CALGARY AB - FEBRUARY 20: Alex Tanguay #40 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his goal at 10:53 of the third period during the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic Game at McMahon Stadium on February 20 2011 in Calgary Alberta Canada. The Flames defeated the Canadiens 4-0. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)
Hello, this is a feature that will go through what the Flames players, prospects, and personnel have been up to in the past week. A bunch of words are after the jump, so click through!
Look at that - I ask for something of substance this week and I get it.
I think the abundance of people declaring the Stanley Cup Final to be over are quite wrong. While the Kings look in control (hard not to look that way when you're up 2-0), it's important to remember how quickly luck can change in the context of one or two games. The better team doesn't always win, do they?
IMPORTANT EDIT: Upon the conclusion of tonight's game, this shit's done.
A couple neat things I want to touch on quickly - the first being the release of Rob Vollman's Player Usage charts. There's a bunch of stuff to look over and most of it's quite interesting. Predictably, the Calgary Flames section of the document is a little depressing, but we're basically used to that by now.
One thing you'll see in the player usage charts was the deployment of Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler, which was touched on in the second thing I want to bring to your attention: this article regarding the top defensive parings, also by Rob Vollman over at NHL Numbers. Bouwmeester and Butler basically played the toughest minutes in the NHL, which to me just shows how good Jay Bouwmeester is as this was the first time Butler's really had a full season at the NHL level. It's worth mentioning that Butler's only 25, which definitely has contributed to that.
It also gets me thinking about the Flames' top-4 roster hole. I suggested Carlo Colaiacovo a couple of months back, and I'm still on that bandwagon. A top-4 of Bouwmeester/Giordano and Colaiacovo/Butler would be great. Bouwmeester gets a guy who is a 2/3 defenseman even though he had a piss poor start to the season in 2011/2012, so he doesn't have to worry about carrying his defensive partner and Butler, who is a legit top-4 d-man gets a defenseman who put up pretty good underlyings this year while playing on his team's top pairing to skate alongside. You could use either of those pairings in either situation, while allowing the 5/6 of Brodie and Smith to be sheltered and put up some offensive numbers.
Of course, that's totally dependant on whether or not Jay Bouwmeester will actually be here come October.
Roger Millions' reveal of the sudden fiscal shortfall that may now impact HOPs is just another point to those who think the people running the team have no idea what they're doing. As we've theorized in the past, it seems as if there is a marked determination on the part of the owners to keep Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff in Flames colours until their retirements. This leaves one to wonder where salary is going to be shaved off from - the Flames currently have 16 players under contract and they're already at ~50 million dollars in cap commitment, and trimming minor contracts like Matt Stajan and Anton Babchuk won't do much; thus the next step is to attempt to cut the guys making 5 million plus. For various reasons, Jay Bouwmeester would be the easiest and most obvious to move.
The other question, though, is why? The Flames make assloads of money on tickets, sponsorships, boxes, whatever. It's not like the ownership group is short in the pockets either, what with being worth like three billion dollars. The loonie? Holding strong at above 90 cents.
The conspiracy theorist in me makes me believe that this is a way for Flames ownership to go to City Council and say "Look, we have to spend at the cap floor to pay for this stadium. We need money!" Of course, that's an absurd notion. These guys don't need money, and by doing this the team is going to suck.
Oh, and not to mention that the hiring of Bob Hartley indicates (to me, at least) that there will be no rebuild. It's going to be another "going for it!" season with the same cast of characters, albeit one year older. As Hayley pointed out, it's not going to matter who's behind the bench if the Flames continue this weird personnel purgatory they seem to be content in running.
Above everything, I just wish they'd pick a fucking direction already.
Obviously, the hiring of Bob Hartley means that Troy Ward will be spending at least another season behind the bench of the Abbotsford Heat. To me, Ward seems like a guy who's quite content with coaching in the AHL right now.
Not even really interested, to be honest with you. I got so many booklets going in the back room there, and more stuff going on. That’s my number one focus right now is just to bring this to a conclusion.
-Troy Ward, May 15th, 2012
That's him giving an answer to the question of whether or not he'd like the Flames coach job during his exit interview a couple of weeks ago.
I'd still like to see Ward behind the bench of the Flames someday, but I also like that it's not today. Give him - and the kids in Abbotsford - some time to breed continuity.
Obviously the big news this week with all of the juniors now being done their respective seasons was the Flames decision to walk away from Joey Leach. Now, as many have stated, there's probably a few different reasons why this happened - limited NHL upside, example of an old drafting regime, et cetera. I agree with pretty much all of them for a simple reason: players like Joey Leach aren't worth the organization's time or money.
When I look at Leach, I see an NHL/AHL tweener and not much more. Now, in every free agency period there's a ton of guys like that available. Why waste time or money developing guys like that when you can just sign them to one-year, league-minimum contracts? I don't see much point. Of course, there's also the availability of development spots to consider - while the Flames might have an abundance of those at this point in time, a lot can change in three years; which is generally the length of entry-level contracts. It's certainly possible that Leach, by year 3, could be taking away a regular spot at the AHL level from a higher-upside defender.
In short, I think it to be a positive move from the organization. I wouldn't be surprised if a couple more of the guys on this list get the same treatment.
We'll get our draft coverage started.
A Moment of Zen
(click to biggify zen)
Have a good week.