1. Throwing a jersey
There was a big to-do this week over an Edmonton Oilers fan throwing his jersey on the ice in disgust late in Saturday night’s 6-0 blowout against St. Louis. Lots of people asked what it could portend for all involved, and how the organization would react, and if this is the kind of thing that sparks teams to think differently about the way they’ve approached things. No less an authority than Elliotte Friedman said this is the kind of thing that the Oilers should be able to rally around, either to prove that guy wrong, or to show him that they’re not happy either.
Dallas Eakins called the guy out, but then the team president and general manager called the guy and basically said, “Hey man, we get it, we’re mad too, let’s mend fences here.” I think both sides of Oilers management probably handled it right.
Of course, what has gone without a mention in all this “What Does It Mean” is that this all happened in Calgary two seasons ago and prompted exactly no change in organizational philosophy. I agree that such a move of demonstrable displeasure by even one fan — who I really hope, for his sake, indeed never came back to hoping this team does anything good — should make an organization sit up and really start to take stock of how things went so wrong.
When the Flames jersey-throwing incident happened, there were no questions about how this should affect the team, no condemnation from the coaches, no fence-mending with the fan in question. It certainly didn’t become the international incident that the same thing in Edmonton did rather quickly. The Flames were, at the time, about to miss the playoffs for just the third year in a row, rather than Edmonton’s eighth, so maybe that’s an issue, but they also had won just one of their last SEVEN games (and ended up winning just one of nine in that stretch). All we really got, though, was some chuckling about how mad Tom Kostopoulos was about it.
I don’t know if it’s good or bad, necessarily, for there to be little to no eyebrow-raising over this kind of thing in Calgary while it caused a turdstorm a few hours north, but I have a guess about what it says about local apathy.
2. Now that the trade freeze is almost over
I guess now that it’s past Christmas the Flames are finally able to start thinking about the selloff, but at the time, Jay Feaster had not yet been fired. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the guys I think Brian Burke (or the guy he hires to replace Feaster in the next month or so) should offload posthaste, and I don’t know that I’m convinced they shouldn’t sell as high as possible on Jiri Hudler if they can, aside from the other and more obvious candidates to be shipped out. The likelihood that Hudler produces in this way again in and of itself is marginal, and when you factor in how bad the team around him is, that’s got to be enough to drum up at least some interest, right?
If you ask me — and no, you didn’t — it seems like it would behoove the Flames to wait at least a little while, probably until that new guy gets hired. While it’s all well and good for Burke to sign guys to entry-level deals and do that kind of relatively minor housekeeping (CapGeek has them at just 48 contracts right now), but when it comes to roster moves that are going to impact the team for potentially years to come like those involving other teams’ first-round picks and prospects and so on, you’d really rather have the actual GM do that, it seems to me. Let that guy make his stamp on the team nice and early.
3. Some thoughts on trading in general
Why wouldn’t more teams want to do it earlier in the season? What I guess I mean is I’ve always kind of thought of the Christmas trade freeze, not just the extra-long one for Burke’s teams, as being kind of unnecessary; you almost never see trades happen at this time of year anyway. I wonder, though, why teams wait so long to get involved in the market.
The fact of the matter is that the longer you have a player that you paid picks and prospects for, the more of an impact he’s going to have on your team in the long-term. Mike Cammalleri, for example, probably gives you an extra six or seven goals over the course of the two or three months you don’t trade for him between now and when the market really starts to heat up in earnest, and that in turn means more wins for your team, and a better chance at making the playoffs and therefore justify your acquisition. Further, it just seems like it’s more of a seller’s market as the deadline approaches, out of necessity. What’s that old saying Cubs GM Theo Epstein uses in these cases? “You don’t want to pay gallon prices for a quart of milk?” Seems like a good way to avoid that is to be more assertive in trying to move guys early.
4. World Juniors
The other day, Russia sent home Flames draft pick Rushan Rafikov, a defenseman who’s not even at half a point a game in the Russian junior league. Makes sense, given that he’s only 18, and a seventh-round pick, and all that stuff, but that leaves the rebuilding Calgary Flames, whom we’re repeatedly told have an enviable prospect pool, with a whopping one (1) prospect playing in Malmo.
Of course, that prospect is considered the best goaltender in the tournament, so that’s a good thing to have at the ready, but at the same time, I have to wonder if having just one prospect on his way to World Juniors is a new low for the Flames, at least in the past decade or so. Seems like they’ve always had more than that. I seem to remember that the year Leland Irving went there might have only been one or two, I guess.
5. AND FINALLY
I’m not sure if I’ve earned this but here’s Sven…