Five things: Hmmmmmmm

176

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.

  • Rockmorton65

    I think we all need to relax a little bit here. I think all Burke is saying is that he’s not going to draft a flake simply because he’s got a ton of skill. He doesn’t say “we don’t look at skill”, he saying they look at character first.

    Look at Nashville, for example. Drafting Radulov has set that organization back a few years. Skilled, yes, but flakier than a pie crust. They wasted a 1st round pick on a guy who ran home when he didn’t get his way. Burke’s strategy will prevent us from wasting a pick on someone like that.

    The Flames having this attitude is great for the organization. We’re still going to get skilled guys, but we know they’re going to have character.

    • EugeneV

      Agreed.

      Again, people are latching onto a quote and inferring it in their own interpretation.

      ie. “Truculence, need to be bigger etc…”

      I’m sure that he means “Character over skill, all else being equal” unless the guy is a flake with no work ethic. Like Daigle and Falloon.

      I like the quote in the Lethbridge paper:
      “Burke also spoke of community-owned teams, advising those teams to make sure they have board members that know exactly what’s going on in the industry, adding there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

      there’s nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks they know about hockey, but doesn’t.”

    • Jeff Lebowski

      What I find interesting is that the drafting issue is NOT Brian Burke’s. What I read in his comments are exactly what Feaster, Weisbrod and Button transformed the amateur scouting into.

      -Burke sees value in what the Feaster regime accomplished in player evaluation. He fired the architects but he continues with their plans. “WE don’t look…”

      Burke liked last years draft and I think he is liking previous years in terms of guys like Wotherspoon, Granlund etc. He understands that a process has been crystalized here and it is yielding results (to date).

      How many times did Weisbrod, Feaster and Button talk about drafting kids who the franchise would be proud to sweaters on – character.

      I think there is a difference to be noted in skill and hockey IQ. Yakupov might be more skilled than Galchenyuk (marginally) but Galchenyuk is smarter (can use his team mates) by a wide margin.

      Ryan Howse might’ve showed a lot of skill scoring 50 goals but did he have the character? Would he do, whatever it took to make it? Would he be mentally strong?

      The Hartley quote is perfect: At the NHL level it is pure competition, performance oriented to the highest degree. If you have a strong team that can win or a developing team years away, the mindset/process has to be consistent.

      As Feaster noted, ‘results matter’. Once they stop mattering – it allows shortcuts to develop. Yeah but they have talent…ie Sven Baertschi.

      The truth of the game is- talent alone does not produce the desired results. Best (talent) does not always equal success. There are numerous factors unquantifiable that are pre requisites. We see these factors in guys who have ‘figured it out’.

      What did they figure out? How to be super talented? Nope. Born that way.

      What then?

      If talent is what you relied on, what let you play 25 mins a game in jr – not matter what – if you didn’t backcheck it doesn’t matter because no one else skates or shoots like you- what happens in a league where everyone was the best scorer before but now they’re 3rd liners?

      Is doing what you do best – what got you there – what you know (and don’t know ie 200 ft game) going to equate to success? Especially if a team has no capable vets to shelter/mentor.

      -Did Monahan make the team (and the decision to keep him – performance wise only – a good one) because of his talent or was it in combination with his maturity (training hard during after his OHL season, training hard during the Olympic break – but also eating well, not partying etc.)

      Hartley is demanding (this is the NHL) but at same time he is a positive teacher. Does he play mind games or does he teach people? Have a notable number of players improved, even with Calgary’s organizational demands (at the NHL, playing to win is ultimate-go to Abby if you need training in process). Why are a number of youngsters not looking overwhelmed in their first few go rounds at this level?

      It’s not fluke. It is a plan.

      • Parallex

        Ryan Howse might’ve showed a lot of skill “scoring 50 goals but did he have the character?”

        Ryan Howse showed very little skill actually.

        That’s not to say he showed no skill… he had a very good shot… but everytime I saw him play after the Flames drafted him I saw absolutely no NHL calibre skills outside of his shot. I was moe impressed with Horak and Sundhar then I was Howse.

      • McRib

        “What I find interesting is that the drafting issue is NOT Brian Burke’s. What I read in his comments are exactly what Feaster, Weisbrod and Button transformed the amateur scouting into.”

        I was at the Draft in Minnesota, I know for a fact that Feaster and Weisbrod fired almost all of Calgary’s area scouts afterwards in 2011. Apparently our old scouts were all about a hundred years old and out of touch of the modern game and the community. I think the new scouts have shown they are very capable and Burke is more than comfortable with that group it seems.

        “Ryan Howse might’ve showed a lot of skill scoring 50 goals but did he have the character? Would he do, whatever it took to make it? Would he be mentally strong?”

        Talk about a headcase!!!!

    • Parallex

      That’s entirely the wrong priority. Skill should be the attribute you look at first and foremost, everything else is what you use to distinguish amoungst the skilled.

