Five things: Hmmmmmmm

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1.
An acknowledgement, with a caveat

Bob
Hartley spoke with the media the other day and said that while the
team has seen a number of positives over the course of the year, it
has largely been a “failure.”

Yes,
Bob. We agree. An unmitigated disaster from start to finish. Total
failure. This team failed in its primary goal to… what was that?
You weren’t done?

“In
my book, if you’re not a playoff team, you don’t have much. … In
the NHL it’s the final result. … We need to find a way to get
better because it’s still not good enough.”

Oh
it’s a failure because the team didn’t make the playoffs. I hate to
break it to you, Robert, but this team was never ever ever going to
make the playoffs. Not if you ran them out in a billion seasons
exactly like this one in a row.

The
reason this season is a failure is that the team was actually too
good. Didn’t we see throughout most of the late 90s and early 2000s
what being a borderline playoff team gets you? Miserable “prospects”
and no playoffs, and the former means little hope of the latter any
time soon. If you’re going to bomb out of the playoffs, you might as
well do it spectacularly, rather than valiantly going down swinging,
as the Flames have in winning five of seven down the stretch here.
Great, you’re 26th instead of 28th. How is that good, again?

2.
With that having been said…

It
sure was hilarious to see this team hang eight on Edmonton to really
drive home how awful they’ve been this year. The Oilers should
absolutely serve as a cautionary tale for Calgary insofar as this is
what a team being run by a moron throughout several years of a
rebuild looks like. Kevin Lowe is directly responsible for how bad
they’ve been forever. His drafting has often made little sense, but
at least the Oilers seem to finally be moving in the right direction.

Their
new GM seems smart and pretty savvy at his job so far. Their new
coach seems to be able to keep things kosher and handle problems well
in a town that feeds on negativity. Their best players are very much
top-end. They just don’t have the personnel (namely a few top-pairing
defensemen and a top-six forward) to be in any way competitive, but I
also don’t believe they’re all that far away.

Doesn’t
mean seeing not one, not two, but three jerseys thrown on the ice as
things go from bad to worse isn’t hilarious. Because it is. It
really, really is.

3.
A delightful headline, and horrifying quote

You’re
not going to find a better five words in the English language than
these.

Anyway,
you read through that article and you end up down near the bottom,
and Brian Burke winds up talking about the way the Flames approach
drafting (emphasis mine).

“We
place great value and great pride on researching a player’s
character work ethic, accountability, empathy and coachabilty,”
said Burke. “We
have a list of adjectives on the list and I think there are about 20
and I think ‘work ethic’ appears four times out of that 20. We
try to research the kids, at least in the top-three rounds where we
have the assets to do it, we make mistakes like everybody, but we try
our best. We
don’t draft based on skill, that’s the second thing to us.

We think you have a better chance of succeeding if you bring in
character people than if you don’t.

“So
that’s a priority for us. We do have a DND list, Do Not Draft. Some
teams will evaluate a guy and say ‘He has NHL skills, but he’s
a head case, so put him in the second round.’ To me, he’s still a
head case in the second round, so we just take him off the list.”

Boy
oh boy, Brian. Boy oh boy. What else is there to say? You know
“intensity” is on that list of adjectives. You know, also, that
it is not an adjective.

Burke has an horrific draft record. That’s the important thing to keep in mind here. You have to wonder if he took Tyler Biggs over Brandon Saad, for example, because he liked his character more. Biggs is a regular scratch for an AHL team, while Saad is a regular contributor for one of the best hockey teams on the planet. 

Even if you think I’m too negative about this team and its management and future, that quote should give you a season’s worth of pause. If it doesn’t, you have something seriously wrong with you.

4.
A look at the Friars

Last
week in this space I promised that I would provide a brief scouting
report of Providence College from my first viewing in a few months.
Jon Gillies had been playing exceptionally well after a bout of
subpar hockey following World Juniors, and Mark Jankowski seemed to
have turned things around and had been producing at a very
respectable rate.

I
can say now, that having watched them play UNH in the Hockey East
semifinals, that I have nothing good to report. Put simply, the
Wildcats bossed the Friars around basically from front to back and
went on to win 3-1. The Friars had just five shots In the first
period, conceded three goals in the second, and only mounted a
comeback when the game was, for all intents and purposes, over.

Of
the three goals UNH scored, you could really only say one was in no
way Gillies’ fault, as it was a point shot that hit a defenseman’s
knee and went in far-side. That happens. The other two were garbage
goals scored on wraparounds on which Gillies, shall we say, did not
acquit himself well. The first was a shortie on which Kevin Goumas
blew the doors off a defenseman and went around the net, and Gillies
overcommitted to the shot attempt from the near side and couldn’t get
over. The second, he just quit on the play as the seconds wound down
in the period and didn’t even really seem to realize another Goumas
wraparound was being attempted, until it was too late. You can see
all the goals in this video. They’re not pretty:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KOY3Qfby4Q

As
far as Jankowski goes, I’m not sure what happened to the guy who was
playing extremely well at both ends of the ice. He was on the ice for
the first and second goal against, and on the latter he wasn’t
covering anyone in particular. He also finished the game with just
one shot on goal. I would categorize him as being largely, umm,
ineffective. But not outright bad. Again, this was a team overwhelmed
by a club with a far more talented top line.

