News and Notes – March 28 2014

It’s a game day today, as the Calgary Flames prepare to finish off their current homestand with a visit from the New York Rangers. Here’s a quick skim of what’s been making new lately.

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First off, congratulations to Mikael Backlund on winning the team’s Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award. Given since 1987, “the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award is presented annually to the Flames player who best exemplifies perseverance, determination and leadership on the ice, combined with dedication to community service off the ice.”

Similarly, the club announced that Matt Stajan (and Flames employee Marc Leost) are this year’s recipients of the J.R. McCaig Memorial Award. Given each year since 2006, “the award honours two Calgary Flames personnel, a player and staff member, who best exemplify Mr. McCaig’s enduring virtues of respect, courtesy and compassion for all individuals he encountered both in his professional and everyday life.”

Two very deserving players being honoured here. And I’m sure the employee is top-notch as well (I just don’t know his work enough to judge personally).


Last week, the team signed Brett Kulak – 2012’s 4th round selection – to a three-year deal worth $816,667 annually at the NHL level. Yesterday, the team announced the signing of 2012 5th round pick Ryan Culkin to a three-year deal worth $816,700 at the NHL level. Both deals kick in next season, but both players could always appear in Abbotsford on try-out deals after their teams are out of the playoffs.

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Both signings weren’t wholly unexpected, as we discussed here a couple months ago.

Of the remaining 2012 draft picks, only Coda Gordon remains unsigned. The other three – Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies and Matthew Deblouw – are college kids.

The Flames have been on fire lately with fourth rounders, producing guys like T.J. Brodie (2008), Bill Arnold (2010), Johnny Gaudreau (2011) and now Kulak, who was a strong junior player.


Advanced: Emile Poirier (Gatineau) in a 4-0 sweep; Keegan Kanzig (Victoria) in a 4-0 sweep

Eliminated: Brett Kulak (Vancouver) in a 4-0 sweep; Matthew Deblouw (Michigan State) didn’t make NCAA tourney, nor did Kenny Agostino (Yale)

Pending: Johnny Gaudreau & Bill Arnold (Boston College) play Denver on Saturday; Tim Harrison (Colgate) plays Ferris State on Saturday; Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies & John Gilmour (Providence College) play Quinnipiac tonight; Ryan Culkin (Drummondville) is up 3-1; Eric Roy (Brandon) is up 3-0 on Morgan Klimchuk (Regina); Coda Gordon (Swift Current) is tied 2-2.

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      • RedMan

        How is his eal any different from Agostino’s or Gaudreau’s (fingers crossed)? I thought it was justthe AHL they weren’t able to play in unleass they signed a PTO?

        • SmellOfVictory

          Agonstino’s deal started immediately, and thus they’re ineligible to play in the AHL playoffs this year. I’m not sure if the Flames would be able to sign Gaudreau/Arnold to “post-dated” deals like Kulak and Culkin so they could play for the Heat on PTOs, or if they’d have to be effective immediately. It may simply be the choice of the team/player, or it may be due to rules regarding juniors/NCAA.

        • RedMan

          the difference (other than age) is Kulak is coming from the CHL.


          Kulak played with the Heat at the end of last season. I don’t see why they wouldn’t do the same thing again this season.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    My apologies to Mr. Pike for adding a comment that does not pertain directly to his article, but….

    Brian Burke:
    -I have my doubts about him but they have dissipated a LITTLE. He has been measured, imo, with his handling of the Flames so far.

    However, why can’t this guy just stfu and do his job? Why is he always in some kind of spotlight?

    I get it, he gets asked to speak (in season? Really?!? Aren’t there immediate pressing needs) but his ego just takes over.

    That article about a dinner in Letbridge is exactly what I’m talking about. Flapping his gums so the audience will love him. Go ahead and tell funny anecdotes, I don’t mind and I probably would enjoy them.

    But when you start discussing the team’s draft strategies, what they do, how much emphasis it puts on certain qualities what good is that from a competitive perspective?

    What purpose does it serve the team? THE TEAM. I understand the purpose it serves him. He is building up the Brian Burke Brand (TM). And people lap this sh!t up.

    Just stop openly discussing internal issues.

    He just seems to love attention. He is driven by a massive ego. He cares about how he is perceived and that ALWAYS leads to bad decision making. Shut your damn mouth and do your job Burke!