      Seriously… de-prioritizing skill? That’s lunacy. It’s doubly abhorrent that this is the mindset of the franchise as it’s set for it’s highest run of draft-picks in recent memory.

      • Tenbrucelees

        Nylander is supposedly the best top-end skill guy in this ear’s draft. Hopefully, if he plays like his dad, he’ll be on BB’s DND list. Got to look at everything, not just “skill”.

      • T&A4Flames

        I think you’re reading too much into this. Feaster’s priority wasn’t necessarily skill either. He was looking hard at hockey IQ. Nobody is dismissing talent, it’s just an adjustment as to how it’s looked at. If you have 2 players with similar skills, 1 has a strong natural ability but is tough to coach and he other has skill, busts his butt and craves coaching, who’s likely to be the better player when they reach 24 or 25? All world skill at 18 doesn’t necessarily transalte to NHL success.

      • Rockmorton65

        All he’s doing by looking for players with a strong character is removing the possibility of picking a head case. What would happen to the rebuild if they drafted a player with a ton of skill, but refused to work hard (cough-Kovalchuk-cough) or playing the role asked of him? A player who refused to play the system asked of him if it didn’t make him look good? It would all but derail it

        I’d much rather the team draft a guy who has a slightly lower ceiling, but is willing to do what was needed to win.

        And I don’t think it’s de-prioritizing skill. I think character and skill will be a 1-2, or a 1a-1b.

        • Parallex

          How can you not think it’s de-prioritizing skill? The quote is right there…

          “We don’t draft based on skill, that’s the second thing to us.”

          … straight from the horses proverbial mouth.

          • Rockmorton65

            Straight from the horses mouth…

            “that’s the second thing to us”

            Doesn’t mean they ignore it, its just not the deciding factor. Character is.

            How many “high end skill” prospects have crapped out over the years, because they didn’t have the ability to compete, adapt or handle adversity at the NHL level? Like its been said, two guys close in skill – take the better character. Dont take skill for skills sake. Any fool can blindly take the highest skill player available without thinking how its going to help your team. Just look north. Not an ounce of compete or character in that room. Everyone is looking to someone else to fix things. But Lowe will just keep taking the BPA because “that’s the smart move”.

            Burke’s not stupid. He’s not going to draft Kanzig in the first round if Monahan’s still available. Give the guy some credit.

          • Parallex

            I never said that they’d ignore it. I said that according to what Burke has actually said they don’t prioritize skill.

            That’s indisputable. Burke quite literally said ‘We don’t draft based on skill’.

            Y’all can believe what you want, personally I think that’s a messed up, assbackwards way to run a franchise.

            “How many “high end skill” prospects have crapped out over the years, because they didn’t have the ability to compete, adapt or handle adversity at the NHL level?”

            I’ll bet every single dollar I make for the rest of my life that the number is less then the number of hockey players who crapped out because they just weren’t skilled enough.

          • Rockmorton65

            Dude, they do prioritize skill. Its just not #1. Its #2. Burke said it himself “that’s the SECOND thing”. Other qualities that they prioritize are probably things like skating, size, grit, IQ, passion, and um, I’m assuming a whole lot more (smarter people than I would be making the list). I’d guess the list would have between 10-20 “categories”.

            However many are on the list…skill is number 2. Like I said, it could even be a 1b. So, obviously, skill is a top consideration. Its just not his only criteria. There are some teams that just go after skill and they pay a price.

            We need to consider context as well. Priorities shift when you get into later rounds. Lets assume that in this upcoming draft, with their 1st rd pick, the Flames have a choice between Reinhart and Bennett. Two guys, arguably close in skill. The deciding factor for Burke will be who has the better character. It would be stupid to say, well we have Bennett ranked one point higher in skill, but we really like Reinhart’s compete level more…oh well, we have to take Bennett – skill before anything else, right?

          • supra steve

            Because it would be absolutely ridiculous to believe that skill no longer counts. It does count, and so does character. Between two similarly skilled players, you take the character guy, every time.

      • piscera.infada

        Honest question though. If the scouting staff hasn’t changed, because in Burke’s own words “they have done an exceptional job”, can we not expect there to at least be some similarities in draft philosophy?

  • supra steve

    #1. And just what, exactly, would you expect an NHL coach to say in this kind of situation? I would expect something much like what Hartley said.

    #3. A lot of fans were very worried about Feaster being at the helm for draft day, but turns out he actually did better then OK. His scouting department is still on the payroll, I am hopefull that they continue with their recent ways come the 2014 draft.

    #5. I’m really getting weary of the whole Gaudreau signing thing, “Will he or won’t he?”, be patient and it will all unfold….and he WILL be a Flame!

  • Parallex

    You had five things to talk about and didn’t manage to applaud any of the great things that are actually happening on the ice. The site is called flamesnation still isn’t it? GTFO.

