Matt Stajan's Long Road to Redemption

Steve Macfarlane
November 26 2013 09:33AM

 

Backstrom and Stajan Face Off
- pic via clyde

 

If we took a poll of Flames fans a couple of years ago asking whether or not they’d want to keep Matt Stajan on the team beyond the season, nevermind the life of his current contract, the response likely would have been a resounding no. Perhaps not completely unanimous, but certainly overwhelmingly in favour of ditching him in any fashion possible — be it through trade, waivers, assignment to the minors or just wishing for something bad to happen to him.

But five seasons into his stint in Calgary, the 29-year-old centre might be the most popular pending UFA in town. You won’t find a more low-key guy on or off the ice than Stajan, so it’s no wonder the ride on his road to redemption was slow, methodical, and something only whispered about in NHL rinks rather than blazed across newspaper headlines.

Crushed under the thumb of the Sutter regime

In any blockbuster trade there is a centerpiece. When then-Flames GM Darryl Sutter sent Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs in January 2010, not a single marquee player came to Calgary in return. Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers were the return. With 55 points in 76 games the previous year, and 41 in his first 55 with the Leafs that season, Stajan looked like a promising young player finding his groove in the NHL. Sutter made him the primary piece of the trade on the Flames side with a long-term deal that would pay Stajan $14 million over the next four seasons.

In hindsight, that might have been the worst possible scenario for Stajan.

Nothing short of that 50-point plateau would satisfy the masses, and while Stajan produced 16 points in 27 games the rest of the way, things almost inexplicably soured the next season. Head coach Brent Sutter’s doghouse was an uncomfortable place to sleep, and Stajan was stuck there often. After averaging more than 19 minutes a game with the Flames following the trade, he was given just 14 per contest in 2010-11, and less than a minute on both special teams units.

After spending the first five seasons of his NHL career on the first and second lines, making plays on the powerplay, and skating beside the likes of Phil Kessel and Alexei Ponikarovsky, Stajan found himself centering the fourth line for Sutter, beside guys like Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos.

“I was used in a lesser role with Brent. My mindset was to be the best fourth-line centre I could be for our team during that stretch,” Stajan says now, realizing that his image was tarnished and there was little hope of producing points at any regular pace with the role he was given.

“From the outside, people just look at production and don’t realize the opportunity given. We control what we do out there. That’s all you can do. Your hockey career, every season, and even game to game, it’s a rollercoaster.”

Stajan was given no real explanation for the change in role, but he never griped publicly, never turned down an interview on the topic, never stopped trying to improve his situation. But it wasn’t easy.

“Definitely, it’s hard on you,” he says with a reflective laugh. “There’s down time. You try to leave it all at the rink but we are human beings. We go home, we have families. My wife, I’m sure had some nights where she was pretty annoyed with me because I probably took it out on her. “

Into the unknown — a new era begins

With both Sutters gone, another potential lockout on the horizon and a focus on youth just around the corner for the Flames, Stajan wasn’t sure what to expect following the worst two seasons of his career.
When teams were offered two compliance buyouts before the start of the new season a year ago, Stajan wasn’t sure what his future held.

A buyout was a possibility, although Stajan was hopeful a more promising finish to the previous season under Brent might help his case to stick around under Bob Hartley. He did have a stretch of 14 games through February and March that year that saw him post seven goals and 11 points.

“I didn’t know if a buyout was coming,” Stajan said. “At the end of the season, Brent’s last year, we had a ton of injuries. I started to get more of an opportunity to play. I finished the season — I thought — really well.

“Going into a lockout, you just never know what’s going to happen, what direction the team wants to go. I’m thankful that the new coach that came in, nothing did happen and I was given an opportunity to get back to playing a role I’ve played previously and I’ve been successful at.”

Coming in as the new head coach prior to the lockout-shortened season, Hartley had heard all about Stajan’s difficult years. He told every player they’d get a fresh start and a chance to prove to him what they could do and what kind of role they would ultimately play for him.

“I was pretty happy to hear those words,” says Stajan. “A fresh start is what you need after going through a stretch that wasn’t exactly great for myself.”

