Hartley and Treliving Reflect On The 2014-15 Season

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley and general manager Brad Treliving held court with the media this afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as the capper to the annual garbage bag day festivities.

Here’s what the take-aways were from their (lengthy) pow-wow:

  • On the whole, everyone emphasized that (a) expectations are going to be higher next season and (b) next season is going to be tougher. The messaging was pretty consistent from Treliving throughout his availability: the bar has to be set higher next season, and everyone needs to be better.
  • Treliving: “Our plan has not changed. Our plan has not altered. We’re still climbing that mountain, and if you look back in history and you really analyzed those teams that have climbed to the top of the mountain there’s steps that you have to take, but moreso, there’s gotta be a persistence and there’s gotta be patience in getting to that level. We’re still a team in a growth stage and to me, right now, what we are not going to do is rush out tomorrow and starting sending a young player, two young players, three young players out the door because we think we can get the one last little push over the cliff.”
  • Based on Treliving’s comments, this season allowed them to identify which of their young players (and older players) could be part of their core going forward. I’d expect the playoff experience really helped in that respect.
  • Treliving: “A quote that is something I think we need to live by: champions behave like champions before they are champions. For us to grow, it’s a mindset, it’s a lifestyle…you have to live like a champion before you are a champion. The things we did in the past, we have to do it better.”
  • Hartley: “That’s the law of sport. You need to win. You need to lose. And sometimes the harsh reality of this business is you have to first learn to lose before you learn to win, and that’s probably what we went through in the last round.”
  • Treliving identified Mark Giordano as the “number-one priority” for the summer. His contract expires after the 2015-16 season. He cannot be signed until July 1. He was praised as a culture-setter for the organization. Restricted free agents Lance Bouma and Mikael Backlund were also discussed, and Treliving noted he felt they’d both get deals done.
  • Based on Treliving’s comments about carrying three goalies – it doesn’t work – it seems unlikely that Karri Ramo will be back next season. He didn’t have nearly the level of enthusiasm regarding Ramo’s return as he did Giordano, Bouma or Backlund. (He later mentioned David Schlemko as a guy who helped out the defensive group, so his return may be a possibility, too.)
  • It was mentioned that the Flames do have cap room, but they’ve also modeled out the next five years (or so) in terms of their cap space. They’re aware of what players are due for raises in the future.
  • There will be changes, but Treliving mentioned they have to be surgical in their approach. They can’t go chasing something and make poor decisions in free agency over the summer.
  • Treliving had a lot of praise for Bob Hartley and his coaching staff throughout his comments. While Hartley’s two-year extension didn’t automatically re-up his staff (Jacques Cloutier, Martin Gelinas, Jamie Pringle and Jordan Sigalet), he’s working on getting everyone inked for the future.
  • In terms of young players: Emile Poirier, Bill Arnold, and Ryan Culkin were specifically mentioned in terms of players that Treliving liked when he saw, or wanted to see in the future. In general, he feels that they have some good young players coming, but want to keep stocking up and adding assets.
  • Treliving likes having extra draft picks. They feel they’re well-positioned in terms of making picks, or in terms of moving picks for players (or presumably to move up in the draft if needed). They think this draft has the potential to be a deep/special draft, and they’re “ecstatic” to have the picks they have.
  • Treliving, on size and speed: “You’ve got to be careful with size. We’d all like them to be six-four and skate like the wind and shoot it a million miles an hour. You can’t just get lost in size for the sake of size. They still have to be able to be players, and be good players.” He noted that the teams still playing right now all have foot-speed in common.
  • As they operated with Sam Bennett, Hartley said he was a bit hesitant to throw Wotherspoon into the line-up when they were fighting for a playoff spot. They went with Corey Potter because of the age-difference when they made the decision initially (when they were fighting for a spot), then went with Wotherspoon in the post-season because they wanted to invest in him “for today, and hopefully tomorrow.” Both Hartley and Treliving praised Wotherspoon’s work this year. Treliving wants Wotherspoon to be ready to come into camp next year ready to wrest a full-time NHL job away from somebody.
  • “Our speed and conditioning got us to the playoffs.” – Hartley, noting that in many of their comebacks, their depth guys got them back into games. It was a capper to a discussion about the importance of speed and the decline of the role of the enforcer in the league.
  • In terms of the team’s weaknesses, Treliving identified defensive depth. He also noted he felt the team had a good defensive group, but he wants to address the depth of that position this summer. He also noted that he wants the team to improve their possession game, without saying the word “possession.”
    • “We need to spend more time in the offensive zone. That’s holding onto pucks, protecting pucks. A defenseman can play 27 minutes, for instance. And if 10 of those minutes are standing at the offensive blueline and not defending behind your goal line, those are all things that you break down the game. It’s a harder 10 minutes chasing guys around your end than it is standing at the offensive blueline.”
  • Hartley says the seven-game segments will be back next season.
  • Injury details from Treliving:
    • Jiri Hudler – neck and back issues, generally banged up
    • T.J. Brodie – sprained ankle
    • Lance Bouma – broken finger; he had 8 pins and a metal plate in his right index finger
    • Micheal Ferland – oblique strain
    • Joe Colborne – thumb and wrist
    • Josh Jooris – wrist
    • David Schlemko – groin
    • Sean Monahan – groin and back
    • Paul Byron – a groin, a hand, and a sports hernia (that he had surgery for) [not mentioned by Treliving, but Byron mentioned it during his scrum]

