Five things: What’s under the tree?

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…

  • To be fair re: World Juniors, Monahan would be there had the Flames made the (IMO) correct decision to send him and Emile Poirier is a strange exception given how well he has played this year.

    Edited to add – Sieloff would be there too if he was healthy.

  • T&A4Flames

    Like Kent said, Sieloff and Monahan would have been there.

    As for waiting until the new GM is hired, Burke said himself, he may not hire someone until the summer. Waiting, then, wouldn’t do us much good. If Burke’s got a line on a solid trade, he should and likely will, make it happen.

    Go Gillies!

    Go Canada go!

  • RexLibris

    On topic #1 – Jerseygate.

    I wondered why there was no mention of the incident in Calgary during the brouhaha here in Edmonton.

    For the record, I liked what Eakins said, and was impressed that MacTavish approached the fan for a talk. Not sure if this is true, but I had heard vis some media reports that the Oilers had asked him if he’d like to drop the puck at an upcoming game.

    As for the World Juniors, I wouldn’t get too upset about any prospect not making the tourney. The Flames have quite a few prospects who, if I’m not mistaken, fall just outside the U-20 format, and there have been plenty of misses on junior talent in IIHF history.

    That being said, while the Flames have begun to add to their prospect pool I don’t think I would categorize it as an “enviable” one around the league. Rather they are getting their prospect depth to a sort of league-average that most teams aim for. It might take another year or two of drafting and development before one can determine if they’ve been able to adequately stock the cupboard, and then another three to four years to determine if those assets will actually mature into NHL players.

    • prendrefeu

      “It might take another year or two of drafting and development before one can determine if they’ve been able to adequately stock the cupboard, and then another three to four years to determine if those assets will actually mature into NHL players.”

      That could be applied to every NHL team, actually, so it becomes a bit of a moot aspect, no?

    • RedMan

      You liked what Eakins said, and I liked what Duck Dynasty’s bearded freak-show (Phil Robertson) said, but how’d it work out for Phil?

      sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing.

      • RexLibris

        Eakins grabbed the spotlight off of the players and addressed a hot topic.

        Saying nothing was not really an option. He spoke emphatically, and I don’t know if you watched his entire press availability, but he carefully delineated between the team and the city’s (even province’s) image as a hard-working society.

        Comparing what Eakins said to Robertson’s quoting Paul? Bit of a stretch, I think.

        • RedMan

          Obviously, I am not comparing what was said (content), but the need for discretion when speaking. Both parties could have used a little more discretion is what I meant. 😉 I do agree though that the coach speaking out in passion is overall a good thing, but it did come across as a bit harsh towards the fan.

      • Burnward

        Which one of Phil Robertson’s quotes do you like Jeff from Lethbridge?

        I would like you to clarify exactly what you are saying before I rip you a new one…

        WW

        • Burnward

          Walter = there may be someone out there that even agrees with some of your quotes. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head but that’s the beauty of free speech in this country.

          • ChinookArchYYC

            MontanaMan: racist and sexist speech might be protected by freedom of speech in your country, in my country we speak out against it loudly…..that’s our freedom of speech!

            WW

          • RedMan

            And for the record – there has not been any racist or sexist comments here yet, so why WW is acting like there has is anyone’s guess. he does have a habit of attacking people on here… so my tip is to just ignore him, and he goes away.

    • RedMan

      Didn’t Eakins say among other things that throwing the jersey did a disservice to all the past Oiler greats yet he took down all their stuff because he wanted the focus to be on the present not the past? That’s what that fan was doing too.
      Mac T told that fan he could drop the puck at the next Oiler playoff game.

      • RexLibris

        He said that throwing the jersey implied quitting on the team. He didn’t speak about the Oilers of the past, that was the media bringing up the anecdote of Kevin Lowe taking a one-time Oiler to task for throwing his jersey on the floor after a game instead of the dressing table.

