Don’t Panic (2015-16 Edition)

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It’s been a terrible start. Worst in franchise history in fact. 

After a season of overachieving and then a summer of almost nothing but good news, the Flames stumble out of the gate is like a splash of cold water in the face of Flames Nation. This is the first legitimate bump in the road for the Treliving-era Calgary Flames. It’s essential that the organization’s neophyte GM doesn’t fold in the face of this initial spate of adversity. 

Desperate times and desperate measures rarely make for wise decisions. For an object lesson, consider the Dion Phaneuf trade.

Right now it’s important to remember a couple of things. 

First, that the Flames are still in the formative stages of a longterm rebuild. While their turn as Cinderella last season made it feel like Contenderhood was imminent, the truth is this team still has a significant distance to travel before they can be considered a Western Conference powerhouse. 

Secondly, remember that development is rarely linear. Human performance being what it is, almost every player and team suffers through dry spells, setbacks and steps backwards. 

That’s why the long view is the important perspective in these circumstances. 

The Flames have definitely been terrible over first last six games – watching them recently, it’s almost impossible to understand how they won any games last year, let alone a first round playoff series – but it’s just six games. Things can change in a hurry in this league. It would be terribly short sighted to push the panic button over such a tiny sliver of tough sledding (however bad the performance of the team).  

Many of the things the fanbase and decision makers were excited about in August are still true now. The club still has a lot of good, young forwards. Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton are still an enviable defense corps. There’s potential for a bright future. 

That’s why Brad Treliving shouldn’t be considering any trades right now that he wouldn’t have considered in the middle of the summer. A knee jerk swap isn’t going to “fix” the Flames – their struggles relate to player execution and preparation, some systemic faults and plain old bad bounces. Most of the stars aren’t stars right now. The coaching staff has to figure out how to re-jig its strategy. The boys just gotta play through this, as they say. 

Hunker down and weather the storm everyone. This too shall pass. 

  • RickT

    It’s too late Kent.

    We gotta fire everyone. I’m already panicking.

    Too many changes. Not enough changes.

    In all seriousness though, Hartley needs to be taken into Tre’s office and be given a talking to. I cannot understand, for the life of me, the decisions he is making. Did the summer go to his head?

    (I know the players haven’t been great either, but isn’t it the coach’s job to get them going if nothing else seems to?)

  • Graham_CGY

    No panic here. I’ve actually had a clear mind that Hartley needed to go toward the end of last season.

    You could see back then his direction and decision making was pointing in the wrong direction to take the next step. My feeling is the team won in spite of, not because of Hartley.

    Seeing Bollig/Engelland/Smid/Ramo on this roster over better, younger players is on Hartley.

    The Andersson/Ortio situations pretty much sum up the Flame issues.

  • Derzie

    You knew the Hartley daggers would come out in adverse times. He’s loyal and favours tough, lunch-bucket and veteran. When we win, we all bite our lip. When we lose, daggers. Every coach has quirks, let’s see where we get to. At least we know now that Treliving will remove a guy (e.g. Ramo) if the coach needs to be pointed in a direction. If we don’t get better this year that’s on the coach.

  • Howie Meeker

    Last year after losing 8 games in a row, no one expected the Flames to bounce back from that.

    This year, Flames drop 4 in a row, and everyone’s freaking out. I understand our expectations are higher as a result of our success last year, but I prefer to think of this as a bad slump, vs. regression.

    It doesn’t look like anyone appears to be playing very well right now.

    • Byron Bader

      The problem with last year’s 8 game losing streak’s comparison to now is that of those 8 games the Flames probably deserved to win at least half and deserved a point in another 2-3 of them. They were playing very well and out possessing teams almost every night in that stretch. They couldn’t buy a win. Most of the games were close … they just couldn’t get that extra goal to put them over the top.

      The start to this season … the Flames deserved to beat the Canucks the second game and did and perhaps deserved a point against Winnipeg although they got kicked in pretty good, but played a mildly sufficient road game. The other games they did not deserve a point or a win. It was pure domination. And they didn’t get a point or a win.

      I think it’ll start to come but it’s a little terrifying that they haven’t gotten “screwed out of a win” once in this stretch. They’ve just been very bad.

    • #97TRAIN

      From what I can remember about the 8 game losing streak is that they were still playing well and competing. This year they are not competing well the defense looks weak and the goaltending has been terrible.
      It’s easier to come out of a losing streak when you are still playing well as opposed to how they are playing now.

  • JumpJet

    In regards to the Stamkos rumours, I’m glad Treliving is at least investigating acquiring him. Kicking tires is how we wound up with Hamilton when every other GM thought he wasn’t available.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      That’s a good point..

      My first thought when I saw we acquired Hamilton was who did we give up? Bennett? Monahan?

      If BT were to somehow pry Stamkos out of Tampa without selling the farm and compromising the future this early in the season.. that would be as close as winning the Cup for me.

