolina could be Stanley Cup contenders. When you look at it, The GMs for those teams are the ones that have the most experience in this league. If I can bring my experience and help the Penguins to reach the top, that would be awesome.

CMHL Times: That’s all the time we had. Thanks again for your time, good luck with the Penguins and we hope you get your team very soon

Jay: Thanks! It was my pleasure!

Submit A Comment -

Great article! Good to see you back in top form Jay!

Written By: habsfan93 (2009-11-12 19:38:55)

Nice write-up Jay!

We haven't had a chance to chat, but I hope to before too long if I ever get a break in my stupid schedule.

Then again, if you publicly admit to being a good friend of Erik, well ...



Written By: Dave (LIghtning) (2009-11-12 20:44:37)

Awesome article, good to see you back in full force Jay!!

Written By: StajanFan (2009-11-13 00:01:21)

nice article! will be nice to chat with you finally :)



Written By: Sharky (2009-11-13 05:29:13) Nice article Jay. However, you forgot to mention the Hawks when you spoke of contenders for the Stanley Cup. Pay attention next time :p Written By: Hawky (2009-11-13 17:33:11)

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