        Eakins focused on the reputation of Edmonton and Alberta as being a place where hard work and perseverance are key attributes of a blue-collar ethos.

        Here’s some direct text from the Oilers website:

        “I think we would be severely dumped on if we totally started mailing it in and giving nothing. We’re not going to do that here.”

        The bench boss added he did not think that this type of behaviour was characteristic of Oilers fans.

        “Whoever threw that jersey on the ice, they’re out. They’re a quitter. The people who work in the oil industry, they’re not quitters. For some fan to show us that he quit, he’s done, he threw in the towel, I think that speaks volumes about this individual. I don’t believe this city was built on people like that.

        “They’re tough, they’re hard working and I highly doubt that they’re ever, ever out of the fight. Are they frustrated? Absolutely. But I don’t think they’re out of the fight.”

        Original article is here – http://oilers.nhl.com/club/blogpost.htm?id=24259

  • T&A4Flames

    1. Level of frustration in Edmonton is much higher than in Calgary; however the frustration with Lowe and King are similar in that there are two guys overseeing hockey who think they know more thaan they do.
    2. While I get the idea of trading Hudler as his value may never be higher I wonder if his value to team as a mentor is more valuable.
    3. Burke will do as he pleases whether there a GM or not. Based upon the love affair many have here for him we should expect him to win every deal.
    4. Sometimes I wish the WJHC would only include draft eligible players, but that would really limit the chances of some countries to compete.
    5. Sven has not exactly lit it up for the Heat.

  • RedMan

    “…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.”

    You REALLY think a new GM will have any real decision making authority under Burke?

    I highly doubt it. I believe the only stamp around these parts will be Burke’s.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I completely agree.

      He basically said his much in his suggestion that the job in Calgary would be a good fit for a new, first time GM. It’s pretty safe to assume he’ll at least oversee all aspects of the GM duties and veto anything he doesn’t agree with. I’m not going to suggest the new guy will be a puppet, just that the heavy-hand of Brian Burke will be ever present.

  • RedMan

    Kind of hoping the Flames make a strong offer to a starting goaltender. Even Jones from LA is outplaying both of our goaltender’s combined. Either trade for one, or call Ortio up.

    • RedMan

      are you prepared to say that none of the three European goalies will be adequate until Gillies starts winning Vezna’s?

      it actually looks to me like both Reto and Kari have been steadily improving. I was really cringing at these two (like everyone else) at the beginning of the year, but the way it’s looking now – I’m feeling a lot better, at least for this stage of the rebuild.

  • Burnward

    Serious question. Why does Lambert write for this site?

    If it’s to drive hits, then so be it.

    But to completely disregard Monahan, Poirier and Sieloff is something that most that truly follow the Flames would never do.

    If he’s simply a tool for you guys to troll us and get our dander up so you can show advertisers how much content you generate, the act is beyond wearing thin.

    He just cheapens the great work that Kent et al do on here.

    Just something for the FN hierarchy to chew on.

  • Burnward

    @burnward – like I said last week – same people always complaining about Lambert are the same people that keep on reading him apparently.

    @WW – so free speech is free speech as long as it agrees with what you think? Gotcha. You may want to actually look up the definition of free speech though.

    • Burnward

      I read everything on here because I love the site and the discussion.

      It was a true, honest question. If he’s a Flames fan…why is he making these mistakes?

      And if he isn’t, what is his purpose for being here?

      To Ryan, I hope you realize this isn’t a personal attack. I know it’s your style and it’s got you where you are.

      But compared to the effort so many of the other writers put into their articles here, you’re falling short.

      But then again…you’ve got me posting multiple times.

      Mission accomplished I suppose eh?

  • RexLibris

    I get that Lambert rubs a lot of FN readers the wrong way on account of his criticism of the Flames organization. And I understand that his being a Flames fan incites some to anger or resentment because it can come across as disloyalty or self-loathing cynicism.

