Byron's Big Season Leads to Heavy Decisions Ahead

Steve Macfarlane
April 21 2014 09:00AM

When you’re talking about a 5-foot-8, 160-pounder (a measurement that falls somewhere between his what’s listed on the Flames website and what he suggests he is), the word big doesn’t come up very often.

For Flames forward Paul Byron, it’s come up a lot lately.

His fiancée Sarah, for example, recently gave birth to the couple’s second child — who weighed in at nine pounds and seven ounces.

That’s big.

He finished the season with the Flames after starting it with the Abbotsford Heat in the AHL, netting seven goals and 21 points in 47 games. Pro-rated over an 82-game schedule, and those numbers are a respectable 12 goals and 37 points.

That’s big for a guy who played third and fourth-line minutes.

Now, a big decision looms.

For the Flames. For the player.

A restricted free agent this summer, Byron has to be tendered at minimum a two-way qualifying offer that pays an NHL salary of $707,850 to be retained. But he doesn’t have to sign it if he’s set on finally getting a one-way deal that he’s arguably earned.

Taking advantage of his opportunity with a rebuilding franchise, the 24-year-old pushed his way into a regular role by March, scoring five times in his last 17 games and six assists in his last 19.

To sum up just how far along Byron has come since joining the Flames in 2011 as part of the Buffalo Sabres offer for Robyn Regehr: he’s finally earned himself a regular NHL role, but there’s a possibility it will have to be with another team.

Sizing up the available spots...

What happens next hinges on Brian Burke’s vision for the Flames’ future. We know it’s going to involve more size up front, we just don’t know how much.

In Byron’s favour is the fact only six forwards on one-way deals have contracts for next season, and one of them is the hulking Brian McGrattan. You can add in star rookie Sean Monahan as a sure thing, and likely Lance Bouma and Joe Colborne, too.

Things get dicey from there. Three more spots. An offer on the table for Michael Cammalleri. A big bodied UFA in Kevin Westgarth. Other prospects in the pipeline, including Sven Baertschi and Johnny Gaudreau.
Byron, as big as the strides he’s made have been, is no sure thing to return. At least not as a full-time Flame.

But he sure made the best of his situation while here. He knows he belongs in the NHL and has the strength and smarts to be more than just a small player with speed.

And thanks in part to the Flames, the confidence to go with it. That’s what a breakout season will do for a guy.

“It was great. If you would have told me that (I’d be a regular in the lineup) at the beginning of summer, I might not have believed you,” Byron said before heading back to Ottawa for the offseason. “I knew I was going to start the year in Abbotsford and I knew I’d have to work my way up. I did that. I seized every opportunity I got. I set a goal for myself in the summer and I reached that goal.”

Byron knows that there are more steps to take, more improvement to be made in the weight room. He also realizes the steps he’s taken, the maturing he’s done, on and off the ice.

Now a father of two, he’s no longer the kid who came to the Flames looking like his untucked jersey was two sizes to big (it was) and thinking that making the team was an inevitability after a strong second season with the Portland Pirates in the AHL.

His time in Abbotsford wasn’t easy. He’d hoped to be a member of the Flames after the trade, sooner rather than later. But he adapted to the teachings of coach Troy Ward and over the course of the next couple of years, became a man, and a father.

“They have a great coaching staff down there,” said Byron. “Sometimes guys need different development — sometimes it’s on the ice, sometimes it’s off the ice. I think they did a great job with me. I think my game really matured and I took a huge step this year.”

Thinking like an NHLer now

Increasing his physical strength helped with the transition. It’s something the diminutive Gaudreau will also find as he makes the jump to the pro ranks.

“I had a great summer training. I got a lot stronger,” said Byron. “When you’re a smaller guy like me and Johnny, you’ve always been the small guy so you don’t have to change your game. You just have to learn to cope with the stronger guys in the league.

“I had a great start down in Abbotsford, I got to show my offence, got my confidence going. It just seemed to continue when I came up this year.”

Five goals and 18 points in 23 games with the Heat this season, Byron had become a leader.

But a leader in the AHL is one thing. Finding his place in the NHL is another. His development had to reach a new level with the Flames to reach the point he’s at now.

By the time he took to the ice for a shift at the end of the season, he was no longer thinking about what he had to do to stay in the NHL, he was just playing.

“That was a big mindset change for me this year,” he said. “I felt like this is the most consistent year I’ve had in a long time. It gave me a lot of confidence to keep going. Finding consistency is the hardest part of the job.

Even for most of the year, in the back of your mind you’re always kind of wondering, ‘If this guy comes back am I going to be sent down? What do I have to do to stay?’ You go home to the hotel at the end of every day and you’re just counting down the days wondering what’s going to happen …

“When the coaching staff and management tells you you’re going to stay for good, it’s a big relief. It takes a lot of pressure off.”

For now, anyway. But as we get closer to the summer, the pressure of getting a new contract will surely weight on him a little. He sounded genuine suggesting he wants to be back with the Flames rather than move on.

“Absolutely. I want to be part of this team. I want to be back,” he said. “I love the coaching staff. I love the city.

“Hopefully there’s a spot for me here.”

3d3f7758adff5b9b9ead81bf00567345
Former Calgary Sun Flames beat writer who has covered the team for a decade. Opinionated but reasonable, except when it comes to buffets. Follow him on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
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#1 TheoForever
April 21 2014, 10:59AM
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Long term, there is no space for Byron on a team run by Burke.

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#2 Yup
April 21 2014, 11:45AM
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Is Byron's hit on Sedin getting looked at by the league? Possible suspension?

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#3 Baalzamon
April 21 2014, 05:10PM
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@Stubblejumper

One just has to take a quick glance at what is happening in the first playoff round to see that size and physicality do matter an awful lot.

Los Angeles is big and physical. San Jose is neither. Yet, San Jose is up 2-0 in the series.

It's almost as if team quality is more important than team size...

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#4 TheoForever
April 21 2014, 11:10AM
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I like Byron but if you add up all the smaller players with more upside, he is in tough to stick around. He earned it, but...

