Here's Why This Westgarth Thing Is Bad

bookofloob
December 31 2013 09:11AM

 

But floob, it's just a minor trade. How can you hate this trade?

You're right, in the end, yesterday's trade is just Greg Nemisz, a forward who was clearly never going to be in the Flames' plans (rightfully so, Nemo is a bust) for Kevin Westgarth, a career 4th line/minor league facepuncher. Why am I so upset about it? Why does this move (very hyperbolicly, for the record) have me searching the league to find a new team to be a fan of (what's up, Darryl Sutter?)

And you're right, I'm very upset about it, possibly more than I should be, but I am, and with good reason. The trade is a trade, sure, but what the trade MEANS is something very different. And it's a much bigger, far more ominous thing. My fear is this trade is one of just many facets of what Flames hockey is to become, Citizens, and it makes me want to go into hibernation.

Kevin Westgarth is not just Kevin Westgarth

 

 

Solid questions without a logical answer.

Let's get this straight. This is not about Greg Nemisz. This is not about Kevin Westgarth. Let's be abundantly clear about this.

Look, obviously the 86ing of Greg Nemisz is a nice coup for the Flames. They only ever retained him in the first place last season because the Abbotsford Heat had a shortage of warm bodies, and at least Nemisz was able to provide that. Obviously that was all he was ever able to provide, and with the Heat having an excess of talent on their team this year, Nemisz is very much dead weight and there's no problem letting him make a go of this pro hockey thing somewhere else. Good for him if it pans out. Personally, I expect to see him playing in the Spengler Cup next season.

Kevin Westgarth as a return is the meh-iest return in the history of trade returns. As you read in Pike's coverage of the trade, Westgarth has 9 points in 130 career NHL games. And his possession numbers are not exactly Backlundesque, like I'm sure you expected them to be. Westgarth is here because he is 6'4", 230 pounds, has 202 career PIMs, and according to his hockeydb page, the potential for some sick flow, braj.

He's most likely going to play in Abbotsford with Lane McDermid (unless McGrattan gets suspended), and that's fine. He probably fills in on some 4th line duty with the Flames at some point too, maybe immediately, because hockey does not like me very much. That's less fine, but I think we're all aware and begrudgingly accepting of the fact that the Flaming C will not roll a lineup without one brawler this season, so so be it. (This will NOT be happening) The Flames are a bad team and they are not going to compete this year, so while tanking is disgusting, if the Flames are legitimately this bad, and they are, they have a good shot at a Top-5 draft pick. And they do.

As Kent points out, however, what is the point? To be frank, Westgarth, McGrattan, McDermid, and Jackman are all the same player (with midly varying degrees of facepunching ability). What's the purpose of a carousel of thugs? Why do we need Plan B goons? (And Plan C, evidently) Is this all just arbitrary roster moves for the sake of roster moves?

Well...No

Here's why this is troubling. These sort of moves are part of The Plan.

If you watch the video I posted at the top of this piece, you'll have noticed it happens to be the press conference Brian Burke gave the media after giving the boot to Jay Feaster.

You don't have to watch it if you don't want to re-live it (Lanny knows I don't), but let's go over the Coles' notes, shall we? 

 

 

It's all coming back, isn't it?

This trade is one more piece of the puzzle that is a Brian Burke hockey team. His philosophy is taking shape and it will continue to do so over the next few seasons until we decide the rebuild needs a successor. (Or you know, the rebuild is complete. Whichever comes first)

I, like a lot of people, cringed when Burke went on Sportsnet and identified to Roger Millions and the world that the successful teams of the world are big teams and as such the Flames will follow in that mold. On it's own, there's nothing wrong with that. Size is a good thing. The one thing Burke omitted from the list of characteristics players for the Flames should possess is skill. While some people thought that the idea of skill in these big players was just implied, I myself remained skeptical, and with trades like this, it's only adding fuel to to grittiest fire I've ever seen.

There have been plenty of articles written on this site about how being tough and gritty is fine, so long as the player in question provides other value to a team that is more conducive to winning. Kent has written several and they've all been on point in that regard. (As an example here's one very well written and rational piece exploring the whole damn thing. Trust me, they're all like this, they're just usually about a different facepuncher)

The point being that toughness, size, grit, it's all well and good, but if it comes at the expense of skill, possession, driving play, etc, etc, there's a real problem here, and your team is hard pressed to move forward with success.

If the plan is to tank (and let's face it, if Brian Burke doesn't intend to tank, it's not going to happen) then this is a practical if not ethically void tactic to do so. Nothing gets you closer to Connor McDavid than punching your way to the bottom. If it's a short term plan, this is, I suppose, more acceptable, mostly because it is hopefully that: short term.

