Training Camp Day 1: A Live Blog

Ladies and gents, the 2014-15 Calgary Flames main camp has begun.

Intrepid boy reporter Ryan Pike is down at Winsport all day, checking out both scrimmages and seeing what there is to see. He may also get lunch, he’s not sure yet.

Anyhow, keep your eyes here all day as we’ll have updates on Day 1.

SCRIMMAGE: McDONALD vs. NIEUWENDYK

Camp kicks off with the 10am scrimmage on Arena B (Joan Snyder Arena) featuring Group A (McDonald) and Group B (Nieuwendyk). McDonald has Bennett and Gaudreau today.

Setoguchi opened the scoring for McDonald, putting a rebound past a sprawling Doug Carr. Nieuwendyk tied it up via a goal from either Monahan or Hudler. Nieuwendyk solidified their win off a nice passing play from Raymond and Hudler, with Hudler scoring on Mason McDonald.

Mason McDonald split time, playing the first half of the game for Team McDonald and the second half for Team Nieuwendyk. Carr played the first half for Nieuwendyk and Brad Thiessen played the second half for McDonald.

SCRIMMAGE: McDONALD vs. VERNON

A lower-scoring battle full of checking and intensity. The lower goal totals may be because Hiller and Ortio were in the nets to start. Brodie scored the game’s first goal off a wrister from the point on Ortio. Baertschi scored to tie the game for Team Vernon, and Matt Stajan scored on a nice individual effort by Garnet Hathaway to give Vernon a 2-1 win.

The goalies rotated again:

TAKE-AWAYS

Well, everyone was present and accounted for at Winsport. Backlund, Potter, Wotherspoon, Poirier, Gillies and Bennett weren’t with their main groups, and Ramo practiced but didn’t scrimmage, so things got shuffled around a bit. But everyone was at the building and none of the injuries appear to be anything worth worrying about, at least based on the information from Coach Hartley.

I keep coming away impressed with Garnet Hathaway, who had an excellent Young Stars tournament. I also thought Raymond was really good today. Beyond that, a few other guys stood out, but I was focused more on broad strokes than specific guys and with 63 guys in camp, it’s hard to keep track of ’em all.

Generally, it appears that defense pairings are Giordano-Brodie, Smid-Wideman and Russell-Engelland, at least right now. That will obviously change. Beyond that, pairings and lines varied a lot – Gaudreau probably played with 6 different guys – so I take zero stock in them until pre-season games start.

And if you want to get player autographs, the Winsport section of training camp is a gold-mine, between the players being accessible and everyone being in one place at the same time.

  • Subversive

    Roman Horak’s KHL career is off to an interesting start. 5 games, 4 goals, 0 assists.

    Given their obvious need for centers, why did the Oilers let him walk away like that?

    • DoubleDIon

      Because they prefer the sexy player. Horak is just kind of a mediocre type. He can hold down the 3rd line spot, but that isn’t enough hit and miss for the Oilers. They love rolling the dice even after they’ve been burned for the better part of a decade.

      • beloch

        As I understand it, the Oilers haven’t actually lost Horak. They gave him a qualifying offer so they retain his NHL rights even though he had already signed a KHL deal. If Horak wants to return to the NHL, he needs to either wait until he’s 27 or go through the Oilers to do it.

        Horak put up 48 points in 53 AHL games last season with the Okie Barons; good for a NHLE of 32.7. The Oilers called him up for just one game in December and then for the very last game of the year, in which he scored a goal. At 23, he’s actually coming along pretty nicely. I’d peg him as a useful third or fourth liner by the time he peaks, at the very least.

        The Oilers have one bonafied top six center in the Nuge (even if his possession stats aren’t great) and Arcobello is proving to be an okay center as well. Anton Lander had a stunning breakout year in the AHL last season and now has a slightly higher NHLE than Horak even though he was steaming hot garbage before that. Add in a 18 year old Draisaitl (because that’s how the Oilers roll) and the Oilers are full up the center. Horak could have been a call-up once there are injuries, but the Oilers have a mess of aging incompetent bums and too-young rookies to call on.

        In short, the only way the Oilers are going to miss Horak this season is if they decide that Draisaitl is better off in junior. That’s exceedingly improbable though. We are talking about the Oilers after all!

    • RexLibris

      I think Horak saw the crowded forward group and thought he’d try elsewhere.

