Brad Treliving: ‘We very much trust the group that we have’

The start to the 2015-16 season has really not gone Brad Treliving’s way. Still in his general manager infancy, Treliving wowed the hockey world with his offseason moves: none bigger than trading for Dougie Hamilton, and giving up very little in return.

So far, that trade – along with pretty much everything else early into this Flames season – has not panned out as expected.

Was some regression expected? Sure, it’s still a rebuilding club. But to this extent?

“We know that we’ve got a better team than what our record has shown,” Treliving told TSN 1200 in Ottawa

The Flames core is young

When Treliving says he trusts the group that he has, he has very good reason to. After all, most of the Flames’ most important players are in just their early 20s. The NHL is a difficult league, and to be able to play in it at such a young age is extraordinary, not the norm.

“A lot of our top players are still very young players,” Treliving said. “We’re not out there trying to blow up our team. At the end of the day, we’ve got a really good group here.”

So that pretty much rules out a big trade. So long, Steven Stamkos rumours, we hardly knew yes (and you were unrealistic to begin with).

As Treliving noted in the interview, it’s simply not realistic to expect to be able to trade your way out of a slump. Remember how well the Dion Phaneuf trade went? Sure, the Flames got Matt Stajan, Playoff Hero out of it, but it did absolutely nothing to fix the team, or get them back in the playoffs.

The Flames have not been off to the best start, and the blame falls on pretty much everybody. You aren’t going to solve an everybody problem by dealing one or two bodies away, you’re going to solve it by sticking with your group, and working with them to have better, more consistent play.

When things are going badly, it feels as though everything is going against you: pretty much the exact opposite of how things were last season. Adversity is always going to crop up in hockey, though. And the Flames’ young core is going to have to learn to battle their way through it – and they will.

So that includes Dougie Hamilton?

Yes.

Treliving still rather likes Hamilton, actually. He recognizes that there are going to be growing pains. After all, even though Hamilton has already played three seasons in the NHL, he’s only just 22 years old. He’s still growing, still developing. And now, he’s in a brand new city, brand new conference. That means there’s going to be an adjustment period. 

An adjustment period that has not gone well, in part due to Hamilton’s play – and in part due to the overall play of the team. After all, you can’t pin the Flames’ poor start all on one player. “[Hamilton’s] in a big group right now of players that are capable of doing more,” Treliving said.

When everybody is failing, to blame it all on the 22-year-old newcomer is a bit much.

“Dougie is a terrific young player. His play, as well as our team’s, is going to improve, and he’s going to be a good player for us for a long time.”

Don’t expect Hamilton to go anywhere just yet. He knows he’ll have to be better, and he’ll get there.

But what about the goaltending?

Again, goaltending is part of the problem, but it’s not the only problem. 

For example: the Flames have scored one goal in their last two games. How is goaltending supposed to work with that? Treliving discussed just how mental goaltending is, and how easily it can mess with you. 

For example, if the team in front of you isn’t scoring, then you have to be perfect in order to win. Most times, that isn’t going to happen. And indeed, it’s something we saw in Joni Ortio’s first start. He was playing perfectly through two periods, one powerplay goal he couldn’t help aside… and then everything went off the rails in the third.

Besides, Treliving views blaming the goaltending as an easy scapegoat.

“When your team underperforms, the natural reaction is to look at the goaltending,” he told TSN 1200. “But when you really analyze the game, there are other areas we can do a better job in supporting the goaltending.” 

Not only have the Flames not given their goalies any offensive support, but they’ve been doing a poor job of limiting the chances against. So sure, the goalies could make that extra save or two, but it’s not going to make a difference if they’re being bombarded with chances while the skaters in front of them fail to generate any of their own.

Just like with Hamilton, the blame lays far beyond just one or two players.

Win as a team, lose as a team

Treliving still plans on winning with this team. But it’s a young team, and it’s a team that needs to learn and grow and adjust.

And it’s a team that will do that. Expectations were perhaps unfairly raised as a result of the 2014-15 season. This hard a crash back to reality is new to many of them. But it’s important to remember: this is still very much a rebuilding team.

There are no quick fixes, and it’s a good thing the Flames’ GM understands that.

    • SmellOfVictory

      It would make a ton of sense from an asset management standpoint. However, the optics of it are something to consider; both from the perspective of the players, and the fans who had just seen their team make the second round of the playoffs.

      Video game mode: trade all of the vets outside of Giordano. Real life mode: probably more complicated than anyone would like.

      I’m even thinking from the perspective of re-signing Monahan/Gaudreau; if you sell off all of the vets and it looks like you’re diving right back into the rebuild full-force, are they as likely to take good value long-term contracts with the team?

    • mk

      The worst part is that losing some of the ‘veterans’ might actually improve the team out of lottery territory. 🙂 Generally, it isn’t the kids out there that are killing the team.

    • mk

      It would be silly not to entertain offers on Hudler, Wideman and Russell that I’m sure they’re getting calls for.

      If the right deal comes along they could set themselves up quite nicely in Matthews territory with a load of much needed cap space for next season.

  • Citizen Puck

    The thing that has really bothered me about Hamilton so far is his lack of intensity or emotion.

    Bad goal against? Doesn’t seem to bother him. Bad penalty? He skates quietly to the box.

    I know he is a pro and keeping his emotions in check is important. But I was expecting more.

    I think we’re all willing to be patient because 1) he’s playing for a new team 2) he’s young and 3) we can’t trade him anyway – not with that contract.

    • ClayBort

      I’m not a huge fan of the intensity or emotion comment, for a number of reasons. First and foremost we don’t know what Dougie is thinking or feeling. Every person handles emotions differently. Second, it leads to double standards. If the Flames were winning, coming back often similar to last year, this comment would be “Dougie Hamilton is as cool as a cucumber, things don’t phase him.” I think too often players are villianized for these sorts of thing, when they couldn’t be further from reality.

      It was only a month ago or so when someone said Hiller has a bad attitude because he looked intense, emotional, and frustrated on the bench after being pulled in the playoffs, and that may have soured the room leading to the Flames losing. “Not a team player” was one of the comments. These are pro athletes, they have pride. People emit emotions differently. One person even said Hiller cares more about his gear and mask painting than the team (worth noting much of which is auctioned for charity). The Hiller case is an exaggerated example that many found silly. I just think we need to be careful to not let these views bias our views of Dougie as a player and person. Boston assassinated the character of Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Seguin is now dominating in Dallas, and we need to give Dougie a chance to see if he can do the same here.

      I agree with your comments on patience.

    • Big Ell

      He’s scoring lots in the Swiss league against men. 14 Games 10 goals and 6 assists. The Swiss league has an NHLE of .43 vs .30 for a Junior Player. Pretty good for an 18 year old kid.

  • Greg

    What is he supposed to say publicly to the media?

    Behind closed doors he may very well have different opinions, he’s not dumb enough to start a media circus though and throw daggers at his own players. The team already has enough to deal with, they don’t need any distractions.

    This is hardly newsworthy

  • 24% body fat

    Hamilton is playing in a much harder conference.

    Monahan is coming down to normal numbers, and the league has video on him. Teams are learning to play him.

    Though JG numbers are up, teams are learning to play him as well. This will make things harder.

    Giordano had a career year last year, and it was a big improvement. Unfortunately for flames fans this happened on a career year. History has showed us that when this happens at this age, it is likely not to be reproduced at a 100% level again.

    Add these up and the bounces going back to normal and there is likely to be some lower point totals in the standings.