Managers’ shelf lives

A weekly sports column from the 100 Mile Free Press

After 14 months the Minnesota Wild fired Paul Fenton, the team’s general manager.

Fenton isn’t the first general manager to ever be fired after one season, but it makes you wonder, especially if you aren’t a hardcore Minnesota fan or just a casual observer of the team (or NHL), what went wrong to be employed for such a small period of time. Especially when owner Craig Leipold has only hired three general managers (including Fenton) in his 22 years of NHL ownership (he previously also owned the Nashville Predators).

So obviously the dismissal of Fenton was a little bewildering, even though some of his on-ice moves were questionable (mainly the Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask trade and picking up Anthony Bitetto).

Through press conferences and statements from Leipold and other staff members of the organization, it’s been said that Fenton failed to “build trusting relationships” with his own staff and NHL counterparts, agents and the media as well as routinely threatening the jobs of his staff.

“The culture wasn’t the same… I didn’t have the same vibes with our employees in hockey ops, and I think the attitude of some of the players and all the people in the coaching and the locker room and the training room, it was just a feeling that we didn’t have the right leader for our organization,” summed up Leipold.

It’s not easy being a general manager, I guess. But it sounds like everyone from fans to staff will be happy Fenton has been shown the door.

One year managers are not entirely uncommon in sports.

In 1974, Leeds United hired Brian Clough, who was coming off a great record with Derby County, winning four titles and 161 games from 1967-1973. It was a surprising hire, given that Clough was overly critical of Leeds and the management style of the previous manager’s (Don Revie – who resigned to manage England) style.

Clough only lasted 44 days before he was fired, due to alienating some of the team’s star players. He only managed eight games and only won one of them. Before Revie left Leed’s, the team was considered one of the best teams in soccer of all-time.

The record for a sports manager’s shortest employment most likely belongs to Leroy Rosenior, who took charge of Torquay United in England for his second stint (he managed them from 2002 to 2006). After taking up a role with Brentford in 2006, he left five months after to rejoin Torquay. His second stint was only 10 minutes long, the shortest employment of a manager in English soccer.

Unlike Fenton and Clough, Rosenior wasn’t let go for job performance or how he treated his staff. He was just unlucky. Just 10 minutes after being hired, the Torquay was taken over by a consortium who sacked him in favour of a former player of the club, Paul Buckle, who managed the team until 2011.

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