1. I hate summer
The good news is that this is the very last Five Things I will have to write in the month of August, when absolutely nothing happens and everyone just complains, mainly about how there is absolutely nothing happening. The better news is that hockey is just over the horizon, with the Flames set to participate in the Young Stars Classic in Penticton once again this season, starting at the end of next week.
In fact, after having a look at the roster the Flames put together for this thing, it’s actually pretty respectable including — and this is something I almost couldn’t believe — up the middle. Calgary’s going with Sean Monahan, Corban Knight, Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund, Josh Jooris and someone called Linden Penner up the middle, and that looks very solid for a prospect camp at the very least. Not that that means anything at all, really, but that was something else.
Here’s something else that stood out to me: The complete lack of depth on the right side. What I mean by that is, Emile Poirier and Ben Hanowski are the only right wings listed on the roster. The other six wings are all naturally suited to the left side, which is something I feel like you almost never see.
The defense is a little underwhelming and top-heavy, which is, perhaps, to be expected, and I think the goaltending is looking pretty good. No one is disagreeing — at least I don’t think so — that Laurent Brossoit shouldn’t at least get a good solid shot at the No. 1 job in Abbotsford, and Joni Ortio has played pretty respectably in the last two seasons in Finland for someone who just turned 22. I’m pretty interested to see what both can do.
That camp, by the way, starts next Wednesday. So that’s something to look forward if you’re especially starved for hockey. Which you should be.
2. Those AHL signings
Speaking of Abbotsford as I just was, the Heat signed both Carter Bancks and Steve Begin yesterday, which I thought was an interesting thing to have happened. (Incidentally, I understand that I’m using the word "interesting" a lot so far but unlike most of the things the Flames have done lately, these have been interesting for interesting reasons, not interesting for horrifying reasons, and there is a qualitative difference there.)
These signings in and of themselves weren’t all that notable for reasons that should be obvious – Bancks is a career AHLer who got a shot with the big club last season only because of the paucity of warm bodies lying around toward the very end of the season, and Begin has almost no tread left on the tires – but what this says to me, and maybe I’m wrong, is that they’re ready to give a bunch of the rookies the chance to make the team in the fall.
That gives me pause for reasons I’ve gone over before, especially if it relates to a kid whose name rhymes with "John Jonahan".
3. Olympic camp snubs
Both the US and Canada held their Olympic orientation camps this week and there was some talk about who had and had not been snubbed through the lack of invitation from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, respectively.
The most notable of these was Jamie Benn, who for some reason thought he should have gotten the invite to the Canadian camp and made a whole bunch of crybaby noise about it. But here’s the thing with the perceived "snubs" where these camps are concerned: They don’t matter at all.
I think both organizations, but Hockey Canada especially, selected younger guys that went on deep playoff runs and generally had good seasons. Thus Milan Lucic. Thus Corey Crawford. Thus Patrick Sharp. Thus Brad freaking Marchand. I’d be absolutely shocked if one of those guys made the team. I mean, honestly, can you imagine Lucic trying to huff and puff his way up and down an Olympic sheet? He barely makes it in the NHL.
There’s this whole idea now, too, that somehow Jarome Iginla and some of Canada’s other Old Guard who have a couple gold medals in their back pockets (and p.s. let’s forget all about that unfortunate 2006 thing) might also make it if they work hard but that’s just a nice way of saying "You’re too old for this but not completely useless in the NHL." If they make it, somehow, the guys they beat out better spend the entire tournament either injured or thoroughly embarrassed or, preferably, both.
As to Benn, well, sorry, but this isn’t that far a cry from Vinny Lecavalier complaining about a snub any more, and at least the latter has his seniority to fall back on (albeit from the Voldemort of modern Canadian Olympic hockey performances, insofar as it must not be named). Boo hoo.
4. A weird what-if
Most Fridays I do a couple minutes on Ryan Pinder’s show on the FAN960 and last week he noted something that I hadn’t even really thought of, but boy was it ever funny. Miikka Kiprusoff still hasn’t filed his official retirement papers with the NHL, meaning that as far as the league is concerned his $5.83 million cap hit is still on the books with the Flames.
The suggestion that he might show up to camp is the funny part. He saunters into the room with his gear bag, everyone starts trying real hard to avoid eye contact until someone with a little bit of authority comes along and says, "Uhh hey Miikka here’s the thing we already have a bunch of goalies and umm, y’know, we all kinda thought… well, uh how do I put this? You were bad and gonna quit. That kinda thing…"
That’s obviously not going to happen but I wonder how this kind of thing works. If he doesn’t show up like, say, Tim Thomas last season, then maybe they just carry the cap hit, which won’t matter anyway since this team is getting nowhere near the ceiling, so intent as they seem to be on staying deep in the basement. But in thinking about it the last few days, I got to wondering: Has this kind of thing ever happened before?
A player retiring without officially retiring, with no injuries to speak of (so the team can’t put him on LTIR), and that cap hit just happening and no one really caring? That would be very strange, I should think. Very uncommon at the very least.
5. And finally…
In lieu of anything substantive to talk about, I thought I’d leave you with this quote from Brian Burke about the big deal everyone is making about the size of the ice in Sochi.
Said Burke on the alleged big deal about the ice size: " These guys have all played international, OK? It’s pretty simple: The rink’s 15 feet wider. If you think about it, you can’t chase the puck in any of the zones like you do in our rinks. It’s elementary."
I love Brian Burke.
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