If nothing else, Treliving and Hartley were saying the things after this season that those most skeptical about this team’s 2014-15 success would hope they’d say.

    • clib542

      Love the comments from Treliving.. Glad they are looking long term. I think the potential for an expansion draft next year will impact this year’s offseason in a good way. Lots of room for improvement on the back end and that really should be their only focus other than resigning RFAs.

    • clib542

      BT talks the talk, let’s see if he walks the walk. His draft last year was a mixed bag and he failed to shore up the defence at the trade deadline. The latter cost us in the playoffs.

      • Brent G.

        In BT’s defense, no one could have predicted Calgary doing so well after the deadline. Giordano had gone down, and it looked like an impossible task for them just to make the playoffs. I for one would not have been happy at that time if they traded away something like a first and a second to land a short term fix.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Brad Trelliving: “You’ve got to be careful with size. We’d all like them to be six-four and skate like the wind and shoot it a million miles an hour. You can’t just get lost in size for the sake of size. They still have to be able to be players, and be good players.”

      Exactly right. Size is useless with out at least 2 of 3 other qualities (speed, hockey IQ, and skill).

    • Brent G.

      It’s probably too early to start pondering different trade scenarios but I would like to see them clear out some of the redundancy up front to create some depth on the blue line.

      I wonder if they could get a good young defensive prospect for Granlund and one of their 2nd rounders? On the fan yesterday they were talking about trading Hudler because his contract is up at the end of next season and he will be looking for his retirement contract. I’d only suggest doing that if the return is really good tho…

    • Brent G.

      I like what Treliving said about the “Surgical” approach. I hope that they are careful with the changes. After the 2004 run, Sutter jettisoned a bunch of good character guys in an attempt to make the group more talented. I think it really affected the locker room back then.

    • Scary Gary

      “Treliving wants Wotherspoon to be ready to come into camp next year ready to wrest a full-time NHL job away from somebody.”

      With a background like yours Ryan, I’m shocked you messed up ‘wrestle’.

      I am quite optimistic after the presser yesterday, and very excited to see the incremental shake-ups that will happen in the off-season.

      • Parallex

        Yes well… saying the right things and doing the right things are different. Let’s see what he actually does as I don’t consider his body of work to be all that impressive thus far.

        I’m less concerned about Treliving then I am the guy that supervises him. Treliving can say anything he wants but let’s see what he does when Burke is waiting outside his office going “mumble mumble mumble Truculance! mumble mumble mumble Beef!”.

        • Rockmorton65

          Body of work? He’s been a GM for 1 full season. People can nitpick all of his moves, there have been good ones, great ones, and some misses. Any of his missteps have been inconsequential. He’s turned a non playoff team into a playoff team, and without any offer sheet disasters or getting bent over in a trade.

          • Parallex

            Heh, really? HE turned a non playoff team into a playoff team? All on his own… no credit to anyone else… not Feaster who acquired 2/3rds of the roster? Or Sutter who was responsible for bringing in some major pieces… nope all Brad, even though you think his body of work is to small to critique (but I guess not to small to heap credit upon)?

