The Mighty Ducks, the Walt Disney Co.'s NHL expansion team, took their first big step Tuesday by naming veteran NHL executive Jack Ferreira as general manager.
With about six months remaining before the Ducks begin playing at Anaheim Arena in early October, Ferreira had one major advantage over the 10 other candidates interviewed: He's done it before.
This will be Ferreira's second experience with starting an NHL team from scratch. Two years ago, he guided the San Jose Sharks through their formative months to a modestly competitive 17-58-5 record in their first season before being ousted in a front-office power play after the season.
Although the Mighty Ducks will begin their existence under different circumstances and a different set of draft guidelines than the Sharks did, Ferreira is prepared for certain similarities.
"The one thing that's constant is that you have to have a lot of patience," he said.
Ferreira, 49, also was general manager of the Minnesota North Stars from 1988-90. He was previously the New York Rangers' director of player development and spent six years as a scout for the Calgary Flames.
He is "an excellent judge of hockey talent," and "a good all-around hockey man," said Toronto General Manager Cliff Fletcher, who was Ferreira's boss in Calgary.
Ferreira was attractive to the Ducks because of his experience as a former general manager, but Disney Chairman Michael Eisner and team President Tony Tavares also had another favorite candidate--Pierre Gauthier, 39, director of scouting for the Quebec Nordiques. Gauthier has been given much of the credit for spotting the talent that has helped the Nordiques compile the third-best record in the NHL this season.
They solved their problem by hiring both. Gauthier accepted a position as assistant general manager, largely because of a relationship with Ferreira that goes back 12 years, to when both were scouts.
Now they will pool their knowledge--Ferreira has been scouting the NHL and the minor leagues for the Montreal Canadiens this season, and Gauthier has focused on amateur players in North America and Europe--to try to draft the best possible group in June.
Ferreira expects to use some of the lessons from his first expansion experience with the Sharks.
"To expect young players to really carry you, that's probably a mistake I made," he said. "They might be OK for three, four or five games, but over 84 games, everything seeks its level."