Hartley was just as happy to realize what he really had in Stajan — a positive role model for the young kids they wanted to give more responsibility to, and a player who could still produce offensively.

“I don’t think he was in very good books before. It just shows that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. There’s no magic formulas for this,” Hartley says, offering communication as the key to their relationship.

“The player is unbelievably committed to team success. He’s a great leader. The good part is that the person is even better than the player. I rarely see a quality human being like Stajan. He cares about everyone. He’s very unselfish. He’s a pro.
“I came in, I had great talks with him. He just took off. He did it. I’m very impressed and I like him a lot.“

Is redemption the end of the road in Calgary?

With 23 points through 43 games last year — a pace that would put him at nearly 44 points over 82 games — Stajan showed Hartley he deserved a bigger role. He’s averaging over 19 minutes this season and is back on the 50-point pace that was expected of him when he came to the Flames.

But his contract expires at the end of this season, and he’s unsure of what that means for his future in Calgary — a place he now considers home, where he and his wife Katie have a house, where their family will grow by one in five or six months when they have their first child.

It’s a city in which he overcame his biggest career obstacle by giving a consistent effort and staying as positive as possible. And given the state of the Calgary Flames, this is a team that may need that type of guy to stick around and share his experience with the young players during the rebuild.

“Through that whole situation I feel like I grew as a player and as a person,” Stajan says. “Now, looking at the whole picture, you see teammates and other guys in the league and friends that are going through the same thing, day in and day out, whether it’s in our profession or in their own lives. Having gone through that, you just kind of be that friend and be that person who tells them, ‘Hey, it’s going to get better.’

“It’s never as bad as it seems and it’s never as good. It’s on you to make sure that mentally you kind of keep yourself in the moment and try to get better. Sometimes it takes longer than you think.”

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Covered the Flames on the newspaper beat from lockout to lockout and continue to do it on my own terms. Follow me on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
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#1 SVENSANITY
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
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People are suggesting we resign Stajan? This is even a debate?

What benefit is to be gained from resigning him? All I see are negatives. 1. he takes up a roster spot from someone like a Granlund or an Arnold 2. He's not a 50 point guy and he won't be given he's now on the other side of the hill and going downwards not upwards. 3. This is a rebuild 4. there are other better veterans who produce who can help the kids out.

If the Flames resign Stajan I will send them anthrax in the mail i swear.

What can Stajan do that Backlund cannot? The mere fact that management would even consider this makes me vibrate with anger.

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#2 redhot1
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
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I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

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#3 FlamesRule
November 26 2013, 10:48AM
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Stajan is a keeper Jay. As the kids develop, he'll slip down the depth chart to second then third line centre and give us his all in each situation. He's got the attitude this team needs - sign him long term!

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#4 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 10:50AM
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Trade him while he's worth somethin'.

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#5 Rockmorton65
November 26 2013, 11:38AM
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I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

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#6 EugeneV
November 26 2013, 03:01PM
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SVENSANITY wrote:

People are suggesting we resign Stajan? This is even a debate?

What benefit is to be gained from resigning him? All I see are negatives. 1. he takes up a roster spot from someone like a Granlund or an Arnold 2. He's not a 50 point guy and he won't be given he's now on the other side of the hill and going downwards not upwards. 3. This is a rebuild 4. there are other better veterans who produce who can help the kids out.

If the Flames resign Stajan I will send them anthrax in the mail i swear.

What can Stajan do that Backlund cannot? The mere fact that management would even consider this makes me vibrate with anger.

To channel a little Don Cherry;

Backlund is a Swedish pussy.

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#7 redhot1
November 26 2013, 12:26PM
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Also, I've heard he's a good leader in the dressing room

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#8 negrilcowboy
November 26 2013, 10:18PM
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matty franchise has always been a replacement level or slightly better centre, have said it all along having watched numerous tarrana games, however brett did screw him over. as for mickis, if ya can move the kid do it, he might benefit from a move. if he doesnt move the kid is finished in 3 years, some benefit from a move and backs is one. look at steen for example, once the virus has set in the only remedy is a move.

