Five things: So that’s your play?

1. Whither the Canucks?

So they gave the ol’ heave-ho to poor Alain Vigneault today, who was victimized mainly by injury but also his own general manager’s inability to do his job properly. Isn’t that always the way?

Cory Schneider was and should have been the Canucks’ starter this season and he acquitted himself well enough when he was healthy. The problem was, when the Sharks swept the Canucks out of the first round after a fairly underwhelming run to the top of the Northwest Division for the last time, Schneider wasn’t healthy and Roberto Luongo didn’t steal the games he played in such a way that it made Vigneault look good.

The thing I always say when coaches get fired in situations like this is that the guy they choose to replace him needs to be better than the guy they let go. How many coaches out there are better than Vigneault? Canucks fans are breathing a little easier today because they for some reason found the old coach’s job to be somewhat underwhelming, but now they have to wait for Mike Gillis, who couldn’t even correctly read the trade market for a 30-plus-year-old goalie with a ponderous almost immovable contract. Obviously no GM is ever going to fire himself and one gets the feeling that if whoever they bring in next doesn’t work out — and barring a huge roster overhaul, he probably won’t, given the new divisional competition the Canucks will face next season — it’s gonna be Gillis packing up his office this time next spring.

2. What does this mean for the Flames?

Of course, the Canucks theoretically taking a step back, which could very well happen, might not have a massive impact on Calgary’s chances for making the postseason any time soon. The Canucks are, as things stand right now, maybe the third-best team in the division, which will still probably guarantee them a playoff spot most years (this assumes the Ducks regress to where they should have been this year, and that the Oilers don’t take a huge step forward under Craig MacTavish in his first year).

The Flames, meanwhile, remain indisputably the worst in the division if not the entire Western Conference, which is fine by me; one cannot imagine that they get anywhere near one of the two "wild card" spots for teams finishing outside the top three in their divisions. I’d put it LA, San Jose and Vancouver coming out of the Pacific and Chicago, St. Louis and Minnesota from the Central as locks, and two of Anaheim, Nashville, Edmonton and Dallas. Probably. Winnipeg is better than Calgary, so too is Phoenix, and I’d say it’s arguable that they’re worse or at least as bad as Colorado.

Basically what this means for the Flames is nothing. The Canucks will, unless they totally blow it up, which they won’t because Gillis wants to keep his job, still dominate the Flames both over the course of the season and in their head-to-head matchups. Oh well, I guess.

3. Other teams are doing it

Brian McGrattan

One thing I’ve noticed in the last couple of days or so is that teams are doing a bit of housekeeping in re-signing guys who play marginal roles. Rob Klinkhammer and Eric Boulton and so forth. It occured to me today that the Flames have a guy like that on the roster as well, who is a pending unrestricted free agent and who could be someone they’re interested in re-signing.

That guy is obviously Brian McGrattan.

The Flames have made no secret of the fact that their goal this summer is to become "tougher to play against" because the fact that Mikael Backlund won’t fight anyone is the reason every team in the league ran them the hell over all season long. McGrattan, in their eyes, fits that bill: a guy who sucks at the hockey-playing aspects of playing hockey but who is all too happy to try to fight all comers in the eight seconds of ice time gets per shift before good players come over the boards and he does the closest thing he can to scurrying off so someone can take his place.

The same may be true of Steve Begin, too, but I don’t know I’m just spitballing here. Certainly, it seems well within the realm of possibility that both guys will at least garner consideration from Feaster et al this summer. Yuck.

4. A quick thing on Reto Berra

The US was ousted from gold medal contention at the World Championships over the weekend by the stalwart Swiss, who settled for silver. In goal for the Swiss was, oddly, Flames prospect Reto Berra, who came over in the Bouwmeester trade and will be on North American soil next season.

I thought he looked good. Not great or anything, but pretty good, behind a team that was undefeated until the gold medal game. It was actually a ballsy move by their coach, giving Berra the start. His other goaltender, Martin Gerber, had been phenomenal, but at roughly a trillion years old, had apparently been a little in danger of tiring out. So turning to the kid was a bit weird. Then again, he finished with the best save percentage in the tournament at .967, so I guess you can’t argue too much. I’m very interested to see what he does on a smaller surface next season; that’s usually a decent adjustment.

5. This was my favorite Flames-related thing this week

You knew who would be in the byline the second you read the headline. If you thought Roman Cervenka was going to be anything but a disappointment for Calgary, you haven’t been paying attention to everyone else who dominates the KHL then comes over here and does dick-all.

    • T&A4Flames

      Could you be more specific on your direction?….I presume you mean go Oilkers “up” as that is the only direction they Oilers can go after finishing a pathetic 30, 30, and 29 recently.

    • jakeryley

      Oh come on. Cervenka got playing time, very clearly showed he is absolutely lost in two of the three zones, and was relegated to the 13th/14th forward spot – and deservedly so.

      Cervenka can play hockey for about 60 feet, and that’s it. He was out of shape, terrible defensively, and his offensive talents didn’t even begin to compensate for his complete inability to backcheck.

      • CDB

        Playing time? Hartley hated him from about the 3rd game in. I get some of the reasons why but frequently healthy scratching Cervenka, while he is in a new league, and country was an interesting way of “helping him adjust”. The guy scored at a 36 pt pace over the course of an 82 game season, and that is with playing under 10 minutes 8 times, and getting stuck with playing with Mcgratton and Jackman for stretches.

