This week rookie camp opens up and the young stars tournament goes live in Penticton. Real hockey news everyone! For now, occupy yourself with my last, desperate random thoughts article.
– The big Crawford extension is further proof that NHL GM’s still don’t really know how to judge and value goaltender talent. I have time for Crawford as a capable, middling puck stopper, but $6M over 6 years for him is a terrible bet. His career SV% is a completely mediocre .913 and that’s after his high water mark of .926 last season (in just 30 games, keep in mind). Of course, he was the cup winning goalie and sported a .932 SV% in the playoffs, so he probably had the hammer in contract negotiations. One thing GM’s really seem to look for is a guy who can "perform under pressure". Winning big games with above average performance may not necessarily be indicative of future success (hello John Druce!), but there are precious few NHL decision makers who will walk away from a dude with a noteworthy playoff run under his belt.
Of course, the Hawks did just that with Anti Niemi, but the Fin was completely mediocre in his cup run (.912 SV%), so it was easier to assume his success was a result of the team in front of him. Ironically, he’s actually been pretty good since Chicago let him walk (although I’d hesitate to call him a $6M goaltender as well).
Maybe Crawford is one of the rare guys who comes from a completely underwhelming pedigree and then figures it out in his mid-’20s. On the other hand, my bet is he’s no better than average for a majority of his new deal.
– A lot of people are asking me how the Flames fan base is approaching season one of the rebuild. Personally most fans I encounter are more optimistic than they have been in a long while. Although a small, vocal minority seem to think Calgary may surprise everyone and be competitive out of the gate, the vast majority are resigned to being plucky but overwhelmed for at least the next two seasons.
The promise of change is powerful in the wake of stubborn, persistent mediocrity. That promise will glow brighter than the gloom, at least in the short-term.
Of course, it will be difficult to keep up that level of optimism alive if (when) frequent failure becomes reality rather than merely theoretical. It’s one thing to understand intellectually that the team has to struggle now to be better later, but it’s something else entirely to endure night after night of loss and disappointment. Once we’re in the guts of this thing, it will be interesting to see how perception shifts amongst the fanbase.
– One guy facing something of a swing year is Roman Horak. He’s been a ‘tweener since he became Flames property and I’m not even certain whether he will land on the Heat or the Flames this year, given the roster and his past results. Roman is a player on the cusp of becoming an everyday NHL guy, but he needs to take a step or two forward to be anything more than a replacement level forward. To have a future in the organization that doesn’t include frequent trips to Abbotsford, he may have to take those steps forward this season.
Horak is in the last year of his entry level deal and he’s about to have more than a few young guys challenging him for a roster spot in the next few seasons. The depth chart at his natural position – center – is starting to get a bit crowded with bodies (Backlund, Knight, Monahan, Reinhart and soon Arnold, Granlund and maybe Jankowski), so it seems he’ll have to shift to wing to have a real shot at the NHL in Calgary.
When he moves over or stays at C, Horak needs to convert his obvious tools into more consistent results to move up the depth chart and out of the 4th line/AHL call-up churn. Sooner rather than later, lest someone behind him makes the move first.
– If you go back over most sustained rebuilds, you’ll find a lot of the coaches and executives don’t tend make it over the finish line with the team. Losing and failure is a tough stigma to shed in pro sports, even when the losing is semi-purposeful or at least unavoidable. Of course, sometimes a rebuid is sustained because the guys in question aren’t capable of lifting the club out of the basement (See: Tambellini, Steve), so their dismissal is entirely warranted.
It will be interesting to see which coaches and suits prove to be placeholders as Calgary goes through its rebuild. My guess? Bob Hartley plays out his contract and moves on. Fifty-fifty on Jay Feaster being the guy who was forced to burn it down and then is shuffled out of the org (or, "up" to a different position).
– Finally, I’ve mentioned previously we’ll have some feet on the ground at the Young Stars tournament this weekend. Our guys (kevin and Brett from JetsNation) will be accredited so we’ll try to get as much source material as possible. Let us know in the comments if you have any particular requests for coverage.
Other Stuff – Shirts and Nuttiquette
It’s come to my attention that some folks have yet to receive their Got Loob? shirts. If that is the case, please contact me (if you haven’t already) via email and we will track down your order. Obviously we aren’t a shirt production and distribution outfit so we had to outsource a lot of this stuff to a third party. This was our first attempt at doing the shirt thing in Calgary and there have been some hiccups which we are now ironing out. Anyways, if your shirt is AWOL, email me your name/email address and order confirmation number and we’ll get after it for you.
On the other hand, if you have your shirt and love it (of course you do), we’d love to see pics of it in action. Send those to me too and we’ll likely publish them on our facebook page.
On a completely unrelated note, the Cancer Society recently asked us to help them out with a testicular cancer awareness campaign they recently launched. It’s a great cause so naturally we agreed.
Here’s their video, gracefully titled "a dude’s guide to checking his nuts":
Some quick facts from the cancer society:
- Only 50% of young men have had a medical check-up in the last 12 months.
- 77% of men surveyed don’t know the symptoms of testicular cancer.
- 79% of men surveyed said they were more likely to check for testicular cancer when educated about the disease.