    I don’t know Ryan Lambert and have never spoken to him, but he strikes me as a Flames fan through-and-through, a fan of hockey, and someone with high expectations of his sports teams.

    I believe that every sports organization needs someone act as a contrarian at times if only for the sake of raising important questions.

    I don’t feel that Lambert’s scrutiny is motivated by a desire to see his team fail or to perpetually find a cloud in every silver lining.

    Again, I’m not trying to put words in his mouth or blindly advocate on his behalf, but the impression I get is that his distance from the media machine that necessarily surrounds the team means that the high standards to which he holds the organization are less prone to manipulation and he is therefore in a position to call them out when they fall short – which, it must be said, has been often of late.

    As an outsider to the Flames fan base, city and organization – and mindful of my own Oiler bias – there are criticisms that he has leveled in the past that I feel deserve consideration.

  • Derzie

    Let me get this straight: a post that is anti-racist got 6 trashes? That’s the type of redneck thinking around here? I thought this blog attracted thinkers. If you even know what Duck Dynasty is about that’s strike one. If you agree with the homophobic ramblings that’s strike 2 and 3. Really pathetic. Stick to the topic of hockey.

  • Derzie

    Let me get this straight: a post that is anti-racist got 6 trashes? That’s the type of red neck thinking around here? I thought this blog attracted thinkers. If you even know what Duck Dynasty is about that’s strike one. If you agree with the homo phobic ramblings that’s strike 2 and 3. Really pathetic. Stick to the topic of hockey.

  • Derzie

    Let me get this straight: a post that is anti-rac ist got 6 trashes? That’s the type of red neck thinking around here? I thought this blog attracted thinkers. If you even know what Duck Dynasty is about that’s strike one. If you agree with the hom o phobic ramblings that’s strike 2 and 3. Really pathetic. Stick to the topic of hockey.

    • RedMan

      I’d recomend calming down… nobody made a racist post… walterwhite is attacking people as if there was a racist post… and he got all anti-american.

      REPEAT there is not nor has there been any racist or homophobic posts…

      SO – people are not trashing an anto racist post – people are trashing the odd personal attacks of individuals.

      it is nice to see this blog comment section is supportive of individual rights. that is a good thing in canada and america.

    • RedMan

      We had a discussion on the same general topic a few months ago on the Sochi Olympics and how democratic Russia really is so it’s not unusual for this group to wander off hockey and on to political or social issues. For a change I agree with WW, one of the things I love about this country is that we have become more tolerant than in some other places and that wee do stand up for others as part of our freedom.

      • RedMan

        nobody is disagreeing with the value of tolerance that I see anywhere by anyone, even those ‘trashing’ WW comments.

        the issue is that WW has acted like he is defending against racist and sexist comments (creating a ‘straw-man’ if you will), when in fact no such comments were made and therefore needed no defending.

        for the record, I made the comment that suggested that Dallas Eakins would have been better to not say anything, just like Phil Roberts of “Duck Dynasty” (a show I’ve never watched btw) and of course WW jumped all over that and started threatening me, acting like someone was supporting racism or sexism.

        if you understand what the term ‘straw man’ means- this is what is really happening. I have not seen in this thread or in any other thread acceptance of racism or sexism (as WW called it) or, more accurately, homophobia for that matter.

        I do see though that WW made the point of making rude comments that indicate Canadians were somehow better then Americans, in his attempt to defend the straw man and his imaginary slights and injustices.

        I do not think this is appropriate, and quite honestly, I am just assuming that WW will at some point be banned for his continual, unjustified and odd attacks of people and general poop-disturbing troll-ism.

        and as an answer to WW who demanded I spill the beans on my personal beliefs before he attacks me further, here is a very well thought out article that articulates quite well my position on the subject:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/the-genuine-conflict-being-ignored-in-the-i-duck-dynasty-i-debate/282587/

        this is my last post on this topic – FN is an awesome sight, and really we need to slow down and take a breath and not let ourselves be overtaken by an individuals acting out. Nobody here has supported any racism, sexism or homophobia.

