Interview of the Week: Taylor Teichman

This week’s interview is with Seattle Sailors GM Taylor Teichman.

SHL Digest: We’re here this week with Taylor Teichman, who just completed his first trading deadline as the GM of the Seattle Sailors.  Taylor, thanks for speaking with us.

Taylor Teichman

Taylor Teichman: Thanks for asking me.

SHLD: Last season, the Sailors made some bold moves at the deadline, acquiring Lars Karlsson and Hans Mortensen.  This season, you were reportedly in on the two big deadline prizes, Matt Cherner and Rusty Anderson, but missed out on both.  How have the fans reacted?

TT: I’ve gotten some angry calls and emails, as you might imagine.  But as general manager, it’s my job to balance the present and the future.  And while we were definitely in conversations on both Cherner and Anderson, in the end the price for both was more than we were comfortable with.  I’m not going to mortgage the future for the sake of this one playoff race.

SHLD: That’s obviously quite a shift from the thinking of your predecessor, Jay McKay.

TT: It is, yes.  And with all due respect to Jay, he wound up paying with his job when that gamble didn’t pay off.  When I was with Hamilton, I saw the advantages of building for the future with careful drafting and a strong farm club.  That’s what I hope to do here.

SHLD: Was it especially painful to see Anderson wind up with Saskatchewan, one of the teams battling you for the playoffs?

TT: Obviously, I’d rather he’d wound up somewhere else.  But I knew that was a possibility all along, and I wasn’t going to make a deal I’d regret later just to keep that from happening.  I’m confident that we have a team that can match up with any of our competitors.

SHLD: Instead of landing Cherner or Anderson, you instead acquired Stan Gallagher [from the Washington Galaxy in exchange for D Serkan Mratic].  Some Sailors fans on social media called Gallagher a “consolation prize.”  How would you respond to that?

TT: Stan was a good value, a guy that can help us now and later.  Unlike Cherner or Anderson, he’s not on an expiring contract.  We’ll have him for two more seasons after this.  And he was available at a price that made sense and didn’t require us to part with draft picks or our top prospects.  It’s a deal that makes sense all the way around.

SHLD: This is the Sailors’ last season in Seattle; they’ll be moving to Portland next year.  Did that factor into your deadline thinking at all.

TT: No, it didn’t.  And I don’t think it should.  The team may be playing in a new city next year, but we’re still building for the future.

SHLD: Will you be the GM next season in Portland?

TT: I don’t know.  I’ve talked to the new ownership, and I’ve expressed my desire to stay on.  They haven’t decided on their plans yet.  But even if I wasn’t coming back, I wouldn’t approach this job any differently.  It would be like running up a huge credit-card debt that you know someone else has to pay off.  It’s not the way to operate.

SHLD: So now that you know what your roster looks like going forward, what does the organization need to do to make the postseason?

TT: Keep doing what got us here.  We’ve had a really great run this season, and I absolutely think we have what it takes to win the Vandy.  It won’t be easy; we’ve got three other really strong teams, and we’re all fighting for two spots.  But I like our chances.

SHLD: Sounds good.  Thanks again for your time, Taylor, and good luck the rest of the season!

TT: I appreciate it.  We’re going to win this one for Seattle!

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Smooth Sailing for Seattle So Far

The Seattle Sailors came into the 2019 season in a very uncertain place.  Their 2018 was a huge disappointment.  The Sailors started the season with playoff aspirations and finished with a sub-.500 record.  GM Jay McKay made a couple shoot-for-the-moon trades that wound up backfiring, a gamble that cost him his job.  Star winger Vince Mango seemingly couldn’t decide whether he’d rather be a hockey player or a reality television star.  And hanging over everything was the specter of the NHL’s planned expansion to Seattle, and the likelihood that the Sailors would need to find a new home.

When new GM Taylor Teichman arrived and largely left the roster as-is, observers around the league were puzzled.  Surely Teichman didn’t think this strange and underachieving bunch was the nucleus of a contender, did he?  Our season preview evinced skepticism, decrying Seattle’s “weird state of stasis” and predicting a fourth-place finish.

So far, though, it appears that the skeptics were dead wrong.  The Sailors are off to a red-hot start, winning 12 of their first 16 games and remaining hot on Michigan’s heels for the Western Division lead.

“A lot of folks had already thrown us in the trash before the season even started,” said Seattle coach Harold Engellund.  “But we decided to just focus on our game, and it looks like we’re not so bad after all.”