Unfortunately, I don't believe that to be the case. A Brian Burke team is a big, nose punchy team, and if you need an example of that, look no further than his last disaster in Toronto. Yes, Burke did favour smaller skilled players like Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski, and he's got a good eye for talent in that regard.

The problem is, he's true to his word. He, as he so eloquently puts it, surrounded the skilled players on the Leafs with beef. And that beef was rotten. Colton Orr and Mike Brown were brought in to protect the skilled players, and if you think that was a smart move, why don't you ask the plugged-in Leafs fans what they think about those players. Orr and FML are liabilities, and decent players have struggled stuck on lines with them, because they provide ZERO offense (and, let's face it, no real defense either).

If that's a vision for the future of the Flames, it's morbidly interesting because we get to watch Toronto explode in that model before it happens to our guys, and that's just super.

#GRIT MATTERS

(sup, gritchart?)

Offense is hard to come by without solid offensive players, and the Flames are very much a shining example of that. Putting in enforcers as a move to "create space" is flawed, because that's not a thing that actually happens. An influx if grit-only players creates a vaccum of offense, and we all know it.

We've beaten that point to death on FlamesNation, but the reason we do so is it looks to be a coming trend as this team continues to rebuild, and it's a theory that just flies in the face of what a good rebuild is. There is just no way to develop your young players when you saddle them with dancing bears that provide limited hockey ability. If you want an object lesson in what adding size and grit sans ability does, take a gander up north: the Edmonton Oilers have run through a carousel of of lumbering beefcake at the bottom end the last few years (Gazdic, Brown, MacIntyre, Stortini, Eager, Hordichuk) and it's never really made them "harder to play against". Quite the opposite most often.

And please, PLEASE, abandon the outdated and frankly archaic notion that these guys are here as a means of "protecting" the developing young core. It's simply not true. Deterrance through self policing is not a thing that exists.

Goons play roughly 5 minutes a game. (Brian McGrattan has averaged 5:27 per game this season. Westgarth is at 4:52) That usually equates to about 10-15 shifts a game, and probably one fight. And after that, the facepuncher's night is over. The idea that they sit there on the bench for 55 minutes as a reminder to the opposition what awaits them if they take any undue liberties with a young star is ridiculous. Brian McGrattan's presence did nothing to prevent David Backes from trying to alter Matt Stajan's ability to walk. Nor should it have. If you have an limited player like McGrattan on the ice in overtime against the top players for a top team like the St. Louis Blues, you are doing it wrong. Even Bob Hartley knows that.

What actually happens is what we've seen this year, where a promising young player like Mikael Backlund sees his talent squandered on the 4th line and gets beaten up by the opposition trying to get the puck out his own end for his entire shift. It's a waste of a strong possession player and a roster spot.

It's perfectly fine to have a gritty 4th line provided they have actual value from a hockey standpoint. The Montreal Canadiens roll a 4th line of Ryan White, Brandon Prust, and Travis Moen, and on a lot of nights they're the best looking line on the ice. All three players are guys who like to drop the mitts, play a physical game, grind in the corners (which again, are useful, tangible hockey skills to have), but they also are able to drive possession a little bit and even pop a few goals. They provide value to their team beyond being tough. And as a result, they all tend to earn roughly 10-11 minutes a night, because they aren't a liability to their team.

The Kevin Westgarths of the world do not provide this kind of value; they are a detriment. A roster spot in 2014 and beyond is just far too valuable to be awarding them to such an inoperatively one dimensional player.

Conclusion

It's a concern. I'm not totally jaded yet, I do believe Brian Burke does intend to stock the cupboards with bigger players who have both an emphasis on size AND skill, but it is so so so discouraging to see moves like the one made today when you realize it's all part of a larger philosophy that the team intends to employ.

And yes, on it's own, it's just a minor trade for two non important players. That's fine. Am I overexaggerating the negative implications of what this is? Am I being too hyperbolic? Quite possibly. It's one of my go to moves. But I think it's naive to ignore the plausibility of all this. The bigger picture is what I'm seeing here and it's why I think this is a bad move.

It seems so contradictory in the end. Brian Burke has stated he is not a patient man, and we all know more than enough about Burke at this point that when he says that, we believe him. He wants this rebuild to be complete in 2-3 years, not 5-6, which is how he saw it panning out under Jay Feaster's vision. And that's a noble thing to do, and I think he's right when he says it can be done faster.

The problem is, if this is his vision for fast forwarding through the rebuild, it's going to make for some really hard hockey to watch. A rebuild is something you can sell your fanbase on if you can show them that success is coming. I just don't see the Burke model, which is about as progressive and modern as the Cretaceous Period, as something you can sell the fans as a model that is going to yield results. The game has evolved just too much. It's why this game plan failed for Darryl Sutter upon the dawn of the "New NHL" post lockout. Those were the days where the Wild West reigned in Cowtown, and from my point of view we're on the dawn or a return to that era.

