'Trading Spaces' with NHL GMs
By Jim Wilkie
Page 2

Almost as soon as the clock struck midnight on July 1 to begin the free agency period, NHL players have been shuffling from team to team at hyperspeed.

Through signings and trades, NHL general managers are behaving much like the designers on The Learning Channel hit "Trading Spaces." They've got a short time to transform a mess into something fab-u-lous.

GMs have been redesigning their clubs to suit their whims, but with substantially more than the $1,000 budget cable TV's weekend warriors use to redo one chosen room in each of two neighbors' houses. Similar to the show, inevitable friction arises between the management and the workers during the project. And the homeowners don't always love the changes as much as the designers do.

Page 2 checks out how some NHL GMs have seemed to adopt the traits of members from the "Trading Spaces" cast while attempting to turn their teams into beautiful creations.

Trading Spaces in the NHL
GM and designer partner The project Tools Style choice Likely outcome

Detroit's Ken Holland and Vern the hipster whose solution most often is to paint things red, and he always finds beautiful hardwood floors underneath some garish carpeting.
Somehow keep the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings on top despite advancing age and loss of key personnel. Little Caesar's "Pizza,
Pizza" dough to
get top stars in Hockeytown.
Blue collar functionality,
but at a lot higher than union scale. And
everything's painted red or white.
Good guy goalie Curtis Joseph can fit in anywhere, but it's always a question whether the rest of the cast will go out of style or wear out. Picking up a nice shiny silver mug distracts you from any flaws.

New Jersey's Lou Lamoriello and Frank, the rolly-polly, happy guy who adds artistic touches to his themed makeovers.
Keep the Devils as Eastern contenders while not spending wildly like rivals. A deep farm system with endless supply of talent and Lamoriello's shrewd negotiating skills to keep a tight budget. Shabby Chic (though that's a different show). Though New Jersey lost Bobby Holik to free agency, Lamoriello's acquisition of Jeff Friesen and Oleg Tverdovsky shows how he can work magic with whatever he can dig up at bargain sales.

Dallas' Doug Armstrong and Laurie, the Southern Belle who likes the girly-girl, frilly, foo-foo look.
Return the once-mighty Stars back among the West's elite, y'all. Tom Hicks' deep pockets and his devil- may-care attitude, especially regarding the budget. Designing isn't the fun as much as the thrill of shopping! Bill Guerin, Scott Young and Philippe Boucher today, who knows who tomorrow? Sugar Daddy rarely says no. It won't look as bad as Hicks' expensive summer house known as the Texas Rangers, but sometimes -- like last season -- some expensive free agents can clash with the house's theme.

Power-happy Pat Quinn and Hilda, the dark-clad domineering taskmaster who gets things done her way -- or else.
Transform the disappointing Maple Leafs from Eastern poseurs into a legitimate power. The lure of the Maple Leaf -- arrogant attitude typical of Toronto natives, thinking the city is the center of
the universe.
Combining mish-mash, flavor-of- the-month accoutrements -- modular
IKEA Swedish, rustic Canadian thugs -- and hope it all matches in the end.
Recently signed Ed Belfour battles with Quinn, who's also the coach, over dressing room stall arrangements when backup goalie's equipment touches his. Threatens to build a private room with a billion dollars.

New York Rangers' Glen Sather and Douglas, the neat, slim, well-groomed (not that there's anything wrong with that) big city designer who disregards owners' requests and gives the low-life suburbanites some sophistication if it kills him.
A playoff berth, at least, by the Blueshirts for the first time in six seasons. MSG's Carte Blanche. Label- conscious metropolitan. Only the most expensive designs will do. They look good on paper and on sketches, but it doesn't always translate in real life. Will those Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis additions still look good by the end of their contracts?

Pierre Lacroix and Genevieve, the wholesome, Midwestern cheerleader type.
Plug a couple of holes to get the two- time Cup champion Avalanche back on top in the West. A good farm system, a stockpile of draft picks and the longest sellout streak in the NHL. Classic craftsman with a funky modern look built around four cornerstones of Roy, Forsberg, Sakic and Blake. Even if he's been quiet in the free agent market, he'll charm some small-market team to trade him a rent-a-player later for the perfect accessory.

Boston's Mike O'Connell and Paige, the ultra perky host who meddles with everything but doesn't contribute a whole lot.
Have the Bruins stay with East's elite despite being financially neutered by a penny- pinching owner. Left to own devices after being teased with some cash to sign free agents. Old-style '70s kitsch, hoping the charm of an Original Six club is enough to attract players. O'Connell, who didn't even make a pitch to keep local-boy Guerin, simply boasts about staying way under budget. Hope that shag carpeting and cheap wood paneling come back in style.

Washington's George McPhee and Philadelphia's Bob Clarke team with carpenters Amy and Ty.
Hands-on guys can't help tinkering constantly with everything (though McPhee was more of a plumber as a player). Generous ownership gives them freedom, for now. Clarke has a penchant for tough furniture, though it isn't always durable. McPhee's tastes are more and more European. Do-it- yourselfers put in a hard day's work. But no matter how you dress up these projects, it's mostly just plywood underneath.

Jim Wilkie is an editor for Page 2.


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