Diamond to ice: Colletti goes from MLB GM to NHL scout

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By Kevin Kurz
When Ned Colletti started his profession in baseball with the Chicago Cubs in media relations and publications in time for the 1982 season, Doug Wilson was within the prime of his profession, one of many NHL’s greatest defensemen with the Chicago Blackhawks. In Wilson’s Norris Trophy-winning 1981-82 season, he posted 85 factors in 76 video games, second within the league amongst defensemen behind solely Paul Coffey.
Colletti didn’t know Wilson all that effectively again then apart from some informal encounters, however he was actually conscious of Wilson’s accomplishments. Actually, Colletti’s first job in sports activities got here in hockey as a beat reporter for The Philadelphia Journal, the place he lined the Flyers for 2 seasons earlier than relocating again to his hometown of Chicago, partly to take care of his father who was dying of lung most cancers. Whereas in Philadelphia, Colletti figured overlaying the Flyers was “possibly the perfect job I’d ever have.”
As an alternative, Colletti’s path has taken him in all types of various instructions, together with serving because the GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006 to 2014, the place his groups made the playoffs in 5 of 9 seasons. Previous to that, he was the San Francisco Giants’ director of baseball operations and assistant GM from 1994 to 2005.
However even when he was with the Giants and Dodgers, he by no means strayed too removed from the opposite sport he was keen about. Colletti is lucky that the baseball and hockey seasons don’t overlap, permitting him loads of time to dedicate to every. “I watch so many hockey video games,” stated Colletti, 65. “I begin at 4:00 and I’ll watch a Metro (Division) sport, after which I’ll tape one other Metro sport, after which I’ll watch a 7:00 sport, after which at 10:00 I’ll return and watch the Metro sport that I taped.
“I watch individuals. I’m an observer of individuals and the way individuals carry out, how individuals assume, how individuals sacrifice, how persons are egocentric generally. Constructing groups is one thing that I’ve finished for a very long time and one thing that I’m keen about and interested in.”
When Wilson employed Colletti as an expert scout for the Sharks in September, it appeared like an odd rent. However most individuals weren’t conscious of Colletti’s ardour for the game or what number of hockey individuals he is aware of – together with Wilson, whom he reconnected with whereas each had been within the Bay Space, Wilson as a Sharks defenseman after which a front-office mainstay after he retired. Different NHL buddies embody longtime executives resembling Brian Burke, Ron Hextall and Ray Shero. After the Sharks made the announcement, Colletti figured he received about 400 messages, most of which had been from hockey individuals. “He loves the sport of hockey,” Wilson stated. “A number of occasions within the final decade or so I checked out including him together with his knowledge, his expertise, his love for the sport, his data and a sure talent set that he’ll convey to us. However he was type of busy in his different jobs.
“He’s received a superb thoughts. You don’t turn out to be a common supervisor on a Main League Baseball workforce with out having a terrific thoughts. I like the truth that he’s at all times had ardour for our sport, he has questions, and we attempt to be very open-minded to listen to these forms of questions. He makes our group higher, our group enjoys being round him, and he’s been an enormous supporter of this workforce for a protracted, very long time.”
Colletti’s main accountability is scouting the Metropolitan Division, however Wilson will depend on him for extra than simply his participant evaluations. Certainly, when the Sharks fired coach Pete DeBoer in December, Wilson and Colletti mentioned the state of affairs.
Burke, the previous GM of the Anaheim Geese, received to know Colletti effectively when each had been in Southern California. They’d incessantly meet on the first light in Manhattan Seashore to bounce concepts off of each other. “I positioned nice religion and nice worth in Ned’s judgement,” Burke stated. “I’d ask him for recommendation. Typically he would ask me for recommendation.”
Mentioned Colletti: “There’s variations within the sports activities, however loads of the challenges are the identical. I can’t inform you what number of NHL GMs and coaches I’ve sat with, and the conversations all come again to the identical matters of participant motivation, contract conditions, what to do and when, how.
“Determination-making is clearly a key function, however when do you make them? (There are) totally different philosophies about management. I’ve talked to Doug at size, and different GMs within the league, however Doug greater than anyone. We’ve at all times been there to bounce issues off of one another.”
Now, Wilson has unique entry to Colletti’s thoughts, experiences and concepts, which have been formed by two skilled leagues over the course of the previous 4 a long time. “We respect his opinion,” Wilson stated, “and he’s not afraid to voice it, too.”
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