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#9 Dave
November 26 2013, 11:32AM
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Make him coach!

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#10 SVENSANITY
November 26 2013, 03:31PM
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Backland has not played like a soft Swedish player at all this year though. And Don Cherry is a moron who doesn't know hooey about what he's talking.

The problem with Backlund is the perceived expectation that is not being met. However, it is possible that the expectation from management is too high for that players ability. It does not mean that the player is useless. Just simply not being used in a situation that best fits where he realistically lies skill-wise. The Flames want Backlund to be a scoring 2 way first line centre. The second he slumps a bit though they move him to the fourth line with two boat anchors. I ask you how is he then suppose to score? How is that a productive method of sending the message? Giving a guy 40 minutes to score and then putting him on the 4th line if he doesn't isn't exactly fair. They've been patient with other vets who have slumped. Why not be patient with Backlund especially since it's the first time he's been healthy from the start and his possession numbers suggests that his scoring numbers will come along. The reality is Backlund is a two-way "all situation" centre who can play in all three zones comfortably and he can contribute offensively. He's not likely going to be a 30G scorer but he might get you 20-22/season and 12-15 assists. That's a decent 2nd line production. It's equivalent to what Stajan provides for this team only Backlund is 25 and has potential to still improve. Stajan is 29 and is likely only to digress based on simple physiology.

Let's also not forget that Stajan is probably as much aware as we are that this is his UFA contract year and so padding his stats and trying a little harder to make a difference is on his mind. I hate teams that evaluate UFA's in their last year of their UFA status and subsequently forget the previous 3 years of the 4 year contract. That's bad business.

If you say build houses for a living and you hire a framing crew to construct them for the next 4 years and say the framing crew once they get the contract slacks off for 3 years at half the production with a lot of mistakes along the way and then pumps out 2x as many houses with exceptional work in the last year are you going to rehire that framing crew on the performance of the last year alone? I certainly wouldn't.

If they do trade Backlund then I would say for a simple lack of other options they should keep Stajan (just as insulation) but not for more than a 2 year deal. And I'd also recommend they look for better options in free agency. If Grabovski was available last year surely someone will be available this year.

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#11 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:08PM
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EugeneV wrote:

To channel a little Don Cherry;

Backlund is a Swedish pussy.

please post as tbough you mom is looking over your shoulder... my little kids read over my shoulder... potty mouth. ;-)

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#12 Walter White
November 26 2013, 06:26PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

The debate about the Flames center ice position is rather simple; at this point in time we have the most depth we have had in a generation, that's the positive. The negative is that with one exception they are all currently number 3/4 centers. Monahan will be a number 2 with the possibility of being a number 1.

Stajan is a marginal number 2 and both Backs and Colborne are 3/4s although for a short period a couple of games could give a team some higher minutes but not over the long haul.

On the farm(those with NHL games in) you have Street who is a number 4 and Byron an emergency call up for a short period. Then you have three centers with no NHL experience but some potential. Jorris started well but seems to have fallen off lately and it will likely be a couple of years in the minors for him. Granlund started slowly but is playing much better lately, he may have the skill set to be a 2 but his size may limit that. Then there is Knight who has had a strong start to his first pro season, what is his ceiling? I suspect a number 3 much like Backs and Colborne. Backs, Colborne and Knight are all about the same age. One is a proven NHL #3 center, one has a handful of NHL games and is a number 3/4 and the third one has no NHL games.

Outside the system the top prospect is Arnold and while his college numbers look good one must ask are they inflated by paying with Johny G.

Based upon who we have the best way to go is to roll 4 lines and hope for the best. The other option is to target and find a true NHL # 1 or 2 who is @27 years old and fits Hartley's game plan.

Thank you for not mentioning Max Reinhart...I agree 100% with your omission!

WW

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#13 Walter White
November 26 2013, 05:58PM
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The turds on the Canucks blog are discussing how great it would be to add Stajan to their team right now......draft picks back only I hope, none of those lazy douche bags please!

It's not really trolling; after all it is my second favorite team; any team that the Canucks are playing that is....