            Don’t be such a blatant fanboy. He has a body of work (a small one, but a body none-the-less) and praise and scorn upon it are both fair game.

            • While I don’t disagree with you about it being a group effort that got us here or even the statement

              “Yes well… saying the right things and doing the right things are different. Let’s see what he actually does as I don’t consider his body of work to be all that impressive thus far.”

              in of itself, the latter seems to be quite negative towards BT. I think giving the benefit of the doubt approach in this early stage is more wise than being too down on his minor and non-moves thus far. Just my opinion.

              For me, I would rather see patience than reflex big panic moves that very well could have happened. I also don’t remember Sutter saying these types of things in the past.

            • Parallex

              “the latter seems to be quite negative towards BT”

              Quite negative?

              No, quite negative would be saying something akin to saying he’s “teh worst GM in the history of ever” and demanding his immediate dismissal…

              Here’s how it goes, I won’t judge him on his first draft since he was so new that realistically he had to go off of the draft list that Burke made (meaning the draft list compiled by scouts working off of Burke’s marching orders). But everything else he has ownership of and I don’t consider his body of work as a whole to be impressive.

              Like I said, Brad Treliving says all the right things but you don’t get credit for the things you say until you transform those words into cooresponding action. Deeds, not words, are what he should be judged on.

            • Yeah I am just telling you how it comes across to me. Doesn’t sound neutral and certainly not positive.

              Again, I am not saying he has done anything special that warrants real praise but I also feel pretty good about the things he has said and the things he has not done so far. who knows? I can’t predict the future. Maybe he does something stupid in a month at the draft.

              I am just curious but were you one of the people that praised Feaster during his time here?

            • Rockmorton65

              Praise or criticize all you want. All I’m saying is that it’s funny how some are so quick to criticize his work so soon and, ironically, praise Feaster. It took a number of years for a few of Feasters moves to pan out. I’m no “fanboy” of Treliving, as you suggest. Just give his moves time before judging too harshly.

    • Scary Gary

      So Byron had surgery and they didn’t feel like they needed to mention it. Why not? I didn’t figure he’d be back at any point this season but a whole lot of Byron boosters kept clinging to a return.
      Just be straight up geez

    • KH44

      Well, that SOUNDS like everything I want to hear, but we have only seen this management group do 1 draft, 1 offseason, and 1 deadline, as well as some extension stuff and waiver stuff. The draft is too early to tell, as Bennett was a hard pick to screw up, so we can’t use that to judge yet. For example, Feaster looks like a better and better GM as more and more of his picks become players. So, we have last offseason, the deadline, and the ‘other’ stuff.

      Based on that, the Bollig/Raymond/Englelland/Setoguchi/Hiller offseason was a bust. Hiller worked out pretty much as expected (league average goaltending is so underrated), Raymond and Engelland play too many important minutes, Bollig needs to be traded, and Setoguchi was a trainwreck.

      The deadline was handled well. He couldn’t move Ramo, as Hiller and Ortio were hurt, so he managed to move Glencross, pick up a second and a third, and still make the playoffs, which was fantastic. Trading Baertschi hurt, but the team gave up on him, and getting a second was nice.

      So the offseason was a bust, the deadline was done quite well. The waivers and extensions get a pass at this point, as the Brodie one was excellent, the lack of a Backlund one was a mistake, and Schlemko turned out to be a good 6/7 defencemen. Extending the coach was a mistake. The Knight/Shore trade doesn’t seem to have a real effect so far.

      This means Treliving grades out as essentially a wash. The offseason’s saving grace was the fact none of the contracts go longer than three years, and the money isn’t crippling (overpaid, yes, but not in the six or seven million to one player mistake).

      This draft, with 3 second rounders, will have the potential to be something special, but we will see what the Flames do. If it is staying the course, shedding some veterans, adding some defensive pieces, extending some RFA’s like Treliving says, it will go well.

      • You seem quite negative on Treliving, but consistent with a lot of others on here. Personally I would say BT has been very good in all three areas. Nothing spectacular but good, solid moves to continue the team growth and development.

        Strong draft, with Bennett(no-brainer), Hickey(looked great as Freshman), Macdonald(best of the year’s goalies), Smith(solid, improving play at RW) and Carroll(solid sleeper pick) and others looking very strong with a great shot at making the NHL in time.

