August 23 News and Notes



Summer is nearly done, and the doldrums around the NHL that come with August are almost at an end. Almost, of course, being the operative phrase, so the round-up is mostly bereft of serious news, but we can muddle on anyway. This week, a Flame prospect opens up regarding his season of uncertainty, a few vets sign for peanuts, and the league looks at potential rule adjustments.




Nothing to see here, as the club’s playing personnel is in stasis, although they did make a move in the front office, adding Michel Goulet to the staff. The former Nord great has moved from the Avalanche to a scouting position with the Flames, so we’ll see if that club’s ability to find incredibly lucky players transfers north.

 The one must-read of the weekend is Vicki Hall’s piece in the Herald. She chronicles Matt Pelech’s battle with a blood clot, including his decision to shun going under the knife to have a rib removed.




Fernando Pisani’s career as a local hero in Stinktown ended quietly this week, with the winger taking a 500k deal that will see him move to Chicago this season. Lain Babcook’s appreciation of the Oiler mainstay is here, and as cheap forwards go, the Hawks could have done worse. If he’s healthy for 60 games, it’s a good signing.

 The Penguins made an odd sort of move in adding Aaron Asham to their lineup on a one way, 700k deal. He’s certainly not the worst semi-tough guy out there, and it’s highly likely that he’s a better bet for the extra 100k than Raitis Ivanins, but it’s just a slightly unusual move given the team’s perceived needs. Then again, their whole summer’s been a bit strange from my perspective. They were short a winger or two last year, and chose to spend virtually every worthwhile dollar they had to spare on two very nice defencemen. I’m as big a booster of Zbynek Michalek as there is, and Paul Martin’s a good player, but I have the sense that the 9M could have been rationed more efficiently. Maybe they really do plan on playing Geno as a winger?

 Vinny Lecavalier will head to the chop shop later this week, with the pivot expected to be hale in time for camp. He’ll be joined in Tampa by another of Steve Yzerman’s cheap finds, as the Lightning signed Sean Bergenheim earlier in the week. Tampa’s bottom six wasn’t very good last year, and inking Bergenheim isn’t a bad move for the price.

 The league held its R and D summit this week in Toronto, with experimental rules covering faceoffs, overtime, and icing at the forefront. The long change in overtime is an interesting idea to me, because the clear intent is to increase scoring chances via a bad line change. When it comes down to cases, I don’t really care how many total goals are scored in a game, as long as the action is continuous and the Flames have one more at the end. I’m also of the age that I spent perfectly good money watching hockey in the 80’s, and more goals better hockey. There were more than a few defencemen in that era that had the turning radius of a battleship, so skilled forwards had their way more nights than not. That sort of stuff’s been done for at least a decade and a half, and goalies are dramatically better as well, so the league is in a spot where thinks it needs a few tricks to spice up the game. Tricks never last, IMO, but as I mentioned, the OT idea is intriguing. 

 Over at PPP, when they weren’t having a bunfight with Sun Media over ethics, ’67 Sound examined the make-up of Brian Burke’s Cup champion Duck team in a search for clues as to how the Leafs might be built. "Draft Ryan Getzlaf and have Chris Pronger beg out of his current home town" doesn’t really seem like a strategy easily replicated, but the idea that a team needs 10 forwards that can handle top-nine minutes is one that I’ve advocated for a while now, and the cheapness of depth players could make this easier if a team had a bit of cap space. If Langkow is healthy, the Flames might already be at the "10 for 9" level, but if there was ever a summer where teams could find a fully functional bottom six for pennies on the dollar, it’s this summer.


That’s all for this time. Have a good week.

  • Maybe they really do plan on playing Geno as a winger?

    That would make all sorts of sense. Not only do they already have Crosby and Staal doing all the heavy lifting down the middle, but Malkin is terrible at winning face-offs. As in, below 40% for his career.