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#5 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2014, 02:35PM
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Primo wrote:

Let me help you put your mind at ease since as you say you just don't know if Burke really knows what he's got here yet?

Burke has been here about a full season now. Prior to that he had executive / player development positions with other teams. He is and was surrounded by hockey experts both with the Flames and other organizations that are well paid and 100% focused on NHL players, development, prospects, global scouting systems etc etc.

You can bet your life on it that he knows what he has got here! His established resume suggests that he is not only very well respected but also well versed in player trades and organization rebuild and is paid in excess of $2M per year to make what will hopefully be the right strategic decisions for the Flames.

Relax, sit back and be assured that the Flames are in good hands. He will make changes / improvements that will hopefully avoid any future 27 place finishes and we can watch the Flames play hockey in the spring! Burkes has a shelf life like any other coach/GM. His expiry date is still a few years away so let's enjoy his abrasiveness, entertainment and hopefully positive results!

I can tell you for fact, that even the most experienced exec needs more time than 1 year to know exactly what he's got.

There simply isn't enough time to adequately know about players simply because they aren't in one place and neither is Burke.

Also, Lowe and MacT can put a similar resume out as Burke. What your past says means squat to me.

Anyone can sit on their laurels and you may like to do so too but I don't want a guy who relies on the past (6 rings) rather a guy who is always trying to improve.

You and Burke can point to the past and yell see look what I did, relax.

Not for me. I want the guy who is constantly learning and realizes there is always more to learn.

Old ways belong in the pasture.

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#6 Lordmork
April 21 2014, 09:49AM
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If we sign Kevin Westgarth instead of Paul Byron it will confirm the worst fears about a Brian Burke size fetish. I would be hugely disappointed to see Byron go. I think he's done a great job in the situations he's been asked to play in, and I've really enjoyed him this season. I think he's earned a 2-year contract.

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#7 Primo
April 21 2014, 02:05PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

Let me help you put your mind at ease since as you say you just don't know if Burke really knows what he's got here yet?

Burke has been here about a full season now. Prior to that he had executive / player development positions with other teams. He is and was surrounded by hockey experts both with the Flames and other organizations that are well paid and 100% focused on NHL players, development, prospects, global scouting systems etc etc.

You can bet your life on it that he knows what he has got here! His established resume suggests that he is not only very well respected but also well versed in player trades and organization rebuild and is paid in excess of $2M per year to make what will hopefully be the right strategic decisions for the Flames.

Relax, sit back and be assured that the Flames are in good hands. He will make changes / improvements that will hopefully avoid any future 27 place finishes and we can watch the Flames play hockey in the spring! Burkes has a shelf life like any other coach/GM. His expiry date is still a few years away so let's enjoy his abrasiveness, entertainment and hopefully positive results!

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#8 coachedpotatoe
April 21 2014, 08:54PM
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Primo wrote:

I still think you need to really calm down. Burke just got here and you are loaded with uncertainties and question marks! Wow...let him do his job then as a fan you can compliment or criticize his performance. Talk about Burke being impatient...listen to yourself!

Be grateful that the ownership of your favourite team has put out a huge investment in Burke. They have brought in an established executive to make some key decisions that need to be made correctly on a team that has not made the playoffs since 2004!

As a fan I am certainly grateful and am willing to see what he does! He hasn't even had his first draft with the Flames yet so again be patient! I am glad we didn't bring in an ex jock or ex player i.e. Kevein Lowe type but rather a proven manager who has strengths specifically in areas the Flames have gaps such as 1) Astute trading 2) Proven builder with a sound plan i.e. skill, speed, truculence, play all 3 zones 3) accountability for every player, coach and scout!

He just got here? He has been here all season and he has been the acting GM since he fired Feaster. I have said I am not a Burke fan but this making him sound like the greatest executive in the history of hockey makes me cringe. If he's as smart as all you supporters say he is then he has made up his mind and we will have to wait. I said about six weeks ago that I am prepared to evaluate him on what he does here in Calgary. (I don't really care what he did in TO, Ana, or Vancouver because those all were different times and teams in different circumstances than what the Flames are in)

So here's my assessment so far: he has talked about getting more truculent and bigger and has helped us acquire Colborne, Smid as well as both Westgarth and vanB. The first two I would say have been positive, the jury is out on vanB and I am not a big fan of Wetsgarth(although it really did not cost us anything) He has also signed two smaller skilled players to extensions; Stajan and Russell both I give passing grades to. So while he does want to get bigger and more truculent he does value skill and smaller players so I don't suspect he will get rid of all the smaller skilled guys. The fact that he has signed(almost all) of the guys drafted under Feaster is also a recognition that he values the work done by Feaster and staff. Burke's period begins with a sound core of prospects, far better than in any of his previous teams. So far for me he has a passing grade but I don't see it as an A, more of a C+.

Will he resign Byron? I believe that Byron is bridge player for the Flames and is deserving a bridge contract.(2 years) The issue for Byron is his size and there are a number of smaller forwards that are either more skilled than he is right now(Hudler) or we all think have more offensive potential(Johnny, Sven and Granlund)what he does bring that none of them has is a bit of abrasiveness(which I think he has developed more of playing in the AHL, Ward has suggested in at least one interview that Granlund may have some of that)So I think there is a 60% chance of him being signed to a bridge contract. Lot's depends on what Burke does when the ability to trade begins. There is a chance he will trade one of his smaller forwards to upgrade at the draft or to acquire something we need.

What I find interesting is that when Feaster was fired most of those who agreed with it said one of the reasons he should be fired was that he did not get enough for Regher and here most of FN is saying resign Byron and some want Butler resigned.

The offseason has great potential for Burke to make his mark and when he does then we can all evaluate his work.(Hiring a GM. work at the draft, dealing with his own RFA's and UFA's, trades and the UFA market)I hope he is as good as you think but I have my doubts.

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#9 Stan
April 21 2014, 10:08AM
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Byron has definitely earned a one-way contract. Whether its with us or with another team, he's earned it. I think he does extremely well in that third line slot. Now all we can do is hope and cross our fingers that Burke doesn't do something stupid like sign Westgarth/Wolf over Byron.

