1. The Alberta Labour Board just screwed everything up
Well, today was supposed to be the Flames’ first game of the season but instead we have this stupid lockout to deal with. Gross and yucky, I agree. Things got very little help from the Alberta Labour Board, which was like, "No this lockout is legal league-wide if it’s legal anywhere, so deal with it."
Of course, I’m not entirely sure we could have sat here and watched the Flames and Oilers play each other for 82 straight games, like as a matter of the human threshold for pain. At some point, everyone league-wide would have killed themselves, and they’d have been right to do it.
But I will say this for the ALB: Its statement about how full of crap both sides are was pretty awesome.
"We do not wish to encourage parties to take purely strategic, inconsistent positions about jurisdiction in the course of a dispute," it wrote in its decision.
Yup, that’s exactly what both sides have done all the way on this. Neither is willing to give even a little bit and it’s growing more frustrating by the day. How uniquely terrible this has all been, and you know it could only ever happen in this friggin’ league.
2. Bob Hartley is PUMPED!!!!!
So just in case you were wondering about whether players would buy into Bob Hartley’s management style, the early answer seems to be yes. At least as far as Sven Baertschi is concerned.
The word that came up a lot in that Herald story is "demanding." Hartley is demanding. If you dog it out there, whether it’s in practice or a game, you’re going to get your head ripped off. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone.
But what makes me wonder is whether that’s the kind of thing a largely veteran team like the Flames will put up with. How did it work in the past with, say, Mike Keenan, just as a for-instance? Answer: Not THAT well. Granted, Keenan averaged 96 points in his two seasons with Calgary and made the playoffs both times, but you got the feeling he wasn’t well-liked by anyone and that more or less is what led to his dismissal (that and the team defense, anyway).
It’s all well and good to say Hartley ripped it up in Europe — and oh boy did he ever — but as we were constantly reminded on the ESPN2 broadcast of a KHL game earlier this week, European hockey is very, very different. I’m not dumb enough to think Jay Feaster would be dumb enough to hire a close personal friend if HE was dumb enough to try to run things with a team like Calgary through a European style, but nonetheless, it will be interesting to see whether Hartley can readjust to the NHL. How many coaches have gone from the NHL to Europe to back here and had success?
3. More on the farm team thing
The Calgary Sun reported this week that the Flames’ front office types are using the lockout as an opportunity to scout the AHL team. Well jeez, that’s good.
I wondered this aloud on Puck Daddy a little while ago, but why isn’t every NHL team sending its coach down to the minors during the lockout? Especially with a team like the Flames, where there are a number of kids who will be in the NHL whenever the new season gets under way. Instead of Baertschi asking a bunch of Swiss guys what Hartley is like, he could just find out himself. That would be cool.
Maybe there’s some reticence to step on Ward’s toes, but easing transitions throughout the organizations should be the goal, right? And besides, if you locked up Hartley when you could’ve had Ward, and everyone thinks he’s a future NHL coach, aren’t you essentially conceding that he’s not going to be doing it in Calgary anyway?
On some level, the answer is, "Who cares?" I guess.
4. Something interesting at Boston College
So as you well know by now two Flames draftees, Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold, are playing at Boston College this season. And most people I’ve talked to assumed they’d be on the same line this season. Gaudreau is widely expected to be among the best two or three players in Hockey East this season, and Billy Arnold is inarguably one of its two or three best two-way players.
It seemed, then, that the fit for both to play together would be natural. However, based on one exhibition game, that might not be the case. And it also might not matter.
Granted, the Eagles played a CIS school in its exhibition game — the University of New Brunswick — and therefore it’s difficult to properly evaluate things, given the chasm in quality between the two collegiate sports leagues (the NCAA is about a trillion times better than CIS). But nonetheless, BC lit UNB up to the tune of a 6-0 win, and both Flames prospects figured heavily despite not being on the same line.
Gaudreau had the game-winner, which is to say, the game’s first goal, early in the first period. Arnold had an assist on the second in the second period, then netted the third himself before the game started to really get out of hand.
It’ll be interesting if coach Jerry York keeps the two Calgary properties apart for a while, or even the whole season, because that could certainly bring a decent one-two scoring punch to a team that, frankly, probably doesn’t need the help.
5. This is how dumb you have to be to read HockeyBuzz
So apparently HockeyBuzz, Eklund’s site, is doing some thing where you vote for a franchise’s all-time team. The four best forwards at each position, the six best defensemen, the two best goalies. I swear I only know this because of Google News.
Anyway, turns out they saved the right wings for last with Calgary. Pick the best four. In my book the top three are inarguable: 1) Jarome Iginla, 2) Theo Fleury, 3) Lanny McDonald. That’s reflected in the voting to date. The dispute over No. 4, to me, falls between Hakan Loob and Val Bure, but even then, I think you gotta go Loob.
But the point of this entry is this: Somehow, only 95 percent of people have Iginla in their top four. At the time I voted, there had been 573 ballots cast. That means about 29 people were like "Yeah, no Iginla for me, thanks." That’s phenomenal stupidity right there. It makes my heart hurt.