Stoking the Fire – May 24th, 2012



VF has been out of commission for awhile, so you will have to settle for my admittedly shorter, less pic-infused version of Stoking the Fire.

– First up is everyone’s favorite muckraker Domebeers. In his never ending quest to get everyone fired, he fell upon this TSN radio segment which focuses on the subject of coaching searches. It’s interesting to note the different flavor of coverage when the media is non-local and a non-rights holder. It certainly isn’t surprising a removed entity like TSN would be altogether less guarded and more critical when it comes to the Flames, but to hear it in practise is…odd. Or refreshing, depending on your point of view.

The segment itself contains no real revelations. Dreger and Simmons speculate on particular candidates for the Flames job but note the management is highly involved in hockey operations and may be looking for someone they can "bend". This is either hearsay or old news depending on what side of the fence you are on when it comes to the Flames and Ken King.

I’ll note at this point that a highly engaged management team is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. In Moneyball, Billy Beane was notoriously involved in every aspect of the Oakland A’s organization, from negotiating deals to determining coaching strategies. He was basically coaching the club from his office, in spite of (not in unison with) manager Art Howe.

Of course, Beane had to be hands on in order to ensure his progressive (at the time, screwball) ideas were implemented to his satisfaction. So the reason and nature of upper management "interference" at lower levels of the organization is more pertinent than the involvement itself. On one hand, trying to institute and implement a particular vision for the betterment of the team is lauable. On other hand, if the interference is tyrannical and more vested in politics, perceptions and sophistry in the wake of failure, then you have some problems.

Flames Looking at Davidson?

– Somewhat related – Andy Strickland noted recently that the Flames may be courting Blues president John Davidson.

According to sources there’s talk in Canada of the Calgary Flames interested in hiring Blues President John Davidson. The Flames are in a similar situation, albeit not as bad, that the Blues were in when Davidson joined the organization in 2006. Would they turn to JD to assist in building the Flames back up?


Davidson has deep roots in the Calgary area going back to his junior hockey days not to mention he broadcasted Flames games prior to his legendary career in New York. He and his wife have family living in the Calgary area and for year’s have hosted an August charity golf tournament in the city.

There’s talk of current Flames President Ken King staying on board to oversee the business side of the organization.

I’ll admit, it’s an interesting possibility. Davidson has a pretty strong resume on the hockey side of things and has done good work in St. Louis (often under trying circumstances) since he was named their president in 2006. If the Flames are going to have an involved pres, then Davidson is preferable to Ken King, whose primary background is media and sales.

In Pursuit of Justin Schultz

– Switching gears, Jeff Angus of Canucks Army and Dobberhockey recently interviewed me about the possibility of Calgary landing probable college UFA Justin Schultz recently. Drafted by the Ducks in the second round back in 2008, Schultz has gone on to become a dominant defender for the University of Wisconsin. He led the team in scoring from the blueline in 2010-11 and came in second in the most recent season. Jonathan Willis profiled Schultz in April and there seems little question that he is the best defensive prospect in college hockey as things stand.

BONUS – Jason Gregor recently interviewed Schultz’s coach Mike Eaves to get an inside perspective on the player. 

Angus rates the Flames chances of landing the 21-year old as decent, albeit smaller than the Edmonton Oilers. Bad news Flames fans – if the Oil can pick Nail Yakupov and land Schultz this summer, they will have added two top-5 type talents in one fell swoop.

Loose Ends

– Speaking of defensive prospects, Calgary has yet to sign former third rounder Joey Leach. A defender with the Kootenay Ice, Leach was selected in 2010. NHL teams have two years to sign junior prospects after they were picked, so the window to get Leach under contract is closing.

A big defensie style defender with admitted skating issues, Leach led the Ice in scoring from the back-end with 12 goals and 43 points this year. He won’t make his money with scoring as a pro, however, and in viewing the kid in the past it’s clear he would have to work on his speed and mobility to make it at the next level.

That said, I’d be surprised if the Flames didn’t even bother to get him inked to an ELC. Leach has been a primary figure on Kootenay’s blueline since he was picked. The only other roadblock may be that Leach, like Schultz in Anaheim, just doesn’t want to sign with the org that picked him for whatever reason.

– Finally, newest Flame Roman Cervenka was recently awarded the KHL’s "Golden Helmet" which is like being selected to the league’s first all-star team. Other winners included Alexander Radulov, Kevin Dallman and Dmitry Kalinin. 

  • Reidja

    Not surprising that TSN would take an honest view… they don’t wiz themselves when Ken King shakes a fist in thier direction (albiet a rather large one). “Why I outta!… Michael Pecca!”

    As for JD running hockey ops, it would restore my faith in humanity. Keep fighting the good fight Domebeers.

    • Gange

      The problem with Schultz signing in Edmonton is that he has to be in Edmonton. 🙂

      The big bonus of signing in Calgary is that it’s not Edmonton.

      Chris Pronger figured it out.

  • Gange

    I like Leach and I’m surprised that the Flames haven’t signed him. He seems like a serviceable prospect, and I wonder why they wouldn’t have him under contract.

