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Friday, May 26, 2006
Updated: May 29, 2:08 PM ET
When will Islanders, Blues firm up their front office?

By Scott Burnside
ESPN.com

ANAHEIM -- How unappealing is the situation in Boston?

The Bruins failed to land Dean Lombardi to fill their vacant GM position. Then, Boston courted Ray Shero, who thought so little of the prospects of working for Jeremy Jacobs, Harry Sinden, et al, that he signed a five-year deal to become the GM in Pittsburgh, where he inherits a coach he didn't want and will want even less when the season starts. And, oh yeah, Shero's new team is likely on its way out of town in a year.

Recent GM moves
• May 26: The Bruins hire Sens assistant GM Peter Chiarelli. Ottawa receives a 2007 conditional draft pick in return.

• May 25: After breaking off talks with Bruins, Preds assistant GM Ray Shero signs five-year deal with Penguins.

• May 24: Stars assistant GM Francois Giguere is hired by the Colorado Avalanche.

• April 21: Former Sharks GM Dean Lombardi is hired as the new president and general manager of the Kings. This season, he was a scout for the Flyers.

Then, the spurned Bruins turned around and lured away Ottawa assistant GM Peter Chiarelli, who must feel especially wanted even though the Sens managed to squeeze a conditional 2007 draft pick out of the Beantowners.

Over in Colorado, outgoing GM Pierre Lacroix hired protégé Francois Giguere, who spent a dozen years working for and around Lacroix. Giguere has the onerous task of trying to rebuild the Avalanche into a contender after Lacroix strip-mined the team's farm system to stockpile aging veterans for most of the last decade.

Over in Los Angeles, the Kings moved quickly to install Dean Lombardi as their new GM, replacing Dave Taylor, and Lombardi announced (just as quickly) Marc Crawford as their new bench boss.

You can question whether Crawford has had sufficient time to reflect on his mistakes in Vancouver before taking on a job that will be more difficult in Los Angeles. But at least a decision was made.

The same can be said for all four teams. The situations facing these three rookie GMs and Lombardi are less than ideal. (And really, when do well-run, stable teams ever need a new GM? Rarely.) But at least those teams have a GM in place.

Pity the poor fans and players in Long Island and St. Louis.

The Islanders apparently have gone into a catatonic trance in terms of filling the role of GM vacated by Mike Milbury, who will be lurking upstairs in a new management position. The Blues are awaiting final approval from the league on the team's sale to Dave Checketts.

Both teams are drifting aimlessly with the entry draft less than a month away and free agency set to begin July 1. Under current GM Larry Pleau, we know the Blues are working as though it's business as usual. But it would be extraordinary if Pleau remained after the ownership is confirmed, and it makes little sense to have a lame-duck regime making the most important player decisions in the team's history, including their first No. 1 overall draft pick. It's unlikely the league will confirm the sale before June 21, two days before the draft and 11 days before the start of free agency.

On Long Island, there appears to be nothing holding up the process other than the team's long-standing history of making horrific hockey gaffes.

One former GM told ESPN.com that he thinks if teams don't have a management team in place by June 10, "you're screwed" in terms of preparing for the draft and getting ready for free agency.

That's something the folks in St. Louis and Long Island are sadly familiar with.

Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.