It stings. Please wake me when it's over.

01f20cee6c900dc633fe87a421630f41
The Book of Loob is the Nation's resident expert in flim-flammery and twaddle. An unabashed Flames fan, when BoL is not intellectually bankrupting Flames Nation, he can be seen rooting for Blair Jones, often to excess, at Book of Loob. Follow him on twitter here.
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#1 Walter White
December 31 2013, 09:28AM
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So Burke has found a replacement for McGrattan before he trades him to a contender.....probably not a terrible move, especially as he did not give up anything in the trade.

For all you McGrattan/face puncher haters: did you notice in the Vancouver game that once McGrattan was booted from the game, that super douche bag Kesler started talking trash to Monahan? Scum sucking low lifes like Kesler look for opportunities like that. He knew there was no payback coming....except a little love tap from Gio.

just saying...

WW

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#2 Funkyjaman
December 31 2013, 09:53AM
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I knew you guys wouldn't just let this go. So predictable. So much wasted effort on a nothing trade, in a nothing year.

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#3 Dr. Philosophy
December 31 2013, 09:25AM
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When one of Backlund or Sven gets traded I'm calling the paramedics to your house.

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#4 Monaertchi
December 31 2013, 09:45AM
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@Walter White

I know I'm being trolled here, but what exactly do you think McGrattan would have done to Kesler if he hadn't been kicked out of the game? Would McGrattan have ever been intentionally on the ice with Kesler? If he did find himself sharing ice with Kesler, would the outcome have most likely been a goal for Kesler while never once being touched by McGrattan?

Sure, Kesler should have his face punched everyday by everyone, but is trash-talking a rookie something that requires more "policing" than a little love tap?

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#5 Sincity1976
December 31 2013, 10:13AM
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Although I am a little puzzled at our collection of goods, I think you are going a little over the top.

Burke turned a bad asset into a less bad asset. He got an NHL warm body with an expiring contract that will help fill the gaps left when he starts unloading players heading into the deadline.

I think 4 minute goons are unnecessary. I think the NHL is taking steps to make them impractical. I will be disappointed if this team is full of them two years from now.

But I think your trying to prove a point you tried to make when Burke was hired and your making a number of leaps to do it. This trade isn't evil and it isn't (necessarily) a sign of things to come.

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#6 the-wolf
December 31 2013, 10:34AM
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My idea of a 4th line is players like Byron and Street. Guys with a ton of skill who for whatever reason can't crack the top 6, but are capable of routinely making monkeys out of players like McGratton, etc.

Why not beat the hell out of the other teams bottom 6 in order to produce offence and win games?

This idea taht your skill has to be on the top 6 and your bottom 6 are checkers, energy guys and goons is beyond out-of-date and just plain stupid.

Agree, Montreal has a perfect 4th line.

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#7 Sincity1976
December 31 2013, 12:09PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Why was the trade made in the first place, if it's not a sign of things to come? Who goes out of their way to collect three goons for the same hockey franchise? The Flames are a franchise with plenty of NHL warm bodies, from the guys on the roster, through Ben Street, Max Reinhart, Corban Knight, etc. etc.

Filling a slot on the 4th line is absolutely no challenge for this team. As such, trading Nemisz for a guy who provides zero value on NHL ice except for punching people and being big (and apparently he's a crappy fighter too) implies a certain mindset on Burke's part.

I am not a fan of the move. I just think the reaction is over the top. What team was Burke the GM of that was filled to the brim with goons? Some people are validating their preconceived fears based on a minor league deal.

Burke wants to get big sure. He wants to build a team like LA, San Jose, St Louis, etc. They are teams that blend size and skill.

The advanced stats community makes fun of GRIT because they can't quantify it. But it is difficult to argue with the results of the big teams. Their are small teams that have been successful sure. But we didn't draft well enough to be Detroit/Boston and nobody wants to camp in last place to be Pittsburgh/Chicago. So we will try and built an LA/St Louis type team. There is nothing wrong with that.

That said, Westgarth isn't a step towards building St Louis. But it also isn't a sign that we are building a team with 18 goons on the ice either.

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#8 piscera.infada
December 31 2013, 09:44AM
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Great article, and I agree - to an extent. It worried me more from the angle that I kind of (naively) assumed that Burke would wait to find a new GM before he started making moves. I think this proves that Burke is looking for a puppet - which I thought there was a kernel of truth to, but also dismissed as only a kernel (he should hire someone who shares his "ideology", right?).

That said, I'm not throwing in the towel just yet on the "big", "truculent" thing. Sure, he omitted skill from his "list of attributes he looks for in players". That's because It's so patently obvious. Skill is needed here, no one, and I mean no one, not even Brian Burke on the worst day of his life, would think that skill isn't needed here, and that size in and of itself is going to make this team competitive again - no one is that dumb, no one is that naive, no one has that much of a hard-on for face punchers.