        The guy had multiple deficincies. He was butter soft, bad defensively, and not a strong skater. But we never got to see what he could have truly done. Flashes of brilliance and a decent Pts/Gm, given the circumstances. Terrible player management by Hartley.

        Glad we got to see Comeau getting force fed top 6 minutes there. Since he has such a high ceiling….

        • Robear

          I’m not sure that “hate” is the right way to describe Hartley’s attitude toward Cervenka. I just don’t think it was a fit, if not an outright alignment of the Evil stars for Cervenka.
          The guy started the year completely out of shape from the blood clot issue, but showing good confidence in the offensive zone. His notedly poor skating made worse by his complete lack of fitness, he started to slide down the depth chart as the coaching staff tried to shelter him. This started the slide in his confidence. That and the obvious terror in his eyes every time a player came near him on the boards. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen an NHL player bail on plays on the boards as fast as Cervenka did!

          Upshot is medical issue – poor conditioning – below average skating – small stature = more money and longer career in the K.
          It could have worked out better, and I love that Feaster at least tried to do something. It just didn’t work out, like everything else this year… at least until they’d thrown in the towel only to watch their PDO even out and their draft position sink…

      • please cancel acct

        Cervanka got 4th line playing time!I agree with you that he was out of shape and terrible defensively.Hartley could have given him some prime time when our season ended on that California trip.

        After reading Hartley’s comments in regards to P.Roy and how there analogy of hockey is black and white,it makes sense how he treated Cervanka.

        Hockey is a process!The successful teams get that.Good process requires information,the more the better.

        When your coach thinks black and white is good enough he;s obviously old old school.

        I’am an old guy but I absolutely know that information is power.That,s why I enjoy this site with all the smart young guys grabbing that info and making sense of it.

        Hartley needs to understand that gray exist,s !

  • Big Ell

    Many from Flames Nation will be ecstatic:

    Corey Pronman: 2013 NHL draft prospect Valeri Nichushkin told that he’ll be transferring to North America. His KHL team, Dynamo, have no issues with terminating his contract. Dmitry Chesnokov: Nichushkin and his camp say that the Hurricanes and Lightning have shown interest in him. Nichushkin’s godfather had mentioned the Hurricanes and Lightning, Nichushkin himself mentions the Predators.

    In my opinion this is guy we needed but it looks like we have no chance. I think it is looking like Lindholm.

    • T&A4Flames

      I’m telling you, now with this news, Barkov will drop to us. One of those teams will take Nich and CAR will take either a D man, likely Nurse, or Monahan.

      Also, Kent, I know you did a bit of a blog including Burmistrov at the deadline. But, given the resent news of him declaring that he will not resign with the Jets and won’t sign in the KHL (via his agent), are you going to explore this again and a little deeper?

      • BurningSensation

        I wouldn’t bet the farm on Barkov dropping to us, but if Nichushkin is in play for the top 5 (Jones, Drouin, MacKinnon, Nichushkin, Barkov), then that will leave Feaster the choice of either Lindholm or Monahan.

        Most likely IMO;

        1. Jones-Col

        2. MacKinnon-Fla

        3. Drouin-TBay

        4. Barkov-Nsh

        5. Nichushkin-Car

        6. Lindholm-Cgy

        7. Monahan-Edm

        Everybody gets a player that fills a need (Col-D, Fla-C/W, TBay-W, Nsh-C, Car-W, Cgy-C, Edm-C) with the guy they take slotted more of less in the spot the scouts’ consensus places them at. The upshot is that if Nichushkin goes anywhere in the top 5 (or if someone like Nurse jumps into the top 5), we get Lindholm.

        I just can’t see Nashville passing on Barkov, they need a center, and he is on everybody’s lists as the best available at #4. The only player I could see displacing Barkov on their wish-list is Lindholm (identical NHLE of 40pts, and Lindholm is both faster and less injured), but that seems like a long-shot.

        That said, if Nashville does take Lindholm at #4, I don’t see Carolina taking Barkov (at least not with the intent of keeping him) at #5. I could see them auctioning off the pick to Cgy or Edm so that Carolina can slide down a spot or two and take Nichushkin or Nurse and make a proift in the process.

  • T&A4Flames

    2 things;

    1st, your wrong about Backlund fighting. Was he not the guy that jumped in at the end of the season and tried to bitch slap the player that took out GlenX’ knee? Oh yea, T.O.U.G.H. GUY!

    2ND, McGratton’s beautiful dipsy-doodle to score that lovely goal that put us further down the draft order proves he has the hands and skill to be a top-notch scorer in this league. He just prefers to feed his knuckles to opposing players.

  • I love this part from that article about Cervenka:

    “The only knock on the Flames throughout the Cervenka affair is that the club saw him as a centre, hoping he could anchor one of the top two lines.

    Shortly after arriving, the player said he wasn’t a centre at all, leaving the Flames much-maligned scouting staff with even more egg on its face.”

    WTF… I mean we all know this, but reading it again is still shocking. How can you bring a player over and not know what position he plays. Is this the NHL or the Frog Lake beer league.