Assigning Blame

Pat Steinberg
June 02 2011 01:33AM

Most of Wednesday's reaction to Calgary's trade of Tim Erixon to New York was emotional and, well, negative.  Understandably at that.  The Flames lost their best prospect and a guy that could have given them some important roster flexibility heading into the coming season, which sucks, plain and simple.  I come away from the day frustrated at the situation, but unable to paint the organization with a fail coloured brush...which may be the most annoying thing of all.

In the days leading up to Wednesday's deadline, the thought process seemed to be "if the Flames don't get this done, it's another failure of the organization."  That sentiment only intensified when the trade was finalized around 2 pm; why did the Flames let it get this far?  Why didn't they have contingency plans in place?  Why didn't they do all they possibly could to keep this player around?  All fair questions, yes.  But also questions I answered with "I believe they did" at the time; then we heard from Jay Feaster, and it became even more clear.

After hearing from Jay, where he lays it all out in black and white, how can we be pointing fingers or assigning blame to the Calgary Flames?  Well, let's go back and answer those three questions above.  Why did the Flames let it get this far?  Well, it's not like they weren't going to sign the kid.  Erixon was their top prospect, seemingly NHL ready, and a player fans were excited about.  For Calgary not to do their due dilligence in this respect would be foolish and a disservice to the team; and they did.

But at some point the team had to realize there wasn't as much interest on the other side, and they did.  Feaster pointed to a number of reasons why Erixon's camp was hesitant about signing the entry level deal; they weren't convinced he'd be playing NHL minutes; he didn't want to play in the American Hockey League; the Flames recent track record of giving time to young players isn't great.  While all were true, they were things out of Calgary's control...so question two: why didn't they have contingency plans in place?  Once again, they did.  A week out, the team realized this might not be a realistic possibility, and they started fleshing out their other options and deciding which would be best.  The prevailing though was the Rangers deal came out of the blue on Wednesday afternoon, when in reality, it had been discussed for at least 24 hours prior.  So the sentiment the Flames didn't have a backup just isn't factual.

And the final question: why didn't they do everything they possibly could do sign Erixon?  Yep...they did.  Feaster revealed the team came forward with two seperate offers, both pushing right to the limit of what they could offer the player.  Remember, Calgary's hands were tied, the same way every other team has their hands tied with the NHL rookie max.  The Flames offered him the standard three year entry level deal at the max rookie salary, with lucrative bonus packages involved.  Because there's only so much they can do, does that not qualify as doing everything they possibly could have done?

The bottom line is, the player didn't want to play with Calgary.  It's very hard to combat that when Erixon held all the cards, which he did in this scenario.  A highly touted prospect who had no qualms about re-entering the draft has the ability to control his own destiny; the Rangers were identified and the trade was made.  It's a damn shame because the player is a very good one and he will be a huge boost to the New York blueline, but I just can't sit here and condemn the Flames for how they handled this situation.

I've been plenty critical of the Flames and how they've gone about their business over the past 18 months, so the "you're just protecting the team because you're the rightsholder" argument is BS.  However, I'm also not going to just look for reasons to criticize the organization, and in this instance, they don't deserve any.  Feaster and the Flames maximized their return on a difficult, less-than-ideal situation.  They weren't signing the player despite their best efforts...what else could they have done?

1cd23297a0d13720ec2fc6d9740ce395
Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
Avatar
#51 jealous broadcaster
June 02 2011, 02:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

A few notes for Pat who is happy to dissolve the Flames Organization of any or most of responsibility for losing one of their top prospects.

Erixon didn't want to play in Calgary. That's a fact. To Erixon Calgary wasn't a particularly attractive place to play.

Why?

1) Cap Issues

2) Preferred to play in NYC

3) The team doesn't have a ton of flexibility on the back end (ie 3 NMC/NTC on the blueline). Feaster had suggested that the organization wanted him to start in Abbotsford.

4) Other. Who knows

I would suggest that the Flames (not necessarily Feaster) are responsible for most of the above.

