It’s like a roller coaster. It goes up, it goes down, and it goes around and around. And depending on your perspective and fears, you either focus on the dizzying high points of the ride, or the crushing gravity of the low points. Or maybe what happened at the recent end sticks in your head, or maybe you think back to the exhilaration of the start. Somewhere, the truth about how much fun that coaster ride is probably winds up somewhere in the middle.
If TJ Brodie is only good when he’s attached at the hip to and only Mark Giordano, then he’s not actually good. If he’s only good when he’s playing exclusively on the right side of the ice and only the right side, then he’s not actually that good. If a player needs to be precisely spoon fed his minutes to make him not be an absolute turnover machine disaster on the ice, then it begs the question if it’s worth molding the rest of your lineup around him. If you decide that it is, you’re moving the better and more versatile players to spots that they may succeed less in at the hope and risk that your problem player has a miraculous turnaround.
Is it worth shuffling Hamilton off the top pairing to get Brodie going? Is Hamonic versatile enough to play the left side with Dougie? Is HamilTonic the new first pairing while you cut an aging but still effective Giordano’s ice time to pander to Brodie in the second pair? If all it takes is moving Brodie across the rink to the right side, can he pull it off with Kulak on the left side all the way down at 5-6? And is that where you want to be spending his kind of contract money?
If you decide that it actually isn’t worth it, and at the age of 27 TJ Brodie has nothing more to offer your club, you have to trade him. But if you as a hockey club see that he has nothing left to offer YOU anymore, you have to convince someone else that he’s got something to offer THEM. And, you have to convince Brodie of that too. TJ’s Modified No Trade Clause kicks in on July 1st of this year, where in the case of shopping or trading him, TJ submits an Eight Team No-Trade List to Brad Treliving to work with. And of course there’s his 4.6 million dollar price tag that hopefully in someone else’s GM world is fair price for back-to-back minus-16 and 30-point campaigns.
Yet, somewhere in the middle of that is likely were the truth lies. A fresh set of coaching staff brings new perspective to not only Brodie’s scenario, but a number of Flames players and scenarios that need work. Is Brodie as bad as his last two years have been and his best day are long gone, or are those smooth-skating 40+ point seasons still buried in there somewhere underneath the unbending ignorance of the Glen Gulutzan Era? I’ve long been in the camp that unlike someone of the Hamonic ilk, Brodie lacks the versatility to be “good” consistently. There are players who are proven, well-rounded NHLers who, as all players do, go through bad years and slumps here and there, but their impact and play outweighs the negatives overall. Then there are players that were good in very specific, thread-the-needle scenarios, and once they were moved anywhere outside that comfort zone completely fell off the wagon and never got back to their peak, and Brodie is leaning over that edge as the days tick by.
TJ Brodie is under contract for another two seasons, at which point he becomes RFA for the 2020-21 season. What transpires with his play, and where that might take place, is a topic with tons of possible endings. Is he worth the remaining two years as a restoration project, if he indeed is seen by Bill Peters and others as a redeemable guy? Is it time to just ship him out for whatever you can get, seeing the glut of young talent coming down the pipe on the blue line? These are decisions to be made by people who get paid a lot more than we do, and they’ve got all summer and as long as they want in the coming years to make that choice. And when that choice is made, and how, we’ll finally get some answers to the roller coaster mystery of TJ Brodie.