So yes, I share your concern. This isn't however some radical harbinger of Burke and the Flames forsaking skill. It's simply a depth move that makes McGrattan expendable (I don't know if they'll actually go there, but as a big name fighter, he could have some (admittedly small) trade value down the line). From watching Westgarth, he appears to be a better skater with better D-zone coverage than McGrattan. Just me though.

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#9 the-wolf
December 31 2013, 02:17PM
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People are understandably nervous with Feaster out and BB in, but I keep trying to remind myself that Fletcher also greatly valued size (I think Flames were biggest in the league back then), yet those teams also featured players like Loob, Mullen, Fleury and Gilmour and were, by far, the greatest collection of talent Flames fans have ever seen.

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#10 DoubleDIon
December 31 2013, 09:53AM
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Walter White wrote:

So Burke has found a replacement for McGrattan before he trades him to a contender.....probably not a terrible move, especially as he did not give up anything in the trade.

For all you McGrattan/face puncher haters: did you notice in the Vancouver game that once McGrattan was booted from the game, that super douche bag Kesler started talking trash to Monahan? Scum sucking low lifes like Kesler look for opportunities like that. He knew there was no payback coming....except a little love tap from Gio.

just saying...

WW

McGratton never face punches little pukes like Kesler. He has too much honor. The guys you want are the face-punchers like John Scott who will attack smaller players. They have more of an effect. Of course I don't think that belongs in hockey, so for me, I have no room for face punchers in the NHL.

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#11 nolan moore
December 31 2013, 09:54AM
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I agree. I'm not a fan but not gettin my pitchfork out. I have said this a 1000 times, size is needed. BUT there is a big guy who plays hockey and then there's a hockey player who's big. Lucic in Boston is an example, Bertuzzi in his hay day was too. They'd clear the way for the "stars", chip in with scoring, passing,etc but also keep people honest. People didn't fool with them because they knew if they didn't beat them with the knuckle he'd beat them with the puck.

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#12 Peachy
December 31 2013, 09:59AM
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@Walter White

Oh no, trash talking? That kinda thing can ruin a player's career! (But elbows to the head obviously don't, right?) It's a good thing mcGrattan was there to keep everyone on the ice safe as long as he was. I'm sure Alberts was about to get completely out of hand...

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#13 Walter White
December 31 2013, 10:01AM
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Monaertchi wrote:

I know I'm being trolled here, but what exactly do you think McGrattan would have done to Kesler if he hadn't been kicked out of the game? Would McGrattan have ever been intentionally on the ice with Kesler? If he did find himself sharing ice with Kesler, would the outcome have most likely been a goal for Kesler while never once being touched by McGrattan?

Sure, Kesler should have his face punched everyday by everyone, but is trash-talking a rookie something that requires more "policing" than a little love tap?

I agree with some of what you are saying; McGrattan is not as great an enforcer as he could be.

sure he almost always wins his fights, or at least draws, but he is too nice of a guy.

we need an enforcer who has a couple of screws loose, someone who may just go "Shawn Thornton"...someone who will go after someone like Kesler and take him out.

McGrattan took a 5 minute major for accidentally hitting a guy too hard,if an enforcer is going to take a 5 nimute major he should make it count.

An enforcer should be feared, not just respected, which is what McGrattan is.

Here is hoping that Westgarth has a little Shawn Thornton in him....so to speak.

WW

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#14 T&A4Flames
December 31 2013, 10:22AM
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This philosophy of Burke's is one big reason I was disappointed to see Feaster get canned. Feast wanted a fast skilled team, he said as much when he first took over. Together, Burke and Feast could have made a good tandem. Burke is good at not getting raped in trades and Feaster, I believe, had the organization drafting well.

On a separate note, anyone watching the CAN-USA game today? Bob McKenzie just described Jack Eichel as a Ryan Getzlaf type. Anyone thinking Burke would love to get him? Would he take Eichel over McDavid?.........nah. Although I don't think he'd be too upset with 2nd place.

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#15 Maimster
December 31 2013, 09:29AM
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100% agree. And yes I play hockey, and have all my life (before the trashes come fom the "you need to play the game" crowd).

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#16 coachedpotatoe
December 31 2013, 02:55PM
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the-wolf wrote:

People are understandably nervous with Feaster out and BB in, but I keep trying to remind myself that Fletcher also greatly valued size (I think Flames were biggest in the league back then), yet those teams also featured players like Loob, Mullen, Fleury and Gilmour and were, by far, the greatest collection of talent Flames fans have ever seen.