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#10 Primo
April 21 2014, 06:56PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

I can tell you for fact, that even the most experienced exec needs more time than 1 year to know exactly what he's got.

There simply isn't enough time to adequately know about players simply because they aren't in one place and neither is Burke.

Also, Lowe and MacT can put a similar resume out as Burke. What your past says means squat to me.

Anyone can sit on their laurels and you may like to do so too but I don't want a guy who relies on the past (6 rings) rather a guy who is always trying to improve.

You and Burke can point to the past and yell see look what I did, relax.

Not for me. I want the guy who is constantly learning and realizes there is always more to learn.

Old ways belong in the pasture.

I still think you need to really calm down. Burke just got here and you are loaded with uncertainties and question marks! Wow...let him do his job then as a fan you can compliment or criticize his performance. Talk about Burke being impatient...listen to yourself!

Be grateful that the ownership of your favourite team has put out a huge investment in Burke. They have brought in an established executive to make some key decisions that need to be made correctly on a team that has not made the playoffs since 2004!

As a fan I am certainly grateful and am willing to see what he does! He hasn't even had his first draft with the Flames yet so again be patient! I am glad we didn't bring in an ex jock or ex player i.e. Kevein Lowe type but rather a proven manager who has strengths specifically in areas the Flames have gaps such as 1) Astute trading 2) Proven builder with a sound plan i.e. skill, speed, truculence, play all 3 zones 3) accountability for every player, coach and scout!

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#11 Primo
April 21 2014, 09:08PM
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@coachedpotatoe

Hey CP...I know you are a Burke basher and thought my comments would get you going... and yes he just got here! Has been here a year has evaluated the entire organization and the engine is just getting started my friend. He is going to be abrasive and will make some very very unpopular decisions and I can't wait to see your posts!!!!

One major difference is that he will be fully accountable! FN bashers just sit back and criticize before he demonstrates any kind of performance. I'm a half glass full type of person and will keep it that way...thanks!

Hope your boss gives you more than year before he craps on you. LOL!

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#12 The Last Big Bear
April 21 2014, 10:22PM
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12 goal scorers grow on trees.

He's a fan favorite, because he works hard, and that's also good because it contributes to the culture of the team.

But he's an undersized barely-NHLer.

His intangibles are the only argument for keeping him around rather than replacing him with either 1) a vet, or 2) a kid with vastly more upside. And I'll be honest, I don't know if his intangibles are that convincing.

I don't really see a spot for him on the Flames, or most NHL teams.

Gotta hand it to him though, I never thought he'd make it as far as he did. Hats off to him for proving me wrong.

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#13 Burnward
April 22 2014, 10:51AM
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I wonder what it would take to get Marcus Foligno out of Buffalo? Might be an extremely tough task though.

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#14 BitGeek
April 21 2014, 10:15AM
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If they trade away Paul Byron, it better be for an upgrade. That dude is fast and has some decent potential. I'd hate to see an "enforcer" take his spot on the roster.

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#15 Byron Bader
April 21 2014, 10:44AM
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@MyTwoCents

I agree. I think Byron would make an excellent 3rd liner especially with a bigger center and winger (Colborne, Arnold, Byron in 2-3 years looks like the makings of a great 3rd line). If Cammy ends up back in CGY Byron's gone for sure. If Cammy leaves (very likely) I think they'll re-up Byron. I hope at least.

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#16 Baalzamon
April 21 2014, 01:48PM
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Byron adds more to the team in every category--including "truculence"--than David Jones does.

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#17 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2014, 05:49PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

What though, makes you think that Burke's going to treat Granlund or Reinhart as sacrificial lambs? I've never heard him once say "we're sacrificing skill for size". Only that "we need to get bigger and harder to play against". The two are hardly mutually exclusive. Yes, some players will have to be dealt, but I have a hard time seeing Burke trade away prospects who have progressed.

The whole argument about Burke forsaking skill is bunk. It's actually incredibly similar to the backlash on this site about Feaster "going off the board again" and selecting Poirier. I think as fans, we need to be patient enough to judge his moves when then happen.

Also, regarding size (and I know you agree with getting bigger, as many people do), it is necessary in the Western conference. I will also point to the LA-San Jose series as evidence of this, as someone did earlier. Anyone can come at me with the LA and San Jose are 'x' ranking in terms of height and 'x' ranking in terms of weight, but if you're going to tell me neither of those teams play big or physical, you must be burying your heads in the sand during this series. Great hockey, even if the scores have been lopsided.

Again, I wondered how he will achieve his goals. I stated, I concede I don't know who he wants in and who he wants out.

But there are only so many spots on a team, we have a lot of youth coming into the organization that all fit the 3rd line player mould.

If he wants to change out the Hudlers, Stajan's, Cammy's I'm all for it. Calgary's top line players from last year are not good enough. They work and they scrap but Calgary finsihed 4 last.

Is it likely he changes out all those guys? I don't know but I doubt it.

So who then? Well it seems by default it would be the similar Granlunds, Reinharts etc.

Who else?

My point is, do we even really know what we have with those players? Max went from 21 to 63 pts. Is he certainly,a 3rd line player? Are you sure?

Calgary didn't fall to their depths because of Granlund, Reinhart, Byron, Gaudreau, Arnold, Agostino.

They fell because the top 6 were GlenX, Stajan, Hudler, Cammy, Stempniak, Backlund (he has always been a keeper).

You can't consistently win with these guys top minutes but we absolutely need some of them. We can't throw kids to the wolves.

So if you're keeping some of them who do you trade? Granlund because he'll never be a top 6 player? How do we know that?

I understand what people are saying:

Burke isn't so stupid to trade out players who can play for goons.

But it seems we have a lot of players who can play and they are not all 'big'. Maybe I am getting caught up in semantics and he wants guys who play big. I hope so but I can't help but think he wants physically big players throughout the lineup.

So will he get bigger by trading or getting rid of Westgarth? Will he get big by trading Hudler or GlenX? Or will he get big by trading Reinhart or Granlund.