      He could also have just wanted to play overseas again before re-committing to the NHL.

      I was hoping he’d stick around and be one of the AHL/NHL tweeners this year, but if he stays with the team it’ll be on the wing.

      They have C. Jones, Draisaitl, Ewanyk, Yakimov, Khaira, Lander, Williams, Acton, Roy and Platzer as the C prospects right now.

      The wings are pretty crowded right now too, although RW less so than LW.

      65 players at camp. I wish he was here, but c’est la vie.

  • redricardo

    Are they playing a regular scrimmage or varying scenarios (5v5, 5v4, 5v3, penalty shots) like they did in Development Camp?

    On Monahan’s Flames TV video he looked much more mature and bigger? Notice anything on the ice?

      • Byron Bader

        I’ve heard he’s significantly bigger. That’s quite a bit of weight to put on over a 5 month period. Hopefully that’s weights and salads and not beers and doritos.

        • DoubleDIon

          With Monahan’s mentality my guess is it’s weights and chicken since lettuce is nutritionally negative. Monahan is a serious sort of dude. The guys who come in fat usually aren’t that personality type. Warriner/Brodeur/Byfuglien types come in fat.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          I heard one reason Monahan made the cut last year was due to that fact that he was in such great shape. The fact that he is training this well in the off season really shows how focused he is for his age. Can’t wait!

        • loudogYYC

          I saw Monahan up close when I got to Winsport and he definitely looks more solid and grown up than last year.

          What really stood out though was how much more powerful he looked during the scrimmage, he was carrying the puck up the ice like a power forward and still making nice passing plays once he was in the O-zone. I’m not worried about Monahan’s extra pounds at all.

          Players who positively stood out for me today were Acolatse, Reinhart, Brodie, Monahan, Jooris, Arnold and of course Gaudreau even though he didn’t dazzle too much.

          Unfortunately, Smith and Kanzig looked out of place more than a few times and Smith even got knocked on his ass by Sieloff on a play he should have dominated. Jason Fram didn’t stand out as I hoped he would and Tousignant was an absolute sh*t disturber today. Not sure if that’s good or bad yet.

          It’s great to have hockey back boys!!

  • Hello Kent. As you comment on those that overvalue the the immeasurable, please do not fall into the fallacy of devaluing the immeasurable. The immeasurable exists, but its significance is simply unquantifiable.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I don’t think it’s wrong to be constantly evolving your ideas based on new knowledge. So to that end:

    I actually like the toughness BB has brought in. I railed against it but when you see the total package (I’m talking about what we saw in Penticton), the combination of skill and toughness, I gotta say I liked it.

    A team cannot count on the refs, or the league, to protect their assests. You gotta do it yourself.

    I loved watching Hunter Smith tower over the dude he pummeled. Perhaps that’s wrong but I can’t lie. I loved watching Ferland skate back to check whether the dude Bennett smoked wasn’t going back for his stick but to engage Sam.

    This is why I have stated so early that I want Bollig to play with JG and Sean.

    You can’t expect Sean and Joe to provide the ‘assurance’ to protect JG. It’s not in them nor is it part of their games at all.

    I love JG’s skills. For that reason, I want someone riding shotgun who has the nuclear deterrent.

    BB knows what’s what. My problem with him is his continued lack of humility shown by his massive ego.

    However, the virtue of this team is evident to me. I concede that might have something to do with BB but it had A LOT to do with Jay Feaster (Bob Hartley).

    Heavies that allow courage, heavies that defend honour, will always have a place, imo.

    They have to be able to play but these guys are necessary.

    Our Penticton team (Imagine Sean, Mikael and TJ on it as the future Flames) showed me they are close to being able to play (and win) any kind of game: skill : physical : speed : mean

    I look at that and think, how can you not love this?

    • DoubleDIon

      I partially agree. They have to be able to play though. Guys like Ferland are important in my books. You can play them legitimate 3rd line minutes and they can still bring some toughness. Guys like McGratton/Westgarth don’t have a place on my team unless it’s 14th forward for select games. Kanzig and Smith might develop, but are long shots IMO. I’m fine with Bollig/Bouma types since they can legitimately play on a 4th line and not be terrible.

