Flames Presser and Roster Rundown


Brian Burke
– pic via Leon Switzer


The Calgary Flames kicked off their 2013-14 season with, oddly, an off-day for players on Monday (aside from Joe Colborne and Mike Cammalleri working out on-ice). However, the city’s sports media were tucked snugly in the Ed Whalen Media Lounge for a chance to visit with newly-appointed President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke and GM Jay Feaster, the latter of whom announced the team’s roster moves to bring them down to 23 men to open the year.

Here are some notes from the press conference.


– Burke made himself available only because there were several requests for an availablity.

– He’s bought a house and a truck and is settling into Calgary. He’s got a handful of commitments left to fulfill, including a trip to visit the Canadian Forces in the Middle East in the near future.

– Like Feaster, Burke identified the prior incarnation of the Flames as a cap team with star players that didn’t get the job done. He praised Feaster for clearing the decks, so to speak. The team has 45 contracts (including Joe Colborne) and $13 million in cap space. They’ve been authorized to spend to the cap, but will be adding for value, not just to add guys or spend money.

– Reiterated that the new incarnation of the club is focusing on hard work, smart positional hockey and grit. Praised the hard work from everyone in camp. Called it “the hardest working group” he’s seen in his years in the business.

– ”This is a transition that had to take place and is well underway.”

– Noted of Joe Colborne: he’s not a black-and-blue player, but he’s a big body with potential. (“Six-five is not something you can teach or coach.”) Explained that with a bit of work, he could be a good bottom-six forward given his skating ability, size and hockey IQ. Compared Colborne’s career trajectory to David Steckel’s.

– Burke was very impressed with Sean Monahan. Mentioned several times that he had nothing to do with picking him, but was very impressed with the pick and that Monahan will make it difficult to send him back to the OHL.

– Isn’t sure what the Flames have in Sven Baertschi. Feels Baertschi has flashes of brilliance, but needs to compete for the entire game and in all three zones. Identified “big holes and a lack of commitment.”

– Can’t commit to a time-frame for how long the rebuild will take. He thinks fans can be patient with the rebuild if they see that a plan is in place and it’s being rigidly adhered to.

– “We’re not prepared to concede that we’re going to struggle yet. We’ll see. These guys have worked their tails off.”

– Shared that the Flames have one person in player development (Ron Sutter) that he thinks is superb, but is that enough when they have players playing from Russia to the west coast of North America? That’s part of the organizational review he’s conducting. (He noted that his test for evaluation of staff is “If I fired everybody, how many guys would get hired the next day?”)

– Felt the Flames had three strong picks in the first round of this year’s draft.


– Shared the team is high on Berra, but felt that he needed more time to get used to North American ice. Didn’t think that Joey MacDonald would clear waivers, so that factored into Berra getting sent town. Big difference-maker beween Ramo and Berra was Ramo’s NHL experience. Noted that at some point this season, Ramo could play enough games that he’d be waiver-eligible.

– Thinks Patrick Sieloff could’ve been the #7 defender, but would rather he get top-four minutes in Abbotsford and thinks he’ll be up in Calgary at some point this year.

– Like Burke, noted that Baertschi has some work to do, but said the team would work with him during the season. If he had a mulligan, he wouldn’t have brought Sven up for the emergency recall, as it led to very high expectations for him. Noted that Bob Hartley created a tight day-to-day working plan for Baertschi at the end of the season and it resulted in some very consistent play (and the scoring streak for Baertschi). The upside is that he’s still young. “We still love him, but there’s a lot of work to be done for him and for us.”

– The coaching staff will determine when Joe Colborne is ready to play. Colborne’s getting a “crash course” on Flames systems.
-Sean Monahan is up and will get a chance to play. The team has a nine-game window for his audition, but they can spread those games out as much as they want.

– Praised the energy and effort at camp, characterizing it as one of the best he’s seen in 20 years in hockey.

– Reiterated that the team will be known by its work ethic and tenacity, stressing that the team concept – on and off the ice – is critically important. Praised the team for coming together so well on and off the ice during training camp.

– Discussed the addition of “bridge players,” but noted that these guys could be added if they fit the team concept and if they fit a suitable need and fit their critieria.