Vince Mango

The Sailors’ success so far starts with their top line – and specifically, with Mango.  The high-scoring star was privately stung by the blame he received for the Sailors’ failures and the allegations that he wasn’t passionate about the sport.  “Everyone has this idea that just because I have interests and projects off the ice, that I don’t really care about hockey,” Mango said.  “I try to ignore the haters, but it seemed like my teammates and coaches felt the same way, and that hurt.”

Mango also looked in the mirror and took a hard look at his playing style.  “I realized that no matter how much you score, you can’t make it as a one-way player in this game,” he said.  “Scoring is always going to be my strength, but I didn’t want to be dead weight on the other end.”

During the offseason, Mango sought out the coaching staff to work on defensive and passing fundmentals.  The coaches were shocked but pleased that the notoriously practice-averse Mango wanted extra offseason work.  “I think [assistant coach] Manny [Obronski] just about fainted when Vince said he wanted to do defensive drills,” Engellund quipped.  “At first, he thought he was getting punked for Vince’s TV show.”

Mango remains an offense-first player, but he’s shown a much more balanced game this season.  He’s also clicking well with his linemates.  LW Rod “Money” Argent had clashed with Mango in the past over scoring opportunities and the latter’s indifferent defense, but now they coexist peacefully.  A lot of that has to do with their new center, Napoleon Beasley.

Napoleon Beasley

Beasley signed with the team as a free agent from Saskatchewan, and his easygoing personality and low-ego playing style has meshed perfectly with Mango and Argent.  “The first thing I said to them was, ‘Whatever you need me to do, tell me and I’ll do it.  I just want to fit in here.’”  They’ve combined to form one of the league’s best lines, with a cumulative 56 points and a +6 rating.

On the other end, netminder Rocky Goldmire is putting together a career year.  The 27-year-old Goldmire was once Dirk Lundquist’s protégé in Michigan, but he never seemed to live up to his potential; the barrage of shots in Seattle left him overwhelmed, and his penchant for partying seemed to dull his skills.  Now, in his contract year, Goldmire is finally living up to the hype, going 8-2-0 with a 2.38 GAA and a .927 save percentage, all top-five figures in the league.

“Goldy’s had some bumps in the road, but he’s really put it together this year,” Engellund said.  “It’s really great to see.”

And if the Sailors do wind up leaving town after the season?  That’s next year’s problem.  “We’re just focusing on what we can control,” Mango said.  “If we leave [at the end of the year], at least we can leave a nice going-away present for the people here.”

The Sailors haven’t won anything yet.  Saskatchewan and Anchorage will certainly fight hard to knock Seattle out of the playoffs.  But it’s a sweet life so far for a team that’s happily proving the doubters wrong, one game at a time.

Ex-Sailors Coach Threatens Crowd as “Joke”

Ever since Stewart Corrigan was fired from the Seattle Sailors’ coaching job at the end of the 2017 season, he has kept a low profile.  Corrigan has not spoken to the press since his dismissal, nor has he been publicly considered for any openings since then.  Given his history of volcanic and sometimes violent meltdowns behind the bench, many around the league hoped that Corrigan was seeking therapy for his anger issues.

Stewart Corrigan

The ex-Sailors coach resurfaced in Seattle for a game this week.  What might have been a feel-good first step toward reconciliation instead ended in a bizarre display that, depending on who you believe, was either a disturbing public unraveling or a misunderstood joke.

Corrigan flew up from Santa Rosa, where he has made his home since his dismissal, to take in Thursday’s game against the Michigan Gray Wolves.  “Even though I’m not with the team any more, I still feel a connection with them,” said Corrigan.  “It’s kind of like a parent with adult kids.  Even though they’re out of the house, you still want them to do well.”  He indicated that he did not hold a grudge against the organization for his firing.

Before the puck dropped on Thursday, PA announcer Sean Winters announced Corrigan’s presence to the crowd, which responded with a smattering of applause.  Corrigan, who had a microphone, shouted to the crowd: “Come on, Sailors fans, it’s time to get crazy!  Let’s get loud!”  He then began a “Let’s Go Sailors” chant, which the crowd returned.

Corrigan cupped his hand behind his ear and shouted, “You call that a chant?  Come on, people!”  The crowd began chanting somewhat louder, but it was still evidently not enough to satisfy the former coach.