      • redricardo

        Agree that they have to be able to play, and that McGratton/Westgarth have limited (but necessary) usefulness. I am hoping that Smith, Ferland, Wolf and Kanzig (among others) continue to develop and are able to break into the 1st or 2nd lines within a year or two, or 2nd pairing D and be effective there.

        • redricardo

          Why is the usefulness of a face puncher necessary? I’d argue that point. As would the last 4 stanley cup winners that did not have a “necessary” face puncher.

          • Avalain

            Well none of the last 4 SC champions had undersized, young teams. Instead they had bigger than normal size, toughness and maturity. I strongly believe that is a factor and reason to have McGratton. McGratton also seemed to play a large role as a mentor to the kids, specifically Monahan and seemed to be a very strong, positive voice for the team that also is necessary especially for a young developing team that’s going to have a pile of losing until they are able to develop. The lack of the same has been one of Edmonton’s biggest fails the last few years.

            I’d agree Westgarth was just mor elf the same, and unnecessary and the team obviously felt the same since he’s no longer with the team. Once the team matures and they are able to plug in a bunch of better, functional toughness the primarily face-punchers will be replaced.

            BTW, at this point I don’t consider any of Smith, Wolf, Van Brabant, Ferland or Kanzig as “just” face punchers. Hopefully they all turn into solid hockey players too.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            JG is a special case. His skills have shown an ability to make players look bad. It’s not his intention per se, rather the cheekiness of his ability will embarrass opponents.

            This will not sit well with players who are playing for livelihoods (compared to amateurs). Coaches of opponents will notice who just takes being embarrassed too. Because of this, JG will engender the kind of attacks we have seen.

            That cheekiness must be protected if JG is to realize his potential.

            JG will always be a target, especially if they think they can hurt him and get him out of the game. Failure to recognize this human nature within physical competition is the failure of using the abstraction of after the fact stats to look for historical trends rather than dealing with realities on the ground.

            I like hockey ops to deal with realities on the ground. As such, to me, face punchers are necessary.

            You have to be good enough to make the playoffs before you win the Stanley Cup.

            JG – and his uniqueness – makes this so. Remember he is not small, he is tiny. Does the historical record include tiny?

          • MonsterPod

            That ugly elbow by Frank Corrado in Penticton was an eye-opener of what fools will do if we don’t protect JG.

            The problem with the league policing this stuff is if that resulted in a concussion, Corrado would get 5 games and JG may miss 2 months. See Keith’s elbow to D. Sedin for an example of wobbly justice.

            This stuff needs to be policed on the ice. A 190lb Corrado doesn’t want a 240lb McGrattan taking a heavy run at him over and over again.

            You’re right, JG is not small but tiny. The league needs guys like him. Fans love the razzle-dazzle. Having his career cut short by concussions like Kariya would be a loss to the sport.

            Bollig had 7-7-14 in Chicago last year. He seems to be a bit more than a face puncher. I really hope they try him with JG and that it works out. Bollig may score 20 🙂

          • RedMan

            Contraction is the only real answer IMO. If there were less teams and preferably fewere games (like 72), then teams would be full of talent. The best league in the world should not have to fill out its rosters with has-beens, goons and tweeners. At least then it’s skill guys hurting skill guys and not some goon.

            If the NHL expands again it’s going to be brutal. Teams will be lucky to have 4 skilled players up front and 2 on D.

          • RexLibris

            Expansion has added talent to the league, not diluted it.

            Putting teams in new markets expands the footprint of the sport and attracts more kids to take it up.

            Contraction would result in an immediate improvement in the rosters, but would unsustainable in the long term as hockey had a reduced role in the American public consciousness and the NHL suffered a reduction in revenue and attraction to overseas talent pools.

            Fighting and goonery in the league isn’t going to be solved by contraction, but by a continued push on supplementary discipline, improved training and the union getting it’s head out of it’s derriere so as to stop appealing suspensions to players who injure other players. If the PA began siding with their injured players rather than against the league in all things like some petulant, reactionary child then things would change more quickly.

            Make goons a liability to a team’s chances to win and coaches will stop playing them.

          • SavardianSpinorama

            I get so tired of people who think that the league is somehow watered down today, even though the NHL has added the best players from Russia, Sweden and Finland etc since the “good ol’ days.” Not to mention the US has become a hockey force in its own right the past twenty years. The players nowadays are so much better than their predecessors I don’t see how people can even formulate an argument.

