Bulldogs chair Lynne Anderson says former coach Des Hasler is not to blame solely for the club's salary cap mess and is always welcome as a member of the Canterbury-Bankstown family.
The Bulldogs are manoeuvring out from underneath the restraints from back-ended deals, over-extended salaries and may not see "daylight" until 2020-21.
They meet Hasler's Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Saturday, the first time the Belmore club has faced its old mentor.
So it's the perfect time for Anderson to set a few things straight. She took on the chair role in February 2018, five months after the previous board sacked Hasler, and helped negotiate a pay-out on his contract.
"Looking back, Des did an excellent overall job with the Bulldogs, especially in making numerous finals series," Anderson told NRL.com.
"But in the end the decision had been made to part ways, which ultimately was right for both the club and Des.
"When we were elected as the new board, we made it a priority to resolve the dispute with Des. We resolved to sort the matter out in a professional manner, with integrity, and to reach a settlement that respected both sides enabling both parties to move forward."
As for the salary cap debacle, Anderson said Hasler did not act alone and should not be pilloried for that. He should be remembered for five finals series and two grand finals in his six years there.
"Absolutely – in making the finals year after year he brought a lot of good times to our club, our players and our fans. That’s what we should remember.
"The club, not the coach or CEO, is responsible overall for the management of the salary cap, and ultimately the board has the final say.
"We are there to protect the long-term interests of the club - a coach by his very nature and livelihood is driven to win immediately. Sometimes those goals are at odds.
"The club always must come first. It is up to the club to manage the challenges that come from wanting to win sooner rather than later, doing it according to our club values and philosophy, and building for the long term.
"This is more relevant than ever when you have a changing of the guard so to speak – and last year we had plenty of changes across the club from board members, to CEO to coach. New coaches always inherit a roster, unless you are one of the very fortunate few who get to start a new franchise, so that is just an ongoing challenge for all of us.
"This was one of the reasons we recently extended Dean Pay’s contract. We recognise he is still shaping the team and style of football he wants us to play."
And if Hasler happened to wander over to the Bulldogs sheds on Saturday, Anderson would be happy to shake his hand.
"Des is always welcome back at our club, as is anyone who has played or coached here. You’ve seen how our players felt about him and his time here," she said.
"I know Des was always one of dad’s [Peter Moore] favourites when he used to be the manager of Australian teams many years ago. He’s a character and our game needs characters.
"I have no doubt Des gave it his best shot. Having seen first-hand the job that is coaching in the pressure cooker of the NRL, it is a difficult role that requires an enormous amount of time and effort, and often at a huge personal cost.
"Des put that effort in on behalf of the club and we genuinely thank him for that."