And who of the big guys was here just to fight or could not play a regular shift? Hunter was the grit of record and if my memory serves me well most nights he played a regular shift, also of note if my memory is correct he and Pepper did not dress the night they won the cup. Would anyone here take the new guy(westinghouse or McG) over the likes of Pepper, Otto, or even Hunter? Some of the over guys on that team played big on their own accord; Roberts and Ramage if my mind is still working? Lets also not forget that Newy was a big man.

I have no problem with size, heck I have no problem with grit but they have to be able to play. I would love to have a of 4/5 gritty forwards the like of what a bouma/ferland might develop into but they need to be playing with the likes of Monahan , Hudler, Glencross, Johny g. i would like to see some more grit on the backend, but again guys who cab also play. a Regher in his prime would change our entire D core.

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#17 Colin
December 31 2013, 10:08AM
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@piscera.infada

I think you bring up a great point that BoL missed entirely in his article. Burke is already making a series of moves to make this team in HIS mold. Making a lot of these early moves to make the team in his mold might make his GM search a lot harder.

Burke stated exactly what he wanted his team to be in his Feaster firing press conference. And he has already acted a few times to meet that goal. What aspiring GM is looking at the situation in Calgary as a desirable one to get into. That GM will have to build a team to Burke's mold and any trade/signing/waivers is subject to his approval. What guy is looking at this situation and thinking its the best possible GM job. The Calgary GM job is Brian Burkes personal scape goat position that buys him anywhere from 5 to 6 years of time as the president of hockey ops. Burke makes all the decisions and when things inevitably go wrong he fires the "face" of those decisions and says he will find someone else who can get it right this time. It's really genius when you think of it.

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#18 the-wolf
December 31 2013, 10:39AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

I get what you're saying, but I think even with Burke, it's still a desirable GM position. There's so much real flexibility in the organization (cap space, picks, upcoming roster turnover), that if you think you can be a nice counter to some of Burke's ideas while still working with him - which I do believe is possible - you would have to feel you could build something very, very strong. I don't think most GM's believe they need to be the final arbiters anymore, as a lot of teams do have AGMs and Pres. of Hockey Ops['s(?)]. The job has definitely changed in the last decade or so...

Bottom line is that there's only 30 of those jobs out there. There will be no shortage of people lined up to apply to work under BB.

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#19 suba steve
December 31 2013, 12:43PM
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@Sincity1976

Agreed, history does not tell me that BB will build a team of 25 Westgarth's. History tells me that he has made good and bad moves, like anyone else.

On your StL/LA comparison, I kinda like that. From 2006-2010 (5 years) StL made 9 first round draft selections, mostly mid to late round but with 2 "lotto" picks in the top 5. LA in that same 5 year span made 7 first round selections with 3 "lotto" selections. Now all of these first rounders were not home-run picks, but with that volume of picks they both got some valuable players, many making significant contributions to these teams.

By the way, the Flames in that 5 year span made only 4 first round selections--Irving, Backlund, Nemisz, and Erixon.

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#20 Parallex
December 31 2013, 09:44AM
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Yup this sums up my thoughts precisely (with better grammer).

Question: What does a President of Hockey Ops have to do to get himself fired? If this all goes wrong (and that's not implausible) I just want to know how long we'd have to put up with Brian Burke's truculant freakshow.

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#21 the-wolf
December 31 2013, 10:37AM
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Colin wrote:

I think you bring up a great point that BoL missed entirely in his article. Burke is already making a series of moves to make this team in HIS mold. Making a lot of these early moves to make the team in his mold might make his GM search a lot harder.

Burke stated exactly what he wanted his team to be in his Feaster firing press conference. And he has already acted a few times to meet that goal. What aspiring GM is looking at the situation in Calgary as a desirable one to get into. That GM will have to build a team to Burke's mold and any trade/signing/waivers is subject to his approval. What guy is looking at this situation and thinking its the best possible GM job. The Calgary GM job is Brian Burkes personal scape goat position that buys him anywhere from 5 to 6 years of time as the president of hockey ops. Burke makes all the decisions and when things inevitably go wrong he fires the "face" of those decisions and says he will find someone else who can get it right this time. It's really genius when you think of it.

What's really genius is how KK bought himself another decade by adding another layer of insulation with BB. He can now fire BB and get yet another re-do.

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#22 MichaelD
December 31 2013, 11:36AM
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@wot96

Don't ever judge a goalie on one game, or for that matter one tournament

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#23 Deaner_
January 01 2014, 01:43PM
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Funkyjaman wrote:

I knew you guys wouldn't just let this go. So predictable. So much wasted effort on a nothing trade, in a nothing year.

