As many of you hockey fans may know, the Tampa Bay Lightning Captain, Steven Stamkos, is without a doubt the biggest superstar available on the market on July 1st, 2016. The Tampa Bay Lightning do still have a small window to sign him, but for the sake of this blog, let’s just say he’s going to one of 29 other NHL teams. This guy has quite the extensive resume: he is a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner (leading goalscorer) and a four-time NHL All-Star. If he continues to keep this up, he should coast into the Hockey Hall of Fame at the end of his fabulous NHL career.

Now that I have given you a little backstory on this guy, I’d like to explain what I mean by signing Stamkos to your startup (read, the Maple Leafs). Every startup is a bit different just like every NHL franchise, so depending on your team or your company, he could make or break you!

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs sign Stamkos?

Now if I was having this conversation with a Leafs fan 12 months ago, the answer would be “pull out the chequebook, and name your number”. But an NHL team, like any startup, can undergo a lot of change in a year. Signing the superstar might not be the best decision anymore.

Is Stamkos the right fit for the Leafs?

If I had a quarter for every move the Leafs have made in the last year, I could probably buy season tickets. Since the Leafs named Brenden Shanahan their President of Hockey Operations in 2014, the Leafs have taken an organic approach to building their franchise. Leafs fans will need to be patient, but with recent news of the first overall pick, Toronto is beginning to see the light. One player can’t change your entire franchise, but 10 can and the Leafs have put an emphasis on drafting and building from the ground up. Rushing and big trades are something the Leafs have tried to do over the past 50 years, but now the organic growth seems to be the recipe for success.

Dave, are you sure this isn’t just an excuse for you to talk about hockey?

I have a point, I promise! In early stage companies, just as in teams who are building organically, there needs to be a clear purpose for every single new hire.

Three questions you need to answer before hiring your Stamkos equivalent:

1. What will your startup will look like in one, three, and five years?

Outline your goals, and define what you need to accomplish to meet those goals. Be specific! You might need help managing clients, or ramping up your sales process.

2. Do you have to fill knowledge gaps as well as resource gaps?

What depth of knowledge and experience will you require as you grow? Can you sign two players like Kadri and Rielly and get more out of them? Can you function with an accounts payable clerk instead of a CFO, if he’s a quarter of the price?

3. Is Stamkos a bank-breaker?

Budget, budget, budget.


Ultimately, if you believe that superstar can fit into your culture, and you can afford him, it could be a great decision for your team!


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