John
Gilmour, like Jankowski, finished minus-2 and with a single shot on
goal.

The
good news is this team’s season isn’t done, as it qualified for an
at-large NCAA tournament bid, and will face Quinnipiac on Friday
night. You’ll recall Quinnipiac as the team against which Jankowski
went without even a single shot attempt in late November (and against
which Gillies was ho-humly fabulous in earning a 3-all draw that his
team in no way deserved). It will be interesting to see what happens
this time around, with one hell of a lot more at stake.

5.
More Gaudreau-type stuff

Johnny
Gadureau’s Boston College Eagles are also in the NCAA tournament,
obviously, as the top seed in their regional, and they play on
Saturday.

But
before all that, the will-he/won’t-he drama about turning pro at the
end of the season continues to swirl. In a New York Times piece that
ran yesterday, Gaudreau made it seem like he might
not sign after all
. The
money line, in the sixth paragraph from the bottom, reads thus:

“Gaudreau’s
mother would like to see her son finish college and graduate, and he
said his mother usually prevailed in these kinds of things.”

I
dunno. Calgary’s almost certainly going to throw silly bonus money
and a chance to make the big club out of camp at him and he really
does have nothing left to prove in college hockey. The thing people
have been saying a lot is that this signing, or not signing, might
lean somewhat on whether BC wins a national title this year (a thing
I do not expect it to do). The thinking is that the chances he stays
in school for a final year increase significantly if they crash out
again.

I’m
not sure I buy it.

  • Parallex

    To be fair to Burke, he did say at some point this season that he thought the Flames had the best first round at the draft. Meaning he liked the Monahan, Poirier, and Klimchuk picks.

    Couldn’t say that more Monahans and Poiriers would be a bad thing, really.

  • Parallex

    Lambert look on the bright side though drafting is the best way to get top line talent it isn’t the only way. The Flames are now in a position to either overpay in free agency or in a trade to get that talent. Too bad that Seguin got moved last year instead of now.

  • RedMan

    I want a top draft pick… we all do I get it… but how do balance finishing at the bottom with keeping a competitive culture and avoiding the mistakes of the perpetually rebuilding franchises?

    I am sick of hearing the same whining and moaning on this site. It’s the same thing over and over.

    After the whole Willis thing I see the Nation Network for what it is… the worst thing about the internet. A bunch of bloggers with no real insight other than advanced stats.

    Joe Colborne is playing great. kent Wilson wrote him off months ago. Will Kent retract what he wrote earlier. No. He won’t even acknowledge it.

    Will Willis acknowledge his comments about Winnipeg are out of line. Nope.

    This site is just as bad as the mainstream media and maybe a bit worse.

    I’m out. Keep up the good work Christian Roatis, Avezedo and some of the other level headed writers who don’t share the same snide arrogance as these tools and the mainstream media.

    • RedMan

      have a couple drinks ol friend, maybe take a couple days off, give the a good go or two, and when you come back, youll feel better. its really not that bad or that serious.
      these are just good guys who make a go at covering a team 24/7 from every angle, always trying to come up with somehing new or different or fresh… a tall order.

      in fact, im sure ideas for new pieces would be welcome. any good ideas in that there tickle trunk of yours???

      cheers 😉

  • RedMan

    The writer has chosen to take a ‘glass half full” approach to stimulate controversy/comment. Actually it’s smart journalism as the intent of this website is to do exactly that. I would have liked to see a more overall view that indue the positives regarding the Flames, players and Burke.

    Did you really say the Oilers seem finally to be going in the right direction?? Did they not finish 24th last year and will most likely finish 29th this year?

  • FlamesRule

    “Burke has an horrific draft record. That’s the important thing to keep in mind here. You have to wonder if he took Tyler Biggs over Brandon Saad, for example, because he liked his character more. Biggs is a regular scratch for an AHL team, while Saad is a regular contributor for one of the best hockey teams on the planet.”

    Come on Lambert – Feaster took Sven even earlier! How’s that working out for us?

    With your hindsight, you’d make an excellent GM.

  • FlamesRule

    “Burke has an horrific draft record. That’s the important thing to keep in mind here. You have to wonder if he took Tyler Biggs over Brandon Saad, for example, because he liked his character more. Biggs is a regular scratch for an AHL team, while Saad is a regular contributor for one of the best hockey teams on the planet.”

    Come on Lambert – Feaster took Sven even earlier! How’s that working out for us?

    With your hindsight, you’d make an excellent GM.

  • Islanders with a Shootout loss tonight! We are only 1 point ahead of them now.

    I may not be cheering for the Flames to lose, but I sure am cheering for the teams below us to finish out their schedules strong!

  • The Last Big Bear

    Skill is cheap. Without the moxie to back it up its worthless.

    Unfulfilled potential is the most common thing in the world.

    You can’t throw a puck into the crowd at a WHL game without hitting a dad who had the raw talent to have a shot at the NHL, but couldn’t put it all together.

    I have no problem asking “Does he have his **** together?” before you even bother to ask about skill.

  • supra steve

    All the skill + character/work ethic= Ray Bourque

    Limited skill + character/work ethic= Phil Bourque

    Lots of skill + questionable work ethic= Rene Bourque