Five things: Fallout

Ryan Lambert
January 23 2014 03:12PM

1. The Vancouver ugliness

So the big issue involving the Flames this week is obviously the whole Vancouver dust-up, which of course made John Tortorella look like a lunatic, but also brought a lot of shame on the Flames organization, which itself has had no shortage of such in the past several months (or more, if you like).

Yeah, you can goad Tortorella into behaving like an animal and reduce his team into an ineffectual revenge-seeker rather than letting them play hockey, but starting your fourth line — especially when your fourth line is as much a flaming pile of garbage as Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan, and Blair Jones — in a game is a garbage, punk-ass thing to do. It says, “No, we have no interest in actually playing hockey,” which to some extent is understandable because of how bad the Flames are at doing that, in general.

As has been well-documented in the time since this incident, Hartley has a history of pissing off Tortorella and also of playing this kind of idiotic anti-hockey game, and so the chance to do both at the same time seemed too great a chance to pass up, especially given how wound up Vancouver has been in the last few weeks. He deserved the $25,000 fine and perhaps more, no matter what Brian Burke says about it. There's no place in hockey for that kind of sideshow nonsense. Hartley's a joke.

2. The Stajan extension

Matt Stajan being locked up for four years at a reasonable price point was a surprise move, but it's one that I think makes sense. He's now your No. 1 center for two or three years while whoever is ready to take over that spot (Monahan? Someone drafted this summer? Or maybe next year?), and then he becomes a No. 2 or even No. 3. He's probably not an ideal No. 1 even in these circumstances, but then this isn't an ideal roster.

I was a little surprised at the pushback on the deal, because it was so vociferous, but then people have had it in for Stajan since he was essentially the mediocre return in the Dion Phaneuf trade and was awful for his first season-plus with the club. He's just one of those guys who's going to be unfairly maligned forever, and I get it. But still, who else is going to want to sign for any kind of term in Calgary, at this point? The shortlist is: No one. This gets the Flames a little closer to the cap floor for next season (they currently need to nearly double their expenditures) and gives a good soldier his due.

He's not great, but he's the best that was probably going to be available to Burke.

3. On the other hand...

There was that aforementioned bit of a surprise insofar as I figured Burke would put him on the market and see the price he fetched. Maybe he tried and got nowhere, but based on an interview he gave to the Calgary Sun late last week (which we'll get to in a minute), it's hard to say.

Especially with Mike Cammalleri now out with a concussion — which is just an awful blow to the team's chances of getting some good pieces for him — Stajan became even more important. Not that he would have pulled anywhere near what Cammalleri will, but something is better than nothing. Again, I get it. It makes total sense why the re-signing happened, but the timing of it is a bit curious, and seems antithetical to that whole thing about seeing what the market has in store for the period after the Olympic break.

The trade that went down yesterday between Nashville and New York (or indeed, the two that went down a week ago yesterday between Nashville and Edmonton, and then Edmonton and Los Angeles) shows that people are trying to make deals, but y'know, Dave Poile seems to largely be dealing with morons who want to take on problem contracts. Not sure the Flames have any of those to give up.

4. Has Burke learned something?

Eric Francis sat down with Burke last week and talked, more or less, about the organization's direction, which has Burke looking for a permanent GM and trying to sell some parts off. However, he seems to actually be approaching the latter issue with caution; he's not even considering trading the team's No. 1 pick this year (something he might have done with glee just a few years ago; see also: the Kessel trade).

That's reassuring for the team. There's no need to hurry through this rebuild. In fact, they should take as long as is reasonable with it, be that two or four years, or more, depending on how things work out. Yeah it sucks, but it's necessary. People point out — often, in fact — that rebuilds like the one the Flames seem to be attempting (i.e. tanking) don't always work out, and then they point to Edmonton. It has demonstrably worked elsewhere, though (Chicago and Pittsburgh most obviously), and with a guy like Connor McDavid available No. 1 overall next year, you might wanna get used to a deeply awful Flames team.

There will be no rushing. That's good.

5. As a public service...

In the past few weeks, presumably as the Flames have turned a deeper shade of awful, I've gotten a lot of questions about the play of Johnny Gaudreau, who has gone from merely dominant to absolute video game-level absurd in the past few weeks. Since the start of January, he has played six games and gone 6-9-15 in them, including a five(!)-assist effort against usually-stingy Maine last Saturday.