– Thinks that the Abbotsford Heat will be competitive this year, but also very young. Noted that the team has veterans in role positions, but they’ve got a ton of young guys there. Wants the young guys to take ownership of the team and develop their team concept there.

– Shared that it’s tough to get bigger in the NHL and add grit, but thought that the moves they made over the summer made some progress.

– The team will try to keep contract spots open for college kids. They expect they could have as many as three players, two graduating players and one other, that would be prepared to sign NHL deals when their college seasons are over in the spring. As a result, the Flames will probably not use more than 47 contracts during the season.

– Praised Mark Giordano and the Flames leadership group, but noted that Hartley and his staff has assembled a “leadership committee,” including some of the younger players. The idea is to build younger guys into the leadership group and groom future leaders in the room.

– Feels the Flames prospect group is a lot deeper than it was, but noted that there’s work to do, notably from a skill perspective. But while previously the team only really had draft picks in terms of assets they could utilize in trades, now they have prospects that teams call about.

– The team has signed Dominic Pittis to work with the team as a skills coach.

– Noted the Flames will have to make decisions by Christmas time what they’re doing with their pending UFAs.


Lines are estimates.
Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Galiardi – Backlund – Hudler
Baertschi – Monahan – Jones
Bouma – Colborne – Jackman
Street / McGrattan
Giordano – Brodie
Wideman – Russell
O’Brien – Butler
IR: Cammalleri and Breen (non-roster)
– Cammalleri is on IR retroactive to September 14, when he was injured. He’s able to come off as soon as he’s cleared.

– Smith and Street have cleared waivers and can be sent down to the AHL anytime in the next 30 days (or until they play 10 NHL games). Of the guys remaining up, Ramo and Baertschi don’t require waivers. Time will tell what will happen when Cammalleri comes off the IR.

  • Parallex

    Something most people here fail to take into account: This was a presser. Baertchi fully well knows, I am certain, exactly what the coaching staff and upper management need from him.

    Burke is talking to US, not Baertchi. We are up in arms because he DARES insult our precious hope, but he is willingly playing the bad guy because frankly, we expect it. He is telling us to let off a bit on our expectations, and let Baertchi grow: Because he needs to. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if Baertchi was warned something to this effect would be mentioned in the presser.

    And lets be honest. Is it reasonable to expect more from Baertchi? Yes. We obviously all do, or we wouldn’t be upset!

    If Burke had been meek and deferred all answers to Feaster, he wouldn’t be doing justice to the Flames organization. Maybe I’m wrong and none of this was calculated. However, I approve of the message delivered.

  • Parallex

    If Burke fires Hartley one day and hires Wilson I will find this pick up truck of his and put thermite on the hood (he said it should be easy to know which one is his)

  • FalsePerm

    Roger millions just tweeted the opening lineup vs the caps.

    @RogMillions: Flames Lines in Wash-

    Glencross Stajan Stempniak
    Hudler Backlund Galiardi
    Baertschi Monahan D. Jones
    Bouma Street McGrattan

    Giordano Brodie
    Russell Wideman
    Butler O’BRIEN


    Colbourne and Jackman scratched

    • Parallex

      Colbourne scratch is understandable… probably want him to get a few practices in with the team before drawing in. Boo on dressing the Dancing Bear (and for having Galiardi drawing in on the 2nd line, I like Galiardi but not that much).

        • Parallex

          Which hopefully pushes Jones off the roster.

          Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak

          Cammalleri – Backlund – Hudler

          Baertschi – Monahan – Galiardi

          Bouma – Street (I guess..) – Jackman

          That actually resembles an NHL team!

  • loudogYYC

    I’m pretty sure the whole Baertschi thing was orchestrated. Burke is the bad cop, Feaster’s the good cop.

    – “Hey Jermaine, make sure you ask Burke about Baertschi.”

    – “Why, what’s up?”

    – “You’ll see.”

  • Parallex

    I agree with the sentiment of the previous posts. Burke has been here for all of a month and he’s throwing guys under the bus, I don’t like it at all. IMO, the job he was brought in for was to oversee hockey ops, to be the guy in the background giving advice to Jay Feaster and looking at deals and giving the yay or nay.

    I don’t EVER recall a press conference like this with Ken King whom Burke was brought in to replace on a hockey ops level. A LOT of what he is talking about should be addressed by actual GM/Coach. And then Feaster in his presser has to do damage control.