  • “It’s not healthy in the NHL right now,” said Jim Lites, former president of the Dallas Stars and now president of the Hicks Sports Marketing Group, which is owned by Stars and Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks. “I just think it’s a tough economic model. We’re spending 55-56 percent of our revenue on player payroll, and that makes it a tough go, particularly in the small- and medium-size U.S. markets.

    This is the quote you’re talking about I’m sure. Between the lines it says “the current salary cap isn’t enough. The next CBA fight will be about lowering it further.”

    On that note, a recent Larry Brooks article says the NHL will be looking to claw back the players share to about 51% – and will be looking to make all one-contracts count against the cap.

    Brooks article here and subsequent discussion here.

    • Robert Cleave

      That’s the money quote, Kent. As our man R O just reminded me on Twitter, we’ll keep hearing that argument, or some iteration of it, ad infinitum. I get why people side with ownership, but it’s a bit muddle-headed, in my view. It isn’t like either side is selflessly defending the purity of the game, because you can’t defend what was never there to begin with.

      • One also wonders at what point this will create a rift within the ownership group itself. Clearly this type of activity is geared towards the loser franchises of the league. Revenue sharing + more constraints on how to do business surely has to start sticking in the craw of clubs like NYR and MTL?

  • I got a question. Actually I got a bunch. How do you guys think the Flames will try to get back under the cap? Will they bury Kotalik in the minors, or get him to play in Europe. And what are the Flames going to do with the Defense situation? If Kronwall does go back to Sweden, you still have 7 defensemen with 1 way deals, and Pelech has two way deal that forces the Flames to put him on waivers if they want to send him to Abbotsford.

    • I don’t we’ll know anything until the team does something. Those questions haven’t changed since about July 1.

      There’s lots of ways to go and we’ve kicked them around this site all summer, but it’s really going to come down to if Sutter can pull off a deal to get rid of an extra blueliner and/or how much money the owners are willing to allow to be buried in the minors.

  • MC Hockey

    Great articles as always flamesnations guys Robert, Kent, Steinberg, etc. I appreciate the articles and this forum! A few comments I would love to hear back from you on:

    1. NHL owners are getting really good at the “we are so poor, we can’t make it” argument and as a business guy I understand the economic issues and competition issues (NHL vs NFL, NBA, MLB, univ and even high school sports). But since pro hockey in southern US makes as much economic sense as pro beach volleyball in Nunavut, they may be right about the inability to make it under current CBA. So here’s a clue to allow some flexibility in next CBA negotiations…players take about 53% of revenues instead but negotiate something like each team who wants to can have the “franchise player” tag given to 1 player whereby 50% of his salary does not count against the cap. Thus other players on team get more ability to get the bigger deals, the NHL team parity will be reduced a bit but teams like Chicago in 2009-10 will not have to dismantle so much. Thus we would see more players staying in a town (e.g. say Tampa Bay gets good this year and next year and wants to keep their guys). This consistency of roster then means more fan loyalty leading to more revenues for teams like that who improve over time. I actually think Chicago is poised to go downhill this year and not repeat.
    2. Malkin makes a great winger with his size, skill, and bad faceoff ability…why not move him over with Stall and Crosby doing the best centre work?
    3. As I said before, DSut should (but won’t) and trade Sarich to an Anaheim, NYI or someone else with poor D, low average salary per D-man, and lots of cap space but won’t because he thinks Sarich is awesome (maybe the next Scott Stevens??). Otherwise when training camp ends we may end up losing great prospect D Pelech on the way down to the minors if other teams willing the risk on him after the blood clot issue this past year.
    4. I think Kotalik to minors instead to save cap space (what a waste of $, not that he’s great but maybe bounces back with more Europeans to play with like Hagman, Ollie, etc??). What do you think Kent flamesnations guys.

  • My thinking on the Kotalik situation is this. He was absolutley brutal last year. He can’t be any worse this year, and maybe with the correct linemates could get back to 20 goal form. I would take him over Moss any day, just not at 3 mill per year. He may just try to prove everyone that he is worth his salary this year and play well.