Bill Arnold Impressing In Stockton, But Not The ‘Fixer’ The Flames Need

Lately
it seems there’s been a lot of chatter from fans wanting to see Bill Arnold in a
Calgary Flames jersey. However, he may not be the jolt the Flames are looking
for.

The
primary reason for this, of course, is to bring about change. Lineups tend to
get stale when fans become restless with their team’s play. What’s more, fans
often like to see prospects they haven’t seen before, and who can blame them?
Unfortunately, it’s not always what’s best for the team at that particular
moment.

Let’s
explore why Bill Arnold isn’t the
right choice to fix the Flames’ woes right now.

HIS
YEAR SO FAR

In
11 games Arnold has put up just three goals and two assists. Not outstanding in
any way, but that’s actually not far off the mark from what’s expected of him.
Last season he had a 0.62 points-per-game average, which was actually fairly
decent for his rookie campaign. He has missed two games this season due to
illness, so he was unable to make the trip to the Lone Star state on November
13th and 14th.

This
year he’s a touch below that point-per-game mark, but has actually looked quite
impressive nevertheless. Given what we know about Bill Arnold, that’s what you’d
like to see. Even when he’s not contributing offensively, you’d like to see him
make his mark on a game in some other ways. He’s been doing just that with his
trademark steady two-way game and incredible face-off abilities.

What
took me by surprise this season was a new found so-called second gear from
Arnold. The 23-year-old Boston native has always played the game physically and
at a good, but not great pace. However, whatever sort of golf and beer regiment
he went on in the summer seems to have worked wonders for him. He’s quicker
than I’ve ever seen him and has been nearing Turner Elson/Garnet Hathaway
levels of tenacity, which fits impeccably with the two-way game he’s trying to
perfect.

HOW
HE’S BEEN USED

Arnold’s
primarily been used as a second or third line centre depending on which city Markus
Granlund and Derek Grant are. If one of those two is in Calgary, Arnold’s been
on the second line alongside too many wingers it’s difficult to even keep up
anymore.

In
the past three games, (which have finally
seemed to have established some stable line chemistry) Arnold has found himself
on the fourth line alongside Blair Riley and Hunter Smith. Does that look bad
on him? Sure, I suppose. But when you’ve got two freakishly dynamic centres
like Granlund and Grant in the top two spots, it’s tough to get more minutes
than them. Then you’ve got Drew Shore who’s got five points in his last five
games – and on an offensively starved team like the Heat, you can’t not play a
guy as hot as that. Thus, fourth line centre Bill Arnold.

Rest
assured, Arnold fans, he’s still getting ample special teams time. In fact, the
only forward who has been getting more is Granlund. Arnold has been on the
first power play unit alongside Granlund and Poirier and they haven’t looked
awful despite running the 21st ranked PP in the league. We’ll have
to see what these guys can get going in the coming weeks because they are a
newly formed unit. He’s also the first one off the bench to kill a penalty. So
his talents aren’t being wasted, it’s just that there have been better options
at even strength, which brings me to the most important point to keep in mind…

HE’S
NOT A ‘FIXER’

With
fans calling for Arnold to be recalled in an attempt to jump start the Flames
or give them some sort of added push, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Arnold
is the type of player you recall when a line-up is clicking and winning games,
but someone goes down with an injury. He’s the player you recall when you don’t want to disturb a winning line-up.
He’s someone you can count on to put in a solid 8-10 minutes without hurting
the team dynamic and success. Last year, for example, would’ve been a good time
to recall Arnold – when the team was competitive and the same lines were being rolled
out game after game. That’s when you insert a player like Arnold.

Conversely,
the Flames need someone exciting and energetic. Someone who will make the
players on the bench want to compete just a tad harder. Like Bennett’s doing
this year. Like Ferland did last spring. That’s the type of player you need to
attempt to fix whatever’s going on in Calgary.

In
other words, Bill Arnold’s not a ‘fixer’. Bill Arnold is the duct tape and WD-40
that helps fix a leaky gutter or a squeaky car door. He’s not the player that
replaces the gutter on your roof or the springs in your door. And that’s not a
knock against him. You need those types of players too. But with the current
state of the Flames, it’s going to take a lot more than a tongue to a 9-volt
battery. It’s going to take defibrillators to bring this team back to the level
they were at last season.

  • SickFloBro

    There’s probably a lot more to player recalls than I, as a fan, will ever realize. It’s obviously more of a delicate balancing act than we can probably appreciate. Insightful take on the Arnold situation, Mike!

    I have to say, I’d personally still like to see him get called up at some point this year. If I were in charge, I’d want to at least see how he looks against NHL opposition. Give him a few games to acclimate and get comfortable, just to see where he’s at.

  • RKD

    I could not disagree with your article more! In fact I believe Bill Arnold is exactly what the Flames need. A strong face off man, grit, speed and work ethic. The Flames are lacking in a number of those areas if I’m not mistaken. More importantly have you checked out the standings lately? It’s time to give prospects like Bill Arnold some NHL development time and given the struggles the Flames have had this year he would be the ideal candidate for a call up….

    • KACaribou

      I like your point of view… a lot. I hate to see these guys wallowing in the minors forever without a chance.

      The problem is that Hartley would put him on the fourth line with Bollig and Raymond and then play Arnold 6-8 minutes. Great development huh?

      Ferland appears to be a forever 4th liner with Hartley too. Until last game when he gave him what 4 shifts with the big boys. What he didn’t score? Back to 7 minutes a game!

      Ortio, 2 games and then a ride on the pine for a month… then back to the minors. How fair!

      Are we trying to develop players here?, or are we trying to just make playoffs with no chance to contend? with the only result being to keep the coach and GM looking like they are doing a good job when they are certainly not.

      • piscera.infada

        I would actually not have a problem with Armold playing on the 4th line. It would likely be with Jooris and Ferland. Even if it was Bollig, Arnold would keep the puck out of the net.

        What I find strange is that he was part of the most dynamic line in the NCAA, and both Guadreau and Hayes are 2nd year NHL players. Arnold was rock steady playing with those two, and actually helped solify the line.

        As it stands tonight, Granlund is playing on the 4th line with Ferland and Jooris. Bollig and Raymond are healthy scratches.

      • piscera.infada

        Treliving was on the fan yesterday evening, and it sounds like this Granlund call-up is somewhat make-or-break from the organization’s stand point. It sounds like they want him to basically prove he’s not a ‘tweener.

        I say the Flames may have just added a permanent fixture to their team. I hope so anyway.

        • everton fc

          If Granlund gets the right linemates, he’ll provide offence. He’s also willing to go intot he gritty places, like a pro should. I think he’ll do well. Would love to see Ferland on his left-side, as they’ve had chemistry in the past.

        • Cfan in Vic

          I sure hope so. More kids, less hollow truculence. Makes sense as a make-or-break, he’s been kicking around for a while. I’ve always liked Granlund, but he has had many cups of coffee, and I guess it’s time to shine.

          Having said that, I wonder how long before he has to pass through waivers?

          • piscera.infada

            Having said that, I wonder how long before he has to pass through waivers?

            I’m fairly certain it’s next season due to his years pro. He’s waiver exempt this year regardless of how many games he plays.

  • RKD

    Where is this coming from? I haven’t heard too many people asking for Bill Arnold in the lineup. Most people are wanting to see Emile Poirier in the lineup. The nice thing is Arnold is a right handed shot but he’s not going to fix the Flames problems or put them on a big winning streak. Depending on how the season goes, Arnold will get his shot sooner or later.