          • SavardianSpinorama

            As my handle would suggest, I am no spring chicken, but let’s put that aside for a moment.

            During the lock-out in 94/95 CBC started showing “Classic Games,” or whatever they called them. It was maybe a Detroit/Toronto Stanley Cup Final from some time in the 50’s. I could look a little harder, but I am not going to bother. The fact is, I could not believe how BAD the hockey was. With no disrespect to the players who led the way, few players could shoot, plays were broken up by a “Gawd, I hope someone from my team is there” pass to open ice, and it was ploddingly slow (I know “ploddingly” isn’t a word, but neither was, “cannonading” until Danny Gallivan came along).

            Having said that, there was some pretty good hockey in the 70’s (the Summit Series) and the ’87 Canada Cup (even though it still rankles my shorts that Dale Hawerchuk wasn’t called for interference on Lemieux’s series’ winning goal).

            Maybe hockey is over-coached today, which has taken some of the creativity from the Wayne Gretzky era out of game, but still, the talent we are witnessing now is — to me — truly something to behold. These young men are monsters and incredibly good at what they do.

            It’s a shame that there are so many hockey fans so stuck in the past they can’t appreciate what they have in the present.

            It’s a great gawdammed game. And the talent pool has never been better, and I’ve had the benefit of watching the Orr’s, Howe’s, Esposito’s, Lemieux’s, Gretzky’s, Coffey’s, Clarke’s, and Lafleur’s.

          • RexLibris

            Back during the ’05 lockout I was watching a Classic ESPN game, one of the Oilers/Bruins SCF tilts.

            MacTavish was backchecking at one point and, no word of a lie, literally piggybacked on his man in the NZ.

            No call.

            There was some beautiful hockey back then (Lafleur, Dionne, Coffey, etc) but there was also the ugly.

            The ugly then doesn’t really translate to the ugly today, I think. The Teddy Green stick swinging incident still stands out like the McSorley and Bertuzzi ones will. But I don’t think you get the Cooke and Torres crud. Hard to say, television coverage being what it is today. There was, of course, the Richard riot in Montreal when, story goes, he was getting physically assaulted by the opposition, but we don’t have any visual records of the game.

            Yeah, the talent pool today is pretty strong. It is hard to appreciate the beauty of the times when you are living it though.

            Of course, every once in awhile something really magical happens and it is impossible to ignore.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LxR4LiqOr4

            😉

          • SavardianSpinorama

            Nice goal, but . . . I have nothing to back this up but memory.

            The play was called for icing.

            Jiri Hrdina gathers the puck (after the whistle) with his stick around the blue line, flips it into the air, boots it off the heel of his skate and into the welcoming arms of a linesman who was rushing down ice to set up for a face off in the opposing end.

          • BurningSensation

            Expansion is good. People seem to forget that Calgary was also once an expansion team. Other than the original four, every team was. If it was up to the usual shmos that bleat the “I’m scared of expansion!” line, the NHL would’ve never left Canada.

            Teams should be in place for 25 years. At least. I don’t know how you get any sort of multi-generational interest otherwise. Hell, even teams like Phoenix.

            When people want contraction, they’re being reactionary. That is pretty well the opposite of acting long-term. Then again, most people can’t even figure out what to have for lunch tomorrow, so expecting them to come up with profit numbers for an NHL team 10 years from now is far too much of a stretch for their micro-brains.

          • Parallex

            See the thing is the PA represents the players that injure as well as the injured. It’s their duty to represent both.

            Personally I think supplementary discipline needs to be put on the team and coach in addition to the player. And I think we need stricter primary discipline (PIMs). I think the instigator rule ought not be optional at the discretion on the on-ice official. If a fight happens someone get’s 2 minutes in the sin bin. That would put a stop to goon fights I wager since it actually imposes a penalty unlike the current co-insidential majors.

          • RexLibris

            And they have a responsibility both ways.

            Here’s how I see it: a professional association has two members, one of whom has taken actions during his job to injure, sometimes gravely, another and potentially impact the future earning power of that player.

            While the association should be willing to represent the former, it should also weigh heavily in its deliberations of further action in favour of the latter whose livelihood has been put into jeopardy.

            Stricter supplementary discipline? Absolutely. The league needs to be cold, objective, and consistent in this. They’ve taken strides, but too often it seems like it really is the spinning wheel ‘o justice!

