5 things: A bad week

1. The worst thing possible

So Mark Giordano’s done for the year, and that’s a real shame for him because he was having the season of his life for the second year in a row.

Last season he played 64 games and dominated the toughest competition in the league. He played more than 25 minutes a night, racked up 47 points, and scored 14 times. The Flames were bad around him but it didn’t matter; when he was on the ice, they played like the Chicago Blackhawks.

This season he played 61 games and dominated the toughest competition
in the league. He played more than 25 minutes a night, racked up 48
points, and scored 11 times. The Flames were bad around him but it
didn’t matter; when he was on the ice, they played like the Chicago

That’s two Norris-caliber seasons down the toilet, because if he only finished 10th despite clearly being the best defenseman in the league then, he’s probably not going to do a lot better than that now under similar circumstances. Below is a chart of every defenseman to play more than 1,000 minutes in the last two seasons (Giordano played a little more than 1,100 in both). You can’t see him in there too well, but he’s not far from Brodie, whom you can see near the top left. A nice hint is there’s the darker purplish circles. Most guys in that area are red by virtue of how good their opponents are, and how many times they start in their defensive zone, but not Giordano and Brodie.

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What a waste, really. Last year he was passed over because he did it largely anonymously. This year he was getting a lot of buzz — mainly because a few people really screamed about how he shouldn’t have been so anonymous given what he was doing — and now Shea Weber’s going to win a Norris he doesn’t really deserve instead. That’s usually how it goes in the NHL, but this year it’s another egregious oversight because he couldn’t stay healthy. Not fair to him, really, but I guess that’s hockey.

The good news is that, like Wild fans a few years ago, Flames fans can comfort themselves by saying this is the reason the team dropped off a cliff in final quarter of the season, and not regression. Always look on the bright side.

2. A chance to shine

On the other hand, this does at least give TJ Brodie the opportunity to prove he’s not just a product of Giordano being really good. Again, if you look at the above chart, you’ll see Brodie’s drawing slightly tougher assignments than Giordano. One assumes that at least part of this is due to the fact that Giordano missed a quarter of the season last year, and the Flames, having nowhere else to turn, basically started sending Brodie over the boards more often when they were in their defensive zone or the other team put out its best line.

To wit, Brodie is on 25 minutes a night this season as well, and in his first two games sans Giordano, Bob Hartley has expanded that to 29 and 27 minutes. To the surprise of literally no people who have watched this Flames team even in passing this season, Brodie posted better numbers than anyone should have reasonably expected — though Hartley didn’t deploy him in the most difficult positions, bizarrely leaving that to Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell because I assume he wants to lose these games as badly as possible? — and he’s still more than holding his own.

One also has to consider that Brodie isn’t being used in these tougher minutes because Hartley has tied a boat anchor around his neck and thrown him overboard. The fact that Deryk Engelland even gets to be on the same team as Brodie doesn’t seem equitable, but putting them on the same pairing is excruciating to watch. Russell and Wideman have been partners for a while now so you don’t break them up, sure, but Engelland is just so bad.

How bad? Despite the overlap in time on ice at evens, which has been significant, the Flames have been victimized for 61 attempts against in two games (83.3 per 60 minutes) compared with just 53 when Brodie’s on (71.2 per 60). For context: Brodie’s career CA/60 is 52.2.

Let’s assume that Hartley wises up at some point and throws, say, David Schlemko with Brodie for the rest of the year. (And by the way, grabbing Schlemko off waivers was a good move.) That’s a pairing that might be pretty good. It won’t be Giordano-Brodie, but nothing was ever going to.

3. Selling Glencross

Well we knew it was coming, and in the end Washington ended up paying more than I thought anyone would for Glencross. If I’m the average Flames fan, I’m not sorry to see him go.

I’ve said it many times in this space, but Glencross was horribly overrated in Calgary, and was always going to prove an expensive piece — too expensive, really — if he re-signs. Can’t begrudge him the money, of course. If you can get it you have to take it. But no one should have reasonably wanted the Flames to be the team that gave it to him.

The Capitals are a good team, so the value of the second- and third-rounders the Flames got for Glencross isn’t likely to be high, but hey, it’s better than what they got for Mike Cammalleri last season (to recap: nothing, because Brian Burke made an awful mistake). The thing is that not-having Glencross probably doesn’t help the club, but it’s a team whose legitimate playoff chances died the second Giordano took that warmup to test out his shoulder — which by the way is indefensible on the part of the Flames; how do you let your best player risk further injury like that? — and decided he couldn’t go.

So whatever. This is a rebuild anyway. Stock up on draft picks and hope you hit another Brodie-or Gaudreau-level home run in the late rounds.

4. Trading Baertschi

Now this one I absolutely do not get. Okay, Baertschi asked for a trade after a season and a half of being jerked around at every turn by this organization. At that point you have to give him what he wants, because he has no interest in continuing to play for the team.

