Flames Hire Mental Development Coach Dave Paskevich



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According to Rob Kerr, the Flames have added a head shrinker to the club’s subtely changing front office this week. Doctor Dave Paskevich was previously an associate professor of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. You can bet the Flames have interest in Paskevich thanks to the first item in the "current work" section of his bio: examining collective efficacy in sport.

The addition is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s another subtle alteration to the Flames organization. While the team didn’t see fit to fire Darryl Sutter this off-season, there’s obviously been some recognition that things just weren’t right in the org and some level of change was needed. Calgary has released scouts, hired an assistent GM and now added a psychologist to the staff this summer. If the entire coaching staff weren’t merely a season old we would probably expect to see all of them axed to I think…

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Secondly, adding a psychologist specializing in group efficacy in sport as well as applied social psychology lends further weight to the suggestion that the management thinks a non-trivial degree of the clubs issues are, for lack of a better term, all in the players heads. The bizarre actions of Sutter post-January last season hinted at issues that extended beyond the on-ice stuff. His Staios acquisition in particular was perhaps only ever understandable when viewed as a "character and leadership" acquisition, ostensbily to somehow calm or cure whatever psychological issues the decision makers perceived to be inhibiting their club’s performance.

Personally, I have my doubts that the Flames are underachieving because of some dressing room issue. I’m open to being convinced however, so I’ll wait and see what difference this makes in the coming season.

  • icedawg_42

    are you sure the good Doctor isn’t for us fans? I could sure use some shrinking to get my head around some of the team’s activities these past few years.

  • I can not say I am opposed to this hire. As you mentioned, there is something beyond “on-ice” issues at play here. The only question I have is:

    Will the good Doctor be allowed to place our illustrious GM on the couch to see what the heck is wrong with his cranial logistics?

    On a different topic (Sorry Kent), a quick shout out to Gus Thornson, the now former Equipment Manager of the Calgary Flames. This is someone who put in the true meaning of a “Full Day of Work”. When you think of how much the players get paid and then have the chance to see how much work Gus did that is mostly behind the scenes that only those in the bowel of the Saddledome get to see (which is only a small portion too)…it is truly remarkable. Best wishes to Gus and his family on whatever their future may hold.

  • Just another step in Flames fascism, Darryl’s iron whiskey fist and brainwashing frown.

    Then you have Canucks communism where every defencemen gets pretty much the same contract and every forward signs for appropriate value (hahaha except Malhotra thank god… Hamhuis is also questionable).

    Part of me hoped we’d pluck Calgary native Mason Raymond. It would be an understandable ideological move for Darryl who eats and pisses Alberta.

    yeesh so bitter…

  • killa no illa

    I’m almost willing to bet that this change will have ZERO effect on the team, and more affect on the media and PR of the organization. If they wanted a real expert they probably would have brought someone in from outside of Calgary, it just seems too convenient to be a serious thing.

    Also, Kent, I prefer Dr. Whiskey Ginger myself, but Dr. Daniels makes an occasional appearance.

  • killa no illa


    Really? Dr. Paskevich isn’t a “real expert” because he’s in Calgary? That degree from Waterloo must be total junk huh? Lucky for him he’s got a 403 area code.

    • killa no illa

      You make a good point, I’m just pointing out that it’s convenient that they’ve picked someone so close to home. I really don’t see this making a huge difference to the team.

  • killa no illa

    about two seasons too late for danny ryder, unfortunately… otherwise, i see it as just another development tool akin to the years-ago hiring of rich hekseth. i’m all for it.

  • Gange

    I see this as a possible positive move. Starting last year this team looked great on paper. For some reason the team never gelled. That resulted in the team you see before you today.

    Do I think this is the x-factor? No. Do I think it will help? Well it surely can’t hurt if for no other reason that it takes away yet another excuse.

  • CitizenFlame

    I think that this is a positive addition. Despite players job being physical in nature, they are not robots and their positive and negative emotions can effect how they perform. You could pretty much see it and hear it in Iggy’s voice last year when ever he gave an interview that he was buckling under the pressure. JBo floundered under the new scrutiny of a real hockey market. At the beginning of last season Backlund said (in an interview in the Calgary Sun) that he was using a sports psychologist and it was helping him deal with some of the mental and emotional issues that he deals with.

    These players are under an enormous amount of scrutiny, imagine going to work everyday and having 20,000 people yell at you, plus a million more write about you, praise you, critisize you.
    If a player has a ankle injury you send him to the physiotherapist, now if the player has an emotional problem, then they can send him to the team psychologist.

  • That’s insane.

