These are not easy days for NHL general managers.
The lockout-shortened season has skewed the way GMs look at their teams. Losing streaks, injuries and any stretches of success become magnified. Managers tell themselves not to react on emotion, but the inevitable sense of urgency that a 48-game season provides suggests otherwise.
The Ottawa Senators lost Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson for the season Wednesday when the All-Star defenseman sustained a lacerated Achilles tendon. Gone for the Senators are any legitimate hopes of winning a Stanley Cup, and even reaching the playoffs is perilous.
What is a GM to do? An 82-game regular season allows GMs to watch their teams intently for the first 20 games, then decide what tweaks to make. This year only a dozen games represent the one-quarter mark, and every team has already hit that, even if it feels as though the season has barely begun.