Five things: More of the same

Ryan Lambert
June 01 2012 11:18AM

 

1. More rumors, more denials

Hey is John Davidson coming to Calgary? No, says everyone involved, apparently. And yet the rumors persist, which is interesting especially given that his current employers, the St. Louis Blues, are going through a bit of a shakeup.

Despite all the "this didn't happen" talk, would it really surprise you to see Davidson out job hunting? The Blues, under their new ownership, have seen more than a one front office guy get shuffled out, the latest being the team's CEO over the weekend. Now, John Davidson is one of the dyed-in-the-woolest hockey guys on Earth, and one assumes that the Blues would be loath to 86 him, especially given the work he's done in turning the Blues into one of the best teams in the league last season (disappointing playoff ouster notwithstanding, obviously).

It all makes sense. Ken King has largely been a failure at promoting a good hockey product in the past four years or so, and Davidson is an ultra-respected hockey guy with a proven track record. He also has an out in his contract that will allow him to do any old thing he likes if he chooses to walk away. The quotes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the new owner don't exactly inspire confidence that Davidson thinks he's long for the team, but I guess we have to take him at his word that he hasn't had any talks whatsoever with the Flames about anything from a senior hockey ops job to the weather.

Would it be nice to get Davidson under the Flames' umbrella? Sure. But I'm not holding my breath.

2. Can't wait for this matchup

The Stanley Cup Finals began on Wednesday and I have to say I might be looking forward to it more than last year's, and I was very much looking forward to last year's.

These are two teams for whom I have next to no dislike, filled with players whose games I very much enjoy. This was the best possible matchup from any of the possible ones in the Conference Finals, as I would have been ill-tempered to see John Tortorella complain his way through as many as seven games in the Cup Finals (to say nothing of the largescale media bitchfest that would follow each of his pressers). 

So help me, I just love Darryl Sutter hockey, and Pete DeBoer's brand isn't too bad itself. Both teams are aggressive in the forecheck, have dynamic two-way players on their top lines in Anze Kopitar and Zach Parise, both have strong defenses (obviously), both have excellent goalies, even if they're going on opposite escalators to and from greatness — and I wonder if Jon Quick will ever come close to replicating this performance again.

I'm fully confident the Kings win, and I'm fully confident that, unlike their previous opponents, the Devils actually win more than once. But nonetheless, I'm very much anticipating these next six games or so.

3. Some thoughts on the Memorial Cup from an American, which you will surely hate

As a person who lives in America, you probably understand why I don't get to see a lot of CHL games. Never mind regular season, and never mind the league playoffs, we didn't even get a Memorial Cup game until the London/Shawinigan final.

So I watched it, for lack of any other hockey on television. And, well, the nicest thing I can say about it is that I hope that's not representative of the entire CHL product. Obviously, the CHL is great for development of top-end players and can churn out some very good middle-of-the-road guys as well, but as far as entertainment value goes, that was some ugly, poorly-played hockey.

That's not to say it wasn't exciting. Low-scoring championship games that go to overtime are usually pretty watchable, but this was on the lowest imaginable end of that spectrum. I can't imagine why people like this brand of hockey if it's all like this, except that it's what's available in small towns like Shawinigan.

Maybe it's the fact that I come from a part of the U.S. with five or six elite college hockey programs within three hours by car, and therefore I'm used to seeing the best non-professional 20-year-old players in the world on a nightly basis, but that game was ugly and borderline unwatchable. I was more than happy to change it to Game of Thrones at 9.

Please, tell me it's not always this bad.

4. Thankfully, sanity from the Blackhawks

Yesterday, the Blackhawks held a presser to announce the re-signing of Johnny Oduya to a nice little three-year deal that should work out pretty well for both sides. And of course, this being what it is, the subject of Patrick Kane's lost weekend in Wisconsin inevitably came up.

The team said they were disappointed in Kane, and that he had been made to fully understand that. And that was it.

No public excoriation for the supposedly shameful behavior the Chicago media had been crowing about, not idle threats about how it's time to shape up or get shipped out. Just, "We're obviously disappointed with how it played it out, and Patrick is aware of that fact. But at this point, it's a private matter. I think, out of respect for Patrick, we're not going to comment further. We're going to look forward and try to focus on things in improving our team leading into the summer."

That's how it should be. The kid, who by the way, won the team a Stanley Cup two summers ago, didn't deserve the kind of beating he took in the media for partying with what amounts to kids his own age, in the offseason no less.

Good for Chicago.

5. Time for Happy Iggy Again

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 suba steve
June 02 2012, 09:36AM
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@loudogYYC

I, like you (I assume), am a fan. I'm not a "hockey guy" by their definition.