    Iggy was cracking under the pressure? WTF? You could tell that from his voice? Whats the winning lotto numbers, psychic? He seemed fine at the olympics to me, which was a much more pressure packed enviro than here.

    Jblow floundered under the scrutiny? How about Jblow is a momma’s boy who did whatever the juniour coach asked him to do.

    The swede is a child, im not surprised he saw a shrink. He isn’t old enough to know how to deal. They guy is a transplant, does he even have any friends on this side of the pond?

    Im sorry guys, but this is a joke. A shrink gets you how many goals a year?

    I think the more important part of the story is Feasters influence. The only thing I’ll dap about the move is that a lot of other sports teams do this, so it shows the Flames are at least trying to copy best practices.

    At the same time, it’s a smoke screen. I’ve just spent 4 days watching the Giants walk all over the Dbacks (Timmy Lincencum is really really small in real life) and guess what, the Dbacks have a sport quack, and they have been last place for 2 years. Every NFL team has a sport quack, and it doesnt stop the Lions from being the definition of suck year in and year out.

    It’s about talent, period. This team did a bad job of acquiring it. It isn’t about if Jarome was cracking under the pressure of a season most people had written off by January.

    • icedawg_42

      In all likelihood, this will actually help the Flames score goals.
      To be fair, I know nothing about the mental state of the players-but neither do you. Personally, I don’t foresee any downside. If a player has a problem to talk about, he will do that. If not, nothing changes. Comfort is a big deal for these guys, and the more that can be given to them the better. Contrary to popular belief, they are human and experience all the same emotional problems we do. I’d love to know why you think JBo’s character and personality traits are lesser then Iggy’s. The Swede is not a child. At this point in his life, he is either reaching the point where the brain stops developing (so to speak) or has already passed it. At the start of this season, he will have spent at least 2 years in the Americas. That is enough time to adjust, especially when you move from a country arguably even more advanced then we are. It is not about “talent, period”. Talent is a large part of it, yes. But hard work, perseverance, luck and being able to develop a system that fits your players are all factors that are just as important. That’s why you get teams like Colorado who get into the playoffs, teams like San Jose who can never do anything in the playoffs, and then teams like Washington who get beat out by teams who are vastly overmatched. If it was about talent, period, the Capitals would have won the cup this year.

      In a perfect world, the players would go and play to the best of thier ablity all the time. This is 100% not the case. A player feels a little tired or sick, that decreases his level of play. He has family issues, it decreases his play. Even something as trivial as a paper cut will have an impact on the performance on that night. As for the D’Backs and NFL teams, it is fair to say the personal makeup of those players is a bit more chaotic then the average NHLer. The shrinks are then presumptively there to deal with more off the field problems.


      “Iggy was cracking under the pressure? WTF? You could tell that from his voice? Whats the winning lotto numbers, psychic? He seemed fine at the olympics to me, which was a much more pressure packed enviro than here.”

      7,11,16,34,46,54. Good luck in next weeks lotto. I shouldn’t have said that Iggy was buckling under the pressure, but he always seemed down, not the normal positive guy you normaly see in his interviews. As for the Olympics, he was probably happy to get out of Calgary for a couple of weeks and forget what was happening with his club team and excited to represent his country. He also wasn’t counted on to score 2 goals everygame to win 2-1 games all season.

  • Oyo

    @ Justin Azevedo

    “In a perfect world, the players would go and play to the best of thier ablity all the time. This is 100% not the case. A player feels a little tired or sick, that decreases his level of play. He has family issues, it decreases his play. Even something as trivial as a paper cut will have an impact on the performance on that night”

    right on the money. it dose nothing but increase the odds of better consistent play.

  • Arik

    Psychological issues in sports are one of the biggest swept under the rug things, until a guy retires and kills a hooker or something. And then it’s all about how he was always unstable and he’s the exception.

    Is this going to cause the Flames to win the division or prevent Darryl from making boneheaded moves? No. But it will make a difference for the players, especially if any of them develop issues like Dan Ryder or Theo Fleury did.

    Also, @Domebeers, the idea of “winning building chemistry” is utter bull. You can have a winning team filled with players that loathe each other, just as you can have a losing team of great friends.


    Brent Sutter came out very early last year and called the Flames mental TOUGHNESS into question.

    FFWD to this year and the season hasnt even begun and armchair atheletes all over the city are calling this a joke.

    Its not a joke and the fact that this mental coach combined with the fact that veterans of this team (Sarich, Moss, others) are working earlier and harder than ever ….and with prospects during power skating and staying late after the prospects have left the ice tells a story about how MOTIVATED the The Flames are this year to bounce back.