    The only other thing I strongly disagreed with, is Feasters talk about the 9 games and Monahan and how they can spread those 9 games out. To me that reads he won’t play 8 or 9 straight games but instead he’ll sit in the press box for a 1 or 2 here or there, which is stupid. Just put him back to junior and let him play. Playing him for 10 minutes a night and then sitting him in the press box is doing nothing for his development, better off he goes back to junior and plays 25 minutes a night on the top line with PP/PK duties as well.

    • Parallex

      Echo the above re: Burke.

      Why the frak is he providing media availablility? He’s supposed to be in the background and throwing pressers is as foreground as you can get. If people asked for availability he should have politely declined and referred folk to Feaster and Hartley.

      Burke needs to learn to shut his damn mouth.

      • Colin.S

        He’s doing a media availability because he was asked, I have no problem with that, but he should have stuck to big picture concepts and ideas and not call out individual players or talk about a players direction(Colborne). That is the job of Coaches/GMs.

        My biggest worry is that the press conference is echoing the biggest fear. That Burke is truly in charge and Feaster/Coach are on borrowed time.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I have to think that a professional athlete can handle public criticism. He/she better, because opinions fly freely in the technological age.

    It appears, the identity Calgary is trying to implement and foster is this wolf pack, sum greater than parts type.

    Sven was kind of separating himself, with his public comments and probably with his behaviours in the locker room or within team settings.

    Everything was about Sven and it’s really not his fault or some kind of misgiving.

    Upon his draft and the years following he was the only prospect worth getting excited for, blah blah, scores 3 in 5 during emergency call up, blah blah. Everyone took notice and he got a ton of ‘ink’ and limelight. He responded to all those leading questions, “You’re the first draft pick in a long time to show promise…..”

    Well he went back to Portland and things started changing in terms of prospects here. Many things changed, as we all witnessed HERE IN CALGARY. Lots of different ink on different things Flames related.

    But to Sven, when he left he was told how great he was, how he’s the first offensive talent etc and he just continued thinking that. Most people would do that not just a young kid.

    Burke kind of pulled him back to the group.

    That’s how I see it. His comments were a kind of ‘come to Jesus’ moment for the public as I’m sure similar things were said to him privately.

    There is this constant hyperbole, rhetoric used to sensationalize things because it needs to grab attention when in fact it’s no big deal.

    When Rory McIlroy lost it in final round of Masters everyone was like, “he will be scarred. What will become of a once promising career? His confidence will be shattered” etc etc.

    That didn’t happen. He just learned from it and won and he’s struggling again. He’ll be good again too.

    It’s not always the linear progression but it is progression.

    If all it takes is some public criticism to ruin a player then no one would be good. Ever.

    This is all media created narrative that is just useless. News cycle crap that people fixate on in order to create content.

    Get over it (Sven).

    One last thing, Sven seems like a sincere, honest guy. When someone asks him a question he answers it without guile. It’s my opinion that the media just smell blood in the water and look for the non standard lines. Substance. They couldn’t care less what it stirs up because they can write about the aftermath too.

    If I was a player I’d take the Sargent Dignam approach with the media, “Treat them like mushrooms, feed em $hit and keep em in the dark”.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    On Burke.

    I did hear the comments that Brian made about Baertschi, and I did not like them. Not because they were off the mark, or inaccurate, but because they are not useful and more to the point the comments are a distraction.

    My personal policy is at work is to praise colleagues in public, and criticize in person and in private. Very little is gained in public spankings and patronizing the people who work for you. I expect he was trying to get fans and media to lay off of the very high expectations placed on Baertschi, and was in fact trying to help, but he took it too far. I personally liked the way Feaster addressed the same issue. He did what a good leader does, he placed the blame on himself.

    PS. I can’t believe I just said Feaster was a good leader?

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I agree. He has been here a short time, and it is a bit much to make a public call-out like this. It also doesn’t help assuage my worries about having too many cooks in the kitchen. To my mind, if his role is to work, he should not voice anything hockey related to anyone other than Feaster.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Thanks Ryan,

    I missed half of the press conference, and it’s nice to get some of my questions answered. The big question I have is where the responsibilities of President of Hockey OPs ends and the GM responsibilities begin. Can any one shed some light here?