Ferreira Will Leave to Take Atlanta Job
Jack Ferreira, who built the expansion Mighty Ducks into winners after only four seasons as general manager, accepted a job Thursday as director of player personnel with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Only the day and destination were surprises.
Ferreira’s role with the Ducks had diminished greatly since Pierre Gauthier was hired as team president and general manager to restore stability to the organization during the summer of 1998. Ferreira’s title the past two seasons was vice president of hockey operations, but Gauthier made all the key moves for the organization.
No replacement was named, but the New York Post has reported the Ducks have hired Neil Smith, former general manager of the New York Rangers, as a consultant to Gauthier.
“Jack did a great job for the franchise,” Gauthier said. “On behalf of the ownership and everybody involved in the organization I’d like to offer my thanks to Jack for all he did.”
In the final analysis, Ferreira’s clumsy firing of Ron Wilson as coach in May 1997 and the disastrous season that followed will no doubt overshadow his many deft dealings in getting the franchise up and running and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Indeed, the spring of ’97 marked the high and low points of the franchise. Only weeks after a gritty run to the second round of the playoffs, Ferreira stood in front of reporters to announce the unthinkable: The glib Wilson would not be back to coach a fifth season.
After four seasons building the organization’s credibility by drafting standouts such as left wing Paul Kariya and defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky and trading for high-scoring winger Teemu Selanne, Ferreira torpedoed all he had accomplished with his decision to sack Wilson.
The honeymoon was over, and many blamed Ferreira and Disney sports chief Tony Tavares. Ferreira and Tavares made the move all the more perplexing by failing to explain precisely why Wilson was fired.
Compounding matters was Ferreira’s statement that “we could have won the Stanley Cup and this decision still would have been made.”
Ferreira then hired Pierre Page, a longtime friend who served with him in Calgary and Minnesota, and the Ducks nose-dived from fourth in the NHL’s Western Conference to 12th place and out of the 1997-98 playoffs.