But let’s recap the reasons this is not a good decision:

a) They just traded a veteran left wing who was, among other players, holding Baertschi back from becoming a regular NHLer. I’d rather have Baertschi, who won’t be 23 until October, than a creaky Glencross, who they should have traded months ago. At least if you trade Glencross and give the kid a run-out, you see what you have. Now all we know is the Flames don’t-have either one of them.

b) He’s 22 and not so far removed from his huge junior numbers that anyone should have given up on him. But Brian Burke shivved him in the local media for reasons that baffle — maybe it was intended to motivate him??? — and then the team never wanted to use him. So they had to ship him off.

c) To a division rival, by the way. Odds Baertschi becomes a solid second-line contributor for the Canucks two years down the line? Given how things have gone the last few years, I’d have to assume they’re pretty good.

d) And when the return is only a second-round pick, that’s not great either. I guess it’s better than a third or something, but a mid-to-late second-rounder is a player that you hope will one day be a marginally effective NHLer. Which is what Baertschi is now.

Great job from the Flames front office on this one. Totally predictable screw-up that you had to see coming a mile away.

5. Well at least they beat the Flyers

And the charity point doesn’t come back to haunt them, huh? There’s that. And that’s about it.

  • I like the idea of moving Russell to play with Brodie as well, but I’m worried Russel carries Wideman, so maybe it’s smart to spread out the wealth?

    Hoping Vancouver sh!ts the bed, misses the playoffs and we get an early/mid 2nd round pick!

  • RedMan

    Baertschi had an attitude issue that has been his downfall since the first young-stars tournament where he was unhappy that he was playing and showed up in not great shape. BB gave him a public arse kicking – a calculated risk, but he definitely earned it.

    He had been singled out for criticism, but he was also given chances to prove himself.

    He seemed to not handle the criticism well, and soured. He may well turn out, but his attitude, which has been his undoing (not the Flames management) drove him to tell the flames to take a hike. OK – fine. Flames took a hike.

    Tim Erixon also told the Flames to take a hike and look how great he has turned out. Just because someone has a high ceiling, doesn’t mean they are a guarantee, and attitude is essential, as noted by this current team whose attitude has been stellar, and has led them to many victories. Maybe Sven’s crap attitude would have soured the whole locker room, who knows?

    Many come and go – one can over evaluate this and over-think it, and end up critical of a team that has done exceptionally in so many way.

      • Rockmorton65

        How can you prove attitude problems? Kind of a silly statement. There’s no quantifiable way to measure it. All you have is the eye test. Here’s what I saw during his time here;

        Sven – complained about “having” to play in the Young Stars tournament, like it was beneath him. Comes to training camp, isn’t good enough to make the team and gets sent down. Instead of proving Hartley & co wrong, he feels sorry for himself for over a month, and this supposed offensive dynamo got, what 3 points in his first 2 months? Way to impress, kid. Then he fails to score during three separate call ups. Requests a trade and it is granted. Now…

        Sam Bennett – plays through training camp and pre-season with a bum shoulder, easily the hardest working guy on the ice. The team decides he requires shoulder surgery and shuts him down for 3/4 of the season. During which time he works with trainers and coaches, rehabbing and watching film. Hanging out with the team constantly, learning what he can. Then, when he’s ready to come back he declares to BT he’s ready to go and “wants to play tonight”. BT says no you’re going back to Junior. No pouting, just goes back and is lighting up Junior as we speak. Now…

        Johnny Hockey – comes to camp, works his tail off and is one of the flames better players in the preseason. There were initial questions about whether he should be in the AHL or not but he silenced those with a strong performance. Plays the first 10 games or so, and is told by the coaching staff he was going to be in the press box for one. Instead of moping and feeling sorry for himself he spent time with Brian McGrattan talking about what’s expected of him and how he can improve as a pro. Let that sink in for a second, Johnny Gadreau spent an evening learning about hockey from Brian McGrattan. He’s now our top line left-wing.

        With Gaudreau and Bouma on the team and Klimchck, Ferland, Granlund, Wolf and the others all trying to make this team, where’s the room for an entitled prima donna who’s “dad” complained to a news agency his son wasn’t gettng treated fairly? Good luck Sven. I predict you will be on waivers before the end of next season.

      • RKD

        Cmon Wolf! Go look up his interview with the Herald. If that doesn’t wave any red flags, I don’t know what does. His performance when he got to Addy speaks volumes. If he is such an “Elite” gdmn player, why didn’t he dominate the AHL, get invited to the AHL all star game. I am sick and tired of this Sven apologists making him a victim. He’s a victim to his own doing. Sven requested a trade in January, confirmed by BT on the Fan960. Nobody offered jack for him. Why do you think that is? If Vanc send him down & shows the same piss poor attitude down there as he did with the Flames, the kids career will be done & Im sure some team in Switzerland will pay him $40000 Euros for his hyped up name in his homeland to play for that team. Get your head out of your butt on this. Prove it? Really? Prove to me he was some special prospect at the professional level.

  • Rockmorton65

    The problem with the Sven deal isn’t really that we got a mid 2nd round pick for him, the way he’s played he doesn’t justify a team giving up a 1st rounder for him, at least not in this year’s draft. It’s your 3rd point Ryan, although my opinion is slightly different than yours. I only see him becoming that player in Vancouver, and that’s only if he uses this slight on him to make a serious change in his progression. If he doesn’t get traded to a division rival I don’t see him having that spark to make the next step to an NHL lineup.