What he gets in return is the thing I'm most interested in.

You can get big guys in a lot of places (FA, college FA, Europe etc) but guys who can play are valuable. Their prices are high.

I don't want to see the org get short changed because someone has a woody for making rash changes.

I don't claim to be a GM and I don't really think Burke is stupid but he's got a fixation on getting bigger and I'm wondering if it clouds his appraisal of or cuts short the time to appraise exactly what we have assembled here.

And that's all I gotta say about that.

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#18 the forgotten man
April 21 2014, 11:50PM
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Feaster passing on Maata for Jankowski...like a kick in the nuts, that keeps on kicking.

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#19 Stubblejumper
April 22 2014, 08:34AM
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@Jeff Lebowski wrote: "But there are only so many spots on a team, we have a lot of youth coming into the organization that all fit the third line player mold.

If he wants to change out the Hudler's, Stajan's, Cammy's then I'm all for it. Calgary's top line players from last year are not good enough. They work and they scrap but Calgary finished 4th last.

Is Burke likely he changes out all those guys? I don't know but doubt it."

Hi Jeff. I think you've made some good observations but you're mixing in a lot of fear and apprehension with what Burke will do coming up.

And as Primo has been saying it may be better to calm down.

Jeff, I agree we weren't good enough. However if we add in the factor of time and FAST FORWARD TWO YEARS our line-up will be very different.

First up...our vet line will be gone. GlenX - Stajan - Hudler - Cammy

Our new lines will likely look something like this, given what we know so far:

Baertschi-Monahan-Poirier

Gaudreau-Bennett/Draisaitl-TBD (Tuch/Point/??)

Klimchuk-Backlund-Ferland

Reinhart-Bouma-Arnold

Extras: Stajan, Colborne, Agostino, Face-Puncher

Gio-Brodie

Wotherspoon-TBD (Glover/McKeown/Mantha/???)

Kanzig-Kulak/Culkin/Sieloff

Extras: Smid, Roy

It will take 1-2 years to transition to the above. The team still lacks the overall size desired but team speed and skill is very good, sufficient to make the playoffs and hopefully contend.

Additional upgrades would occur with future trades and drafts but the Flames already have most of the pieces needed.

What we need is 2 years time to develop the young guys coming up, along with top-notch drafting as we've recently seen, and the Flames will be good for the next decade afterwards.

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#20 Burnward
April 22 2014, 09:53AM
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If Jankowski actually pans out, Feaster is the Easter Bunny.

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#21 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2014, 11:05AM
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I used to get worked up about what Burke might do. I have to believe that he sees what most see (especially this coaching staff) with Byron.

He makes plays. He gets in there. There are plenty of big bodied guys who don't or won't.

It seemed to me, that when Byron was healthy and feeling it, Hartley would use him to get other lines going. If you wanted to play with the puck, instead of chasing it all game, get Byron out there.

Burke can't be so blind towards having big players that he can't see that there a guys who just make things happen out there - regardless of size.

Can Byron last a full year? If the puck is in your end and coming around on a rim, is Byron going to be able to get it out, everytime?

These are legitimate questions for a middle 6 winger.

There is value on Byron being on the team, Burke (and Burke jr) must appreciate this.

What is even more interesting to me is the same question - is there room for (insert name)?- for a bunch of guys: -Reinhart. -Granlund. -Gaudreau. -Baertschi. -Agostino. -Arnold.

Some of these guys are top 6, some bottom 6. Does Burke want 2 lines to score and 2 to crash/agitate or will he like 3 lines to score employed by players known more for hockey sense than truculence?

I don't want to see any guys who can legitimately play replaced with guys who can legitimately physically intimidate and that's it.

Who would like to see Granlund or Byron replaced by Frazier MacLaren.

I look at the Marlies roster and think...no thanks! Look at that plug EDM picked up on D, Fraser - he is brutal, only effective if he can get his hands on you.

Does anyone want to see those players trying to maul or smart players like Granlund who can chip in at a non elite rate but still pretty damn good?

I really hope Burke can ammend his vision to bring the full potential of what is here out rather than change what is here to fit his vision.

Guys like Ferland and Poirier can really be a boon to us fans who want to see plays being made out there plus have some heaviness. I think the pieces are here - bigger guys with some truculence who can legitimately play. Surround with these types.

Will Burke give the time needed or will he be impatient?

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#22 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2014, 01:44PM
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Primo wrote:

Burke has made his vision very clear but unfortunately many Flames fans I believe have have misunderstood it! He acknowledged that truculence does not mean every player on the team. IMO HE has no need to amend his vision as you suggest. He will no doubt make this team bigger but he has also acknowledged speed and skill are critical! A look at this years playoffs will confirm the Western teams like San Jose have both size and speed and that's where I see Burke's vision WITH THE FLAMES.

For you to suggest that he change is vision to bring the full potential of what is here rather than change what is here to fit his vision is ridiculous! This is a bottom 5 team that has finished in the sewer the last 2 seasons and you suggest he not make changes??

By resigning Russel and soon Byron, signing Gaudreau and supporting the play of Backs and Grandlund confirms to me that his team will have a nice balAnce of speed, size and skill.

But make no mistake changes are required and they will be coming quickly. Recent posts have suggested that Burke accelerate the rebuild but I think he will maintain his course and allow the development of a solid base and young talent combined with an influx of bigger faster players.

No, that is not what I'm suggesting.

The team I'm referring to, is not the bottom 5 team that you seem to be.

I'm referring to the young players that are now just finding their way into the pro ranks. As I mentioned the Gaudreaus, Arnolds etc.

These guys haven't been here and found to be too small and contributed to the team not doing well.

The team has sucked because the top minute guys, the guys who play against the top lines, the guys who are on special teams, are guys like Hudler, Glencross, Stajan, Cammy are not to par with what SJ or ANA trot out.

I don't see the Byrons, Granlunds as guys you play top minutes but I think if they are your middle 6, you can have a team with a threat to score on every line.

