Life is filled with second chances. The sports landscape is littered with players who needed time to develop or right themselves and then found success. The Flames currently have one on their roster in Micheal Ferland and so far it’s working out just fine. The Flames have a chance to add to that list this season and if it does work out, it will be another great story for a player and a team that are all about waiting and giving players second chances.
On June 3, 2013, the Calgary Flames had already made one Canadian youngster’s dreams come true when they selected Sean Monahan with the 6th pick in the NHL Draft. As the first round was winding down, Calgary had the 22nd pick in that same round from a trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues. Flames General Manager Jay Feaster sent in the pick and the name Emile Poirier was announced as Calgary’s pick.
Poirier, a Montreal native, caught Calgary’s eye due to his speed and scoring ability. Hockey’s Future rated him a 7 and thought highly enough of him to give him a B rating in regards to his chances to make it in the NHL. So, Calgary wasn’t wrong in taking the 6’2”, 185lb point tallying machine. In his 3 previous seasons in the QMJHL he posted point totals of 40 and 70. Clearly the Flames nailed the on ice talent and Poirier was signed and everyone waited. He played 1 more season with the Gatineau Olympiques where he scored 43 goals and had 44 assists before making the jump to Abbortsford/Adirondack/Stockton where he’s played in a combined 160 games and has accumulated 92 points. Not bad numbers, but if you break everything down you can see where things started to go off the rails. His 2014-15 season in Adirondack had to have been eye opening for the Flames. Poirier had 42 points in 55 games and showed some grit by sitting in the penalty box for 55 PIM in his first full season in the AHL. In 2015-16 Emile Poirier’s game totals increased, but his points decreased significantly (60 games, 29 points) and 2016-17 was a lost season with 43 games played and 17 points.
Prospects go up and down all the time. Sometimes it’s due to teams figuring them out. Sometimes it’s who they are playing with. Sometimes it’s something completely different than all of those scenarios. Emile Poirier falls into the latter category. The reason? Emile Poirier came to Flames and admitted he had an alcohol addiction.
It takes a strong person to admit when something has gone wrong and Emile Poirier did just that when he picked up the phone and called Brad Treliving. Based on all the reports and accounts, Poirier has turned his life around and is ready to get back on track. Now you may ask “this is older news and why is it important today?” It’s relevant from the standpoint of the cries for the Flames to sign Jaromir Jagr. Calgary has limited roster spots and you have to figure Mark Jankowski is going to slide into one of those slots this season. That leaves one open spot and I’d rather see Poirier get a shot at that position as opposed to an aging star. Look, Jagr still has talent for sure. He’s dynamic, but he’s also 45 years old. He’s older than me as I type this. In the last 2 seasons he’s put up a ridiculous 112 points, which is amazing on the surface. Jagr would bring excitement and intrigue to Calgary like it hasn’t seen in a while. Jersey and shirsey sales would be astronomical. But is he going to put the Flames over the top and into the Cup Finals? Probably not. Will Poirier put the Flames over the top? No. Will he generate the same buzz, merchandise sales and national exposure? No.
What Poirier is, however, is a better STORY. I like stories. I love the idea of a player with so much talent, who lost his way, who overcomes his demons and becomes a success story. That is Emile Poirier and that, to me, is better than jersey and mullet wig sales. Both Jagr and Poirier are similar in this way: each may be nearing an end in a way. Father Time is on Jagr’s heels and Poirier could be in a make or break year with Calgary. If I were making the decisions, I’d take a chance on a guy that I selected in the 1st round, who asked for help and has gotten said help. I’d take the chance on the kid with a potential electrifying offensive skill set. I’d take a chance on a forward who has the potential to be a Flames staple for years to come.
Calgary stands by their players. They get them the help they need and they give them their shot to earn their keep. Emile Poirier has a chance to prove the Flames right for standing by him and getting him the help he needs. As far as I’m concerned, Poirier’s redemption story outweighs selling some jerseys of an aging NHL star who’s had his time in the spotlight. It’s time to give Poirier the chance to shine.