    Stop giving away team secrets, stop being a blowhard and stop putting the focus on you.

    I believe, either ownership hired him to fire Feaster – that was the reason – ROR? Could be. Or that he saw something that he could put his stamp on (he saw promise in what Feaster had done) and now he could sweep in, take the credit and grow the brand of Burke. At the end of the day it means more $$ in his pockets – he wants to be paid, since it tells people and his ego what he’s worth. Ego trippin’.

    • Parallex

      Can we stop with the continuous hate of our GM’s, whether it be Feaster or Burke…

      Him conveying our draft strategy isn’t revealing much information that puts us at a disadvantage.

      On the draft floor most management teams know what each team values and where they are leaning in regards to who to pick… Its not an exact science but a game of calculated risks.

      Wait until Burke actually does something at the draft before you rip him apart with the same old fodder of being an egotistical loud mouth…

      This is why we love the guy isn’t it?

      He hasn’t done anything bad to the organization, to date, so give it up!

      Lets talk after the draft and see what you think..

      • Jeff Lebowski

        I understand your point. However, I didn’t dislike Feaster, I liked what he had done and what he was trying to do (get the team bigger).

        I don’t agree with your statement about nothing being revealed. If this was the case, we would see, read, hear these things from other teams.

        In fact, what we know are things like ‘war rooms’. Specific strategies/attributes are held very close to the vest.

        I listen to Doug Wilson (extremely rarely) Erudite, thoughtful, calm and nothing pertaining to SPECIFIC draft strategy comes out of his mouth.

        But he’s in a non hockey one talks to him.

        OK let’s just look at Canadian teams. Who is in the spotlight like Burke is? Who talks this much? No one.

        There would be nothing to comment on if he would just shut up.

        You’re right, we don’t know what harm he’s done with reckless comments but perhaps most teams don’t discuss what intelligence they evaluate publicly. Only Burke.

        The Bobby Ryan thing is a perfect example. In a room full of hockey people who KNOW there is a reporter documenting – who says the dumb sh!t? Why? Ego.

        As I originally stated, Burke hasn’t screwed up yet. However when ego is clearly your driving force you are bound to miscalculate. Why was Burke even available to hire? The man learns nothing or is so enamored with his ego – doesn’t think he has to change his ways.

        Torts is like that
        Carlyle is like that
        Lowe is like that

        All idiots. Employed by idiots.

        • T&A4Flames

          If you were a Feaster proponent, like I was, then you should be mad he told the hockey world before last draft that they valued hockey sense and character over everything else. He also explained that if two prospects were really close they would pick the bigger guy…I don’t really see what Burke said as being all that different from that.

          This whole Bobby Ryan Olympic fiasco has gotten way more coverage than it should have… You do know Burke voted to keep Ryan of the roster because of his game-breaking abilities…

          Its all about context. The big picture is missed when looking into the Ryan drama. Minor details are focused on while others are skipped… Remember this is a game that provides millions of dollars to its athletes. They are aloud to be scrutinized, and should be…

          This is really a personal problem you have with the Burke, which is fine. We are all entitled to our own opinion…

          I just like to base my opinion after some more hockey moves are made that alter our teams fortunes… and honestly, with Burke at the helm, I think it will be for the better.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            Yes I do know that he wanted Ryan on the roster but look at the subsequent maelstrom he created. Whose names circulated in the media afterwards?

            Players notice, agents notice…it does no good.

            You might be right about missing the big picture but these things have consequences. It’s better, imo, to not create problems by talking too much.

            As I originally stated, I think Burke has been measured in Flames related issues. I would prefer if he just focused on making the team better.

            Public speeches are fine, as long as it’s general things like hockey sense. Where I got bent out of shape (perhaps only me) is when he got into specifics. 20 categories, we priortize… etc – and this is just what was reported-.

            I concede, it may be much ado about nothing, but this is a pattern with Burke.

            And that’s all I gotta say about that.

        • Skuehler

          While I don’t like the personal attack tone of your post, I agree with you about there seeming to be some ego there that could eventually get in the way, if it hasn’t already. I can’t figure out why at the trade deadline Burke was doing interviews with the press when there was so many last minute factors that needed working to clear up the infamous log jam. Was he delegating that part? Was he trying bluff and turn up the pressure on buyers? Was he usin the spotlight to build his brand?

      • Parallex

        “This is why we love the guy isn’t it?”