My question is, does Burke think that these guys (smaller skilled) have to all fit on the top two lines because he wants beef on lines 3 and 4?

If he does, there isn't room for everyone even though we are seeing all our good but not great young guys (guys who I mentioned have not been here for the suck that has occurred) show the ability to play. They don't look horrible and useless...in fact they look like a team like Detroit would love to have all of them.

Does Burke?

Again, I'm not against making the team bigger - just how do you do it? By trading dudes who make plays for guys who don't make plays but play with an edge? For guys who are bigger but have less hockey sense?

I'm not panicking either since Burke hasn't done anything I consider rash. I just don't know if Burke really knows what he's got here yet.

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#23 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2014, 03:27PM
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Kevin R wrote:

You make good valid points but you seem to be too fixated on Burke's flair of adjectives of what he wants. Grit, truculence, whatever.

By the way, Arnold is not a small hockey player.

Back to the debate. Should we resign Byron? Absolutely. His play earned him a contract but not a huge payday. So what if we give him a 1 way 2 year deal at 1.1mill per year. He finally made a big step this year, I'm curious how he does with a new contract next year. Does he play the same way? If he does, he stays. Simple as that. If he doesn't you send him down & expose him to waivers, if he gets picked off, whatever, if not, we're paying SOB more to play in the AHL. It's not an anchor of a contract.

The biggest thing I see is whether Cammi is resigned. Personally, I would rather see Byron & JG get the spots come October. Let Lambert whine & complain, so what? I am very curious to see if Sven can turn in a great playoff run & then translate that into sticking with the team next year.

I think Primo is trying to tell you to relax, let's see what Burke does at the draft & this summer. That will tell you a lot. He isn't stupid, I'm quite sure he knows what he has with this team. Don't be too presumptuous & let the man work, we can complain later. Until we find a few of our Lucic clones, I have no problems having some face punchers available to put in our lineup. For some reason, I don't think Bob Hartley will mind either.

I understand, I don't think I'm upset or over reacting. I wondering how Burke will accomplish his stated goals.

I don't want our influx of young players to be shipped out before we really know what they're about.

What kind if player is Max Reinhart? He tripled his AHL totals in one year? How can we adequately be compensated for our assets?

Like I said, I have no problems getting bigger. My preference is to change out the currently inferior top 6 minute guys. How likely?

So who do you swap out?

I think Gramlund could be the next Pavelski. If Burke trades him, what do we get back?

I concede, I don't know who Burke has in mind to come and go but in trying to figure this out some players I really like seem to be most likely shipped out. These being kids. That would be a shame, IMO.

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#24 Gussey
April 21 2014, 05:30PM
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Baalzamon wrote:
One just has to take a quick glance at what is happening in the first playoff round to see that size and physicality do matter an awful lot.

Los Angeles is big and physical. San Jose is neither. Yet, San Jose is up 2-0 in the series.

It's almost as if team quality is more important than team size...

San Jose was ignited by their 4th line last night, which includes Brown and Torres.. Not exactly skill guys. I think you need a blend of both. LA's won the cup two years ago (which was one of the most dominating performances in recent memory) and conference final last year. That series is far from over, Sutter will have them ready for game 3.

My take on the Byron thing is that I do like him but where does he fit in a full healthy team next year? He's not a top 6 left wing, that Baertshi, Gaudreau, Glencross or Cammi will play and Poirer and Klimchuk waiting in the wings. And is he a bottom 6 guy? I like Bouma on the 4th and possibly Galiardi on the 3rd. I dunno where he fits. RW? I would rather they get some right shooting wingers for that side.

As well, if he wasn't on the flames roster, how many other teams would he have made last year? None of the playoff teams I would think.

In the end, whether they keep him or not, I don't think it matters much. Paul Byron is not the guy taking the flames to the playoffs in a couple years time.

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#25 coachedpotatoe
April 21 2014, 09:18PM
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Primo wrote:

Hey CP...I know you are a Burke basher and thought my comments would get you going... and yes he just got here! Has been here a year has evaluated the entire organization and the engine is just getting started my friend. He is going to be abrasive and will make some very very unpopular decisions and I can't wait to see your posts!!!!

One major difference is that he will be fully accountable! FN bashers just sit back and criticize before he demonstrates any kind of performance. I'm a half glass full type of person and will keep it that way...thanks!

Hope your boss gives you more than year before he craps on you. LOL!

Primo: Good to get bashed by you, I doubt either of our jobs are as out in the media as Burkes. As I hope you will note I did not bash him(at least not as much I once would have) I am waiting and am prepared to be wrong and will admit it if I am, as I am sure you will if he makes a big screw up.From my perspective based upon all the positive experience he brings(this is what all the pro Burke's say) he should have a good understanding of this organization. Heck many of us hacks on FN have a pretty good idea(both of us included, even when we disagree)of what this team has and needs; just no power to do anything about it. I am actually quite positive(although not satisfied) about where this organization is in the rebuild and am really interested in the direction Burke and the new GM will take this team. I'm sure like many here I will complain when he does something I don't like but I will give him props when he gets it right. Cheers CP

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#26 MyTwoCents
April 21 2014, 10:25AM
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It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog and Paul Byron is a guy who deserves to be on this team. I bet when his team mates see Lil' Byzee competing as hard as he does, they take notice, and that's exactly the type of player I have come to appreciate this year. Also, I feel he is a guy that can still climb the depth chart, but he would be a great 3rd liner on the Flames for years to come.

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#27 Primo
April 21 2014, 01:14PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

Burke has made his vision very clear but unfortunately many Flames fans I believe have have misunderstood it! He acknowledged that truculence does not mean every player on the team. IMO HE has no need to amend his vision as you suggest. He will no doubt make this team bigger but he has also acknowledged speed and skill are critical! A look at this years playoffs will confirm the Western teams like San Jose have both size and speed and that's where I see Burke's vision WITH THE FLAMES.

For you to suggest that he change is vision to bring the full potential of what is here rather than change what is here to fit his vision is ridiculous! This is a bottom 5 team that has finished in the sewer the last 2 seasons and you suggest he not make changes??