WW

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#14 HongKongHockeyFan
November 27 2013, 09:11AM
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I like Matt Stajan but from a management there is no point to sign him at any price including the league minimum. If a trade can be made great but otherwise it's best just to let him walk.

Staj cannot help Calgary win, tilt the ice wrong, make players better around him, or is there any likelihood he could provide an upside surprise.

This stands in contrast to Backlund, he can help Calgary win as he can tilt the ice the right way, he still has upside potential at his age, and he is signed a good value contract and will remain a rfa at the end of his contract.

When you compare Backlund (drafted as 24th overall pick) to his draft class, he certainly has not been a bust. Only Eller (13th pick), Shattenkirk (14th pick), Pacioretty (22nd pick) and Perron (26th pick) have been better picks but no by a country mile.

There were plenty of busts ahead of Backlund, including Hickey (4th), Hamill (8th), Ellerby (10th), Plante (15th), Gillies (16th), MacMillan (19th) and Esposito (20th), Nash (21st) and White (25th). Otherwise, the only real steals were Subban (43rd) and Simmonds (61st) but there always a couple second rounders who turn into gems. But then again you must recall that Darryl Sutter was someone who didn't value 2nd round picks at all.

So my point is Backlund has not turn out to be a bad pick given the draft class. That draft class has only produced 3 bondafide superstars, Kane (1st), Couture (9th) and Subban.

Backlund is at least still a tradable asset. Look at the Oil, they drafted Gagner (5th), Plante (15th), Nash (21st). They also draft a goalie, Gistedt, at the 36th pick. This draft has turned into a disaster for the Oilers as Gagner has shown to be a second line centre for a about 1/3rd of his career and most times a 3rd line centre.

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#15 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 01:49PM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Keep in mind the Heat we re first in their conference through the first couple of months last year as well.

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#16 Rockmorton65
November 26 2013, 01:50PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

I can't remember how legal this is, but I'd only really support that if the have an understanding that he would want to come back after the playoff run. Otherwise, extending him might be best.

I seem to remember Tkachuck doing this a few years ago.

The only way I'd want to see the Flames do this is if the other team was aware of his intentions. That's why I said a 3rd. We get less, but stay respectful as an organization.

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#17 everton fc
November 26 2013, 09:02PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Because, that would get us back to 8th which might be what the owners want, but it will never get us a Cup.

If we took a could of young free agent forwards, and a few d-men with the cap room we have, blended these in with the likes of Brodie, Monahan, Wideman, Giordano, and so on, you think that would get us 8th? I don't follow. A high-end 1st line centre, and/or forward, would take this team to a different level. Add a few seasoned d-men while the young defenders get seasoned...

When you have cap room and use available assets wisely... A smart management group could get us closer to the Cup sooner than later, and quite wisely, if the right decisions are made.

I personally don't think guys like Colborne get you there. And guys like Galiardi are 4th line guys on my team. If you had guys like Bouma, Galiardi... Those types of guys as 4th liners... Those are as good as any 4th liners on most teams.

This team has a 1st line that's a 3rds line at best with most clubs. Even Stempniak's a 3rd liner on a Cup contender. Perhaps even Hudler. I get this. But with cap room... And assets (moving guys like Cammy, for example, for assets)... You get closer to the Cup...

There are no guarantees on rebuilds, as we see in Edmonton, somewhat in Florida... Other teams. And I'm not convinced the trio of Feaster/Weisbrod/Burke is a Cup winning trifecta. And I'd personally like to give Troy G. a run as head coach, over Hartley. Perhaps you'd see more out of Backlund and Baertschi. Perhaps...

But that's me. We all have our opinions.

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#18 Burnward
November 26 2013, 09:19PM
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To my eyes,

Stajan has been a better, more consistent player than Mickis all year.

Colborne has shown more offensive flash and willingness to battle than Mickis.

Monahan is already better than Mickis.

I think Backlund's hockey IQ is through the roof, but he hasn't found his offensive game as a pro yet and who knows if he ever will.

His competition to keep his place here is Stajan and Colborne...and so far (again, to me) Mickis is losing that battle.