          • BurningSensation

            Yeah, in the long run expansion will ‘create’ more talent as the base of the NHL broadens.

            However, in the short term, there is an effect on how talent is distrubted, teams wiill lose some of their depth, etc., and that will translate into more offense.

            I’d add two teams (S.Ontario, Quebec) and move two (Florida and Nashville to Seattle and Portland). Divisions balance out, offense goes up, and the game will expand.

          • RexLibris

            Right. That’s why players like Cory Sarich are still around. Why guys like Amonte hung on for so long. Why useless players who can barely play the actual game of hockey like McG and Engelland are in the league. Why the Oilers have to bring in every 18 year old they have. Why two thirds of the leagues fourth lines play about three minutes a night and never in important situations.

            Getting rid of the worst four teams worth of hot garbage in the league would produce awesome line ups full of talent and skill. It would also eliminate greedy players like RJ from being able to extort their teams.

            CBJ, Oilers, Flames, Panthers, Carolina – these teams are not so great. Teams should be able to survive the loss of a single player. Buffalo may be great by 2020, but how can you look at them right now, along with most teams 4th (sometimes 3rd) lines and say that the NHL overflows with talent?

            I’m not saying all expansion has been evil, but it’s gone beyond the saturation point. Besides, in today’s day and age of multi media, geographical footprint matters far less. A 26 team league would be so exciting to watch that the game would sell itself by virtue of it’s entertainment level. Non-sports team cities have fans too.

          • BurningSensation

            Yeah, you got this all wrong.

            If you contract to 26 teams, you’ll be improving every teams third and fourth lines, and bottom pairing defenders.

            Awesome! Now every game will be a total freaking slog! If you thought the dead-puck era was/is bad,your plan would slow the league to crawl.

            How exciting! You’ve just turned hockey into soccer!

          • SavardianSpinorama

            Yup. That’s why Olympic hockey and the WJC is so boring. LA and Chicago are terrible teams to watch and the 80’s Flames and Oilers obviously had it all wrong.

            Your argument is that crappy lines enhance the entertainment value? I don’t follow. Why not expand to 60 teams, then?

          • BurningSensation

            As you raise them;

            – Olympic hockey, with a few exceptions, IS boring. There are a bunch of fly-weights, a handful of heavyweights, and two super heavyweights, and when the score isn;t lopsided, it’s often painfully dull until you get to the medal rounds – where it becomes the always exciting game of ‘hottest goaltender wins’.

            The WJC however, isn’t boring, in part because the games are featuring less experienced players in less rigid systems, and there is a ton more offense that results from the increased number of mistakes.

            – LA is an utterly terrible team to watch. If it weren’t for Anze Kopitar they would cure insomnia. They have this generations Ray Bourque, and yet refuse to give him the pp time to put up any offense because he is already logging inhuman minutes kllling penalties and skating every other shift. The most exciting thng about the Kings is the hot potato that is Marian Gaborik in fantasy pools. Nobody goes from ‘hey remember, this guy can be elite’ to ‘Ive never even heard of the bones he just broke’ faster than him.

            – The 80’s Flames and Oilers were the beneficiaries of just the phenomenon I am describing. They feasted on crappy 3rd and 4th lines. Think about the roster depth that was built up by the Flames just at C;

            Nieuwendyk (true #1)
            Gilmour (true #1)
            Fleury!
            Hrdina
            Otto

            You play Otto all the toughest own zone D assignments, and then roll three skill lines at your opponent, until Gilmour or Nieuwendyk gets the chance to feed on the weak.

            Edmonton had Gretzky, Messier, Linesman, to throw at teams. They CRUSHED depth lines and D pairigs.

            – Well, you can’t expand to more teams than there are legit markets to support them. You need to have a minimum number of fans+corporate iinterest to make the thing work, or you end up with an open chest wound financially (see: Arizona Jets).

            Quebec, S.Ontario, Portland, and Seattle make a lot of geographic and market sense. Take away Phoenix and Florida and you get 32 (potentially) healthy franchises, and a thinned out talent pool.

          • SavardianSpinorama

            Different tastes, I guess? Sure, the Olympics may narrow to three or four great teams, but those ate the best games? I mean, right, who cares about Germany vs Norway? But Canada vs the USA? Sort of proves my point.