Couldn't agree more, the effort that is spent on trades like Jackmans and Westgarths is comical. The impending doom......., ha! If all Burke cares about is size, why is byron still in the lineup? Colborne doesn't bring Truculence yet Burke traded for him twice. Oh no, Beartschi was sent down after looking out matched most nights, except to all of you wearing your SVEN coloured glasses. I imagine had Burke been GM from the start of the year that Monahan would be ripping up the WJr's right now. If the Nations is just going to turn into a big wine about Burke fest, I might have to find a new home for Flames info, it's getting very tiring.

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#24 calgaryfan
December 31 2013, 10:44AM
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It is going to be very difficult being a Flame's fan with Burke running the team. Other than a good paycheck why would anyone want to be Mr. Burke's puppet. Burke had 5 years in Toronto for that rebuild, what says he will do better in Calgary.

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#25 Parallex
December 31 2013, 10:54AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

This philosophy of Burke's is one big reason I was disappointed to see Feaster get canned. Feast wanted a fast skilled team, he said as much when he first took over. Together, Burke and Feast could have made a good tandem. Burke is good at not getting raped in trades and Feaster, I believe, had the organization drafting well.

On a separate note, anyone watching the CAN-USA game today? Bob McKenzie just described Jack Eichel as a Ryan Getzlaf type. Anyone thinking Burke would love to get him? Would he take Eichel over McDavid?.........nah. Although I don't think he'd be too upset with 2nd place.

No, I don't think anyone would take Eichel over McDavid... but Eichel is very very good and a nice consolation prize for whomever drafts second.

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#27 piscera.infada
December 31 2013, 10:35AM
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@Colin

I get what you're saying, but I think even with Burke, it's still a desirable GM position. There's so much real flexibility in the organization (cap space, picks, upcoming roster turnover), that if you think you can be a nice counter to some of Burke's ideas while still working with him - which I do believe is possible - you would have to feel you could build something very, very strong. I don't think most GM's believe they need to be the final arbiters anymore, as a lot of teams do have AGMs and Pres. of Hockey Ops['s(?)]. The job has definitely changed in the last decade or so...

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#28 SmellOfVictory
December 31 2013, 10:57AM
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Sincity1976 wrote:

Although I am a little puzzled at our collection of goods, I think you are going a little over the top.

Burke turned a bad asset into a less bad asset. He got an NHL warm body with an expiring contract that will help fill the gaps left when he starts unloading players heading into the deadline.

I think 4 minute goons are unnecessary. I think the NHL is taking steps to make them impractical. I will be disappointed if this team is full of them two years from now.

But I think your trying to prove a point you tried to make when Burke was hired and your making a number of leaps to do it. This trade isn't evil and it isn't (necessarily) a sign of things to come.

Why was the trade made in the first place, if it's not a sign of things to come? Who goes out of their way to collect three goons for the same hockey franchise? The Flames are a franchise with plenty of NHL warm bodies, from the guys on the roster, through Ben Street, Max Reinhart, Corban Knight, etc. etc.

Filling a slot on the 4th line is absolutely no challenge for this team. As such, trading Nemisz for a guy who provides zero value on NHL ice except for punching people and being big (and apparently he's a crappy fighter too) implies a certain mindset on Burke's part.

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#29 Jeff In Lethbridge
December 31 2013, 12:18PM
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we will have a winner when Burke is done, like Vancouver and Toronto.

Oh my word... I think of the two teams I hate the most because of their whiny nature all throughout from management to fans, and they are Toronto and Vancouver (Edmonton's third). We just hired the same guy these orgs hired... is this a bad omen?

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#30 BurningSensation
December 31 2013, 07:31PM
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I'm not surprised that we need to talk BofL off the ledge a little, but really this is a very minor deal;

- Westgarth whatever you may think of him, is a fringe NHL player. Nemisz, is not.

And that's about it really. Bad asset out, slightly less bad asset in. Call it a win, move on.

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#31 Reidja
December 31 2013, 07:41PM
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The meatamorphosis begins...

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#32 prendrefeu
December 31 2013, 10:46AM
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Do you think Burke wants the Flames to turn into a Calgary version of the (in)famous Broad Street Bullies? What we we call them anyway, the MacLeod Trail Bullies? It doesn't quite roll off the tongue. Does Burke know?

(reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Flyers#1972.E2.80.931978 )

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#33 piscera.infada
December 31 2013, 11:58AM
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@wot96

Yeah, I mean it's always tough to gauge a goalie in a game that got away from an entire team that quickly. He was largely unspectacular, but he wasn't given a ton of help on any of the three goals.

As has been said many times before though, it's unwise to get too excited about any goalie that young. He has a lot of learning to do, he still has to adjust to the pro game, and any number of things can happen before he's ready to even be tested as an NHL goalie.

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#34 prendrefeu
December 31 2013, 12:37PM
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MacLeod Trail Truculents.

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#35 -30-
December 31 2013, 02:55PM
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Welcome to Loserville Calgary. You now have Brian Burke, aka Kevin (six cups) Lowe pulling the strings of their GM.