Move him or keep him, he's not going to be a difference maker this season either way.

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#19 redricardo
November 26 2013, 09:49PM
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Burnward wrote:

To my eyes,

Stajan has been a better, more consistent player than Mickis all year.

Colborne has shown more offensive flash and willingness to battle than Mickis.

Monahan is already better than Mickis.

I think Backlund's hockey IQ is through the roof, but he hasn't found his offensive game as a pro yet and who knows if he ever will.

His competition to keep his place here is Stajan and Colborne...and so far (again, to me) Mickis is losing that battle.

Move him or keep him, he's not going to be a difference maker this season either way.

Just to play devil's advocate...

Colborne has shown more offensive flash? This is why they both have 7 points in 22 games?

Who says that as a player with an admitted "through the roof" hockey IQ, he needs to find his offensive game? Every player needs to be an all-star scorer? This team is so packed with above average players that we don't have room for a 24 year old centre making only 1.5 million who is currently sporting the 5th best relCorsi rate among forwards on this team?

Somone who can play the other teams best players and generally keep the puck in their end has no place on your Calgary Flames?

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#20 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 27 2013, 12:29AM
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OK here it is...

everyone who feels that Backlund would fit fine and score points given the minutes and linemates... give this post props...

everyone who feels coach is right and fourth line it is... trash this post...

I personally feel Backlund is right guy in the wrong place like Stajan was with Sutter and given decent linemates would make an excellent defensive forward that puts up 40-50 pts

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#21 Arik
November 27 2013, 07:07AM
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@crapshoot

Spot on, man. Spot on.

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#22 mk
November 27 2013, 11:44AM
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Matt Stajan to Vancouver would be hilarious - their fans would go ape. It wouldn't be an awful plan for them (increase center depth w/Stajan at 3C) but riots would happen.

Try Backlund at D and see what happens. He wouldn't be worse than O'Brien or Butler.

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#23 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:15PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Exactly. Why waste the chance to get an asset? If he really wants to stay he'll re-sign in the off-season.

Agreed. Same with Stemper.

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#24 MonsterPod
November 26 2013, 05:52PM
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This is a hot debate. A lot of hard line posts have equal 'trashes' and 'props'. Personally, I'm going to trust that Burkie will do what he did last time -- ship Stajan out as soon as possible. Hopefully he will make another multi-player package and fleece someone else out of a franchise player.

Find a way to get B. Schenn or Courturier out of Philly. Maybe there's still a chance to get O'Reilly out of Col in Feb.

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#25 Walter White
November 27 2013, 07:21AM
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crapshoot wrote:

Using analogies on female genitalia to describe weakness is stupid and usually relied on by insecure "dudes" with a masculinity complex. I just wanted to share that I take offence by that behavior. Now you know.

Mikael Backlund is a good hockey player who is in the same pickle that Stajan was in just a little while back. I sure do hope that he gets his shot at redemption, and I hope he gets it with the flames. He would be a great no 3 center on a good team in a few years.

As for Stajan I could live with him being re-signed for the next season. Since the flames will likely be at the bottom of the west next year as well they might as well keep losing with veterans like Stajan who has went through adversity and prevailed. If Backlund can somehow do a similar journey as Stajan has done, he might just be a similar veteran prescence on a future team, with the difference being that the future team might actually be winning.

Shame on you crap, for assuming Eugene was referring to female genitalia; get your mind out of the gutter!!!!

He was obviously referring to the Swedish cat "Bozita feline", known for its kind and gentle nature.

Apologize son.....

WW

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#26 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 12:23PM
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What this also illustrates is how much role, circumstance and coaching decisions impact a players results, his ability to contribute and, of course, the resultant perception of the player. If Brent Sutter sticks around, there's a better than even chance Stajan is bought out or waiting to play out the string as a 4th liner.

Elite players and lousy players will almost always naturally find their own level in the league. But the huge middle class in between is to some degree dependent on external forces to dictate their output.

