Point/Counterpoint: Barry Hanrahan, not Paul Holmgren, deserves blame for cap mismanagement, bad contracts

Point/Counterpoint is a new series which argues both sides of a topic relevant to the Philadelphia Flyers. Today, Nina G and I discuss who deserves the blame for cap mismanagement and the bad contracts that have been handed out to players.

Point
By Marcello De Feo

In theory, when something goes wrong within an organization, the blame should ultimately fall to the person at the top, the one in charge of making all final decisions. In this case, that would be Paul Holmgren. He is the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and the one who signs his name on the dotted line of a contract. However, we know this not to be true in most cases. It isn’t until a team fails miserably that someone as high up as a GM takes the fall.

Nevertheless, Holmgren is the face of the organization’s front office. He is the one who announces transactions, gets quoted in stories, and has his mug shown all over sports stations. He is the easiest to blame because he’s the most visible and he stands at the front line but, blaming him for bad contracts and cap mismanagement is akin to blaming a goalie for a loss when the team in front of him failed to show up.

The fact of the matter is that assistant general manager, Barry Hanrahan, is the team’s cap guru. While Holmgren may have the final say on matters, he is doing so under the guidance — or misguidance — of Hanrahan. Per the Gloucester Times:

As suggested by his title, Hanrahan is an important cog in the Flyers organization. He works closely with General Manager Paul Holmgren on building and developing the team. Hanrahan’s main responsibilities involve dealing with players salaries, such as arbitrations, contract agreements, negotiations and extensions.

Hanrahan, who grew up a Bruins fan, manages to escape blame though, primarily because he stays out of the limelight. It’s reasonable to believe that, if push came to shove, the average Flyers fan could not pick Hanrahan out of a lineup or describe his duties, despite the fact that he’s been employed by the Flyers since 1997 and became the assistant general manager in the 2005-2006 season.

Is Holmgren responsible? Sure, he is but Hanrahan should shoulder the primary blame for these issues. After all these issues fall directly under his job description. If you believe that the Flyers have mismanaged the cap and handed out bad contracts, then Holmgren should be blamed simply for keeping Hanrahan in his employ.

 

Counterpoint
By Nina G.

It is true that Barry Hanrahan largely escapes from criticism, but the bulk of the criticism is right where it belongs. Hanrahan’s duties may include cap management, contract negotiations, and handling the CBA, but just because Holmgren chooses to delegate some of his duties to his assistants doesn’t mean he earns  a free pass on these issues. These areas are still ultimately Paul Holmgren’s responsibility as the General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Do we really even know how much power Hanrahan is given in these situations? It is doubtful that Hanrahan is given cart blanche in contract negotiations. Hanrahan is the legally educated member of the Flyers front office so it’s likely he handles the legal aspects of contracts rather than deciding on who to sign and how much to spend on them. It is much more likely that Holmgren gives him the parameters when handling a negotiation.

We also have no idea how much of a role he actually plays in their salary cap management.  For all we know he could be giving Holmgren sound advice which Holmgren chooses to ignore in order to satisfy a high pressure market.

There are areas where Hanrahan deserves his share of criticism – the CBA certainly is a big one. Yet, this ultimately falls on Holmgren’s shoulders.  He is directly responsible for those that report under him. The cap mismanagement, questionable contracts, and issues with the CBA ultimately reflect on Holmgren and his management of the Philadelphia Flyers. If Holmgren saw these issues as problematic they would no longer be issues. The fact that they remain issues are an indication that Holmgren is ultimately comfortable with the cap issues and some questionable contracts.

 

  • Jsaq

    The Flyers are an aggressive team, that is trying to win every year. They will push the limits of the salary cap and CBA to get any kind of advantage they can. That will lead to issues from time to time.

    I guess people would be happier with David Poile or Dean Lombardi and an annual first round exit and tons of cap room.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello

      I fail to see why it has to be one extreme or the other. The Flyers could be a team that hovers near the cap limit every year without overpaying player or mismanaging the cap.

  • Jsaq

    The Flyers are an aggressive team, that is trying to win every year. They will push the limits of the salary cap and CBA to get any kind of advantage they can. That will lead to issues from time to time.

    I guess people would be happier with David Poile or Dean Lombardi and an annual first round exit and tons of cap room.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello

      I fail to see why it has to be one extreme or the other. The Flyers could be a team that hovers near the cap limit every year without overpaying players or mismanaging the cap.

  • Jsaq

    The Flyers are an aggressive team, that is trying to win every year. They will push the limits of the salary cap and CBA to get any kind of advantage they can. That will lead to issues from time to time.

    I guess people would be happier with David Poile or Dean Lombardi and an annual first round exit and tons of cap room.

    • http://flyersfaithful.com Marcello

      I fail to see why it has to be one extreme or the other. The Flyers could be a team that hovers near the cap limit every year without overpaying player or mismanaging the cap.