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WWYDW: What one change would you make?

It seems as though everything has gone off the rails for the Flames.

Coming off of a respectable 3-2-1 road trip, the Flames returned to Calgary for a four-game homestand. During it, they won once and got embarrassed three times – and that’s putting it nicely.

Their past two games, the Flames have completely folded, allowing goals to go against them in bursts (they’ve given up 12) and seemingly burying them in complete despair. If there’s any fight left in them, it’s come too late, and four points have completely slipped through their fingers.

The bad news: those four points would see them at 33 on the season, which would have them third in the Pacific.

The good news: that they’re sitting at just 29 is by no means a death sentence for this season. You’d like them to be in a cushier position, but the Flames are still very much in the playoff hunt. Teams will go through losing streaks, and that will, in all likelihood, apply to the Pacific teams currently above Calgary; by absolutely no means are they out of it.

So here’s the question. Things are, obviously, not ideal at the moment. There will always be something that needs fixing. So pick one area – your biggest area of concern – pretend that you have full control of the franchise, and make your one move.

The Flames are struggling right now, not playing to their full potential. Do you move Glen Gulutzan? If so, who do you replace him with? Do the other coaches follow?

Or are there deeper problems with the roster? Do the Flames need another top line forward, right now? There have been rumours Wayne Simmonds is available. Do you trade for him? The Buffalo Sabres are in something of a shambles right now. Do you try to pilfer from them? Kyle Okposo? Sam Reinhart? Anyone not named Jack Eichel? Or hey, the Montreal Canadiens always seem to be doing weird stuff with Alex Galchenyuk, how about him? (Keep these realistic; i.e. no, nobody is going to take on Troy Brouwer’s contract so the Flames can upgrade themselves at the forward position.)

But wait, wasn’t this supposed to be the best defence in the NHL? What happened to that? The Flames gave up a fair bit for Travis Hamonic. T.J. Brodie has had amazing seasons for Calgary in the past, but he looks like a shell of his former self right now. Do you cut bait with either of those players? If so, for who? Just what would it take to pick up, say, Oliver Ekman-Larsson? (Again: not Brouwer.) Keep in mind that Brodie has modified no movement and no trade clauses. Michael Stone has a modified no trade clause, too, for that matter.

Mike Smith may be getting too heavy a workload. Is more starts for David Rittich the answer? Is he even ready for that, or should it be Eddie Lack back up? Is it Jon Gillies’ time? Is there another goalie out there to go after?

Or does the answer lie internally? Should Andrew Mangiapane be recalled? Is it about time Morgan Klimchuk makes his NHL debut? Rasmus Andersson, come on up? Oliver Kylington?

On the smaller scale, is it just a roster change that would fix things? Who should take Kris Versteeg’s place on the top powerplay unit, full time? Would it make sense to reunite Brodie with Mark Giordano and let Dougie Hamilton be in control of his own defence pairing? Is it time to separate Matthew Tkachuk from Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik?

Plenty ails the Flames right now, but they aren’t past the point of no return just yet. So you get one major change. Or maybe a couple of small ones. What is the move that gets them out of their currently precarious position?

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    • BlueMoonNigel

      You get more and more idiotic. Trade Hammy and now fire Tre. Just keep blasting away at anything that moves and you finally find what ails this club. Let’s hope you correctly diagnosis before you kill the patient.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        Yup. Depending on who you ask, we fire Tre, Gully, both assistant, then trade Backs, Brodie, Bennett, Dougie, some prospects and eat salary to get rid of Stajan and Brouwer and recoup picks.

        In other word, I think the comment section wants a rebuild.

  • Nick24

    We shouldn’t get too reactionary with regards to coaching. People calling for the firing of Gulutzan is absurd. He’s been coach one season prior and in that season they made the playoffs. I don’t understand why everyone is jumping on him. As far as the system goes, they’re more structured at 5on5 than they’ve been in a long time. Yes, the PK needs to be more aggressive, and I don’t know why the coaching staff hasn’t returned to the style they played last year, but maybe using Bennett and Jankowski can provide some viability to a second group. The PP does seems to be a little one trick, but has been pretty productive over the season. The only real criticism is that there isn’t as much variance in their zone entries.

    At 5on5 though, this team is pretty strong. They need to upgrade the lower part of the forward unit, and at some point they need to try some of their AHL guys to bolster the 4th line. There is a fair bit they could do up front to try to find some more productive units. Matt Moulson, who’s a veteran making a sizeable sum, just got sent to the AHL, do the same with Brouwer. The Lazar “reclamation” hasn’t and won’t work so send him down or trade him. If Calgary gave up a 2nd, maybe someone has interest for a 3rd or 4th round pick. Bartkowski should be given a one way ticket to Stockton. Call up Hrivik, Mangiapane, and Wotherspoon. The top 6 forwards should stay the same, and if Bennett can keep up his play the problem with the 3rd line may be solved. If there’s a trade to be made, it’d be to bring in a forward. They don’t have to be a world beater, but someone who can help stabilize the bottom portion of the forward group. A Paul Byron type player that also has some PK upside.