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#27 John
November 26 2013, 01:01PM
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It doesn't matter whether we fans like Stajan or not, Hartley likes him and thinks he is a no 1 center. Of course, he's a good puck possession player whereas i think Backlund sometimes is at a lost on what to do with the puck. I think Backlund given his size, talent should be able to get 50 points each season but he doesn't seem to be able to produce in the offensive zone consistently. Thus its in all probability goodbye to Backlund. I think he is a good player but he can't do anything on the McGrattan line.

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#28 Charleston Kingsley
November 26 2013, 01:13PM
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I don't really see Stajan on this team next year. To put it succinctly, Stajan is an okay hockey player and that's that.

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#29 SmellOfVictory
November 26 2013, 02:00PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

What this also illustrates is how much role, circumstance and coaching decisions impact a players results, his ability to contribute and, of course, the resultant perception of the player. If Brent Sutter sticks around, there's a better than even chance Stajan is bought out or waiting to play out the string as a 4th liner.

Elite players and lousy players will almost always naturally find their own level in the league. But the huge middle class in between is to some degree dependent on external forces to dictate their output.

The weird thing about Stajan is that he didn't blow anyone away on the 4th line, even from a possession perspective. It's like he got busted down, became sad, and didn't try as hard.

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#30 stumblintrucker
November 26 2013, 04:50PM
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What quality free agent centers in their right mind are we going to sign in the off season? In order to do so we would have to grossly overpay. Nobody in the peak (or past) in their career wants to join a bottom 5 team to be a mentor.

I think keeping Stajan allows us to continue to let Monahan and Colborne/Knight/Arnold grow without being thrown to the wolves. If you can sign him to a short term 2yr/$2.5 per why not. He might actually then become a resource for getting the asset we need in a trade while being a quality dressing room guy.

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#31 Kurt
November 26 2013, 04:55PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I really have to check and make sure I am not halucinating - did I really read that the Heat are FIRST in the AHL right now?

How is this possible, given the fact that just a couple short years ago, with Sutter's drafting, we had the worst prospect pool in the NHL??? How times have changed!

Is there really a strong correlation between AHL success and NHL prospects? I'm not questioning you, I'm just asking....

My gut tells me there is very very little correlation since the fortunes of an AHL team and NHL prospects unless a high calibre goalie is involved.

The AHL is a team of 25 guys, maybe 2 or 3 who have a shot at the NHL and even less are high quality guys. So unless you have a superstar can a prospect really impact the team THAT much. And if he is a superstar at the AHL he'd probably be in the NHL.

I see goalies being the 1 exception...

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#32 EugeneV
November 26 2013, 05:13PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

please post as tbough you mom is looking over your shoulder... my little kids read over my shoulder... potty mouth. ;-)

You're right, sorry about that. The word Swedish makes a lot of people go green.

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#33 John Jay Bowman
November 26 2013, 09:53PM
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Play Backlund with offensive players and he will produce. A couple shifts with Hudler and Cammalleri in Colorado and he got results. A shift with Blair Jones and Bouma and they scored last game against Florida. A healthy scratch in favor of Jackman and McGrattan on the same line, and then throwing him in there when they never did anything. This is an indictment of the coaches Calgary has had, not the player.

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#34 Burnward
November 26 2013, 10:44PM
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@redricardo

Again, to my eyes.

I have been a Backlund supporter for years dude, but he's been way too invisible for stretches for me this year.

He has to take it...and so far he hasn't exactly done that.

I'm not a stats-head though, but to me his QualHeart isn't quite where it needs to be.

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#35 loudogYYC
November 26 2013, 11:59PM
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This all seems pretty clear to me. Stajan came here as a 24/25 year old and Brent Sutter deployed him as a grinder and never game him a fair shake. The new coach has more time for him and look what's he's done with it! He's very useful now and he'll get us as much as a 2nd round pick at the deadline.

Backlund is in the same boat as Stajan was back then, and there's no guarantees this coach will be here at this time next year. Patience is the name of the game here, Backlund will be fine.

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#36 crapshoot
November 27 2013, 12:36AM
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EugeneV wrote:

To channel a little Don Cherry;

Backlund is a Swedish pussy.