“All right, people, I’ll make this simple,” Corrigan snapped.  “Get up and cheer or I’ll kill you!  And I have the means!”  He then pulled a handgun out of the waistband of his pants and pointed it toward the sky.  The camera quickly cut away from Corrigan, and security officers rushed to disarm him and escorted him out of the seating bowl.

Corrigan immediately claimed that he’d been joking.  And upon examination, it turned out that his “gun” was a plastic toy.  On the other hand, the security officers noted that Corrigan was visibly intoxicated and seemed agitated.  They ushered him out of the arena and forbid him from returning.

“We sincerely apologize to any fans who may have been traumatized by Mr. Corrigan’s actions at today’s game,” said GM Taylor Teichman after the game, which the Sailors lost 3-2 in overtime.  “We had no idea that he was planning anything like this, and we never would have let him speak if we had known.  We’ve asked him not to come back to Century 21 Arena, and we hope that he gets the help he so clearly needs.”

Reached for comment afterward, Corrigan insisted that this was all a joke gone awry.  “I’m well aware that I have a reputation as a dangerous hothead,” the former coach told reporters.  “And I thought I would have a little fun with that reputation.  I figured it would be obvious to everyone that it was a joke, but apparently not.  Did they really think I was going to shoot up the place because the fans weren’t cheering loud enough?  How crazy do they think I am?”

Corrigan did acknowledge that he’d been drinking before the game (“perhaps to excess”).  And he said that in retrospect, he should have run the joke by the team first.

Asked to comment on the incident, current Sailors coach Harold Engellund said, “I don’t know what all that was about.  But I can promise you that if I get fired, I’m not going to come back to the arena packing a gun.  I’m not real big into guns.  I prefer fishing.”

Sailors Name Hamilton’s Teichman as New GM

Last season, Seattle Sailors GM Jay McKay shot the moon at the trading deadline, moving several prized prospects to acquire C Lars Karlsson and D Hans Mortensen in a long-shot bid for a playoff spot.  When Seattle wound up missing the postseason by 22 points, McKay wound up losing his job.

Taylor Teichman

This week, the Sailors tapped Hamilton Pistols assistant GM Taylor Teichman as McKay’s replacement.  Teichman had been chiefly responsible for the Pistols’ drafts and minor-league development, and was widely regarded as the chief architect of the up-and-coming Hamilton team that made its first trip to the playoffs season.

“We identified Taylor as our #1 pick early on, and we didn’t stop until we got him,” said Sailors owner Gary Blum.  “We couldn’t be happier to have him on board to help us shape the future of our club.”

The hiring of Teichman seems to signal a shift in Seattle’s team-building strategy.  As mentioned above, McKay favored big-money acquisitions and major trades.  Given Teichman’s record in Hamilton, it seems likely that the Sailors will now look to cultivate homegrown talent.  This strategy may be complicated by the fact that Seattle has no picks in the upcoming draft and has shipped out several of its top prospects in recent deals.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Teichman told reporters.  “When I was considering this opportunity, I saw an organization with a strong base of talent, a great owner in Gary Blum, a strong coach in Harry Engellund.  This team is a lot like the Pistols from a season or two ago; we just need a few tweaks here and there to take it to the next level.”

It’s rumored Seattle’s courtship of Teichman wasn’t without controversy.  According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Hamilton initially denied the Sailors permission to speak with their assistant GM about the position.  Teichman then threatened to resign his job with the Pistols if he wasn’t either promoted to GM with the Pistols or allowed to interview for the Sailors position.  According to the same sources, SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell ultimately had to intervene and clarify that Hamilton couldn’t prevent Teichman from interviewing unless it was stated in his contract.

Teichman declined to comment on the behind-the-scenes drama around his hiring.  “I had a great time in Hamilton, and I appreciate everyone there.  But my focus is on the future.”

The Pistols issued a brief statement that read: “We thank Taylor Teichman for his four seasons of service to the organization and his help in building a contending team for many seasons to come.  We wish him the best of luck as he takes on his new challenge with the Sailors.”

Teichman said that his top priorities would be to resolve the open questions at center (Karlsson is a free agent) and in net (Rocky Goldmire and “Jersey Mike” Ross are both signed through next season, but prospect Sonny Kashiuk looks ready for the majors).  Beyond that, he said he would look for “opportunities to replenish our minor league club and build through the draft.”