A list of players that would be more useful to the Flames than Brandon Bollig

You see that ref’s face? That ref’s face is my face. That ref’s face might very well be your face, too. That ref’s face is quite possibly the face of every single Flames fan in existence.

That ref’s face is the face one has when one’s team gives up a third round pick in order to acquire a Brandon Bollig. One inexplicably signed to a three-year deal with a $1.25 million cap hit. You know what? The amount of money doesn’t really matter. Three years, though? Three? We still have two more after this? What? Why??

Because the massive problem with that? On top of every other massive problem? There’s no way he can last those three years. There are wingers in the Flames’ system that will push Bollig out by then. There are wingers in the system that should have already pushed him out. There… there have been wingers that should have pushed him out at the start of the year. There are so many of them, you guys. There are just so many.

What if he somehow stays for all three years?

That ref’s face, guys. All our faces.

As you may recall, last game, the Calgary Flames played the St. Louis Blues. They were massively outplayed and ultimately lost 4-1, although for some reason, the score was pretty close most of the game. Probably the two most frustrating things about it: Jonas Hiller’s apparently necessary comically weak early goal against, and Brandon Bollig.

More specifically, Brandon Bollig’s inane, not to mention dangerous, hit on Barret Jackman that got him ejected after not even three minutes of ice time and gave a vastly superior opponent already with a 1-0 lead a three minute powerplay with which to work.

Yes, Backlund goofed on the penalty kill. Ice is slippery, man. But the Blues should never have been on the powerplay to begin with. And they wouldn’t have been, had Michael Ferland not inexplicably been scratched for Bollig. 

Remember the bliss when he was scratched for three games straight? Remember watching Ferland, Stajan, and Shore go about their business and think, “Wow, this fourth line is killing it! Why can’t it always be killing it? Oh right.” And then that “oh right” came back last game and did nothing good and everything bad.

Kind of like how he’s been the whole season. His one goal came in the midst of a clearcut 5-2 victory. Only one of his four assists was a primary one. He averages 8:35 a game, and during those eight and a half minutes, is more of a hindrance than otherwise, what with a -3.35% CF rel (the only guys he’s better than are two bottom pairing defencemen, a rookie forced to play over his head all season long, and Lance Bouma, who plays in much more difficult circumstances). I guess he does have seven fights this season, which, neat! The Flames have won twice in those games. Guess he didn’t fight hard enough or however the narrative for that’s supposed to go the other five times.

But in a season full of “why are you here”s and “how were you traded for a third round pick”s and “no, seriously, what is your contribution”s, the last game was a whole other level. Hence, I am writing this post. Here is a (possibly incomplete) list of players who would be of greater use to the Flames right now over Brandon Bollig:

Michael Ferland

Bollig is 6’2, 223 lbs, and known for his physicality. Ferland is 6’2, 215 lbs, and known for his physicality. He’s also five years younger, and a far better scorer. He’s pretty much already well on the way towards replacing Bollig, having taken his spot in the lineup the past few games before the most recent. There’s really no need to continue beating around the bush on this. If Bollig is an NHLer, Ferland is a better one, full stop.

Paul Byron

I do not care how injured or banged up or whatever it is he may be, I would gladly take a broken Byron over a healthy Bollig any day. Byron occasionally scores and quietly makes his teammates better, all the while putting up good possession numbers himself while starting from a position of disadvantage. He’s the new-look fourth liner: a positive possession player who can be bumped up the lineup with ease. 

Josh Jooris

Again, I do not care how injured or banged up or whatever it is he may be, a broken Jooris is better than a healthy Bollig. Jooris has been a pleasant surprise this season, scoring goals and being one of the Flames’ best possession drivers, albeit in sheltered circumstances. He’s a 24-year-old rookie who only shows promise, not… whatever it is Bollig does. 

Sven Baertschi

Don’t even try to deny this. I will fight you.

David Wolf

Remember Wolf? He’s 6’3, 215 lbs. Pretty big guy, three years younger. He’s needed some time to adjust to the North American league and up his conditioning, but we’re talking about a paltry role that doesn’t even offer 10 minutes a night. Also, he can do something Bollig has never been able to lay claim to: score at the AHL level (and this is not a high bar I’m asking for, here).

Emile Poirier

Poirier is a super fast, promising scorer who likely has a future as a top six forward with some physicality to his game. He wasn’t quite NHL ready just yet, but I’d still trust him to do more good on the Flames right now than I would Bollig. Who knows, playing with a guy like Stajan, he might even be able to put up some more points. Instead of, what’s it… not. 