The high point of your season like those of us in Edmonton is fantasizing all about the draft lottery and who we pick.

How many more years of futility for both Calgary and Edmonton...

-30-

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#36 Clyde
December 31 2013, 03:31PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

And who of the big guys was here just to fight or could not play a regular shift? Hunter was the grit of record and if my memory serves me well most nights he played a regular shift, also of note if my memory is correct he and Pepper did not dress the night they won the cup. Would anyone here take the new guy(westinghouse or McG) over the likes of Pepper, Otto, or even Hunter? Some of the over guys on that team played big on their own accord; Roberts and Ramage if my mind is still working? Lets also not forget that Newy was a big man.

I have no problem with size, heck I have no problem with grit but they have to be able to play. I would love to have a of 4/5 gritty forwards the like of what a bouma/ferland might develop into but they need to be playing with the likes of Monahan , Hudler, Glencross, Johny g. i would like to see some more grit on the backend, but again guys who cab also play. a Regher in his prime would change our entire D core.

They were big and Hunter did play a lot even 19 playoff games. But, Fletcher liked his enforcers too. He brought in Stu Grimson and Shane Churla. I agree that a mixture of size/grit and skill is needed. That Flames team was loaded with an amazing mixture of skilled small and big guys, tough guys, role players, offensive and defensive defensemen as well as great goaltending

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#37 the-wolf
December 31 2013, 04:01PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

And who of the big guys was here just to fight or could not play a regular shift? Hunter was the grit of record and if my memory serves me well most nights he played a regular shift, also of note if my memory is correct he and Pepper did not dress the night they won the cup. Would anyone here take the new guy(westinghouse or McG) over the likes of Pepper, Otto, or even Hunter? Some of the over guys on that team played big on their own accord; Roberts and Ramage if my mind is still working? Lets also not forget that Newy was a big man.

I have no problem with size, heck I have no problem with grit but they have to be able to play. I would love to have a of 4/5 gritty forwards the like of what a bouma/ferland might develop into but they need to be playing with the likes of Monahan , Hudler, Glencross, Johny g. i would like to see some more grit on the backend, but again guys who cab also play. a Regher in his prime would change our entire D core.

I agree with you 100%.

Sheehy could play too.

Just trying to stay a little positive before throwing in the towel on essentially day one of the rebuild.

And BB is no Fletcher, but this move is not enough to indict BB yet even though I follow the logic of the article. I'm just hoping BofL is wrong.

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#38 Parallex
December 31 2013, 04:42PM
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@Sincity1976

Your wrong, the advanced stat community doesn't make fun of #gritchart because they can't quantify it (any impact of #gritchart is quantified as part of Corsi/Fenwick) it's made fun of because it has a perceived value that's laughably higher then it's actual value.

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#39 FlamesRule
December 31 2013, 04:53PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

I get what you're saying, but I think even with Burke, it's still a desirable GM position. There's so much real flexibility in the organization (cap space, picks, upcoming roster turnover), that if you think you can be a nice counter to some of Burke's ideas while still working with him - which I do believe is possible - you would have to feel you could build something very, very strong. I don't think most GM's believe they need to be the final arbiters anymore, as a lot of teams do have AGMs and Pres. of Hockey Ops['s(?)]. The job has definitely changed in the last decade or so...

Every GM in the league either has a Burke or (likely worse) an Owner to answer to...

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#40 KingJafi
January 01 2014, 02:25PM
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Nice piece bol...except one thing...there was no rebuild under Feaster ever panning out...ever. Flames fans need to stop believing that...it will be easier to swallow the truculence.

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#41 coachedpotatoe
December 31 2013, 10:01AM
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I could not agree more. I took a look at the top two teams in each division, actually the top three and while they all have some big tough guys what they all had were some very skilled hockey players up front. They also often roll 4 lines something I have been preaching all season. Jurkees view of hockey reminds me so much of Dutter as to be scary Is there room for players with grit and can drop there gloves when needed, absolutely but first and foremost they have to be able to play a regular shift. Westgate has been a pro for how many seasons and has how many games in. His nickname should should be Westinghouse which I believe makes a nice refridgerator.

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#42 Derzie
December 31 2013, 01:43PM
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Burke hockey is garbage hockey unless your library includes Don Cherry's Rock em Sock em VHS tapes and you frequent hockeyfights website (look at the Trashes of this note to get a knuckle-dragger count). Westgarth is the first shot across the bow. We fans of actual hockey (2013/14 version) are in for a really tough go.

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#43 MangoTanker
December 31 2013, 03:12PM
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Walter White wrote:

I agree with some of what you are saying; McGrattan is not as great an enforcer as he could be.

sure he almost always wins his fights, or at least draws, but he is too nice of a guy.

we need an enforcer who has a couple of screws loose, someone who may just go "Shawn Thornton"...someone who will go after someone like Kesler and take him out.