            As for the 80’s Flames and Oilers, are you actually saying that watching those two teams crush the bottom feeders is what’s entertaining? Sorry, but watching those two titans in the BoA is what was so amazing. Two stacked teams full of depth and talent going at it. It’s why those games are ‘classics.’ In today’s league, yes, LA vs Chicago is the most entertaining hockey there is.

            As for the WJC, sure, it’s wide open, but it’s also features the most elite talents of that age group where, not surprisingly, the most exciting games are between Canada and the USA because, not surprisingly, those are the two most talented and deep teams.

            Sorry, I just don’t see your POV on this.

          • RexLibris

            I understand your argument and share your frustration.

            But this gets back to my point that the biggest area of concern is management more than talent.

            Compare: Deryk Engelland is arguably a bottom-pairing defender, probably a 6th or 7th ideally.

            Carlo Colaiacovo is a bottom-pairing defender, ideally a 6th or 7th defender.

            One gets a 3 year deal for $3.5 million a year.

            The other remains an unsigned free agent into training camp.

            This despite clear data that shows Engelland does less to provide his team with a chance to win than Colaiacovo.

          • Parallex

            “This stuff needs to be policed on the ice. A 190lb Corrado doesn’t want a 240lb McGrattan taking a heavy run at him over and over again.”

            That is such a faulty argument… McGrattan doesn’t do that now, why do you think he’d do it in the future? Never once have I seen Brian McGrattan do anything to anyone that ever hit late, cheap shotted, or goalie ran… McGrattan fights other dedicated facepunchers over absolutely nothing and then gives them those friendly pats. That’s it.

          • MonsterPod

            This argument just goes in circles. I see your point. I’d love to see McGrats punish fools but we don’t see that. He may chase the perp around but then just fights the goon.

            However, my dad goes to all the season ticket holder invites and he told me about Burke addressing the Westgarth trade. BB said there was a game where McGrats was either tossed early or injured — I can’t remember which — and the other team was taking liberties with our players like Cammalleri all night after that. He said that was the reason he wanted two enforcers.

            He also pointed out that after the acquisition of Westgarth the team improved. It cannot be argued that last season the Flames were better in 2014 than in 2013. Sure, we can say it was some other factor but that’s what BB said at the luncheon.

            For whatever reason, maybe it’s just being a visual deterrent, but BB believes in employing bruisers. And just because McGrat’s Corsi or Fenwick or whatever sucks, it doesn’t mean Burke is wrong.

          • Parallex

            “It cannot be argued that last season the Flames were better in 2014 than in 2013.”

            Are you saying they were better or weren’t better? If you’re saying they were better that’s odd considering that they got the highest draft pick in team history as a result. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that meeting or exceeding low expectations is an improvement on failing to meet higher ones.

            Here’s something that’s a fact… just because Brian Burke says something doesn’t make it so. When was the last time a team he was in charge of made the playoffs? 2007?

    • everton fc

      Feaster seemed to value skill over size. Fine. BB seems to want skill and size. Who doesn’t. I’ve always leaned on the side of brawn. What I liked in Penticton – and I saw the last two games in their entirety – is the apparent combination of speed and brawn. Against the Canucks, our prospects looked much quicker, and much more like power-forwards and forecheckers than simply “skill players”. At times, the Canucks looked disorganized and beaten deep. I hope what we saw in Penticton indicates the direction we may be heading sooner, rather than later.

      As for Bollig w/Gaudreau and Sven or Monahan… I’d rather see Ferland there. Now. He’d give more production than Bollig, me thinks.

      • RedMan

        Jeff, I would like to see Monohan with Gaudreau and Ferland. Hope that Ferland progresses through training camp and exhibition games. PLEASE, Flames play some young guys this season!

  • redricardo

    Can the updates consist of more than just who scored the goals? It is a scrimmage, does anyone care? more important thing is how the players looked. Which ones stood out, looked good positionally, had strong defensive/offensive games etc.

  • redricardo

    Okay, I see what you’re saying.

    I thought you were implying that having McGrattan on the ice for 5 minutes a game would somehow improve the skill guys. That old debate.

    Instead you’re saying that functional toughness, big players that can actually advance the play either by being good at the hockey or while running over guys is necessary. I agree with this.

    I still don’t think that a McGrattan or Westgarth brings a “necessary” component of any kind. I guess I read too much into your use of the word “necessary”. Apologies.