    • RedMan

      What is talent and how is it ranked? Certainly there are several aspects to “talent”: speed, puck-handling, hockey-sense, shot… but how about defensive awareness/ability, toughness/grit, heart/determination, consistency, responsibility, strength, continuous improvement, leadership and probably a few others? I would say that ALL of the ABOVE go into making a great hockey player and are a part of talent. Just because someone gets a lot of points, or can dipsy-doodle with the puck, or excels at some level when kids doesn’t make them overly talented now. A few unique players may make it by excessive skill/ability in 2-3 areas but the truly TALENTED/ELITE have a good combination of all of the above.

      BB’s comments are right on! Not that skill isn’t important (and BB acknowledges that, elsewhere), but it not the only thing. Let’s look at last year’s draft. Poirier over Shinkaruk, not the (consensus) skill choice but I think the best talent choice. Also, I’m much happier with (boring) Monahan than let’s say the Oilers RNH, Eberle, Yak or (hopefully) even Hall, which remains to be seen. Skill is only one factor and if you close your eyes and let that be the be-all, end-all you’re heading for trouble.

  • Lordmork

    I genuinely enjoy having a voice of dissent at Flamesnation, because for all that there are bright spots, the Flames are a team that’s going to finish close to the bottom of the standings. We can’t pat ourselves on the back too hard.

    On the other hand, yikes. The only positive thing Lambert has to say in this article is about the Oilers. This was a painful read, and I’m sure it was written to be that way, but I wonder maybe if this might be trying a bit too hard as the voice of negativity?

    • RedMan

      I agree. I call it the Richard Cloutier tick everyone off style of writing.

      Personally, Hartley has the right attitude. Many of our young players have stepped up nicely this year. But if that is their best, it isn’t good enough because we are no where close to the playoffs. It’s hard to create an atmosphere of expectation from a young group of players knowing full well it’s year 1 of a rebuild. Why I said it in the other thread, not only BB & our new GM call a press conference this summer to announce Bob Hartley will be coaching next year but also announce his extension of his contract beyond next year. This is the man we want for the start of this rebuild.

      As for Johnny G. What mother wouldn’t be mortified about their son playing in a league like the NHL & the talk is on whethjer her son can handle the physicality of the league. Every injury on TSN will make her stomach turn in knots as her son is closer & closer to making the move to pro hockey. What 20 year is going to say yeah sure Mom, whatever you say, I will turn down a $1.0mill signing bonus & potentially $3.0mill next year so I can gain 10 pounds next year playing at Boston College? Give me a break. His buddy Agostino signed, his buddy Arnold is definitely signing, you think he wants to stay behind. I don’t think so. Let’s put this to rest.

  • Deaner_

    I usually like controversial columns and can’t figur eout why people who loathe Lambert continue to read him, but this article was truly ‘mailed in.’ No real effort here at all Rayn. Fail.

  • cornhusk55

    Hartley’s an idiot. Burke knows nothing about hockey. The only way to get a great player is to have the first pick in the drft. Feaster sucks. Ken King cant even skate. Sutters are inbred. Bla bla bla…

    That about sums up everything you have ever said, but now you go and give us #2. Realy? Oilers GM is “savvy”. Coach keeps things kosher and handle problems well?? You don’t believe they’re all that far away???

    I guess what we need here is MacT and Eakins, maybe tambo. too. That crack team should get you what you want. A first overall pick and a bunch of bad hockey.

    I got to stop looking at this junk.

  • MattyFranchise

    Getting real sick of the negativity in these articles regarding the Flames.

    If they play poorly you’re not happy because they’re playing poorly and can’t win.

    But if they play well then you’re not happy because they’re messing up their draft position.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    On a related note, every time I see someone advocate tanking I just want to scream. Not to mention the normally respectable posters that were actually saying that trading Gio and keeping Wideman would be a good idea for this team right now.

    INTENTIONALLY TANKING THE SEASON IS NOT THE ANSWER. Unless you want to be Florida, Edmonton, the New York Islanders, the first ten seasons of Columbus and Atlanta or any other team not from Pittsburgh or Chicago.

  • beloch

    > You know “intensity” is on that list of adjectives.
    What bugs me about the Flames is the dartboard approach to their strategy. Sutter drafted for size and truculence. Feaster tried for small players with skill. Burke will be going back to truculence. There’s got to be a way to find players with a good balance of size, speed, skill, and character. Other teams do that.

    > Burke has an horrific draft record.
    What do you mean? Leafs draft picks in the last few years yielded Tukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Douggie Hamilton, and Logan Couture.

    Oh, wait…

    • Derzie

      What do you mean? Leafs draft picks in the last few years yielded Tukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Douggie Hamilton, and Logan Couture.

      Unlike the others, Rask actually WAS drafted by the Leafs. So there’s that.