        What’s this “we” business?… maybe that’s why you love him but it’s one of many reasons that I hated the hire. Guy should stop mugging for camera and mic time and just do his job.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Your a real man calling qualified intelligent people like Burke an idiot especially when you can hide behind a bunch of filters. Burke is a highly respected hockey manager with demonstrated accomplishments paid by highly respectful owners an amount of money in a month than you will make in a lifetime. Be real! Let’s hear some sensible hockey opinions.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        I would agree with you…if you were right. Look closely, I never specifically called Burke and idiot. I said he has an ego, a big mouth and that I think he should shut up and do his job.

        People prove they’re idiots all the time BobbyO.

    • EugeneV

      That is how EVERY guest speaker “speaks” at these things.

      They are asked questions in a question period.

      Next time someone gives their time to a charity function I trust you will be there to tell the crowd that the speaker will only answer questions which you approve of.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    So the 5th round pick in 2012 signs for more money than the 4th round pick in the same year? Does that mean the contracts are virtually useless because neither is projected to wear a Flames jersey over the next 3 years?

    • SmellOfVictory

      Doesn’t mean anything of the sort. They’re just slightly different numbers for no discernible reason. If either player plays in the NHL (and I would bet money that both of them at least get a couple of games, if nothing else), those contracts will take effect regardless of how long we wait for them.

      • piscera.infada

        both players are over 20 so the contracts will “take effect” next season and expire in 3 years. The entry-level slide does not apply in this case.

  • Burke’s activities in the media and and as a speaker can best be understood as branding – both for himself and for the organization. That’s why the emphasis is always apparently on certain things like character and smarts rather than skill. That speaks a bit more to the warm and fuzzy part of the brain for most people. Meaning, it makes you either like or respect the club more implicitly (assuming you believe him). It says the club is targeting the “right kind” of players (good fellas). Course, most GM’s say this to one degree or other, so it’s not of much value in trying to decipher what the Flames will do in the draft.

    A little while ago, Burke was speaking somewhere else and he mentioned how the team will need a new arena in order to compete for free agents in the near future. You can guess the strategy behind that quote I’m sure.

    Burke has been hired by the powers that be in part because he is a recognizable figure and therefore an ambassador who brings a sort of gravitas to the brand.

    Here’s my handy rule of thumb for 95% of GM/decision maker speak that appears in the media: ignore it. It is either designed to market the team or person in some way or it is far too general to be useful.

    • piscera.infada

      Kent..mostly agree with your post. My handy rule of thumb for 95% of Burke’s hiring is that he has been brought in here for 3 reasons;

      1) Make the Playoffs
      2) Go deep into the Playoffs
      3) Win a Championship!

      He has a time;line like anyone else. And given the history of the ownership group Burke also has accountability for the above unlike the Oiler organization! As a Flames fan I am good with that performance plan!

    • Parallex

      Hear, hear.

      Burke may also be sending a message to current and future prospects, very circuitously I grant you, that skill alone isn’t going to do it. You have to have the “right stuff”.

      I also don’t think that Burke is saying anything that actually reveals a strategy. That would be contrary to his legal training and ethics and bad for business. He might occasionally drop a morsel to mislead others but that probably only works on the GMs that don’t do a lot of analysis before acting.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Hopefully Kulak can help stabilize that Heat back end with the departure of Wotherspoon.

    Is anyone else worried about Sieloff’s development being permanently stunted with this year off? Some guys never recover from missing a year at such a crucial development stage, yet some are able to pick up where they left off.

    I wonder if there is any data or work done to look into this over the years.

  • Parallex

    fwiw, Emile Poirier had 8 points in those 4 first round games.

    I watched him in person in Game 2 and he was dynamite. Had a hat trick and at least 3 other great chances. Clearly the best player on the ice, with Montreal’s Martin Reway being #2.

    Flip side: Cape Breton did not look a good team.

  • T&A4Flames

    2 things:

    1. I’m not too worried about Sieloff. He strikes me as a kid that works very very hard. I think he’ll get on track quickly once he is fully recovered.

    2. RE: Burke and GM’s making comments. People on here make me laugh sometimes. We get all upset when GM’s (Sutter) dont share the plan with us the fan. Now Burke gives a little insight and we’re up in arms that he’s sharing secrets. The guy is a well schooled lawyer. I’m sure all his dialogue is carefully planned and executed.