By resigning Russel and soon Byron, signing Gaudreau and supporting the play of Backs and Grandlund confirms to me that his team will have a nice balAnce of speed, size and skill.

But make no mistake changes are required and they will be coming quickly. Recent posts have suggested that Burke accelerate the rebuild but I think he will maintain his course and allow the development of a solid base and young talent combined with an influx of bigger faster players.

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#28 Stubblejumper
April 21 2014, 01:49PM
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I note a number of articles and comments on this and previous FN posts as to the merits of keeping a particular player e.g. Byron, TJ Galiardi, David Jones, Westgarth etc.

From my perspective this is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Or in more direct terms..each article has made a case for re-signing or releasing each individual player based on their individual attributes, merits, and performance.

However to me it seems at times that we are missing the larger context. In other words what is the type of strategic model, team concept and playing system that the Flames are building?

Once this is known then each individual player can be evaluated within this larger framework/model to determine relative fit/merit/cost and resign/release decision.

It's always easy to say yes to "more" of whatever we like (eg individual players); however when you attach constraints then tough decisions need to be made within that context (eg max 12 forwards, max 50 contracts, max 3 undersize and 3 size-only wingers, max 5 centres, minimum cap payroll, etc)

Regarding Byron on an individual basis..do I personally like the year he had? Absolutely hands down he showed he belongs in he NHL, adding speed, spark and tenacity every time he was out on the ice.

Given his performance do I believe he should automatically be re-signed to a 2 year one way deal? No...we have close to 20 forwards vying for 12 spots. We also already have several small forwards in Hudler, Cammy, Granlund, Bartschi. Plus 3-4 other forwards who are not physical (Stajan, Backlund, DJones, etc) along with several smallish defenders.

One just has to take a quick glance at what is happening in the first playoff round to see that size and physicality do matter an awful lot. In this context should we still re-sign Byron...???

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#29 BitGeek
April 21 2014, 02:27PM
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@Stubblejumper

yup. Upgrade where possible, and retain where it makes sense. It just means that someone has to evaluate our assets, see where they fit (like you suggested) and see what's out there that could replace and improve what we have. Or stay the course if that makes the most sense.

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#30 Stubblejumper
April 21 2014, 05:46PM
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@Stubblejumper

Two times I have posted (the key statement of my post) and both times it has come up garbled...? Perhaps it was the symbols I used that messed up the post?

One last time (when talking of Montreal's balanced lines):

"While all 4 lines are contributing offensively, it's also interesting that each line is comprised of one smallish player (less than 6 feet) and one larger player (over 6 feet 2 inches)or tougher player."

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#31 Chambers
April 21 2014, 07:05PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

Again, I wondered how he will achieve his goals. I stated, I concede I don't know who he wants in and who he wants out.

But there are only so many spots on a team, we have a lot of youth coming into the organization that all fit the 3rd line player mould.

If he wants to change out the Hudlers, Stajan's, Cammy's I'm all for it. Calgary's top line players from last year are not good enough. They work and they scrap but Calgary finsihed 4 last.

Is it likely he changes out all those guys? I don't know but I doubt it.

So who then? Well it seems by default it would be the similar Granlunds, Reinharts etc.

Who else?

My point is, do we even really know what we have with those players? Max went from 21 to 63 pts. Is he certainly,a 3rd line player? Are you sure?

Calgary didn't fall to their depths because of Granlund, Reinhart, Byron, Gaudreau, Arnold, Agostino.

They fell because the top 6 were GlenX, Stajan, Hudler, Cammy, Stempniak, Backlund (he has always been a keeper).

You can't consistently win with these guys top minutes but we absolutely need some of them. We can't throw kids to the wolves.

So if you're keeping some of them who do you trade? Granlund because he'll never be a top 6 player? How do we know that?

I understand what people are saying:

Burke isn't so stupid to trade out players who can play for goons.

But it seems we have a lot of players who can play and they are not all 'big'. Maybe I am getting caught up in semantics and he wants guys who play big. I hope so but I can't help but think he wants physically big players throughout the lineup.

So will he get bigger by trading or getting rid of Westgarth? Will he get big by trading Hudler or GlenX? Or will he get big by trading Reinhart or Granlund.

What he gets in return is the thing I'm most interested in.

You can get big guys in a lot of places (FA, college FA, Europe etc) but guys who can play are valuable. Their prices are high.

I don't want to see the org get short changed because someone has a woody for making rash changes.

I don't claim to be a GM and I don't really think Burke is stupid but he's got a fixation on getting bigger and I'm wondering if it clouds his appraisal of or cuts short the time to appraise exactly what we have assembled here.

And that's all I gotta say about that.

Your acting like the Flames finished 1 point out of the playoffs and you are worried Burke is going to upset a very good team!

Take a look at the standings and see where they finished! As a Flames season ticket holder I am not pleased they are out of the playoffs but I am pleased they have established an identity and we have some fine young talent. I also agree with Burke we need to get bigger but I also recognize his strong efforts in signing Johnnie Gaudreau and his attempts to sign Cammy. Both are small players. I also like that he appears to have a strong game plan! That is what we need at this important time of our rebuild.

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#32 Kevin R
April 21 2014, 10:47PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

Again, I wondered how he will achieve his goals. I stated, I concede I don't know who he wants in and who he wants out.

But there are only so many spots on a team, we have a lot of youth coming into the organization that all fit the 3rd line player mould.

If he wants to change out the Hudlers, Stajan's, Cammy's I'm all for it. Calgary's top line players from last year are not good enough. They work and they scrap but Calgary finsihed 4 last.

Is it likely he changes out all those guys? I don't know but I doubt it.

So who then? Well it seems by default it would be the similar Granlunds, Reinharts etc.

Who else?

My point is, do we even really know what we have with those players? Max went from 21 to 63 pts. Is he certainly,a 3rd line player? Are you sure?

Calgary didn't fall to their depths because of Granlund, Reinhart, Byron, Gaudreau, Arnold, Agostino.

