Five things: Hmmmmmmm

Ryan Lambert
March 27 2014 09:10AM

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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.”

Yes, 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KOY3Qfby4Q

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.

686dfac3780611cb7acad6ce5166c6c1
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 lionlager
March 27 2014, 03:55PM
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Give me a break, this is the best season the Flames have had in years and the most fun as a fan. They're looking great, and they're not supposed to. Hartley's doing wonders, and Burke just basically said he doesn't want to draft a Yakupov or a Kovalchuk. That's fine by me.

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#52 dotfras
March 27 2014, 04:06PM
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One thing I noticed at the end of the game last night is that there were 6 Left Handed shooters on the ice. There were one or two moments where it effected the scoring chance. Looking into it a little more, the only RH players on the Flames are their fourth line guys, Grats, Westgarth & Jones.

Maybe it's not a huge deal, but do you think the need for a RW plays a role in who we draft? Obviously it's not a huge deal, but found it interesting how few right handers we had.

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#53 The Sultan
March 27 2014, 04:09PM
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Flames sign Ryan Culkin to a three-year entry-level deal.

http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=711561&navid=DL|CGY|home

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#54 Parallex
March 27 2014, 04:14PM
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@The Sultan

Yeah, I was wondering when the perfunctory transaction articule on that was gonna appear on FN... Ryan y'all are slackin' ;)

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#55 mk
March 27 2014, 04:24PM
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EXPECTATIONS

I capitalized that because I think it is the #1 reason fans don't agree with Hartley. The Flames were expected to be really terrible (bottom 2 or 3) and they've overachieved that bar by a bit (bottom 5). I admit, its been fun to watch, but losing this much will get old REALLY FAST.

This may be the worst season in Flames history. (!)

We may end with more points than '97-'98 (67 pts then vs. 67 so far this year) because of the ways points are now (Bettman points), but we're a ways from actually winning as many regulation games (24 then vs. 17 now). We have won 7 in OT and 6 in a SO, which would be ties under the old system. We would have only 54 points to date (I'm not advocating the old system, just trying to offering a way of comparing results).

I know it's fun watching rookies with actual effort and energy. But Hartley is 100% correct - this season is a failure. This is arguably a franchise low season.

[Side note: in some ways, this post makes me very happy with the franchise - it has never drafted higher than 6th and never finished in the very bottom of the league. Now let's win some more damn cups.]

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#56 Baalzamon
March 27 2014, 04:30PM
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To be fair to Burke, he did say at some point this season that he thought the Flames had the best first round at the draft. Meaning he liked the Monahan, Poirier, and Klimchuk picks.

Couldn't say that more Monahans and Poiriers would be a bad thing, really.

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#57 Chad
March 27 2014, 04:30PM
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Lambert look on the bright side though drafting is the best way to get top line talent it isn't the only way. The Flames are now in a position to either overpay in free agency or in a trade to get that talent. Too bad that Seguin got moved last year instead of now.

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#58 Rockmorton65
March 27 2014, 04:36PM
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Parallex wrote:

I never said that they'd ignore it. I said that according to what Burke has actually said they don't prioritize skill.

That's indisputable. Burke quite literally said 'We don’t draft based on skill'.

Y'all can believe what you want, personally I think that's a messed up, assbackwards way to run a franchise.

"How many "high end skill" prospects have crapped out over the years, because they didn't have the ability to compete, adapt or handle adversity at the NHL level?"

I'll bet every single dollar I make for the rest of my life that the number is less then the number of hockey players who crapped out because they just weren't skilled enough.

Dude, they do prioritize skill. Its just not #1. Its #2. Burke said it himself "that's the SECOND thing". Other qualities that they prioritize are probably things like skating, size, grit, IQ, passion, and um, I'm assuming a whole lot more (smarter people than I would be making the list). I'd guess the list would have between 10-20 "categories".

However many are on the list...skill is number 2. Like I said, it could even be a 1b. So, obviously, skill is a top consideration. Its just not his only criteria. There are some teams that just go after skill and they pay a price.

We need to consider context as well. Priorities shift when you get into later rounds. Lets assume that in this upcoming draft, with their 1st rd pick, the Flames have a choice between Reinhart and Bennett. Two guys, arguably close in skill. The deciding factor for Burke will be who has the better character. It would be stupid to say, well we have Bennett ranked one point higher in skill, but we really like Reinhart's compete level more...oh well, we have to take Bennett - skill before anything else, right?

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#59 Tenbrucelees
March 27 2014, 05:00PM
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Lazy and predictable. F-

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#60 cccsberg
March 27 2014, 05:02PM
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Parallex wrote:

Also I find Burke's quote about drafting to be downright terrifying. We need a real GM in the worst way.