        TDL great trade of Glencross(didn’t walk for nothing like Cammalerri), value for Baertschi who gave up on the Flames and was refusing to re-sign, plus a solid waiver pick-up improved the team both ST and LT.

        Re-signing Hartley a mistake? Right, a Jake Adams winner who managed to inspire virtually all the team leading to numerous career years a mistake? If so, many more years like that please!

        Finally the Summer’s signings. Hiller a huge win which stabilized and greatly improved the team’s goaltending. Setoguchi a flyer, didn’t work but quickly discarded and didn’t really hurt the team. Raymond good secondary scoring. Engelland a solid 5-6 D man who was able to step up tremendously and adequately when Giordano went down. Bollig added some size and toughness especially down the stretch and playoffs, but otherwise meh. Overall improved the team in the most key area plus added some depth and intangibles, PLUS able to reach the Cap Floor on shorter term deals. Again, incremental improvements that showed up on the ice.

    • Burnward

      After this year, timelines have become much clearer with this team. The forward group needs to get better but I do think timing is on our side. That top 6 group is only going to get better with Bennett in for a full season. The fun part will be watching Hartley mix & match & see what ingredients bring a Calder performance out of him like he did with Johnny.
      I also think Porrier will get a good solid look next year as well.

      I know the blue line sure wasn’t the same when Gio went down. It is short of miraculous how that defensive group rose to the occasion. As much as we want to reward what they did, they simply were not good enough, no where close to good enough if we ultimately want to win the Cup. That last game, the 3rd period & overtime, similar to the first two games was painful. It was all we could do to get it out of our zone, forget about getting an offensive scoring chance. We have the puck moving dmen. Brodie & Gio are basically elite & I don’t see that changing if both are completely healthy going into next season. Russell was a real nice surprise this year & solidified himself on that 2nd pairing. I am still torn on Wideman. He had an awesome year, he was lethal in the offensive zone, but I really have no clue what to expect from Dennis Wideman next year. Do we get an encore performance or do we get regression back to the previous two years where everyone was declaring that signing & contract as a boat anchor. Is Wideman & one of our glut of forward prospects enough to pry out another 1st rounder? Should we do that? I don’t know,

      I think we should. BT targets should be going after 22-23 year old decent dmen & if you had 2 1st rounders & 3 2nd’s & an abundance of solid forward prospects, teams like Jersey, Leafs, Coyotes are all rebuilding teams with a glut of solid blue chip D men that first the Brodie/Russell age group. Yes we need to add good young defensive prospects at the draft, but those players won’t get a sniff for 3 years. We need to acquire via trade some blue liners without that development period if we want to seriously contend in 2 years. The future of this team is much clearer today than it was this time last year. Exciting, but now we need our GM to make the right moves. I know many support a slow plodding approach, but that just gives me acid reflux when I can see what has to happen.

    • BurningSensation

      If nothing else I hope this will put a stop to Lambert’s persistent’concern trolling’ that this years success in defying his expert prognostications is going to ruin the Flames.

    • Just a comment on the Flames GM’s and their success of draft picks. I will leave BT out because it is too early yet but Look at from the Jay F. era who are with the flames today :Gaudreau, Granlund, Monahan, and Wotherspoon.

      I for one like others said Sutter was a good coach but not a good GM . However his players based on the above : Ferland , Bouma, Backlund, Brodie, and Ortio.

      I did not include FA’s and other developing prospects coming up.

      If this new management can have a similar success like the previous but different it maybe the mix for a future Stanley Cup team.

    • @ Ryan Pike

      Some days ago you guys posted an article in Jooris. I told you then that he was hurt and that was the reason for being scratched.

      You guys rarely acknowledge the times you are just plain wrong.

    • This team is in good hands folks, Brad is a cerebral thinker and has his hand on the pulse. Our management group understands the areas that need to be addressed and have a long term approach to ensuring they build this organization properly with the long term in mind.

      Very interested to see how they draft and also whether they use the high volume of picks they’ve acquired to potentially move up to land a bigger fish at the draft. The Goaltender scenario is interesting as well, really looking forward to the next 6 weeks, good times ahead and a lot to be excited about folks