Using analogies on female genitalia to describe weakness is stupid and usually relied on by insecure "dudes" with a masculinity complex. I just wanted to share that I take offence by that behavior. Now you know.

Mikael Backlund is a good hockey player who is in the same pickle that Stajan was in just a little while back. I sure do hope that he gets his shot at redemption, and I hope he gets it with the flames. He would be a great no 3 center on a good team in a few years.

As for Stajan I could live with him being re-signed for the next season. Since the flames will likely be at the bottom of the west next year as well they might as well keep losing with veterans like Stajan who has went through adversity and prevailed. If Backlund can somehow do a similar journey as Stajan has done, he might just be a similar veteran prescence on a future team, with the difference being that the future team might actually be winning.

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#37 Monaertchi
November 26 2013, 10:43AM
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Can someone forward this to Backlund, please?

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#38 the-wolf
November 26 2013, 12:08PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

Exactly. Why waste the chance to get an asset? If he really wants to stay he'll re-sign in the off-season.

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#39 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:16PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Does that ever really work out though? I can't really think of a situation off the top of my head where it's happened, but I'm not really thinking too hard.

Keith Tckachuk about 10 times....

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#40 SmellOfVictory
November 26 2013, 12:19PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I say sign him 3 yrs/ 2.5-3 per. He's been a good soldier for this team. He kept his career going through a nasty situation.

Better yet, trade him for a 2nd or 3rd round pick @ the deadline, let him take his shot at a cup, then sign him in the off-season.

I can't remember how legal this is, but I'd only really support that if the have an understanding that he would want to come back after the playoff run. Otherwise, extending him might be best.

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#41 T&A4Flames
November 26 2013, 12:42PM
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redhot1 wrote:

I made an account just to comment on this. Matt Stajan, out of the "big three" UFAs (Staj, Stemp,Cammy) is the one I think we should sign. If we trade him away, that means Monahan would be thrust into the No 1 centre role, which I think would be a big mistake (See RNH a couple hours up the highway). Let Monahan develop behind Stajan, at least until he overtakes him, which may be next season, or the season after that, whatever. We could sign him for a fair price, because it appears he likes Calgary and wants to stay here. I would sign him for 4 years at 4.5 per.

You're kidding me right? 4 @ 4.5 per????

For 4 years we've been saying Stajan has not lived hp to his contract of 3.5 despite him being better the last 2 years. Now you want to give him $4.5???

Ya, no!

I would consider 3years @ 2.5 per but no more. I don't mind Stajan, but he hasn't earned that much term and certainly not that salary.

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#42 gotommygo
November 26 2013, 01:14PM
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@T&A4Flames

'I would consider 3years @ 2.5 per but no more'

I think 3 years is even too long -- that puts him 'post-apex' doesn't it?

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#43 Lordmork
November 26 2013, 01:43PM
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For most of this year, I couldn't help but think that we ought to trade Stajan. Why would he want to stick with the team, after all? And he's taking up a space I'd rather give to Knight or something. But the point about him making this home is a worthwhile one, so I guess he might be willing to re-sign here. And he does seem to have developed into a leadership role.

Stajan isn't a first-line centre. But he has been playing those minutes. Without him, (and especially if Backlund is traded) who plays that time? I don't think there's anyone else in the org who can take those minutes without it being detrimental to their development. I wouldn't put Monahan or Colborne or any of our other prospects there right now. And as much as I'd like to see Backlund getting more time, I'm nervous about fielding a team where a 25-year old Backlund is our oldest, most experienced centre.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'd re-sign Stajan for 2 years, and then re-evaluate. Coincidentally, that's about when I'd hope this team would start being competitive again, especially if we're awful for the McDavid sweepstakes next year. I don't think he deserves a raise unless we're desperate to hit the cap floor, though.

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#44 Byron Bader
November 26 2013, 01:59PM
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I'd keep Stajan around for 2-3 more years, at no more than $2.25 - $2.5. We are going to be dreadful at least until 2014-15, might as well have a serviceable guy to show the young guys the ropes. Pass the reigns over to Monahan et al. as they become more comfortable in a year or two.

