1. This makes almost too much sense
On Friday, George Johnson floated a particularly interesting balloon regarding the Flames’ vacant coaching position, positing that the team might be waiting so long to make any noise with regard to the opening because the guy they want is still participating in the playoffs. Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan might be the guy that gets the most serious look, apparently, and that is so logical and good an idea that I can’t believe it took anyone this long to mention it.
Sullivan is, if nothing else, a very good and likely candidate because he’s been around the league, and has obviously been quite successful in his role as the Blueshirts’ go-to game-management guys. And his current boss in New York is, of course, a guy Jay Feaster is quite familiar with: John Tortorella.
If Feaster likes the way Torts coaches — and why wouldn’t he, given the Stanley Cup and all — he could probably milk a similar system with Sullivan, and that’s style of play that could probably be shaped to be at least a little successful given the Flames current roster mix of not-very-good vets and younger up-comers, backed by a stalwart netminder (though for how much longer?).
The knock on Sullivan is obviously that he got fired from his first and only NHL head coaching job, that with the Boston Bruins in the two seasons bookending the lockout. And, probably, justifiably so. After winning the Northeast and having the best record in the conference with 104 points, his Bruins crashed out in a 1-8 first-round matchup with the Habs, and he followed that performance with a 74-point campaign. Not the proudest record.
But that was, of course, seven years ago, and more importantly, the bad record that first year was pretty much the opposite of his fault. It was during that season, you’ll recall, that Joe Thornton was traded after scoring 33 points in 23 games because he was a "disappointment" or whatever, and the team was, from that point, led by a 20-year-old Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, and the ghost of Glen Murray. It was backstopped by a battery of a not-yet-worldbeating Tim Thomas, Andrew Raycroft, and Hannu Toivonen. No one could win with that team.
To wit: The next season, the Bruins added Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, but new and not-yet-brilliant GM in Peter Chiarelli elected to hire Dave Lewis as coach, and he only managed 76 points.
Sullivan would almost certainly be a good fit behind the bench for the Flames, but mostly because he would be a good fit anywhere.
2. Yes, idiots still write into newspapers
Speaking of the Herald, I, as an American, was positively delighted to read this letter to the editor in it over the weekend.
It was simply entitled: "Flames should Hire a Canadian." Which is of course dumb. The stated reason for this dumb assertion by an idiot named Diane Parker, is to "protect one of [Canada’s] greatest assets."
God I hate this crap.
As Parker, who, again, is a dumbo, points out, the Flames have Americans in positions of power throughout the organization, from GM to AHL coaches. And therefore, apparently to counterbalance that many stupid American morons who suck at their jobs (that’s the tone at least), the team should engage in tokenism and hire a brilliant Canadian.
"Americans are not better qualified for these Flames positions. Do the Flames feel no obligation to employ qualified Canadians?" she wrote, probably in crayon.
The issue, of course, is that Americans are probably also not less-qualified for these Flames positions. And the Flames’ only obligation to the club is to hire guys that work well within it. If that means hiring another American (both Troy Ward, who was extemely successful this year despite the crime and handicap of being not-Canadian, and Sullivan fit that bill), then so be it. If it means hiring a Slovak, then that’s fine too.
Just a hunch here, but if everyone is American, maybe they feel better hiring Americans because they come from similar backgrounds and have a better working understanding of each other? No? Okay.
(Late addendum: A person on Twitter suggests that this might be the same Diane Parker who co-owns the Regina Pats. The Pats have no Americans on their roster and, perhaps consquently, weren’t very good this season.)
3. Is anyone else sick of the Rangers’ act?
And speaking of the Rangers, I really hope they lose to New Jersey. It has nothing to do with the whole Sullivan thing.
I’m just tired of seeing them start acting like crybabies when a game isn’t going their way. They got pretty well tuned up by the Devils in Tuesday’s Game 3, and that prompted Mike Rupp to take a run at one player, then swing at Marty Brodeur on his way to the box, which earned him a misconduct. Stupid, petulant crap I’ve come to expect from a team that sure does love to sulk when things go south.
Not that there weren’t flops all around by the Devils, but I was deeply embarrassed to watch Tortorella get in a shouting match with Pete DeBoer over who-knows-or-indeed-cares-what. The guy’s a brilliant coach, but everything he does that isn’t directly related to making his team play awesome defensive systems is grating and tiresome.
4. What to make of Laurent Brossoit?
Gotta think this is something the Flames are loving. A 19-year-old goaltender (who won’t even turn 20 until March of next season) backstopping his team to a Memorial Cup appearance after running up against the juggernaut Portland WinterHawks in the WHL championship series.
His stats in the Memorial Cup haven’t been great, but that’s because, by all accounts, his team hasn’t been very good. Gotta think he gets another crack at ‘er next season, and that’s pretty great.
5. On the upcoming draft
Brossoit was also kind of the centerpiece of an interesting story on the Flames’ official site about how Tod Button and the management staff evaluate players at the scouting combine. (Gotta say this for the Flames site: they do a lot more interesting content than most other NHL teams in-house.)
Apparently about 90 percent of their evaluations on draft-eligible players are done, and attending the Memorial Cup is almost a formality for the team as far as its decisions on kids go. Far more important is the combine, which fills in off-ice question marks and does a better job of testing fitness than a game might overall, and the information gleaned there was far more critical to the Flames’ selecting him in the sixth round than anything they saw from him in the regular season.
"(Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh) was helpful last year with Laurent Brossoit," Button told the official site. "He told us what an athlete he was. We liked him as an athlete, as a goalie and also his character, his compete effort. We thought in the sixth round, here’s a kid with a tireless work ethic and he’s really athletic. You get him with the right goalie coach, he has something to build his game around. There’s value in stuff like that."