1) It's the Flames' fault they're Cap in mangled (Hello Stajan contract, ect.) No non-playoff team has less cap room. ouch.

2) Why wouldn't you talk to a kid in pre-draft meetings about his willingness to play in markets other than his father's favorite stop in the NHL. That would be an obvious question to ask a son of a former NHLer. This is part of scouting/drafting.

3) Tough to see how a 10th place team can't find room for a legit prospect. Shietty Cap/Roster management has to turn off a D-prospect.

4) The bottom line is that Calgary isn't an attractive destination for the kid. Why would it be. The Flames have zero playoff series wins in seven years, and a single home ice appearance in the playoffs in the last 15 years.

This is not an elite franchise. (read that again please)

The bill of goods that the Flames have been selling to their fans is bogus. This has been an average to below average team over the past decade and a half, NOT A PERENNIAL CONTENDER!

Detroit is a hole, and the Wings don't lose 1st rounders back to the draft... BECAUSE THEIR A GOOD TEAM!!!! What a concept!

I don't blame Jay Feaster for the Flames being a below average team with a horrid cap situation, but his bosses are entirely responsible for the mess the team is in, which now sees one less prospect in the system.

Here's to hoping the Flames can make some draft magic with their 3 picks in the top two rounds... they might see the dividends in a few years, while Erixon will be skating on broadway this October.

Avatar
#53 jealous broadcaster
June 02 2011, 02:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Pat Steinberg

So Ken King gets a pass?

Avatar
#54 rod blogojevich
June 02 2011, 02:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Pat Steinberg

Yeah Pat none of us are blaming Feaster here. What is your defense of Ken King? I am Not trying to be antagonistic or anything, I just am curious on how one could defend him in this situation...

Avatar
#55 the-wolf
June 02 2011, 03:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

2 things I STILL don't get:

- If Erixon was willing to go back into the draft than he would have been willing to sign with other teams.

So why did we give him to NYR? Screw them. Was it really the best deal?

- Maybe you can't talk contract, but reservations about coming here? Just being dealt with now? No idea before now? Your best prospect for 2 years and this is all a complete surprise? Seems odd.

Facts are facts. We lost our top prospect and Feaster has been GM for over 5 months. Maybe coming out publicly and saying there was no way you'd trade REgehr didn't help matters.

Avatar
#56 MC Hockey
June 02 2011, 04:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Shutout

Sorry you show "Reality the trade is: Rangers – Erixon, 5th round pick, 1st round pick Flames – Horak, two 2nd round picks"..... but that's wrong. In reality...

Rangers get Erixon and 5th round pick not another 1st rounder (that 1st round WAS Erixon)...so your argument, while good, is skewing the facts.

Avatar
#57 negrilcowboy
June 02 2011, 04:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

the blame falls on dutter 1.0, dutter 2.0,king, and feaster. firstly if erixon didnt want to be a flame why did you draft him. secondly, why did you wait until the clock struck 12. and lastly why play the fans as fools. feaster is a lawyer, which translates into spin doctor. ken king is running this ship of fools, time for a fan mutiny.

Avatar
#58 Tach
June 02 2011, 04:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
the-wolf wrote:

2 things I STILL don't get:

- If Erixon was willing to go back into the draft than he would have been willing to sign with other teams.

So why did we give him to NYR? Screw them. Was it really the best deal?

- Maybe you can't talk contract, but reservations about coming here? Just being dealt with now? No idea before now? Your best prospect for 2 years and this is all a complete surprise? Seems odd.

Facts are facts. We lost our top prospect and Feaster has been GM for over 5 months. Maybe coming out publicly and saying there was no way you'd trade REgehr didn't help matters.

I suspect that NYR were the only team offering up anything because they were the only team that felt they could get him under contract by the deadline. If you didn't have a guarantee to get him under contract, why would you trade for him?

As to how NYR knew that they would be able to get him under contract...