Max Reinhart

What’s up with the oldest Reinhart, anyway? He got four games with the Flames earlier in the year, but not much time to go with them. He’s one of Adirondack’s better scorers, which is more than we can say about Bollig in pretty much any year of his career at any level recorded ever.

Kenny Agostino

Speaking of high-scoring Adirondack guys, were you aware Agostino is fourth in scoring? And that’s including Drew Shore, who is never going back. In his eight NHL games last season, he scored a goal and an assist, which is a greater rate than Bollig has managed.

Ben Hanowski

I am including Hanowski in this mostly because of Iginla trade solidarity. There is, however, the fact that even though Hanowski’s skating really is not up to par, he has pretty decent vision on the ice, and I’d trust him a hell of a lot more out there than I would Bollig. There’s a good chance of him getting caught flat footed, but at least he’d probably be in the right place to help avoid it becoming a total disaster.

Tyler Wotherspoon

How about going with 11 forwards and seven defencemen if it means no Bollig and yes Wotherspoon? It’s not like we’re relying on Bollig for offence. … Or defence. Or… wait, what are we relying on him for, exactly? Anyway, the team’s defence might just improve in general by mere virtue of Wotherspoon’s presence. If it’s a useless forward who has to come out of the lineup to make it happen, so be it. It’s better than some of the alternatives. Alternatives that we have witnessed all season. Because Bollig is a cockroach who will never die leave.

Corey Potter

If Corey Potter can play in the NHL this season before Tyler Wotherspoon, he can make this list, too. Also, he’s a defenceman who has scored 13 more points in the NHL than Bollig in 60 fewer games played. Potter. I don’t even know what to say to that.

Devin Setoguchi

Once upon a time, Setoguchi was an NHLer. That time appears to be past us. Thing is, though, he actually was such a thing once, whereas Bollig… 

Sam Bennett

This could actually happen, though? This season?? Tonight??? Bennett is going to be good enough to replace just about anybody, but that’s more in the future. Right now, we’re talking about a kid who spent several months on the down low because of shoulder surgery, and has only played about a month’s worth of hockey against junior players. I would take that over Bollig any day of the week. Hell, I’d take Bennett’s busted shoulder over Bollig any time.

Basically Anybody

Please let this nightmare end.

  • RedMan

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the line-up tonight.

    Hard to argue about this article’s premise – as much as he may be a wonderful man and a good father and husband (I don’t know, just giving the benefit of the doubt) still, there are options that offer actual hockey skills, not just size. When Phanuef double hand-slashed Gaudreau’s ankle behind the play and there was no response from anyone including our big guys that ostensibly protect the little guys… It becomes clear that big for the sake of big is NOT a deterrent to anyone and their lack of hockey skills only hurts the team.

    I think it is obvious that the team brass, along with the rest of us, did not expect such an amazing season and the idea of getting place holders that can add some toughness and keep the opponent honest and protect the rookies (they haven’t) seemed like a good idea. but at some point, you would think Hartley would just play the better options… or does he think he is???

      • Burnward

        Agreed. Teams treat the Oilers with no respect because they have no players that can command it physically.

        At least with a guy like Bollig, he’ll go you without thinking if you take liberties. These are giant dudes who are trying to smash the hell out of each other. Bollig may not be the prettiest guy on the ice, but he is definitely worth something.

      • RedMan

        well, I look at the double handed stick to Gaudreau’s ankle and the recent elbow to Monahan’s face with no response… instead, Bollig goes after a guy he has his own beef with and costs the team with his selfish 5 minute.

        It’s pretty hard to quantify abuse that doesn’t happen, so we don’t know how much they have prevented, but when i look at the way guys have gone after Gaudreau all year, I just don’t think they have provided a deterrent.

        Do you feel they have?

        • RKD

          So, immediately go after the guy in the Dallas game when your team is up? Or, is it better to wait and go after a guy like Aulie the next game? Why did Bollig try to run Jackman through the boards? He constantly targets the skilled guys. that’s why. It’s too bad in that case that he took a 5, that wasn’t the desired result obviously. Look, a third was too much to give up for him but they did. It would be great to have big tough guys with skill like a Benn, Iginla, Lucic, etc. The Flames are trying to find and develop those guys which is why you see the Smith and Carrol drafts. The same stuff being said about Bollig here was said by Hawks bloggers as well. Yet, Quenville played him and Bowman signed him. Notice that Toews and Kane have both suffered significant upper body injuries this year from over aggressive plays?