They fell because the top 6 were GlenX, Stajan, Hudler, Cammy, Stempniak, Backlund (he has always been a keeper).

You can't consistently win with these guys top minutes but we absolutely need some of them. We can't throw kids to the wolves.

So if you're keeping some of them who do you trade? Granlund because he'll never be a top 6 player? How do we know that?

I understand what people are saying:

Burke isn't so stupid to trade out players who can play for goons.

But it seems we have a lot of players who can play and they are not all 'big'. Maybe I am getting caught up in semantics and he wants guys who play big. I hope so but I can't help but think he wants physically big players throughout the lineup.

So will he get bigger by trading or getting rid of Westgarth? Will he get big by trading Hudler or GlenX? Or will he get big by trading Reinhart or Granlund.

What he gets in return is the thing I'm most interested in.

You can get big guys in a lot of places (FA, college FA, Europe etc) but guys who can play are valuable. Their prices are high.

I don't want to see the org get short changed because someone has a woody for making rash changes.

I don't claim to be a GM and I don't really think Burke is stupid but he's got a fixation on getting bigger and I'm wondering if it clouds his appraisal of or cuts short the time to appraise exactly what we have assembled here.

And that's all I gotta say about that.

A lot of questions & the problem is we really wont know what the answers are until the players get out on the ice. Was Byron just playing for a contract or did he actually figure out how to stay in the NHL? Is JG going to have a Money type of season & score 25 for us? Which of Arnold, Knight, Reinhart or Agostino are going to step up & show they are big leaguer's next year. I think the ball is in Cammi's court, does he resign or move on? If he moves on, do we keep Hudler, probably. Is Backlund going to take a leadership role on this team with Gio? GlenX going to play more than 40 games? Seiloff & Tspoon going to claim the 5-6D spots?

This is very early in the rebuild & we should keep expectations the same as this year. We should expect to see even more young guys in the lineup. & like Chambers said, not going to get too concerned messing with a bottom 5 team if it makes sense. If we trade a couple good prospects for a real blue chipper, so be it. Personally, I don't think it's that crucial to make big waves this summer or at the draft.

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#33 Burnward
April 21 2014, 10:49PM
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Don't forget the PK skills he brought this year. Him and Bouma were fantastic together.

That's a very important thing to have two young, cost-effective players in that role and doing it well.

Even if he's relegated to the fourth line with Bouma and say Knight...I'd like to see him stick around to see if they can build on that success.

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#34 Primo
April 22 2014, 08:38AM
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the forgotten man wrote:

Feaster passing on Maata for Jankowski...like a kick in the nuts, that keeps on kicking.

Agree and it really hurts! BUT given what we have now seen and what is starting to evolve by the Feaster/Weisbrod drafts with the young Flames / Heat I am willing to be patient. These guys appear to know what they were doing based on what we are starting to see by the young talent they brought in. Apparently Jankowski is now 6'3" and could end up being >200lbs and a Centre at that! His game is developing so I'm still hopeful.

I also ask myself would Maata have significantly improved a 27th place finish by the Flames? We are in rebuild mold and can afford to wait for Janko's development.

But I hear you......ouch!

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#35 Burnward
April 22 2014, 08:59AM
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@Stubblejumper

And we pay McGratton 10 mil a year to reach the cap floor. Just because it would be hilarious.

That outlook looks darn nice to me. Here's hoping those kids pan out.

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#36 dotfras
April 22 2014, 10:37AM
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@Stubblejumper

I'd much rather give up a similar package for an established NHLer who can step into the role next year. Why would we trade all of that to draft a player who a) won't be ready for at least 2 years, b) isn't a lock to become a successful NHLer?

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#37 Dave
April 21 2014, 09:21AM
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That says a lot about Bob Hartley and the coaching staff. They've done an excellent job.

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#38 ChinookArch
April 21 2014, 10:50AM
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Byron adds a lot of tenacity, skill and speed to the line up. He's very easy to like. I bet room is made for him to start the year and he's either traded next season or the season afterward. If he's traded too soon, the Flames will not see much return.

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#39 TheoForever
April 21 2014, 11:47AM
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Yup wrote:

Is Byron's hit on Sedin getting looked at by the league? Possible suspension?

No suspension.

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#40 beloch
April 21 2014, 12:26PM
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TheoForever wrote:

No suspension.

Sedin stopped at precisely the wrong distance from the boards and Byron didn't have time to react. It's a play that happens in a lot of games and frequently isn't even called. Sedin left on a stretcher so Byron got a major. If the league could fine lady luck for deserting one of their stars, I'm sure they would.

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#41 RKD
April 21 2014, 02:15PM
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Paul Bryon elevated his play this season, he has speed with skilled hands. He provides the Flames with energy, plus he's a threat on special teams to score short handed goals. I think he adds value to this team. If Burke wants size, then his job, or whoever comes in as GM is to surround guys like Byron, Gaudreau, with bigger players. Byron is a regular NHLer, I would give him a bridge type deal, maybe 2 years and then see from there.

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#42 Kevin R
April 21 2014, 02:59PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

I can tell you for fact, that even the most experienced exec needs more time than 1 year to know exactly what he's got.

There simply isn't enough time to adequately know about players simply because they aren't in one place and neither is Burke.

Also, Lowe and MacT can put a similar resume out as Burke. What your past says means squat to me.

Anyone can sit on their laurels and you may like to do so too but I don't want a guy who relies on the past (6 rings) rather a guy who is always trying to improve.

You and Burke can point to the past and yell see look what I did, relax.

Not for me. I want the guy who is constantly learning and realizes there is always more to learn.

Old ways belong in the pasture.

You make good valid points but you seem to be too fixated on Burke's flair of adjectives of what he wants. Grit, truculence, whatever.

By the way, Arnold is not a small hockey player.

Back to the debate. Should we resign Byron? Absolutely. His play earned him a contract but not a huge payday. So what if we give him a 1 way 2 year deal at 1.1mill per year. He finally made a big step this year, I'm curious how he does with a new contract next year. Does he play the same way? If he does, he stays. Simple as that. If he doesn't you send him down & expose him to waivers, if he gets picked off, whatever, if not, we're paying SOB more to play in the AHL. It's not an anchor of a contract.