Avatar
#59 Crapshoot
June 02 2011, 10:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Tim Erixon has been boasting in swedish newspapers about how great this is, how it is a dream come true and how it was the best thing that could ever happen. He is a little punk, his agent is a punk too, and the forces who pulled him towards the rangers...well, the whole thing just reeks of tampering. I for one am glad to be rid of that little asshat, no matter how good a player he could have been. Hopefully he will fail immensely in New York and get sent to the AHL, while Roman Horak continues to shine with Howse in the Heat and turns into a solid NHL player. Who knows, right?

Avatar
#61 the-wolf
June 03 2011, 01:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pat Steinberg wrote:

This response is also to "jealous broadcaster"...

This article is a defence of Jay Feaster and Flames hockey ops. Ken King isn't part of Flames hockey ops...did Darryl stick around too long in my opinion? Yes he did, and that's why the team is in this situation. Does some responsibility lie at King's feet for that? Yes.

Not part of hockey ops? Are you sure. When King is the one doing hockey negotiations....

Avatar
#62 everton fc
June 03 2011, 01:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

How did the organization not know Erixon didn't want to be here? Why didn't they have knowledge of this around the trade deadline?? Perhaps he could have been pakcaged with someone for a real asset?

Doesn't sit well with me. No one wants a pplayer who doesn't want to be here. But how is it we didn't know - no one knew??

Perhaps, if we knew... We could have packaged him with, say, Stajan... Or as bait to move Hagman?? Sather might have taken that bait...

Am I missing something (I haven't read through all the posts)

Avatar
#63 everton fc
June 03 2011, 01:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Crapshoot

@ Crapshoot.

When we play the Rangers next season... a guy like Jackman... Kostopolous... Regehr... Iggy... Should send a real strong message to Tim Erixon. Not a Bertuzzi/Moore thing... But play him hard. Hit him fair, but hard.

Send this message the rest of his career.

(Does anyone think Darryl could have signed Erixon? Or got more for Erixon, sooner, like at the trade deadline?? I think he could have. Not saying Darryl's better than Feaster, or vice versa... Just sayin', with this particular player...)

Avatar
#66 everton fc
June 03 2011, 04:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Pat Steinberg wrote:

Dude, what if the damn agent and the player told them at the time that, yes, absolutely we'll get a deal done???

Like, what else should the Flames have done? Read his damn mind?

If the Erixon camp says, yes, signing here is an offseason priority...why wouldn't the Flames take that at face value??

I get all that... But it seems you'd have to know something...

What's done is done. Erixon and his agent certainly leave a lot to be desired... If your a Flames fan, that is!

Avatar
#67 thymebalm
June 03 2011, 06:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

I need to object to the argument that things happening at the 11th hour shows disarray or failure on the part of the flames organization. Waiting actually probably made Erixon sweat. He would have to re-enter the draft as a top-10 pick. The Rangers might not be able to draft him before someone else scoops him up, then he's stuck with a bottom feeder again and wastes another year of his career (similar: Nabokov).

What if the Rangers think, well, he's only going to sign with us anyway, and they opt to wait until the second round to draft him, and he gets scooped back up by a club other than the Rangers in the late 1st round or early 2nd.

Both situations were possible and did not favor Erixon. Feaster offers him the best possible deal he can, and then lets time pressure Erixon. Does he just take the sweet contract, and avoid the draft, or not?

Meanwhile Feaster goes to the Rangers and says "look, if I let this kid go back to the draft, your 2nd round pick won't be good enough to punch his ticket, so that's where the negotiations start, now what else do you have to offer?"

He winds up with another pick and prospect on top of that, and leaves with one (arguably two) more assets than he started with.

Bravo, Feaster.

Blame the history of the franchise since Darryl decided he didn't want to witness any growing pains on his NHL roster. Blame the scouts who drafted a player they weren't able to sign. Blame their record since the lockout.

This whole ordeal is colored by the mediocre history of the Flames post-lockout, something which Feaster should really be absolved from, lest he become a part of it in 2011-12.

Comments are closed for this article.