Poor leaders don't die, they just snake away. Springer, whom the Kingston Frontenacs belong to in deed but never in the way they belong to fans, blew a chance to prove he's better than most kinds of dirt (not that fancy store-bought kind; that stuff's loaded with nutrients). It was the momentous occasion when the Frontenacs brain trust went before city council to answer for the team
Surely the chief cook and bottle-washer would have the couth to take questions from the duly elected representatives of the city which built a $43-million toy for him to play with (and perhaps run into the ground so he could scoop it up for pennies on the dollar, like the Blue Jays did with the former Skydome).
Surely, you jest. Springer made it clear he would not take questions, not now, not ever. Save Our Kingston Frontenacs sets the scene very well:
"Springer appeared only to introduce Jeff Stilwell and The Manchurian Coach (Doug Gilmour -- ed.). He instructed councillors to direct their questions to 'the two experts that are most qualified.' A convenient way to avoid accountability; always the top item in Springsy's repertoire. What’s he afraid of, anyway?"Somehow, "the two experts that are most qualified" are a rookie coach with five wins in 26 games and the franchise's resident Waylon Smithers/Bob Cratchit (poor Jeff Stilwell is so overworked that he deserves two pop-culture references).
It meant Doug Gilmour had to pull on his economist hat to answer questions about the cost of parking at the arena. What would Gilmour know about parking? He's the coach; he's in the building when people are pulling into the lots. It was a gong show, exactly what Springer wanted.
One keeps hoping that Springer, one of these days, will wake up. At least he ended up having to admit, ipso facto, that neither he nor GM-for-life Larry Mavety (who was, we were told, off at a league meeting) are homogenously unqualified to speak to why their team has not won a playoff series since 1998, when they have been the two constants in the organization across that entire span. Also, in the chain of command, if the GM was indisposed because he was attending a meeting, wouldn't it fall to the assistant GM to take his place? Assistant coach Tony Cimellaro, who's outlasted several head coaches, has that title, but clearly it's only a title.
It's quite a contrast between Doug Gilmour last night and the Doug Gilmour who was feted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Hockey Night in Canada 72 hours earlier. Please make note of how he reaches up and scratches his face right when he says, "Doug," referring to Springer (40-second mark). That seems to be his tell.
You have to love the "let's not make excuses for Mav" line. People have been making excuses for Mavety for only the last 11 seasons.
Gilmour also said, "The trades that have been made, I did, so don't blame them, it was me." That was pretty shrewd, since it cut off the ill-informed councillors from asking about the moves made before Gilmour was hired, such as releasing team leader Kyle Bochek, trading for a player who had moved up to the AHL, or having almost nothing to show for the December 2007 trade of Cory Emmerton, save for rookie Charles Sarault. Please bear in mind that was only in the 12 months immediately before Gilmour's hire. There is so much more.
Then there was Stilwell, a good man caught in a corrupt system, enduring a grilling from city councillor Vicki "Hellraiser" Schmolka (Save The Fronts' splendid sobriquet), the one it-getter on council. The only other exception was Rob Matheson, who asked Gilmour pointedly what the Frontenacs plan to do to get top prospects to report to the club. Gilmour didn't have an answer, which is pretty glaring when the No. 1-ranked prospect for the OHL draft, defenceman Scott Harrington, is from Kingston.
Long post made short, Springer, the flourishing miserably fop got his farce. No one really believes he's lower than dirt and he had no legal obligation to explain himself, since a lot of what the politicians are doing in Kingston amounts to closing the barn door after the cows got out. Morally, ethically and professionally, he owed it to people to take questions and explain,
It was a sham and that is a shame. It just goes to show how it never changes with the Kingston Frontenacs. The franchise's hard-done-by fanbase had a rare good 24-48 hours last weekend, between the underutilized Ethan Werek scoring the game-winner in the dying seconds to knock off John Tavares and the London Knights and the ceremonies for Gilmour in Toronto. (Mark Potter of TV Cogeco had a killer line, saying Werek had to find a way to score, since he probably wasn't going to get a spot in a shootout. Incidentally, three of Gilmour's five coaching wins have been by a goal and Werek has scored or set-up the game-winning goal in all three.)
It all turned to mud on Tuesday. It's comical how it reverts to form the very second the national media stop paying attention to Gilmour. This is what Springer wanted, though. He is there, always, even when he doesn't want to be there.
You'd end with "damn him," but you can't damn someone who, as an OHL owner, lacks a conscience, couth or fully functioning brain. Springer might be able to if he wanted to, but that's clearly not in his interest.
It has been 470 days since Doug Springer promised to do "whatever it takes" to make Kingston a top team.