        • Randaman

          According to many posters, Sweeney did very well for himself, not that I agree with them…

          Yzerman is a tough negotiator, sure, just look at his Marty St Louis trade where he was restricted to only one team. A great trade! However you have to keep in mind this is a fundamentally different situation, and the pressure is all on him.

          If Stamkos continues to hold out and not sign he’ll walk with no return at all come next Spring. This should be inspiring desperation on his part. But even that isn’t bad enough as Stamkos has a full No Move-No Trade Clause so he is in total control as to where he goes.

          Even if Stamkos agrees to a trade, what team is going to do that deal unless they already have agreement on re-signing him? People think that Stamkos will get a great return, but the circumstances won’t allow it, not unless he fully agrees. And if Stamkos has already made up his mind where he wants to go, let’s say for arguments sack, Toronto, why in the world will he agree with a trade with a massive return when he can just play out the season then walk in there and sign as a free agent and not weaken the team he wants to play with?

          Assuming he’s not signing for whatever reason with TBL, I see him traded for relative peanuts further into the season to one of a handful of teams he’d accept with new contract in hand.

          Yzerman has virtually no leverage here and Stamkos has it all. It’ll be interesting to see how this all turns out but I’m glad BT is checking it out because this is a scenario where a jewel could fall into your lap for next-to-nothing.

        • Avalain

          Nah, I think Yzerman would have one player in mind, Sam Bennett.

          But it would be crazy for the Flames to deal Bennett this early though.

          The Oilers have enough pieces tho.. Draisaitl, Nurse..

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “Desperate times and desperate measures rarely make for wise decisions. For an object lesson, consider the Dion Phaneuf trade.”

    I don’t know of a single trade or move that defined ‘panic’ better than Sutter’s trade of Dion Phaneuf. Patience from all parties is what’s required now.

    Sell high and buy low, not the other way around.

      • Rad

        Granted, the Phaneuf deal didn’t turn out as bad as it seemed.

        However, the biggest issue at the time was that Sutter had a coveted asset in Phaneuf that many other teams could and would have bid against one another to acquire.

        Love Stajan, he’s been a wonderful player for the Flames and a total class act, however the return could have been significantly better.

  • Randaman

    Kent,

    Absolutely correct, no need to panic. In fact, this may be a good thing.

    The dangers of expecting the same results this season (in terms of wins and losses) while still generating the same poor possession numbers as the Flames did last year have been well canvassed so nobody should be surprised that the results are now matching the underlying stats – except that, well, it is a bit of a surprise. The narrative is so tempting: hardwork and total team effort and coach of the year and so on and so on.

    The Flames have a really bright future (Monahan, Gaudreau and Bennett are going to be fixtures for years and adding Hamilton on the back end will pay off in Sweeney/Neely nightmares and Flames wins – in time) but the truth remains that this squad was not as good last year as their record suggested – and it only suggested that the Flames were a bubble playoff team.

    So much had to go right last year – and it did – but not all of that was going to be easily replicated and that is ok.

    There is going to be some Colorado in this team’s immediate future. Maybe it gets turned around quicker than that. Sure hope so because the Flames were a lot of fun to watch last year but if it doesn’t you don’t make foolish, stop-gap moves.

    Burke make the trade for Phil the Thril because he thought his Leafs were further along than they really were. He believed his own narrative and ended a rebuild prematurely because he thought he had found some magic elixir to speed up the process. You can’t. If Calgary is finding that out in October, that may be better than discovering this in March because the decisions made this season are important ones for all the Marches to come.

    There is a plan and it is to make this team a Cup contender for years. Last spring, the rebuild got a glimpse of what the good times will look like when they finally arrive but that should not have been confused with a belief that the Flames rebuild was over or that there needs to be a fundamental shift in direction now.

      • RedMan

        If this was regression, the team would he playing very similar, but the results would be less as the pdo comes to earth…

        That hasn’t been the case. This team has played like crappy all around. This isn’t regression… except where regression is represented in the return to the mean. This is outright bad hockey.

          • Byron Bader

            Here is the relevant money quote from near the end of the piece:

            “None of which is to say this will all end especially well for the Flames. They’re not going to win the Stanley Cup, after all, and there’s a fairly good chance they’ll still miss the playoffs. More important, this season’s success might inspire them to try to fast-track the patient rebuilding strategy they’ve been following, which could end up setting them back years. Flames fans may someday look back at this miracle season as the worst thing that could have happened to the club.”

            This is why, I suspect, Kent gave me the “well said”. It is so tempting to think last year was the “real” Flames team and not a mirage of the team that they want to be in a couple of years. If you fall into that trap (or more importantly if Treleving falls into it) they you make some bad, bad trades and really undermine the good foundation that is being built up.

          • Randaman

            For further reference, see 2004. While on the one hand it may have saved the franchise, on the other it did exactly what you’re talking about. I’d like to believe Treliving as well as the organization at large now are smarter than that.