What is talent and how is it ranked? Certainly there are several aspects to "talent": speed, puck-handling, hockey-sense, shot... but how about defensive awareness/ability, toughness/grit, heart/determination, consistency, responsibility, strength, continuous improvement, leadership and probably a few others? I would say that ALL of the ABOVE go into making a great hockey player and are a part of talent. Just because someone gets a lot of points, or can dipsy-doodle with the puck, or excels at some level when kids doesn't make them overly talented now. A few unique players may make it by excessive skill/ability in 2-3 areas but the truly TALENTED/ELITE have a good combination of all of the above.

BB's comments are right on! Not that skill isn't important (and BB acknowledges that, elsewhere), but it not the only thing. Let's look at last year's draft. Poirier over Shinkaruk, not the (consensus) skill choice but I think the best talent choice. Also, I'm much happier with (boring) Monahan than let's say the Oilers RNH, Eberle, Yak or (hopefully) even Hall, which remains to be seen. Skill is only one factor and if you close your eyes and let that be the be-all, end-all you're heading for trouble.

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#61 cccsberg
March 27 2014, 05:12PM
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Parallex wrote:

That's entirely the wrong priority. Skill should be the attribute you look at first and foremost, everything else is what you use to distinguish amoungst the skilled.

Seriously... de-prioritizing skill? That's lunacy. It's doubly abhorrent that this is the mindset of the franchise as it's set for it's highest run of draft-picks in recent memory.

Nylander is supposedly the best top-end skill guy in this ear's draft. Hopefully, if he plays like his dad, he'll be on BB's DND list. Got to look at everything, not just "skill".

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#62 EugeneV
March 27 2014, 06:23PM
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Rockmorton65 wrote:

I think we all need to relax a little bit here. I think all Burke is saying is that he's not going to draft a flake simply because he's got a ton of skill. He doesn't say "we don't look at skill", he saying they look at character first.

Look at Nashville, for example. Drafting Radulov has set that organization back a few years. Skilled, yes, but flakier than a pie crust. They wasted a 1st round pick on a guy who ran home when he didn't get his way. Burke's strategy will prevent us from wasting a pick on someone like that.

The Flames having this attitude is great for the organization. We're still going to get skilled guys, but we know they're going to have character.

Agreed.

Again, people are latching onto a quote and inferring it in their own interpretation.

ie. "Truculence, need to be bigger etc..."

I'm sure that he means "Character over skill, all else being equal" unless the guy is a flake with no work ethic. Like Daigle and Falloon.

I like the quote in the Lethbridge paper: "Burke also spoke of community-owned teams, advising those teams to make sure they have board members that know exactly what’s going on in the industry, adding there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t."

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#63 BJ
March 27 2014, 06:25PM
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I want a top draft pick... we all do I get it... but how do balance finishing at the bottom with keeping a competitive culture and avoiding the mistakes of the perpetually rebuilding franchises?

I am sick of hearing the same whining and moaning on this site. It's the same thing over and over.

After the whole Willis thing I see the Nation Network for what it is... the worst thing about the internet. A bunch of bloggers with no real insight other than advanced stats.

Joe Colborne is playing great. kent Wilson wrote him off months ago. Will Kent retract what he wrote earlier. No. He won't even acknowledge it.

Will Willis acknowledge his comments about Winnipeg are out of line. Nope.

This site is just as bad as the mainstream media and maybe a bit worse.

I'm out. Keep up the good work Christian Roatis, Avezedo and some of the other level headed writers who don't share the same snide arrogance as these tools and the mainstream media.

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#64 Chambers
March 27 2014, 06:39PM
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The writer has chosen to take a 'glass half full" approach to stimulate controversy/comment. Actually it's smart journalism as the intent of this website is to do exactly that. I would have liked to see a more overall view that indue the positives regarding the Flames, players and Burke.

Did you really say the Oilers seem finally to be going in the right direction?? Did they not finish 24th last year and will most likely finish 29th this year?

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#65 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 27 2014, 07:13PM
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BJ wrote:

I want a top draft pick... we all do I get it... but how do balance finishing at the bottom with keeping a competitive culture and avoiding the mistakes of the perpetually rebuilding franchises?

I am sick of hearing the same whining and moaning on this site. It's the same thing over and over.

After the whole Willis thing I see the Nation Network for what it is... the worst thing about the internet. A bunch of bloggers with no real insight other than advanced stats.

Joe Colborne is playing great. kent Wilson wrote him off months ago. Will Kent retract what he wrote earlier. No. He won't even acknowledge it.

Will Willis acknowledge his comments about Winnipeg are out of line. Nope.

This site is just as bad as the mainstream media and maybe a bit worse.

I'm out. Keep up the good work Christian Roatis, Avezedo and some of the other level headed writers who don't share the same snide arrogance as these tools and the mainstream media.

have a couple drinks ol friend, maybe take a couple days off, give the a good go or two, and when you come back, youll feel better. its really not that bad or that serious. these are just good guys who make a go at covering a team 24/7 from every angle, always trying to come up with somehing new or different or fresh... a tall order.

in fact, im sure ideas for new pieces would be welcome. any good ideas in that there tickle trunk of yours???

cheers ;-)

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#66 FlamesRule
March 27 2014, 08:02PM
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"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."

