March 27 2014 09:10AM
1. An acknowledgement, with a caveat
Bob Hartley spoke with the media the other day and said that while the team has seen a number of positives over the course of the year, it has largely been a “failure.”
Bob. We agree. An unmitigated disaster from start to finish. Total
failure. This team failed in its primary goal to... what was that?
You weren't done?
“In my book, if you're not a playoff team, you don't have much. … In the NHL it's the final result. … We need to find a way to get better because it's still not good enough.”
Oh it's a failure because the team didn't make the playoffs. I hate to break it to you, Robert, but this team was never ever ever going to make the playoffs. Not if you ran them out in a billion seasons exactly like this one in a row.
The reason this season is a failure is that the team was actually too good. Didn't we see throughout most of the late 90s and early 2000s what being a borderline playoff team gets you? Miserable “prospects” and no playoffs, and the former means little hope of the latter any time soon. If you're going to bomb out of the playoffs, you might as well do it spectacularly, rather than valiantly going down swinging, as the Flames have in winning five of seven down the stretch here. Great, you're 26th instead of 28th. How is that good, again?
2. With that having been said...
It sure was hilarious to see this team hang eight on Edmonton to really drive home how awful they've been this year. The Oilers should absolutely serve as a cautionary tale for Calgary insofar as this is what a team being run by a moron throughout several years of a rebuild looks like. Kevin Lowe is directly responsible for how bad they've been forever. His drafting has often made little sense, but at least the Oilers seem to finally be moving in the right direction.
Their new GM seems smart and pretty savvy at his job so far. Their new coach seems to be able to keep things kosher and handle problems well in a town that feeds on negativity. Their best players are very much top-end. They just don't have the personnel (namely a few top-pairing defensemen and a top-six forward) to be in any way competitive, but I also don't believe they're all that far away.
Doesn't mean seeing not one, not two, but three jerseys thrown on the ice as things go from bad to worse isn't hilarious. Because it is. It really, really is.
3. A delightful headline, and horrifying quote
You're not going to find a better five words in the English language than these.
Anyway, you read through that article and you end up down near the bottom, and Brian Burke winds up talking about the way the Flames approach drafting (emphasis mine).
“We place great value and great pride on researching a player’s character work ethic, accountability, empathy and coachabilty,” said Burke. “We have a list of adjectives on the list and I think there are about 20 and I think ‘work ethic’ appears four times out of that 20. We try to research the kids, at least in the top-three rounds where we have the assets to do it, we make mistakes like everybody, but we try our best. We don’t draft based on skill, that’s the second thing to us. We think you have a better chance of succeeding if you bring in character people than if you don’t.
“So that’s a priority for us. We do have a DND list, Do Not Draft. Some teams will evaluate a guy and say ‘He has NHL skills, but he’s a head case, so put him in the second round.’ To me, he’s still a head case in the second round, so we just take him off the list.”
Boy oh boy, Brian. Boy oh boy. What else is there to say? You know “intensity” is on that list of adjectives. You know, also, that it is not an adjective.
Burke has an horrific draft record. That's the important thing to keep in mind here. You have to wonder if he took Tyler Biggs over Brandon Saad, for example, because he liked his character more. Biggs is a regular scratch for an AHL team, while Saad is a regular contributor for one of the best hockey teams on the planet.
Even if you think I'm too negative about this team and its management and future, that quote should give you a season's worth of pause. If it doesn't, you have something seriously wrong with you.
4. A look at the Friars
Last week in this space I promised that I would provide a brief scouting report of Providence College from my first viewing in a few months. Jon Gillies had been playing exceptionally well after a bout of subpar hockey following World Juniors, and Mark Jankowski seemed to have turned things around and had been producing at a very respectable rate.
I can say now, that having watched them play UNH in the Hockey East semifinals, that I have nothing good to report. Put simply, the Wildcats bossed the Friars around basically from front to back and went on to win 3-1. The Friars had just five shots In the first period, conceded three goals in the second, and only mounted a comeback when the game was, for all intents and purposes, over.
Of the three goals UNH scored, you could really only say one was in no way Gillies' fault, as it was a point shot that hit a defenseman's knee and went in far-side. That happens. The other two were garbage goals scored on wraparounds on which Gillies, shall we say, did not acquit himself well. The first was a shortie on which Kevin Goumas blew the doors off a defenseman and went around the net, and Gillies overcommitted to the shot attempt from the near side and couldn't get over. The second, he just quit on the play as the seconds wound down in the period and didn't even really seem to realize another Goumas wraparound was being attempted, until it was too late. You can see all the goals in this video. They're not pretty:
As far as Jankowski goes, I'm not sure what happened to the guy who was playing extremely well at both ends of the ice. He was on the ice for the first and second goal against, and on the latter he wasn't covering anyone in particular. He also finished the game with just one shot on goal. I would categorize him as being largely, umm, ineffective. But not outright bad. Again, this was a team overwhelmed by a club with a far more talented top line.
John Gilmour, like Jankowski, finished minus-2 and with a single shot on goal.
The good news is this team's season isn't done, as it qualified for an at-large NCAA tournament bid, and will face Quinnipiac on Friday night. You'll recall Quinnipiac as the team against which Jankowski went without even a single shot attempt in late November (and against which Gillies was ho-humly fabulous in earning a 3-all draw that his team in no way deserved). It will be interesting to see what happens this time around, with one hell of a lot more at stake.
5. More Gaudreau-type stuff
Johnny Gadureau's Boston College Eagles are also in the NCAA tournament, obviously, as the top seed in their regional, and they play on Saturday.
But before all that, the will-he/won't-he drama about turning pro at the end of the season continues to swirl. In a New York Times piece that ran yesterday, Gaudreau made it seem like he might not sign after all. The money line, in the sixth paragraph from the bottom, reads thus:
“Gaudreau’s mother would like to see her son finish college and graduate, and he said his mother usually prevailed in these kinds of things.”
I dunno. Calgary's almost certainly going to throw silly bonus money and a chance to make the big club out of camp at him and he really does have nothing left to prove in college hockey. The thing people have been saying a lot is that this signing, or not signing, might lean somewhat on whether BC wins a national title this year (a thing I do not expect it to do). The thinking is that the chances he stays in school for a final year increase significantly if they crash out again.
I'm not sure I buy it.