  • beloch

    The Flames haven’t been playing well so far this season. They’re giving up a lot of high-danger scoring chances (only Winnipeg and Edmonton have surrendered more). However, a big reason for the string of losses so far is that the Flames’ goal-tending has been very bad too. Hiller and Ramo are both near the bottom of the league in adjusted save percentage (8th worst and 3rd worst resepctively), which takes into account the number of high quality scoring chances against. This perfect storm of suck is why Calgary has surrendered more goals against than any team besides the BJ’s and Bruins.

    Hamilton is young and adjusting to a new team and partner. Giordano is rusty and possibly not 100% healed. Russel and Wideman are pretty much the same as they were last season (offensively gifted possession disasters). Engelland is probably the only Flames defender who looks like he’s improved, but that’s probably at least in part due to Kulak delivering an impressive rookie performance. We’ll see how Engelland fares with Nakladal or Smid.

    So, when does the sucking stop? Brodie’s return will be huge. Not only will reuniting Giordano with Brodie probably firm up the Captain’s performance, it will reduce the load on Dougie and offer Hartley the opportunity to finally split up Wideman and Russel. The return of Brodie will change every pair on the blueline for the better.

    Goal-tending is still an issue. Hiller will return to form sooner or later and put together some quality starts. However, the Flames will not be able to ride him like Kipper. Ortio has to play. How Ortio performs when he is finally given the chance will likely be crucial both for his career and for the Flames post-season hopes. What’s been bad news for the Flames is good news for Ortio. With Ramo in Stockton and Hiller looking very shakey, now is Ortio’s big chance to prove he can be a NHL starter.

  • Howie Meeker

    Just saying….I haven’t been able to stomach watching an entire game from the start to finish so far this season because basically the completion level is flat and the intensity has disappeared….a complete 160 from last year in the first 6 games…crazy…Not saying I expect them to win all time but at least be entertaining.

  • Howie Meeker

    Just saying….I haven’t been able to stomach watching an entire game from the start to finish so far this season because basically the completion level is flat and the intensity has disappeared….a complete 160 from last year in the first 6 games…crazy…Not saying I expect them to win all time but at least be entertaining.

  • Randaman

    Take it easy Flamers , no trolling to dis you or your team.

    Ortio is where you need to go more often than not. This guy is your future

    IMO.Remember…one win gets you believing, 2 wins in a row well…

    Back to work is all. Not a big fan of Hartley. To me he is like Tortellini.

    ha ha ..his message wears thin after a while. Win ALBERTA and punt the

    NUCKS. WHOM SUCK !!!

  • Howie Meeker

    BT said we are still a rebuilding team….

    Last year’s level of play and results were fantastic, followed by this year’s bummer of a start – well that does not feel good at all.

    TJ Brodie’s injury, less than stellar play from Hamilton as well as the rest of the D except Engelland (who would have thought that!) and Kulak, just plain bad goal tending, except for a couple of highlight reel saves by Ramo…

    Road trip bonding coming up and STARTING ORTIO in the Nets! Success at last!

    • Randaman

      Hmmm, I guess they are. Must have mis-hit the Post button. Too bad, just finished a great reply on Yzerman being in a bind, having no leverage, and Stamkos potentially getting traded for peanuts….

      • Avalain

        Unfortunately, BT was on the fan 960 yesterday and basically said that that story was fabricated.

        I imagine he was kicking the tires on Stamkos, but he basically said he wouldn’t trade any of our untouchables to get him.

  • Avalain

    Tell that a$$hole Ryan Lambert not to panic Kent…checkout his latest gem:

    https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/huge-if-true–steven-stamkos-to-the-calgary-flames-202033328.html

    I couldn’t stop laughing as I read this steaming hot pile of garbage. As one would expect he takes shots at the flames, says Monahan has been one of their worst players this year (clearly hasn’t watched the actual games as usual) and then proceeds to say the flames trading Monahan for Stamkos would make sense for Calgary as monahans next contract will be much MORE expensive than it will be to re-sign Stamkos!!!

    I have never seen anyone write more factually incorrect stuff than this douche bag, just clueless in every sense of the word…it’s beyond embarrassing, apparently anyone can run their mouth on a blog these days. Some things just never change.

    • Avalain

      My son has been wetting the bed lately and very emotional/difficult to deal with. He has been throwing temper tantrums every morning, especially when he doesn’t get his Cheerios and cartoon time.

      Please be understanding, Ryan is a very sensitive boy and usually he feels better getting attention…so thanks to everyone for reading his stuff and helping stroke his very fragile ego. I can’t afford counselling for him so the attention you give him is actually therapeutic for him (and saving me a few dollars), I thank you.

      RLF

    • Avalain

      Actually, Monahan hasn’t been very good this year at all, sure he’s scored a couple goals but he’s getting killed by other teams top lines.

      But I do agree that its ridiculous to think that Stamkos and Monahan’s contract would be even remotely in the same ballpark.

  • Avalain

    The only bad thing about lambert being gone is no more posts from Ryan Lambert’s Father!!! One of the greatest contributors from a purely entertainment value standpoint in the history of FN.

    Thank you Lambert’s father for giving us a much needed jolt of humour on FN. I hope you’ll continue to throw us the odd gem…at the expense of your son of course.