Come on Lambert - Feaster took Sven even earlier! How's that working out for us?

With your hindsight, you'd make an excellent GM.

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#67 FlamesRule
March 27 2014, 08:02PM
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"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."

Come on Lambert - Feaster took Sven even earlier! How's that working out for us?

With your hindsight, you'd make an excellent GM.

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#68 FlamesRule
March 27 2014, 08:04PM
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@exsanguinator

Here here!

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#69 dotfras
March 27 2014, 08:33PM
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Islanders with a Shootout loss tonight! We are only 1 point ahead of them now.

I may not be cheering for the Flames to lose, but I sure am cheering for the teams below us to finish out their schedules strong!

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#70 FlamesRule
March 27 2014, 09:20PM
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Baalzamon wrote:
I will agree Biggs is a bust, but all the "experts" had him in that range pre-draft.

I'm not going to claim that I'm some sort of scouting whiz (because really) but I could not for the life of me figure out why Biggs was ranked that high even at the time. He always looked like a 5th rounder to me.

Just like Jankowski!

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#71 FlamesFan1489
March 28 2014, 12:42AM
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McRib wrote:

Oh I agree, I remember watching him and thinking why do some people have Biggs ahead of J.T. Miller?!?!?! Who was obviously that teams best player and carrying him to me. The problem with the USNTDP (as I'm sure you know) is they play together all year with a very deep team in tournaments against teams that have never played together and some guys offensive talents are boosted, look at Michael McCarron. Montreal lost their minds on a guy that should have been a third or fourth rounder. If you look at first-second round busts over the last 5-10 years you will find a lot of USNTDP Players (Stefan Matteau, Jarred Tinordi, Brady Skjei, Derek Forbort, Chris Brown, William Wrenn, etc). As bad of a pick Tyler Biggs was Matt Finn the next year was a homerun second rounder for me and redeemed Burke in my books.

Like most have said though I think Calgary's scouts will have a bigger impact than Burke himself he might just vito a couple guys he doesn't like. When Burke left town, Toronto continued to draft big minimal skill likely busts like Frederik Gauthier in the first so it makes me think his scouts were overlooking things that our scouting staff hasn't the last 3 Years. I would like to thank Brent Sutter for putting Gauthier on that World Junior Team ahead of Poirier, we really needed someone to take bad penalties in crucial moments of big games.

You forgot to mention Gauthier's "amazing" skating on the international ice. He might be okay for the NA game (Ryan Smyth was able to play in the NHL as a terrible skater for example), but dear lord it was painful to watch him "skate" on the big ice.

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#72 the-wolf
March 28 2014, 06:37AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I still like you Ryan.

Wasn't it the 1 year anniversary of trading Jarome yesterday? How did that not come up in 5 things? Or as a separate column?

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#73 Kent Wilson
March 28 2014, 07:25AM
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@the-wolf

Im not sure what there's to say about it at this point frankly.

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#74 suba steve
March 28 2014, 09:56AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Im not sure what there's to say about it at this point frankly.

And so....that differs from every other topic we discuss here in what way?

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#75 dotfras
March 28 2014, 10:33AM
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Looks like old Jarome will hit 30 goals again this year.

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#76 CutterMcAwesome
March 28 2014, 10:44AM
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@T&A4Flames

Alexandre Daigle,

http://thehockeywriters.com/what-ever-happened-to-alexander-daigle/

The difference is the desire, the heart, the fire.

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#77 the-wolf
March 28 2014, 11:36AM
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@Kent Wilson

Fair enough. Was thinking along the lines of analyzing the return basd on Agostino's, Hanowski's and Klimchuk's progression.

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#78 Tenbrucelees
March 28 2014, 12:41PM
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I still miss iggy

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#79 The Last Big Bear
March 28 2014, 01:05PM
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Skill is cheap. Without the moxie to back it up its worthless.

Unfulfilled potential is the most common thing in the world.

You can't throw a puck into the crowd at a WHL game without hitting a dad who had the raw talent to have a shot at the NHL, but couldn't put it all together.

I have no problem asking "Does he have his **** together?" before you even bother to ask about skill.

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#80 suba steve
March 28 2014, 01:38PM
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All the skill + character/work ethic= Ray Bourque

Limited skill + character/work ethic= Phil Bourque

Lots of skill + questionable work ethic= Rene Bourque

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#81 PrairieStew
March 28 2014, 01:46PM
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suba steve wrote:

All the skill + character/work ethic= Ray Bourque

Limited skill + character/work ethic= Phil Bourque

Lots of skill + questionable work ethic= Rene Bourque

Thanks for Bourque-ing that down for us.

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