  • RedMan

    Yes, there is the refs face, but there is also the flames bench. Seems the team is a fan of bollig. I realize he isn’t a good nhl player and the flames have more skilled options, but this team is over achieving on what is clearly a close knit, team effort every night, so maybe “chemistry” and “good in the room” and all those “intangibles” mean something – not to you, but to the team. I’m not sure on this, but maybe Hartley has a reason for putting him in the lineup as much as he does.

      • Mort

        I think he has his reason, and his reason is based on an old and outdated mentality that needs updating. I don’t care if the players like Bollig, or even find him “inspirational” or anything.

        People don’t belong on NHL rosters for being nice guys, they belong on NHL rosters for being competent ice hockey players, which is something that Brandon Bollig is not.

    • Southern_Point

      The flames seemed pretty close knit when Bollig was scratched, the fourth line even scored a goal and seemed pretty happy with each other.

      It’s almost like everything you said is hogwash the mainstream media dreams up to explain away Bob Hartley’s silly roster decisions.

      • RedMan

        Silly roster decisions? He’s got this entire team playing a responsible 200 foot team first game. They play with energy, grit and determination every night and believe in their system and each other. The mainstream media, including former players defend his decisions because they see what he is doing is working.

        • RedMan

          Again, I have to ask this question: Why aren’t we allowed to point out when a coach makes a mistake? Especially repeatedly.

          Players make mistakes all the time. People point them out. Nobody says “well he’s the best dman on the team so you can’t criticize him.”

          Good coaches make bad decisions all the time. As do good GMs.

          • Southern_Point

            Fill your boots but keep in mind, when you keep criticizing a coach for what “you” feel is repeated mistakes & the coach has a successful team, no one is going to take you too serious. It just looks like chronic complaining & nitpicking.

          • Southern_Point

            Feel is a dumd word. We don’t feel it’s as stupid decision we know it’s a stupid decision.

            I can prove this actually; Explain what Bollig brings to the lineup without using the words ‘intangibles,’ ‘heart,’ or ‘toughness.’

          • Southern_Point

            He finishes his checks which is his role. He provides strong forecheck and back pressure. He is very responsible in his own zone. He can provide energy even after sitting for long periods of time.

          • Southern_Point

            Yeah pretty much everyone Arii mentions other than maybe Sven and The gooch do all that stuff.

            And those guys have the added bonus of not being garbage at the NHL level.

          • supra steve

            Kevin, there will be no swaying of some folks opinions on hockey management issues. They are already experienced enough in hockey and life to KNOW IT ALL.

            Have a great Easter buddy.

          • Mort

            The Flames have played 18 games without Bollig. They won 10. That’s very close to their overall record (it’s actually a bit better).

            five of those losses, by the way: During that 9 game losing streak in December.

        • Southern_Point

          Just because you are a former player doesn’t mean you aren’t and idiot.

          The 200 ft game comment is funny too because the flames give up tonne of shots for a team that is supposedly so good defensively.

          It’s almost like everything you said is hogwash the mainstream media dreamed up to explain why the flames are doing well this season despite them not being very good in any meaningful statistical category.

          • Southern_Point

            A 200 foot game involves things like back pressure, elimination of time and space, proper rotation in all zones, immediate transition from offense to defense and vice versa. Playing the body, stick to puck followed by good body position, etc. Hartley has this team doing that. As an example, watch edmontons top guys versus calgarys in their dedication to providing back pressure alone.

  • slapshot444

    I love your enthusiasm and smooth writing style BUT Hanowski, Setoguchi,,,, seriously? You were doing great until those names came up.
    Everyone would probably agree that the 3rd for Bolling was a poor decision in hindsight, but only in hindsight. At the time it was thought we needed the size and strength. While his usefulness on the current roster may not be needed he can skate circles around Hanowski and probably Steoguchi too.

  • Burnward

    Hartley said he played him to give him some ice time every so often. The Blues game was his best choice because he is from that area and they are a big team. Did the same with McGratt before he went down to the minors.

    If this team makes the playoffs he will play only if there is nothing left on the bench. Thanks BB for your management skills to get bigger and better at any cost.

  • redhot1

    Maybe Treliving will abandon his dinosaur thinking this offseason/draft. Because most of his moves scream Burke, as much as people say he doesn’t have an influence

    • Colin.S

      In an interview with Strombo during the GM’s meeting in Florida,BT was asked how life as a GM was going.
      He reiterated what his answer to this has been since the beginning.He appreciated the opportunity to be working with and supported by BB.
      Disappointing IMO.You don’t hear other GM’s giving credit to there President’s.