I have no idea why King is so hated (by some). I also see no reason why he needs to be a hockey guy. He needs to be a smart business guy in his role. As far as I can see the only meddling he has done (for sure) with the team has been in helping get GlenX signed, and I see that as a good thing. I think he would have been far better off if he had not grabbed his moment in the sun and taken some credit for the signing. If Feaster had announced the signing with no mention of King, I think the hate for him would be less. Now his haters see him as Feaster's "puppet master", I don't believe it, not till I see some clear evidence.

He probably also has put certain restrictions on the GM, like you can't trade #12. This is either due to $$ considerations, or just cause the owner(s) love Iggy. Though, I hope this position is softening. Who among us, has no restrictions on them at work? Pretty standard stuff.

As for Lanny, love him. He is a public relations dream. But, is he president material? Probably not. Correct me if I am wrong on this, as I have no idea what his qualifications for the position are, other then that we all love Lanny.

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#2 propositionWes
June 01 2012, 12:17PM
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"The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight and I have to say I might be looking forward to it more than last year's, and I was very much looking forward to last year's."

Missed deadline?

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#3 Baalzamon
June 01 2012, 12:19PM
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"Please, tell me it's not always this bad."

fortunately, it isn't. As soon as the Memorial Cup started, every team involved (with the possible exception of Shawinnigan) suddenly forgot how to play. The entire tournament was pretty much completely horrible right from the get go (particularly the Oil Kings). I didn't see every game, but there were flashes of somethingness in one of them... which I can't remember (I think London was playing..)

For myself, I wish more NCAA games were broadcast north of the border. There's some great hockey played at that level, and I think it would keep some Canadian fans from being disappointed when their team drafts a college-bound prospect (rather than a Major Junior one) if they were more frequently exposed to that level of play.

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#4 Kent Wilson
June 01 2012, 12:24PM
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@propositionWes

Yeah, completely my fault though.

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#5 suba steve
June 01 2012, 12:26PM
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I have seen no info on the Kane issue, this was my first intro to it.

News Flash:

College age kids binge drink and generally behave like idiots. Always have, the picture brings back fond memories, not shock. Let the guy have something resembling a normal life for god's sake. So, I guess, I agree with you on that RL.

However having learned that you are an American, to many Americans involved in Calgary hockey, as we have been told recently. I think we need more Canadian content. Is FN regulated by the C.R.T.C.? No, I am not serious.

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#6 Shaner
June 01 2012, 01:28PM
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Hey Lambert try watching more than one game, then decide the hockeys terrible, London is quite possibly the most trap happy team in the chl( outside of possibly kootenay), if college hockey is so unreal why are a lot of your top American players coming up to the chl. Get informed then make intelligent comments. I love how you have an oppinion after watching one game, the final was admittedly boring. If you wanted to watch some great hockey you should have caught some oilking winterhawk series where it was wide open and passionate and fast paced.

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#7 Monaertchi
June 01 2012, 03:51PM
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@Shaner

I'm no Lambert apologist by any means, but there is a reason that you know he only watched one game - he very clearly stated it. Also, he asked for input as to whether or not the hockey in the championship game was indicative of the rest of the year. I thought it was very clear. Apparently it wasn't for you.

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#8 Tach
June 01 2012, 04:34PM
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Maybe it's just me, but I think Hartley's face would look good/hilarious as the horse in the happy Iggy drawing.

Just sayin'.

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#9 FireOnIce
June 01 2012, 06:01PM
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1. Flames missed out on Yzerman (not sure he would've been good, hard to go wrong with Marty St. Louis setting up Stamkos every night) and other potential GMs. Flames hired Bob Hartley when they could've had a slew of other guys that could potentially have been better.

Not sure they're going to sink this putt with Davidson. I had no idea who he was until recently though so I've not formulated a good/bad opinion yet on him. Seems like he would be a boon to the organization from what I've read.

2. I'm intrigued by this match up and look forward to it as well. Kings just steamrolled their way through the West and the Devils fought and clawed their way here. Devils were terrible last season too - note that Parise played this season and Zajac actually got to play with him. Still have to say the Kings will win.

3. I feel your pain of living in the U.S. and being a rabid hockey fan.

4. This is what I have said time and time again. These people are young celebrities and enjoy partying like every other university-age person. Writers saying that Kane is "troubled" or that he's not taking their first-round loss seriously are idiots. Hawks lost, Kane is out enjoying his summer before he has to start working out again in a few weeks.

5. What are you going to do if they trade Iginla?

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#10 Alt
June 01 2012, 08:24PM
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If you need to ask if the rest of the CHL games are the same as the one and only final one you watched,than i suggest you admit you know nothing about the CHL and some of the players it,s spawned.Ther have been a few good players from this league.

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#11 Ryan Pike
June 01 2012, 10:07PM
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@ Fire On Ice

Happy Sven.