With this in mind, I'll spend the rest of the day checking in on the comments here and answering whatever queries you have about Gaudreau, Billy Arnold (who's “only” 4-6-10 in those six games), Mark Jankowski (three points in his last three games), Jon Gillies (an uncharacteristically poor .915 and 2.46 since returning from World Junior), or John Gilmour. Have at it.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#51 piscera.infada
January 24 2014, 02:43PM
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@Baalzamon

I guess your right, I just kind of always associate him with "tougher" defensemen. Green is not that. I see your point though, neither is Liles.

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#52 MonsterPod
January 24 2014, 03:25PM
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Phew! Visceral thrashing of Hartley. Methinks you don't care much for Burkie either. To put it in perspective, the Flames had lost seven at home, the Canucks had just been shut out 1-0 by both the Kings and Coyotes and got wasted 9-1 in Anaheim. Everyone -- coaches, players, fans -- was pissed off. So they had a line brawl. It's not ideal but it's also not apocalyptic. None of the fights were epic and no one was seriously injured.

It's also interesting to note that since that skirmish both teams have been playing much better hockey and the rivalry has been re-ignited.

I would love to get giddy about Gaudreau, but if you look up Nathan Gerbe, who nows plays for the Canes, he is also itty bitty, and also put up big numbers at Boston College. While he's done well to stay in the NHL, he's no Pat Kane.

I'm a Flames fan4life and I would love Johnny Hockey to be amazing, but I'm not holding my breath simply because it is a big boy league. I'm more interested in the July draft and the Flames picking at their highest position in franchise history.

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#53 Purple Hazze
January 24 2014, 03:34PM
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MonsterPod wrote:

Phew! Visceral thrashing of Hartley. Methinks you don't care much for Burkie either. To put it in perspective, the Flames had lost seven at home, the Canucks had just been shut out 1-0 by both the Kings and Coyotes and got wasted 9-1 in Anaheim. Everyone -- coaches, players, fans -- was pissed off. So they had a line brawl. It's not ideal but it's also not apocalyptic. None of the fights were epic and no one was seriously injured.

It's also interesting to note that since that skirmish both teams have been playing much better hockey and the rivalry has been re-ignited.

I would love to get giddy about Gaudreau, but if you look up Nathan Gerbe, who nows plays for the Canes, he is also itty bitty, and also put up big numbers at Boston College. While he's done well to stay in the NHL, he's no Pat Kane.

I'm a Flames fan4life and I would love Johnny Hockey to be amazing, but I'm not holding my breath simply because it is a big boy league. I'm more interested in the July draft and the Flames picking at their highest position in franchise history.

Nathan Gerbe is just one example, but there are also examples of other players who are itty bitty yet put up good numbers.

St. Louis, Fleury, and Gionta are 3 I can think of off the top of my head.

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#54 mk
January 24 2014, 04:15PM
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@Purple Hazze

Gerbe put up 18, 47 and 68 pts in his 3 years at BC (total 133 pts). Gaudreau has put up 44, 51 and 48 pts so far (143 pts) with ~24 games remaining. If he continues at his current pace, he'll have 191 points in the same time frame. Plus, for those who like the "international stage" (WJC for US) argument, Gaudreau put up 9 pts in 7 games. Gerbe? 6 pts in 14 games.

Gaudreau > Gerbe so far - plus he is taller (probably will fill out his frame to be bigger). I'm choosing to be excited about his kid.

Historical note: I went back as far back as the USCHO has hockey stats - only 1 player since 97-98 has finished the season at more than 2 pts/game (Jason Krog in 98-99). Interesting.

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#55 BurningSensation
January 24 2014, 04:38PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

It would make Wideman expendable if ownership was willing to eat cap space. That said, I'm skeptical of that move - I'm just not a huge Green fan, and I don't see him being a 'Burke defenceman'. But as I've said many times, you have to be open to pretty much anyone and everything at this point.

I don't see any downside (outside of career ending injury) to trading for Green at that asking price.

I like your point about it making Wideman expendable, but I don't think that is necessarily true. Wideman has played further down the roster for both Boston and Washington, and getting bumped to 2nd unit PP QB might even be a benefit.

He would give us a good core of puckmovers; Brodie, Green, Wideman, Russell, can all lug the mail when needed.

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#56 KetchupKid
January 24 2014, 05:34PM
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@mk

You had me at 191 points.

You lost me at Jason Krog.

I'm mostly just kidding. I think Gaudreau has legit chance to be an elite NHLer and that's as good a thing as you can say about any prospect.

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