      • RedMan

        why on earth is this a negative? Burke has a lot of philosophies and/or theories about big/truculent that are not popular here, but he is a smart man with a lot of management expeience in the industry and can mentor the GM – what’s so bad about this?

        Treliving needs to make his own decisions ultimately about prioritizing hockey IQ, skill, speed, character, size and truculence… but Burke can offer a lot of great insight about many aspects of upper management.

        While I hope Treliving follows closer to Feaster’s prioritization scheme then Burkes, his mentoring is a good thing and nothing wrong with Treliving mentioning how he values it.

        • Southern_Point

          I agree that Burke can offer expertise on upper management. I get that, but I don’t think it stops there.

          You” hope “Treliving follows a drafting method closer to Feaster than Burke.Hell ya.Afterall drafting has traditionally been the responsibility of the GM.Are you convinced that Treliving is the guy making those decisions?

          If the President is mentoring the GM .GREAT.
          If the President is making final decisions
          , than what is the GM’S role?

  • RedMan

    All those names and Bill Arnold doesn’t even get an honorable mention??? Yet you mention a guy who isn’t even here anymore and by all accounts he didn’t want to be.

  • supra steve

    Yes, a lot of us would rather have whoever that 3rd rounder would have turned into, though I know a significant percentage of us would also be complaining about whoever that player would have been.

    I guess, in the end, that’s what a lot of us like to do most…complain about the decisions of others. If only the other guy were as smart and all-knowing as we are. Especially with the benefit of hind sight, I can really knock those ones out of the park.

    And so, in that spirit…with the benefit of hind sight, this article was really a waste of my time.

  • RedMan

    Arii, your opinion is what it is, that’s cool but there is an intangible value the numbers & stats don’t show. For me, if the players feel a player like Bollig is important to have, even if he’s playing every 3rd game, that’s good by me. Most teams have these type of players so why make such a big deal about Brandon Bollig. I think Treliving & Burke are not the only execs that see the intrinsic value in having a roster spot for these kind players.

  • beloch

    I’ve been mentally reading Bollig’s name as “Bollocks” for quite some time now. Also, while Bollocks might actually be better at hockey than Brian McGrattan, I’d still rather have Big Ern on the bench.

    Re: David Wolf

    He looked great when he was called up, for the first period anyways. He is averaging 2.5 minutes of penalties per game in the AHL, so it remains to be seen if he has the discipline to play in the NHL. However, he looks like a functional hockey player who is mean enough to fill in for a pure enforcer type like Bollocks. His conditioning is not yet NHL level unfortunately. Hopefully he will live in the gym this summer and come back ready to bump Bollocks onto the waiver wire.

    Re: Michael Ferland

    Ferland might not be in peak form just yet, but he’s already better than Bollocks across the board. Why would any sane person scratch him to play Bollocks? Bollocks to that, I say!

  • beloch

    To me, hockey teams are kind of a reflection of a business company where it fills positions based on need at the moment (ie toughness and some vets is a popular theme with the team officials) and adding pieces that can produce in today NHL. Like any company, you hire grunts (Bollig/Englland), wiz kids fresh from school (Johnny G/Mohney) vets to mentor (Stajan/Hudler) and the rest is filled with your long term staff that is the backbone of the company (Gio/Brodie/Backs, etc).

    So as a business model it kind of makes sense with the holes that they filled the last couple years, and I would expect the Bollig/Englland types will always have a spot to hold until a player from the farm eventually takes their place from within, although there still is a seniority process in effect sometimes with the coaching staff just based on the old time hockey rule of experience is always an asset in certain situations, but this way of thinking slows erodes with the rebuild process. So in the end the rebuild process will eventually move vets to a part time status or be released for the kid rising the ladder and once proven.

    So I can live with the current player approach since it has some logic, to me anyways, as this year the kids are becoming more and more of the main group to rely on.

  • everton fc

    Hartley explained why Bollig got the start. Rational decision, I think, though not the decision I wanted, as I’m a big fan of Ferland, as you all know. Bollig’s the one who screwed up this opportunity. Too much juice, playing close to home against his childhood team.