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#45 Kent Wilson
November 26 2013, 02:41PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I know, though Stajan has never been great at possession in his career...aside from this year so far. Which is why I expect his underlyings to fall a bit before the end of the year.

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#46 beloch
November 26 2013, 03:16PM
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"Stajan was given no real explanation for the change in role, but he never griped publicly, never turned down an interview on the topic, never stopped trying to improve his situation. But it wasn’t easy."

Well, he did call himself a whipping boy in an interview once.

Stajan has been given just 39.0% offensive zone starts this season and has faced the toughest QoC of any center on the team by a substantial margin. He's the Flames #1 shut-down center by a large margin over Backlund (who is also given tough minutes compared to Colborne or Monahan). So how's Stajan doing with these minutes? Bad, but not horrible corsi, and moderate point production. Stajan is an okay second line forward, the same as he's always been. He's never going to be the #1 shutdown man for a competitive team, but he sure looks great with the Flames right now!

Backlund, on the other hand, hasn't been great this season either. He's been given slightly easier deployment with far worse line-mates, and his performance is similar. Really similar. I'm starting to think Backlund is Stajan 2.0. If you swapped these two players' roles it might not actually make much difference. Whether you consider that a compliment or an insult to Backlund or Stajan, one thing is clear, if you have two carbon copies of the same player and you're in a rebuild, you trade the older one.

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#47 everton fc
November 26 2013, 03:55PM
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I don't mind Backlund, but also don't see him as more than 3rd line centre. There are plenty of these in the league, and probably coming up through our farm system down the road. If he has potential, others may have the same. It's not like we're moving an elite player if we move him.

Burke likes grit. That's a fact. Doesn't bode well for Backlund. And maybe not so well for Baertschi, as well. I like them both, but that's how I see it.

I'd personally rather have Stajan as my 3rd line centre during a rebuild than Backlund. And if you play your assets right, not to mention free agency... We have a lot of cap room. Enough for a legitimate 1st line centre. And perhaps a linemate, or legitimate 1-4 d-man. Monahan stay as your #2. Stajan as #3. But I think Colborne gets a look at #3, so Stajan may be gone, as well. But I'd rather have Stajan, than Colborne, during a rebuild. I do see the arguments for Backlund over Stajan, but Backlund has yet to prove himself consistently. And if this organization is not the right "fit" for his skill set, best both parties part ways sooner, than later.

A good 4th line would have Bouma on LW, Colborne at centre, and maybe someone like Ferland on the right side. Or Street, if Ferland proves to be a 3rd line option, which he may very well pan out to be. Street is a player I'd like to see get minutes on a 4th line. A 4th line of Bouma/Colborne/Street - pretty good line, even on a competitive team.

If you look at asset management and cap room, the Flames could easily parlay both into a competitive team far faster than your average, so-called "rebuild". And that's probably how Burke sees it. Why wait 3 years, when you may be set up to be competitive next year? Again, with all this cap space, why not think this way?

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#48 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:05PM
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John wrote:

It doesn't matter whether we fans like Stajan or not, Hartley likes him and thinks he is a no 1 center. Of course, he's a good puck possession player whereas i think Backlund sometimes is at a lost on what to do with the puck. I think Backlund given his size, talent should be able to get 50 points each season but he doesn't seem to be able to produce in the offensive zone consistently. Thus its in all probability goodbye to Backlund. I think he is a good player but he can't do anything on the McGrattan line.

i would guess nobody is confusing Stajan with a first line center even if thhats where he is playing. not even stajan.

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#49 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:10PM
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Bilman wrote:

Although this team is in a re-build, they still need veteran leadership to mentor the new kids. Throwing a bunch of rookies to the lions every night is going to destroy confidence in some of them. This team needs the Gio's and Stajan's to teach the kids the proper attitude and work ethic.

Stajan also shovels the walks and get the mail... he is a keeper

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#50 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 26 2013, 04:12PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Keep in mind the Heat we re first in their conference through the first couple of months last year as well.

is that good or bad?????

:-P

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