      • RedMan

        nobody is disagreeing with the value of tolerance that I see anywhere by anyone, even those ‘trashing’ WW comments.

        the issue is that WW has acted like he is defending against racist and sexist comments (creating a ‘straw-man’ if you will), when in fact no such comments were made and therefore needed no defending.

        for the record, I made the comment that suggested that Dallas Eakins would have been better to not say anything, just like Phil Roberts of “Duck Dynasty” (a show I’ve never watched btw) and of course WW jumped all over that and started threatening me, acting like someone was supporting racism or sexism.

        if you understand what the term ‘straw man’ means- this is what is really happening. I have not seen in this thread or in any other thread acceptance of racism or sexism (as WW called it) or, more accurately, homophobia for that matter.

        I do see though that WW made the point of making rude comments that indicate Canadians were somehow better then Americans, in his attempt to defend the straw man and his imaginary slights and injustices.

        I do not think this is appropriate, and quite honestly, I am just assuming that WW will at some point be banned for his continual, unjustified and odd attacks of people and general poop-disturbing troll-ism.

        and as an answer to WW who demanded I spill the beans on my personal beliefs before he attacks me further, here is a very well thought out article that articulates quite well my position on the subject:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/the-genuine-conflict-being-ignored-in-the-i-duck-dynasty-i-debate/282587/

        this is my last post on this topic – FN is an awesome sight, and really we need to slow down and take a breath and not let ourselves be overtaken by an individuals acting out. Nobody here has supported any racism, sexism or homophobia.

      • RedMan

        nobody is disagreeing with the value of tolerance that I see anywhere by anyone, even those ‘trashing’ WW comments.

        the issue is that WW has acted like he is defending against racist and sexist comments (creating a ‘straw-man’ if you will), when in fact no such comments were made and therefore needed no defending.

        for the record, I made the comment that suggested that Dallas Eakins would have been better to not say anything, just like Phil Roberts of “Duck Dynasty” (a show I’ve never watched btw) and of course WW jumped all over that and started threatening me, acting like someone was supporting racism or sexism.

        if you understand what the term ‘straw man’ means- this is what is really happening. I have not seen in this thread or in any other thread acceptance of racism or sexism (as WW called it) or, more accurately, homophobia for that matter.

        I do see though that WW made the point of making rude comments that indicate Canadians were somehow better then Americans, in his attempt to defend the straw man and his imaginary slights and injustices.

        I do not think this is appropriate, and quite honestly, I am just assuming that WW will at some point be banned for his continual, unjustified and odd attacks of people and general poop-disturbing troll-ism.

        this is my last post on this topic – FN is an awesome sight, and really we need to slow down and take a breath and not let ourselves be overtaken by an individuals acting out. Nobody here has supported any racism, sexism or homophobia.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I’m not one of the trashers so I can’t say for certain, but I doubt it has anything to do with the content of the post. Walter White has made a reputation as a somewhat combative and insulting person to talk to, so most of his comments just get trashed because he’s the one who makes them.

      I don’t know the precise content of what the Duck Dynasty guy said (because seriously, who cares about the opinion of someone who’s strictly famous for being a hick) but from my vague understanding of his statements, I agree that WW’s comments shouldn’t have been trashed if it’s purely based on content. I doubt we have that many bigoted individuals here.

  • RKD

    I’m not so sure I would want to trade Hudler. He’s proven he is an elite talent on rebuilding team. He’s been very consistent and doing it all without playing with linemates like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. He’s been a positive influence on the younger guys like Monahan and Baertschi. I’m sure the return for him would be good, and I’m sure there would be a lot of interest too. I think the Flames would be wiser to move Cammy, he’s on an expiring contract. He wants to win a Stanley Cup so I’m no so sure he would want to be with a rebuilding team unlike a Gio or Glencross.