The biggest thing I see is whether Cammi is resigned. Personally, I would rather see Byron & JG get the spots come October. Let Lambert whine & complain, so what? I am very curious to see if Sven can turn in a great playoff run & then translate that into sticking with the team next year.

I think Primo is trying to tell you to relax, let's see what Burke does at the draft & this summer. That will tell you a lot. He isn't stupid, I'm quite sure he knows what he has with this team. Don't be too presumptuous & let the man work, we can complain later. Until we find a few of our Lucic clones, I have no problems having some face punchers available to put in our lineup. For some reason, I don't think Bob Hartley will mind either.

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#43 BJ
April 21 2014, 05:00PM
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A bridge deal makes snse for Byron. Lets say two years. In two years Granlund and others are coming off entry level deals. and one of those young guys likely replaces Byron... but until then I say we hold onto him and sell high if we do plan on replacing him.

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#44 piscera.infada
April 21 2014, 05:02PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

What though, makes you think that Burke's going to treat Granlund or Reinhart as sacrificial lambs? I've never heard him once say "we're sacrificing skill for size". Only that "we need to get bigger and harder to play against". The two are hardly mutually exclusive. Yes, some players will have to be dealt, but I have a hard time seeing Burke trade away prospects who have progressed.

The whole argument about Burke forsaking skill is bunk. It's actually incredibly similar to the backlash on this site about Feaster "going off the board again" and selecting Poirier. I think as fans, we need to be patient enough to judge his moves when then happen.

Also, regarding size (and I know you agree with getting bigger, as many people do), it is necessary in the Western conference. I will also point to the LA-San Jose series as evidence of this, as someone did earlier. Anyone can come at me with the LA and San Jose are 'x' ranking in terms of height and 'x' ranking in terms of weight, but if you're going to tell me neither of those teams play big or physical, you must be burying your heads in the sand during this series. Great hockey, even if the scores have been lopsided.

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#45 Stubblejumper
April 21 2014, 05:30PM
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Regarding the model and team concept being followed for rebuilding a team, one of TSN's headlines today reads "CANADIENS CREDIT BALANCED ATTACK FOR 3-0 SERIES LEAD" http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=450038

While all 4 lines are contributing offensively, its also interesting that each line is comprised of one smallish player (6'2")or tougher player.

At the other end of the spectrum would be Pittsburgh with well above top 2 lines featuring Crosby and Malkin, but also with 2 below average lines.

Hartley started rolling 4 more equitable Flames lines during the last 10+ games, showing the depth of the organization (albeit with half an eye to not torpedoing the club's draft position).

If the Flames continue with the balanced lines potentially this means next year that one each of Hudler, Cammy(??), Gaudreau, Baertschi, Granlund, Klimchuk would be on different lines with one each of Colorne, vanBrabant, McGrattan, Westgarth (??), DJones, Ferland (by role not by size).

All the rest of the forwards are of average NHL size between 6' - 6'2".

The weak link in rolling 4 lines is usually whether the large players can skate, play defensively sound while contributing a little offensively. The resigning of Westgarth and Byron may both depend how well the Flames do at the draft and the quality/size of the players drafted.

If lots of size is able to be drafted perhaps Westgarth is traded or dropped and Byron's skill and speed will support his signing. If smallish forwards are drafted, usually with speed and skill then Byron may be looking for a new gig.

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#46 Stubblejumper
April 21 2014, 05:32PM
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@Stubblejumper

Paragraph 2 was supposed to read:

"While all 4 lines are contributing offensively, its also interesting that each line is comprised of one smallish player (6'2")or tougher player.

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#47 Stubblejumper
April 21 2014, 06:05PM
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@Gussey

re San Jose: An interesting observation although I would say that SJ was certainly physical with LA last night (as noted by the number of hits on key players such as Doughty) and also has a number of tough players who can play, as noted by Gossey with the first 2 goals scored by SJ's 4th line.

In checking out all the SJ forwards the smallest players are 5'11" including Pavelski, Kennedy, Brown and Nieto. I would argue that amongst these, only Nieto is on the soft side while the others are all pretty tough physical players.

Their other least physical forwards are 6'1" to 6'2" including Marleau, Couture, Havlat and Hertl. Two (Burns and Thornton) are 6'4" plus.

Overall, it appears that Dougie Wilson has only drafted forwards between 6' to 6'2", and has less variance in size than many teams.

The Canadiens have 4 small players each playing on lines with 4 large/tough players usually over 6'2".

The overall average height of both teams will be about the same but with much less variance in SJ.

So another interesting twist on the size and toughness aspect of the model for the Flames in terms of the size of player they draft going forward to offset some smaller skilled forwards.

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#48 TheoForever
April 21 2014, 08:37PM
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In the old days the ideal lines had playmaker, goal scorer and someone to dig up the puck. That seems like a decent way of building lines. Of course now one has to be a jack of all trades. It is interesting that when former Flames talk about late 80's, they believe that while they had all the talent the reason they could compete with Oil was the toughness and size.

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#49 Danglesnipecelly
April 22 2014, 12:10AM
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Baalzamon wrote:
One just has to take a quick glance at what is happening in the first playoff round to see that size and physicality do matter an awful lot.

Los Angeles is big and physical. San Jose is neither. Yet, San Jose is up 2-0 in the series.

It's almost as if team quality is more important than team size...

I'm not sure I agree that San Jose is neither big nor physical. Their average weight to start the season was almost 206 lbs which is 8th heaviest in the league and they ARE physical... Especially with Torres back.

Calgary on the other hand was 28th in terms of height and 28th in terms of weight according to James Mirtle.

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#50 BobbyO
April 22 2014, 08:16AM
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All you Burke or "Turculent" bashers have a read at the Calgary Herald series this week featuring the 1989 Flames. A huge team, solid power forwards, big centres, and oh I almost forgot...small size with skill and speed (Loob, Gilmour, etc).

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