October 31 2012 11:20AM
Because I have used up my allotment of satire for the year and there remains almost zero actual Flames news to discuss, it's time for another random thoughts post.
- I've never been a Flames season ticket - I was too young when ST's were cheap and plentiful and now as a working adult they are expensive and in short supply.
So I can't really relate. At this juncture in the lock-out with the league canceling games and the tqo sides engaging in little more than posturing, I wonder how many STH's are starting to question their financial commitment to the Flames. Particularly in the wake of three completely lackluster seasons (and with no real end in sight on that front).
I'm guessing Calgary didn't offer 10% interest on ST monies like the Wild, so there's no financial incentive to keep paying for a season that isn't. The risk of abandoning tickets in Calgary, of course, is that they could be snapped up by opportunistic folks on the waiting list.
That said, this type of action is pretty much the only kind of leverage fans have for hastening the end of the lock-out. Earnest petitions and impotent wailing on messageboards and on blogs is only so much sound and fury to a league that saw its customers come back in droves after a canceled season eight years ago.
I've seen a lot of expressed anger and apathy towards the NHL over the past month or so form various quarters, but until that translates into actual, financial consequences (loss of ticket holders, damage to the brand, etc.) the owners are going to continue to pursue their interests versus the players by whatever means necessary.
(it's either start canceling tickets or go full French Revolution on Bettman and the owners)
That's easy for me to advocate, of course. I don't have season tickets so I have nothing to lose. Still, I think the fact remains until the fans start manifesting their displeasure in some tangible way during this work stoppage, the league will continue to do little more than pay them lip service.
No room for Worthy Gambles
- If and when the season ever gets going, the Flames roster is more or less set with 13 NHL forwards + Sven Baertschi up front and nine NHL defenders (if you include Brett Carson) on the back-end. Even if the club uses some sort of amnesty clause to drop a guy like Stajan, it means there isn't much room for any kind of meaningful additions.
Which is too bad, because there are a few bodies having nice starts to the year that I wish the team could look at.
First up is Linus Omark. The former Oiler had a rocky start to his career in Edmonton thanks to a host of factors - the prevalence of higher-end prospects, the club's insistence on dressing borderline goons on the 4th line and Omarks own outspoken disinterest in being cast as a checker.
The 25-year old is tearing apart the Swiss League so far this year with 25 points in 17 games. Before crossing the pond, Omark was a PPG players in the SEL and managed 20 goals and 36 points in the KHL, so there's reason to think there is upside there. In addition, during his first 51 games in the NHL, Omark's underlying numbers were solid - he managed the third best relative corsi rating on the Oilers behind only Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. The reason he struggled to put up points was a PDO of 95.7 (!!), the lowest amongst regular skaters on the club that year.
As a result, Omark was cast as one of those guys who is "too good for other leagues" but not good enough for the NHL. It doesn't help that he's small and NHL coaches/GM's typically want dudes who are big, tough, mean and with team-first attitudes on the third and fourth lines.
Still, he strikes me as worthwhile gamble. He won't be expensive to acquire or sign for whoever takes the plunge. If he works out, you have a 25 year old 2nd or 3rd line forward who can score 40 or more points, play on the powerplay and maybe manage a nice shoot-out goal or two.
Another guy I figure should be back in the league is Patrick Thoresen. Also a former Oiler, Thoresen is another guy who had solid underlying numbers during his time in the league but couldn't seem to get the bounces, which stigmatized him as little more than a checker. Since leaving, however, Thoresen has averaged more than a point-per-game pace in the KHL over three seasons and is currently second in scoring on St. Peterburgh behind only Ilya Kovalchuk with 19 points in 20 games.
- Commenter Clay brought up an interesting point recently:
It worries me that with a shortened season it is more likely that a tail event occurs. This is all well and good for this team's needs going forward if it is a left tail event, and we get McKinnon, Jones, or another high ranking prospect. I'm worried about the right tail. This team finishes third and/or buys big at the deadline, and gets bounced out of the playoffs quickly. I'd prefer to take my chances with 3 balls in a Mckinnon draft lottery.
A shortened season certainly comes with the elevated influence of luck. Smaller sample = bigger chance a streak based on percentages (one way or the other) confounds things.
I'll go on record saying I'm completely okay with the Flames riding a hot streak and playing above their level as long as it comes with a siginificant measure of success. Meaning, of course, an extended playoff appearance (conference finals or better). Otherwise, I'm with Clay on this one - if the Flames pull a Minnesota Wild for a month or two and it convinces the decision makers the team is somehow a contender again, it could damage the team down the road.
- On the periphery of the lock-out, things are starting to get real for the little people. We here at the Nation had to institute a 30% rollback for paid writers this month because we can't drum up new business to pay the bills. Today, the Phoenix Coyotes laid off some support staff:
Phoenix Coyotes just laid off staff, including Manager of media relations. His last day is Nov. 5 #merrychristmasfromnhl— adater (@adater)
I'm guessing a lot of other such folks in every front offices around the league are either facing the same fate or operating with significantly reduced pay.
If the labour stoppage ends in a month or two it probably won't cause lasting damage. If this stretches the rest of the year, however, things are going to get pretty complicated for a lot of people.