The best organizations have clear and defined roles for each segment of their business, while working together seamlessly. That is basically the structure that has led the St. Louis Blues to their success.
The St. Louis Blues winning a Stanley Cup championship cannot be singled out for being caused by one thing. It was a lot of little things that came together over a lengthy period of time.
However, one of the main reasons (outside of the players of course) is the organizational structure of the team. To put it bluntly, the Blues have benefited greatly from having Tom Stillman as their owner and Doug Armstrong as their general manager.
Of course, plenty of fans might take issue with that last part of the sentence. Even after winning a Stanley Cup, Armstrong can do no right in their eyes.
That’s just the nature of the beast for a general manager. Even the best GM’s are constantly second guessed.
The Blues would not have won without the way Armstrong deftly built the team over the years. He had a few mistakes, for sure, but the trades he pulled off make you wonder what kind of dirt he had on some of the other general managers.
Stillman is the man that helped him make it all happen. The funny part is Stillman is as hands off as it gets without being an absentee boss.
Jeremy Rutherford brought up a great point while talking to BK and Rivers on 101 ESPN. The reason the Blues have had so much success under this regime is because they work together so cohesively, but within their own realm.
Stillman, and all his minority owners, have ultimate approval, since they write the checks, but they aren’t really making hockey decisions. That could have easily not been the case.
Rutherford’s story talked about how Stillman’s passion for the Blues amplified when he was a minority owner and would attend the team’s practices all the time. That passion could have turned into obsession and Stillman could have been a very controlling owner.
We have seen it plenty of other places, most notably in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys are run by Jerry Jones in every sense of the word. Once he lost Jimmy Johnson to counteract him, Jones has not produced a winner since.
Even worse, the Washington Redskins – soon to be named something different – actually have a general manager. Yet, Dan Snyder has gone behind their backs to make moves or draft picks in the past. When your owner and general manager are not on the same page, it is a recipe for disaster.
The Blues have avoided that. Stillman is constantly gettnig updates, but he lets Armstrong take care of building the team. In eight years as the majority team owner, we have not heard one peep about Stillman going to Armstrong to suggest picking up this player or that one.
Similarly, Armstrong has given a lot of freedom to his coaches. Army builds the team and lets the bench bosses slot the players where they see fit to get the best result.
There is little doubt that Armstrong might have made suggestions about playing time or putting a certain player on a different line, but it is just that, a suggestion. Some general managers would make the “suggestion” and basically insinuate it be done or the coach’s position would be in jeopardy.
That is not a good working environment for anyone. Leaders cannot lead if someone is above them making alternate decisions or worse, talking to players behind their back.
What is better, though, is the Blues don’t work in a vacuum either. Stillman doesn’t just sit in his office and write checks. Armstrong doesn’t just make his offseason moves and go play golf during the season.
They both work with each other fluidly, just as Armstrong works with Craig Berube fluidly. The trio intertwines like any good leadership group, but they don’t get in the way of the other either.
Like any good business or a well run military group, the orders come from above and are followed, but the general is not trying to oversee every little detail of the colonel or the major.
That kind of peace of mind is crucial at playoff time. The Blues don’t have a Jerry Jones wandering around behind the bench trying to be in charge. Armstrong isn’t telling Berube he needs to play Jordan Kyrou instead of Mackenzie MacEachern.
This has led to the Blues consistent success. As long as that structure continues from the top down, the Blues will remain successful.