  • MonsterPod

    Am I the only one slightly concerned about this weight gain? Monahan’s speed is sufficient, but not great. I’m hoping this doesn’t slow him down any.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I am slightly concerned about the weight gain, however if a good chunk of it is in his legs in the form of muscle, that can only be a good thing.

      • Burnward

        Not sure if I’m in that category…however, I will say that this kid hasn’t shown anything but professionalism since being a Flame. Can’t see that changing now. Bet he’s doing it right.

      • DoubleDIon

        I’ve decided to unilaterally trash every post you make from now on. Just because it obviously bothers you and I like annoying people in a moderate way.

      • Avalain

        I trashed this for fun, but actually kind of agree. I saw a post further up that was basically just apologizing and it was being trashed also.

        Anyway, I disagree with your comment about contraction. That’s a short term gain for a long term loss. The real way is to increase interest in the sport. It’s ultimately not hockey teams that are in competition with other hockey teams that is lowering the skill in the league; it is other sports drawing interest from parents and children. Every talented kid that decides to play football because he’s a Seahawks fan is one kid that could have been an amazing hockey player. Of course there is a limit both ways. I wouldn’t want a 64 team NHL league the same way you wouldn’t want to go back to a 6 team league. I’d say 32 teams is the right number – same as the NFL and NBA.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          A 6’6 + 300 lbs+ Offensive lineman might have been a hockey player? Every one of them?

          Hockey is expensive and highly political – cut throat political from crazy parents.

          If people want more participation, make it cheaper and keep it fun. The rest will take care of itself.

          Old people tend to ruin things.

          • EugeneV

            Houston Texans J.J. Watts first love is hockey, yet he is the highest paid defense player in NFL history.

            I agree 100% about the parents. Unfortunately parents will do anything for their kids. What you need to look for are people who will do anything for their sport and put them in positions to influence minor hockey associations in positive ways.

        • SavardianSpinorama

          My son just turned 13 yrs old, is 6’1″ tall and 190 lbs, is athletic with a very competitive demeanour.

          As a defensive end he captains his bantam football team, and has always been a top 3 player on his soccer teams the last 5 years.

          He has never played hockey before, nor learned to skate but he would like to get into it now.

          However the obstacles he is facing just trying to get on to a house league hockey team are substantive.

          It is much much easier for a kid in middle school grades 5 – 8 or older to sign up and play football, basketball or soccer instead of hockey.

          There is no systemic support to welcome new hockey players after age 10 or so, most skating/hockey camps only go up to age 12, off-season public skating times are almost non-existent, no skating lessons are available, etc.

          Canadian hockey registrations continue to decline despite the increasing popularity of the game and expansion in to non-traditional markets. However it seems to be a one-way valve where other sports can integrate kids throughout all age groups while hockey only declines and has numerous barriers.

          • Burnward

            By the time your son was good enough to play against kids his age at a decent competitive level, he’d probably be 19-20.

            Just the nature of trying to start hockey that late.

          • Burnward

            Get him on the outdoor rinks for a full winter, see where he’s at with it.

            If he’s that talented athletically he’ll either embrace the grind to get better or just say eff it and move on.

            At least that way you’ll know.

          • Avalain

            Well, yeah, there are some fundamental problems with minor hockey in Canada. My point, however, is that if a child was interested and able to play hockey at age 6 instead of being interested in football and soccer then that is one more potentially talented person playing hockey.

            I mean, I think that it’s dumb that there is so little around for children to get into the game at a later age. For that matter, I think it’s dumb that they don’t at least stagger age cut offs to avoid shutting out kids with late birthdays.

          • beloch

            A lot of pro athletes excel in more than one sport and Hockey used to lose such players to sports that pay better. Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have been smart to play hockey if you had an equal chance of making it in baseball! The ballooning salaries of the NHL have changed that. No kid is going to play Canadian football or soccer if he has a shot at the NHL. Even the AHL pays better!

            As for your son, you can sign him up for league hockey and he’ll be sorted into the lowest skill division for his age, or possibly even play with a younger division. If you think he’ll be frustrated by being the worst player on a team full of kids younger than him, it might help for him to spend a year working on his skating and puck skills first.

            There will be outdoor rinks in a few months and getting in some laps during public skates at a local arena is also good start. The Olympic oval has particularly nice ice and has been open since August 1st. Public skating sessions aren’t the best place to run hockey skating drills, but they’re just fine for somebody who has never been on skates before.