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#12 loudogYYC
June 01 2012, 11:49PM
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At the risk of sounding like a dumbass, what is it exactly that the president of hockey operations does? I mean on a day to day basis.

I ask this cause we've all heard people say that King is the reason the team sucks and that he's not a hockey guy and that Lanny McDonald would be a good president and all that crap. I'm still not clear though on how King or JD or Lanny could/would affect the hockey team.

I'm hoping someone could clarify this, maybe an article idea? Thanks!

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#13 Kevin R
June 02 2012, 11:03AM
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@ Steve & loudog: I had heard from insiders that King doesnt want the hockey sideof it & doesnt get as involved as many think. He's a business operations guy. He is in his element just overseeing the whole thing, press people to do better & make money for the organization. I think there is real truth to him bringing in a hockey operations President & just oversee the whole lot. Thats his gig, not making trades & signings. He is a very persuasive man & if he can be part of a presentation to assist his people, he is all over it. I think he has huge value to Murray & the Ownership group in many other capacities & if he didnt have that, he would have been sent packing with Daryl. He was very good friends with Dutter & had put a lot of trust in him, probably way more than he should have, & that was a very tough situation he went thru letting Dutter go back then.

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#14 loudogYYC
June 03 2012, 01:33AM
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@suba steve

I agree with you, he's a guy in charge Flames marketing and profitability. I see how the on ice product has a lot to do with that, but if he was actually in charge of on ice too, he'd be the GM right?

The one thing that's clear to me is that he's Edwards right hand guy when it comes to Calgary Flames Corp. This is why I also agree with you that Lanny as president would look good to the community, but probably a wrong fit for the business side of the team.

@Kevin R

You've mentioned in other posts that you're privy to some inside info on the Flames. Do you know what a guy like JD or whoever would actually be doing as a replacement to King?

Again, I sound like foreigner when I ask the question. Well, I kind of am but I've been a Flames diehard since the mid 80's. I just don't get all the hate for KK. Maybe @Domebeers would like to chip in?

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#15 Kevin R
June 03 2012, 11:29AM
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A President of Hockey operations I would imagine would have Managers of every aspect of running the hockey club reporting to them. Work closely with the GM to layout the blueprint of the team, its direction and be a valuable hockey resource for decision making. A bad example is with condominiums, they have a reserve analysis and reserve study to project future needs & ensure there is funding to deal with those needs. NHL teams in a Cap league need to run their player assets in a similar way. Its the only way to find a consistency to be a legitimate threat year after year like Detroit has been. That is a big part of a President who really needs to know the hockey side of it. I have said all last year that when a hockey team in a cap league has 9 million or 14% of your cap sitting in the press box as healthy scratches, something is drastically wrong. When you are paying a player 4.0million to either play low minutes on a 4th line or being scratched, something is drastically wrong. A strong Hockey President would never have allowed some of the contracts & trade decisions to happen if they properly had a blueprint for the team not only for present but for future. King knows how to make money and run the business side, so it would make sense for a structure that has all the Presidents of the Flames sports group (Hitmen/Flames/Stamps/Lacrosse)to report to him as the CEO. I truly think King is very needed for this new building which is going to play a huge role in all the Calgary sports franchises. No one would ever question a JD going in a meeting with a free agent with the GM to do the sales pitch to getting that player to sign but for some reason people see it as a negative when King got involved with the GlenX negotiation. Why? Because King isnt perceived as a hockey person? Not sure about that one but one I thing I have learned is perception becomes reality. I was actually quite excited to hear Ken King say that they are reviewing the corporate structure where his role will probably change, he just plans to do it on his time table not the medias & rumour mongers. To me it does give legs to the fact the Flames may be hiring a new President for hockey operations, whether its JD or someone else. The timing of that will probably be when things get really heated up with the new building/arena.

You really want to throw a hail mary out there way out of the box, King takes a CEO of the total Flames sports group, Feaster moves to President & Weisbrod takes over as GM & Conroy gets the Asst GM title. How about that for spitballing :-)

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#16 Franko J
June 03 2012, 10:57PM
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Add to five things - - - more random thoughts.

Sutter right place at the right time.

Iginla -- Only in speculation: Just think if the rumors from last season were true. How much more happier would he be at this moment?

What about going after Jaimie Benn from Dallas or Matt Duchene with Colorado as RFA'S? If not signed by their respective teams, what would be the compensation for signing one or the other? Maybe both?

Other than Flame's UFA's {excluding the top 2 on the list} who should they target to fit in with new coach Hartley?

Possible candidates for the Flames soon-to-be vacant President position include JD from the Blues, but I also heard that the next President of the club might be a woman. Very interesting perspective. Note: source of the infomation was mentioned on the radio, but I cannot recall who said it.

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