McGrattan took a 5 minute major for accidentally hitting a guy too hard,if an enforcer is going to take a 5 nimute major he should make it count.

An enforcer should be feared, not just respected, which is what McGrattan is.

Here is hoping that Westgarth has a little Shawn Thornton in him....so to speak.

WW

So you want a player to go out and hurt other players?

Isn't that exactly the kind of "lack of respect" attitude Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety is trying to get rid of?

I'm not a fan of face punchers, but the one thing I respect about Brian Mcgrattaen more than any other on-ice quality he has is the fact that he'll never go out and "want" to hurt other players. Everyone knows it's very tough for enforcers to earn their keep without chucking fists, so a lot of them, like B Mac, have to do whatever is necessary to keep their jobs. They don't do it because they like it, they do it because it's perceived as "needed".

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#44 ?
December 31 2013, 03:20PM
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suba steve wrote:

Agreed, history does not tell me that BB will build a team of 25 Westgarth's. History tells me that he has made good and bad moves, like anyone else.

On your StL/LA comparison, I kinda like that. From 2006-2010 (5 years) StL made 9 first round draft selections, mostly mid to late round but with 2 "lotto" picks in the top 5. LA in that same 5 year span made 7 first round selections with 3 "lotto" selections. Now all of these first rounders were not home-run picks, but with that volume of picks they both got some valuable players, many making significant contributions to these teams.

By the way, the Flames in that 5 year span made only 4 first round selections--Irving, Backlund, Nemisz, and Erixon.

Isn;t drafting 3 times in the top 5 in a 5 year span basically being a basement team?

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#45 RKD
December 31 2013, 04:06PM
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I'm not really a fan of trading picks for face-punchers. However, I think Brian Burke looked at his model of what he did with the Toronto Maple Leafs and realized that wasn't the right way to build the team. I think he's starting from the bottom up. Meaning, I think he is trying to emulate the L.A. model with big powerful forwards. A lot of teams would want Jordan Nolan and Dwight King on their third or fourth lines. He wants the saddledome to once again be the most feared place the play. What he really needs to do is have elite forwards with a lot of high end skill and size. Your teams shouldn't be too small and/or soft that other plays knock you off the puck. Hopefully, some of our talented forwards get bigger. I think guys like Monahan will get stronger and bigger and some guys may stay their size.

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#46 clyde
December 31 2013, 04:57PM
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Parallex wrote:

Your wrong, the advanced stat community doesn't make fun of #gritchart because they can't quantify it (any impact of #gritchart is quantified as part of Corsi/Fenwick) it's made fun of because it has a perceived value that's laughably higher then it's actual value.

I hope you don't represent all the advanced stat community because you just proved Sincity1976 correct.

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#47 Jibmeister
December 31 2013, 05:12PM
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Walter White.. wow.

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#48 beloch
December 31 2013, 05:58PM
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Westgarth has managed a consistent on-ice corsi of -5 for several seasons with two different teams. Big Ern is -25 so far this season, and was -20 last season. Although they play in completely different circumstances, Backlund is sitting at -4 right now, just for comparison. Westgarth is certainly not a possession player of Backlund's quality, but he's a lot closer to Backlund than McGrattan! He likely won't be making our hearts leap up to snuggle with our tonsils for all the wrong reasons for 5 minutes a game, as McG has been doing. In fact, unless he was being propped up by excellent linemates with the Canes and Kings (a possibility), he should improve the Flames fourth line substantially.

Of course, this is assuming Westgarth is good enough at punching faces that Hartley won't feel the need for a second goon. That really is the litmus test for this trade. If he replaces Big Ern immediately and McG is permanently benched or demoted, that's a pass in my books. If Hartley refuses to roll without a goon, the best a GM can do is give him a goon that isn't a massive corsi black-hole for the opposing team to exploit. If Hartley refuses to play Westgarth or insists on playing both McG and Westgarth in the same games (which would be stupid, since they're both 4th line RW'ers), then you have a coaching problem.

Westgarth should not be going to the AHL. He should replace McG immediately.

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#49 Jibmeister
December 31 2013, 05:12PM
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While I like watching Mcgrattan fight, I agree with this article fully..

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#50 slaycraft@gail.com
December 31 2013, 06:29PM
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? wrote:

Isn;t drafting 3 times in the top 5 in a 5 year span basically being a basement team?

Yes, and seems to be exactly what the Flames are in the middle of right now. Just picked 6th (with 2 extra later firsts) and expecting/hoping to be picking top 5 in each of the next 2 years. And that's why I like the LA/StL comparison. I wasn't the one who said those 2 teams were never basemen teams, I would argue that they were, like the Flames are now.

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