            You might consider getting a hockey net for your home and encouraging your son to practice shots and play street hockey. It’s not the same as being on ice, but it will help develop his puck skills. He can also play shinny, both at outdoor rinks and at indoor arenas, most of which schedule time for it. Shinny is a great gateway for hockey because the equipment requirements are minimal and it welcomes players of all skill levels. If your son tries shinny and hates it, consider the experiment over. Going to a summer hockey skill camp may help bring him up to speed. Finally (I’m speculating wildly here) joining an adult hockey league for first-timers might be an option too if your son feels like he needs something to prepare him for the jump to league hockey.

            Honestly though, if your son isn’t afraid of being the worst player on his team, just sign him up. Any decent coach will work his butt off.

  • SavardianSpinorama

    David Wolf was noticeable (despite his inefficient skating style where he brings his heel up to about the same height as the back of his knee). He laid a couple of big hits and also charged the net from the faceoff circle a couple of times, though Gio made him look pretty ordinary on one attempt.

    Bill Arnold made a couple of nice plays, also took a pretty big hit.

    Gaudreau didn’t distinguish himself, but there were times he had open ice and linemates who didn’t have the wherewithal to find him.

    Had to look for Reinhart to find him out there, he didn’t seem to accomplish much.

    Mason “Voodoo” McDonald looked pretty darned good, and one goal drifted between his legs from a Giordano deflection (they were on same team).

    Hunter Smith made a couple of unspectacular (but heads-up) plays. I thought he did the simple things quite well.

    Sven actually covered up for a defenseman who followed the rush in.

    Tousignant did enough to piss off Kris Russell that the youngster got a good shot to the chops for it.

    Jonas Hiller looked sharp and relaxed.

    *Edit: Lost in my notes . . . Kanzig and Yonkman also looked pretty good out there.

    • spx03

      Via the flames twitter account: Backlund (abdominal strain), Wotherspoon (shoulder), Poirier (shoulder), Bennett (groin), Gillies (flu) & Potter (shoulder) are all day-to-day.

  • There was pretty good intensity in the scrimmages. Lots of hitting, especially in the second one. McDonald looked much more composed than he did in the Young Stars games and I think is adjusting to the speed difference between junior and the pros reasonably well.

  • MichaelD

    I love what you guys do and read the blog every day. (I’m not quite sure if this is has been mentioned earlier in the comments I haven’t read them all), but I’m a little disappointed in the ‘live blog’ title I’ve been refreshing every chance I get throughout the day with only a few updates.

    I know it’s only the first day of camp let alone season, I just felt I like should say something.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I didn’t see any main camp but from the other events it looks like JG isn’t shooting.

    I think he’s going to get a lot of confidence in his overall game if he tries to create space for him(!) to get quality shots off. Then build off that.

    I think for all the kids, the intensity of this first day was probably overwhelming at times.

    Hopefully they made some good plays or hits to get confident.

  • beloch

    Thanks to the guys that were at the scrimmages and posted their views on who looked good or not…Pyke took the easy way out by saying there were too many players to keep track of. Lazy!

  • beloch

    I had hoped to hear about some the d pairings used yesterday and some of line combinations on this thread, hopefully on day 2 I hope someone would be kind enough to fill those of us who cannot make practices for various reasons. Who did Johnny skate with yesterday or was it its a a cluster….?

  • beloch

    I had hoped to hear about some the d pairings used yesterday and some of line combinations on this thread, hopefully on day 2 I hope someone would be kind enough to fill those of us who cannot make practices for various reasons. Who did Johnny skate with yesterday or was it its a a cluster….?

    • SavardianSpinorama

      It was very difficult to keep track, couchedpotatoe. The rosters were awkward in that they listed the players alphabetically instead of numerically, so if, for example #38 did something that stood out, you had to search through the roster to find out who he was.

      Perhaps this is why LouddogYYC saw something he liked in Reinhart while I said he didn’t accomplish anything. A lot of numbers out there to try and follow. Not to mention we had to watch the game from behind the north end’s net. It’s not like there were seats at center ice for a better viewing.

  • SavardianSpinorama

    I Can’t wait for Kassian to destroy Gaudreau and Bennet. Really hope they play this year. And let’s be honest they will play because it’s not hard to make the flames roster.