    • Burnward

      Yeah, Hudler has been really good.

      He’s also signed to a great contract and has shown a lot of character.

      I think how you fall on this depends on your vision for the team moving forward.

    • Derzie

      Completely agree with RKD. I don’t understand why you want to trade Hudler unless somebody makes an offer that blows your socks off (which is unlikely). Hudler has shown he has a high hockey IQ, a sold shot, good playmaking skills and can make players around him better. Plus he is signed to a reasonable contract given his current production. I also think that his Detroit pedigree is probably offers an intangible quality that you want to rub off on younger Flames.

      It’ll be interesting to see how Burke handles the Flames expiring contracts. like Butler, Russell and Berra, not to mention Cammalleri and Stempniak. I think they will let Stajan walk.

      • RedMan

        we definitely need to keep a fair stable of vets around, and Hudler looks like a good candidate.

        How many vets then should the team “sell”? 2?

        Certainly if we traded or sold more then two, that would change the structure of the team drastically, although, look how well a guy like Paul Byron is playing – so who knows what talent may come out of Abby.

        That being said, I have a sneaky suspicion that, while this team hopes to hit a home run at the next draft, it would be just like Burke to bring in a high priced defenseman and forward with his cap space to augment the rebuild. If he brought in an 8-9 mil forward and a 7 mil defenseman… to replace the two forwards that he sells (and Butler who hopefully is gone)and adds three more first rounders similar in the draft order as this years… well, hmmm that would be interesting.

        So, this is my guess. Cami & Stemp gone for picks, Stajan and Russel resigned and kept, B. Jones resigned for depth, lots of AHL/ECHL RFA’s walk… cleaning out the last remnants of the bad years. 🙂 and add two younger big dollar players not named Dion.

  • RexLibris

    Re: Hudler and selling off veterans.

    Here are the expiring UFAs – Cammalleri, Stempniak, Stajan and B. Jones on forward.

    Butler, Russell and Smith on defence.

    Berra is also UFA, but I don’t think we need to consider that an asset that would garner anything by way of deadline trade.

    I would group Cammalleri, Stajan, Stempniak and Russell as trade deadline assets.

    Jones, Butler and Smith are technically potential deadline assets but their value is likely to be minimal, so let’s put them aside for now.

    Of the above four, the Flames could divest themselves of two for draft picks or a prospect and re-sign the remaining two in order to maintain some veteran players for the roster.

    Cammalleri is a virtual given to be moved. After that I would argue that Stajan is next based on Burke’s already having traded him once. As well, I believe he will value Stempniak ahead of Stajan and the blueline is simply too poor to afford moving a player like Russell, although this leads to another topic I’ll mention in a moment.

    So let’s say that Cammalleri nets you a late 1st rounder from a contender. Stajan might get you a 2nd rounder as a depth center, but we’ll leave off quibbling over values because we don’t know the market value until the GMs set it each year.

    One area that I suspect Brian Burke will address is the Flames blueline, specifically with regards to adding a young, NHL-ready defenseman. My own thoughts on this are that he may try to move Baertschi (and perhaps Russell) for Gardiner. I don’t believe Burke is wedded to Baertschi as a Flames prospect, he holds Gardiner in high regard, and he may view a pairing of Brodie and Gardiner as a potential 1st pairing D around which to build the rest of his roster.

    The end result of the above is the addition of Gardiner, the possible acquisition of two more draft picks in the first 100, and the retention of one or two veteran NHL players for the NHL roster.

  • Burnward

    I think the issue with Hudler, Wideman et al is that the Flames need to stock the shelves, giving up any current “success” for future rewards. The Flames are going nowhere for the next two or three years (and that’s just to get to the playoffs) so players like Cammy, Hudler, Wideman, Stajan etc are not part of the equation. Not that they should be given away, but if the right deal is there for younger players or draft picks, the deal needs to be made.