MUSINGS, OCTOBER 13, 2018

Ponderables

Has there ever been such a shortage of common sense?

Has the United States ever been is such disarray?

How much damage will Donald Trump ultimately inflict?

Which is correct, slow up or slow down?

Only real hockey fans are going to get this one: Should Maple Leaf defenceman Morgan Rielly remove one of the 4s from the back of his sweater?

Would NHL players support a rule change allowing teams the option of declining a penalty shot and instead taking the two-minute power play advantage?

Things I Firmly Believe

Although there are varying degrees of importance, there’s no such thing as an unimportant job; if it wasn’t important it wouldn’t exist.

There are people who are just plain evil.

The Roman philosopher Seneca had the best definition of luck: opportunity meeting preparation. 

All politicians at all levels of government should be restricted to two terms.

Unions, by their refusal to allow the rewarding of competence and merit over seniority, seriously impair productivity, which, in turn, seriously harms the economy.

There are far too many middle-management positions in many large organizations and in most, if not all, bureaucracies.

Worst Hockey Coaching Decision Eve

Seeing associate coach Marc Crawford behind the Ottawa Senators’ bench the other night reminded me of what has to be the worst coaching decision in the history of hockey.

It happened during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, when Crawford was coaching Team Canada. During a shootout to decide an elimination game against the Czech Republic, Crawford inexplicably left the greatest scorer in the history of hockey, Wayne Gretzky, sitting on the bench. 

The five shooters he selected were Theo Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros, and Brendan Shanahan, none of whom scored on Dominik Hasek, although Lindros hit a post. Canada finished a disappointing fourth. To the best of my knowledge Crawford has never even hinted which player he specifically picked ahead of Gretzky.

I suspect that a lot more hockey fans remember this boneheaded decision than remember that in 1995, while coaching the Quebec Nordiques, at age thirty-four Crawford became the youngest coach to ever win the Jack Adams award for NHL coach of the year; proving once again that infamy can be more enduring than fame.

A Memorable Colleague

While browsing through some old material the other day I ran across the name of one of my most memorable professional colleagues, the late Seymour Wigle, former managing partner of Price Waterhouse’s Toronto office. Memories came rushing in.

Back in the mid-80s Seymour was a member of the board of governors of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants; I was the board’s chairman. It was the afternoon of the second day of a gruelling meeting of the governors and I was getting fed up with long-winded, banal, repetitious spiels by a number of governors who just wanted to hear themselves talk. (As I recall, there were almost forty people on the board, which was more than double the number that was really necessary.) 

I noticed that Seymour had his hand up and acknowledged him by saying, “Seymour, if you have something new to say I’ll give you the floor. But if you’re just going to re-hash points we’ve already heard too many times, I’m not going to. Do you have something new to add?” Seymour replied, “How the hell should I know? I’ve been asleep for the last hour.”

Of course I let him speak.

At his retirement party years later, Seymour accurately summed up the sea change that had occurred in the accounting profession during our careers. In an appropriately rueful voice, and a poignant pause in the middle of the final sentence of his speech, he intoned, “I joined a profession ….. but I’m leaving a business.”

While writing this I remembered another unique incident involving Seymour. He’s the only person I’ve ever known who was involved in a car accident in which the other vehicle was a boat. One Saturday afternoon he was driving along a residential street in Hamilton when a boat broke loose from a trailer hitch in a driveway, rolled onto the street, and crashed into the side of Seymour’s car. He was astonished but, fortunately, not hurt.

MUSINGS, OCTOBER 6, 2018