Len Barrie was interviewed in the Globe and Mail (Canada) and confirmed that he is trying to sell his stake in his British Columbia development, Bear Mountain. The piece mostly focuses on this and re-states the facts and failures of the 2008-09 Tampa Bay Lightning campaign... But it's Barrie's plans that are to be highlighted and have drawn worry:
"I'd like to have more of an involvement on the day-to-day stuff [in Tampa]. You can only do so many things."
And let's not dismiss the 2nd to last paragraph of the article:
Barrie is president of the NHL team. A Tampa newspaper this month said he's mostly been invisible and hasn't been in town much, and was silent as the storm raged - but he has been known to micromanage from a distance and get closely involved when he's been in Tampa.
It's that fact that makes the owner-who-wants-to-be-more-involved angle a proposition that is drawing worry. After public pissing matches with two former Lightning head coaches, along with a record of crony favoritism...
Crony favoritism? Let me dust off an article from early in the season from Damian at Lightning Strikes:
A last bit of intrigue concerns the acquisition of wing Matt Pettinger, an investor in owner Len Barrie's Bear Mountain resort in Victoria, British Columbia. Barrie said Pettinger is a "very minor" investor and their relationship had "zero" to do with acquiring him.
Vice president of hockey operations, Brian Lawton, said Barrie told him, "I've known him for X number of years but you have to go with what our scouts and say and what our management says. Yes he does like him and he was very forthright about that. But it's not at a point where he is making that decision for the hockey club."
Wing Gary Roberts and special assistant Mike Vernon also are investors. Asked about making hockey decisions based on his business connectuions, Barrie joked, "I wish it could be because we'd have a Hall of Fame team."
And fortunately, that didn't happen... as older or former players comprising an entire roster and making up the entirety of management would have turned this season's shit-taco into something so breathtakingly horrid that words fail me.
The entire problem with Lightning ownership and management are both inexperience and over-involvement. Instead of entrusting versed business people to run their investment, and versed management to share responsibility on team oversight, they have taken the reigns. If this were an AHL, ECHL or Junior level team - it wouldn't be a big issue.
...but to do it at the NHL level?