    Ferland will prove to be more than a career 4th line player. He’ll be, at worst, a good 3rd line power forward sooner than later. Teams will go after Bennett, too. We’ve already seen how Ferland will stick up for his teammates, with disciplined decisions on when to drop the gloves. That’s what we need more of. Can’t say there’s anyone outside Bouma and Engelland who will do the same at the moment, with discipline.

    Bollig will be forgiven by management, but we can see by Bennett’s being here the team is trying to up the ante offensively, knowing clear-as-day they lack what it takes to advance into the playoffs with the current cast of defensive characters. So Bollig won’t see too much ice time the remainder of the season, however long that is. He provides zero offence, while not being horrific defensively. But he’s being pushed aside, as the article states.

    Can’t wait to see what Austin Carroll does in camp in a few months. Wolf will have to prove he can skate at this level on both ends of the ice, which I think he will.

    Conditioning, speed, and discipline in both practice and game situations are the keys to this team’s success thus far. This will not change, under Hartley.

  • everton fc

    He played Bollig because the Blues had Reaves on the ice. Bortuzzo’s another reason. Not to mention Bollig’s a St. Louis kid.

    Not saying I agree. But it’s pretty obvious.

    Bollig screwed up this chance. He played a decent game last time we got beat by the Blues. Bollig’s responsible for his own actions. Not Hartley.

    You simply don’t make those types of undisciplined decisions in a big game like that, where the Blues are minus two of their best players.

    Alas…

  • Southern_Point

    Another logic vs the coach/mgmt are always right discussion.

    Wolf and Ferland are clearly better players than Bollig and provide the same size. I’ve yet to read a counter to that.

    • Southern_Point

      I actually totally agree that Wolf & Ferlund are going to be better players/options for what Bollig brings right now. The only argument & it’s a pretty significant one is that little stat called the # of NHL regular season & playoff games/experience. Arii hates the 2 more years left. For me, Management had no idea this team would be playing for a playoff spot after game 78. They wanted tough but bring a little more to the hockey side that they thought they were getting in Bollig. 1.2 mill you get pretty well what you pay for. I think by next year, one of Ferlund or Wolf is going to bump Bollig’s # of games significantly down & by the last year, if we can’t trade Bollig, he’ll get the same # of games as Mcgrattan has this year.
      Tired of people making out like he is the reason we lost last game to St Louis or if they miss the playoffs. Thats all. 3rd rounder for Bollig seemed high but not much, certainly not worth all the bitching.

    • supra steve

      Not a matter of arguing that the coach/mgmt. are always right. Just an argument that they are PROBABLY right more often than you or I would be in their place.

      It has been stated here that Wolf’s conditioning may not be up to NHL standards, and that’s a big thing with Hartley.

      Ferland, it has been recently made quite public, has just passed the one year sober point. If they chose to be cautious with him this season for that reason alone, then good on the Flames.

      Now you have read a plausible “counter to that”.

  • Southern_Point

    I don’t like any decision that puts Bollig in the lineup, but four people make that decision I would assume (Hartley, Cloutier, Gelinas and Pringle). People have been questioning this team since the day Burke fired Feaster. One writer went so completely overboard in his analysis on Oilers Nation in December he was convinced the Flames would do something stupid at the trade deadline if they found themselves in the playoff hunt because Calgary would not have a handle on their own team (among many other ridiculous things he said that day). Treliving not only didn’t do anything stupid, he got a pretty good return on Glencross and the waiver wire acquisition of Schlemko was a godsend, considering the team’s depleted defense.

    We all want the Flames to make the playoffs. They’ve come this far, and they’ve managed to do it all the while with many questioning their roster decisions, including me. It’s almost funny that no one expected this team to do anything at the start of the year and now that they have, we all know better than the staff that got them here to begin with.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Sven taking Bollig’s role? One of the most ridiculous statements ever written. Make no mistake about it, Bollig’s been a disappointment but guys like him and Engelland have an important role. Most teams (exception Detroit) have a similar player(s) like Steve Ott or have historically had players like Sean Avery. Sometimes they are head scratchers and many games it’s hard to tell why they’re taking a shift, but in the games they’re needed, they’re money. You can’t field a full squad of Backlund’s or you’ll get run out of the rink. In today’s NHL, you need one forward like Bollig and one defenseman like Engelland. And once the playoffs start, you’ll really need them or the team will suffer the consequences.

  • Megamind

    What ref are you talking about? I only see a linesman in the photo.
    This article and the comments in it show exactly how little the writers and commenters know about hockey.
    You want to analyze the sport and you can’t even tell the difference between the game officials.