Even Jeff Greenberg knows it’s crazy, right?
Here’s a former assistant general manager of the Chicago Cubs who worked in baseball for 16 years, making the leap into professional hockey – and not just switching from another sport, but also taking one of three top front office positions at the Chicago Blackhawks as deputy general manager.
“Of course,” Greenberg said Monday, and his expression made it clear that this was not the first time he had heard skepticism. “(But) the hardest thing about deciding was to leave the cubs.”
Greenberg was a member of the group of former Cubs President Theo Epstein, which created the 2016 World Series champions.
“Honestly, I have a lot of respect (current Cubs president) for Jed (Hoyer) and the whole band, and I really believe in what they’re doing,” Greenberg said. “For me, it was the hardest part, not so much the transition to baseball hockey.”
That’s not to say Greenberg expects his transition to the NHL to be easy.
“I try to learn, to learn as much as I can,” he said during an introductory press conference with fans at the United Center concert club.
But that’s what reconstruction of the Hawks may learn from Greenberg that inspired general manager Kyle Davidson to take the unusual step of hiring someone from outside hockey to complete it senior management group with fellow GM partner Norm Massiver.
Davidson hopes that Greenberg will be able to adopt “the complexity of the system he brings to the Cubs, and, seeing such a construction taking place in baseball, and pass this experience on to us.”
Greenberg said he wanted to upgrade the Hawks’ intelligence, analytics and other information system – to make them as broad as the Cubs and most baseball teams – and make them one system that is easily accessible to players, coaches, scouts and operational staff. all levels of the organization.
Much of this, Greenberg said, he learned from Epstein and Hoer.
“Having such systems is not enough in itself,” Greenberg told reporters after the press conference. “It comes down to how you use these things, how you use these things effectively.
“We are not trying to build systems or good processes to create good systems and good processes. We want to really help develop what we do – how we acquire players, how we develop our players, what we do in the game – figure out the principles and lessons of baseball that we can apply in hockey. ”
Greenberg said that in baseball intelligence and development there was an “explosion of information, technology (and) data” and it became “quite modern, sophisticated” compared to hockey.
“I felt there was an opportunity to move the needle and sort of bridge the gap between hockey and baseball over the last 10 years,” he said. “I’m here in part because I want to try to fill that gap.”
Massivere said he and Davidson, both baseball fans, benefited from hearing Greenberg’s trial over hockey and baseball decisions, but it was a two-way street.
“I know he worked in baseball,” Massiver said, “but he’s always kept his pulse in the NHL, and he’s a big hockey fan and he’s very aware of what’s going on, and he’s always looking at teams that succeed and how to figure it out how they structure things. And we had a lot of great dialogue, even in a short period of time. “
However, one cannot ignore the lack of hockey records in Greenberg’s resume.
However, he insisted that this was always the goal.
“I’ve been lucky to work in baseball for the last 16 years, but hockey was really my first real love,” he said. “I’m from Pittsburgh. I was born a year after “Penguins” was drafted by Mario Lemieux (in 1984), and I fell in love with the game at a very young age.
“I started skating when I was 3, played on my first team when I was 5, and was on the ice almost every day from then until I graduated (University of Pennsylvania in 2008) at age 22. years ”.
He was captain of his club hockey team at Penn in his junior and senior years.
“Obviously I wasn’t that good when I played at the club,” he joked. “I had a bit of speed and I was stubborn, but obviously not very good.”
Despite this humble start, Hawks CEO Danny Wirz and Business Operations President Jaime Faulkner – who also has ties to the Cubs – have targeted Greenberg for the role of CEO.
“At some point my name came up – I don’t know exactly how – but I think the first conversation I had was probably with Jaime, really just to understand what the process would look like, what potentially they they are looking for it, ”Greenberg said.
He and Davidson, then interim CEOs, became two of the three finalists in the competition that defeated Davidson.
Greenberg began writing to Davidson, first to congratulate him.
“I thought it was nice to see someone who started here as an intern and made his way,” Greenberg said. “I have a similar story, starting as an intern with the Cubs. So, really, I just wanted to reach out and congratulate him. And then we wrote here and there, had a couple of conversations. “
Davidson said he found that they had a relationship and the conversation turned into a relationship invitation to join the Hawks front office.
“This process was really led by Kyle,” Greenberg said.