  • MC Hockey

    TSN people are NOT well informed on Calgary Flames…they hate the franchise due to Darryl’s old anti-media ways (remember the draft chat with Duthire a couple years ago?) so I discredit them on the Flames altogether.

    Wow!! Having the experience of John Davidson would be great for the Flamages on the hockey side, and if Ken King stuck to just business, that would be much better!

    As for defense prospect Leach, why not sign him if he is young (!!) and promising and maybe the team lets other D prospects walk away. Perhaps Jordan Henry or even Brian Connelly are NOT in the Flames’ future as they are career AHLers? And next year are Piskula and Breen coming back and will they ever make the Flamages…probably not! So Schultz it is!!!

  • I remember Millions tweeting something about the Flames, Hitmen, Stamps, Roughies, and the Dome are all about to merge as one giant LTD Corp, and the rumour being KK would be in the running for COO.

    I mean, I can’t see who else they’d consider for that role.

    But with that in mind, you’d think they’d HAVE to go out and find a new President.

    whether that keeps King’s fingers out of the jar is another question, but if by some miracle it happened to be a guy like JD, it’d be tougher for King to get too involved, you’d think.

    You’d hope.

    Holy shit, can this please happen?

  • MC Hockey

    If the Flames are going to continue to take fliers on the Lamb’s, Wilson’s, and Henry’s of the world then I hope they also take on on the talent they draft. If anything Leach is ahead of the development since being drafted so it doesn’t say much if we refuse to sign him.

    I am not banking on Shcultz. But man, that would be redemption based Karma after the Erixon debacle.

    I would really like to see Davidson take on the reigns of the Hockey Operations department. Makes sense they would add someone. King’s job just got a lot harder with the addition of the Stampeders and Roughnecks.

    As for TSN not being up on the Flames have to call bull crap. Dreger and Mackenzie are among the most informed in hockey.

  • RexLibris

    If Leach walks the Flames get a compensatory 4th round pick this year (approximately #103).

    That being said, they might be better served by signing him.

    Might this be two years in a row where a prospect refuses to sign with the organization? I don’t know if this is Feaster’s responsibility or Weisbrod’s.

    The 50-man reserve list is starting to become a major factor for the Flames now and it could be that in signing Roman Cervenka, management allowed for the loss of an unsigned junior.

    As for Davidson, taking the first topic of Flames management meddling, and Davidson’s position of strength in negotiating a contract, it would surprise me if there was an agreement there.

    Justin Schultz was said to be searching for a team where he could step right in and get good powerplay time as well as some second-pairing minutes.

    Calgary might have a slightly better defensive corps than Edmonton, but one has to think that the Oilers’ forwards and age range has some pull.

    Then again he may say to heck with it and go to Vancouver, Boston, or Chicago to win a Cup.

    Give my best to Vintage, Kent. I hope he’s back raising the ire of Oiler fans, myself included, soon.

  • everton fc

    I think Wolf’s right. That said, the fact that someone is being discussed to run hockey ops here in Calgary, whose last name is NOT “King”… Is a potentially promising sign.

  • RexLibris

    Where did VF go?

    Also, with regards to JD, that would be awesome, however again, there is just to much going against it that it doesn’t look lke it could work. If King was “promoted” and moved to a position where he has true potential and background all the better and then moving in a hockey guy, win win. Again, just to many reasons for it not to happen, would be a great win though.

    I also don’t get even mentioning Schultz, Much like Parise and Suter, he’s not coming to Calgary with the mess we have. The only possible saving grace is the mess we have the ice time he could get as well as PP time.

    Completely forgot we haven’t signed leach. We probably should, there is no reason to ditch him. Yeah his skating is not great, but if that is the only knock, maybe it’s something you can work on, rather give him a look that a lot of the fodder on the blue line in Abby right now.

  • RexLibris

    Also with regards to where I think Schultz will sign, I got no idea, but where would I like him sign, New York, why, because they already have a good defensive corps, and would futher push Erixon down the list as far as depth in New York and hopefully another year in the AHL. That might sound a little vindictive, but after all of us here pumped his tires and were pencilling him in for starts and he pulls his crap and says there was no spots, just be a little more funny.

    Where I hope he doesn’t go is Vancouver, I don’t think I could stand the gloating from them.

  • MC Hockey

    @sincity – I agree that for MOST teams, the TSN guys know the “goings-on” quite well, but I think the Flames are closed off to them given past bad blood (and maybe Toronto’s jealousy of Calgary becoming Canada’s best city for doing business and making money). Also see further down…

    I like all sort of media, but I would seriously put FAR FAR FAR more stock into Flames info from ANY writer from this site (especially Kent, Justin, Pat S) so props to the Flamesnation team!!!

    Further evidence of TSN’s lack of good Flames coverage comes from the Off-Season Game Plan posted today. Scott Cullen thinks Karlsson is going to be the back-up goalie, Breen is a good prospect, Brad Stuart could return here…all very wrong!

  • MC Hockey


    Yeah Cullens’ piece on TSN as well as his Capgeek team he assembled are terrible, Glass? Kubina? Fedetenko? Ugh, we should be able to attract a better UFA pool than that. However it was kinda cool to see him use Behind the Net though.

    Although if I want real analysis of the Flames I’ll take FN all the way.