    If the defence is still of concern, call up Anderson over Wotherspoon, and try him out over Stone or Hamonic, doesn’t matter who. Splitting up Hamonic and Brodie should be a priority for the Flames. They need to see who on the pairing is dragging down who. Giordano – Hamonic, Brodie – Hamilton should be at least tried. If both pairings work then it solves the D problem, but if they don’t it’ll help point out what the Flames should do going forward. Giordano and Hamilton are both top pairing defencemen, the Flames should take advantage of this and try to mix up the units.

    As for goaltending, Mike Smith can’t play as much as he is, and the volatile nature of his play requires a competent back up. I don’t know if Rittich is that guy, but they need to try him out. Maybe he can find consistency as a backup, maybe not, but theres only one way to know.

    • The Fall

      Over 100 games under Gulutzan:
      The Flames are sub .500 in games that don’t go to OT (ie. playoff format games),
      Brouwer, TJ, Bennett, Jagr, Hamonic, have all regressed significantly,
      Near league worse PK and mundane PP,
      And questionable player usage…

      These are all things the coach controls.

      • Nick24

        It’s pretty scapegoat-ish to blame Gulutzan for everything bad happening. Are you going to congratulate for putting together the 3M Line? Or for Gaudreau being 3rd in the league in scoring? Signing Brouwer was an awful decision that had nothing to do with Gulutzan, Brodie floundered after getting away from Giordano and never found a viable partner, Bennett hasn’t not lived up to expectations, and management’s bet they could get value out of Hamonic hasn’t worked out either. Jagr hasn’t regressed, he’s being used as a 3rd line forward, and has been the Flames best bottom 6 forward. Is Gulutzan perfect? Hardly. But blaming him because Brouwer is terrible and Hamonic looks like a dead weight isn’t grounds for firing. The Flames PK has been poor this year, but last year it was very good, so there’s reason to believe it can improve. The power play has been relatively strong this year, though utilizing Hamilton more would likely make it that much better.
        Every coach makes suspect player decisions, and bringing in a new coach won’t result in all the blemishes you see in the lineup being remedied.

          • Cheeky

            Wow is all I can say. So what you are saying is keep GG, keep watching our players spiral out of control, maybe trade away good players at a lower rate than bought for, keep the incredibly effective PP in tact, bring up prospects to maybe sit in pressbox or flounder, and keep being mediocre maybe squeezing into playoffs…Did I miss anything?

          • The Fall

            I get your point Nick, but really the team is underperforming based on expectations. The responsibility lies somewhere. The defence group is too good to be giving up the chances they are, and a significant number of players are having the worse seasons of their career.

            Johnny is a superstar I will not give Glen credit for playing him.

        • KeepitReal

          I think its good to always look at things from 30,000 feet. Get a chance to see the bigger picture that way. That’s what I took away from the Fall’s observation. GG is a rookie head coach. He’s got no HC track record, maybe he wasn’t quite ready.

  • Jessemadnote

    I would look into hiring a ‘defensive coordinator’ very similar to the role that Jacques Martin plays in Pittsburgh. Gulutzan seems okay when it comes to his overall management of the group (I know you’ll all hate me for saying that.) But this team seems incapable of managing momentum swings and relies solely on Mike Smith. I would hire someone like Larry Robinson or Jacques Lemaire to help this D core realize their potential.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I see where friend Jagr will miss tonight’s game with a hurt. He has missed a lot of games with hurts this year. I wonder how much of his ill health has been due to missing training camp and not just age related. Once he gets his required games in to set the record, I could see him retiring the next day, especially if he is being dogged with injuries.

      • McRib

        Why in the world would you skate Jagr!?!?! I just don’t understand it. The minute I heard Backlund was the only one who missed the skate I couldn’t believe it.

        I played Hockey to the Jr. A level (a coupe CIS games as well), when a coach bag skates a team it’s out of pure desperation and the players rarely respond positively, usually it only pushes the players further away from listening to the coach.

        • McRib

          Bag skating one of the best players in history after he has been battling a significant injury is pure stupidity. Even if Jagr comes to you and says “I want to do it”, you say f*** off go ride the bike for a bit.

        • freethe flames

          After coaching a different sport for many years I can tell you that a coach can only use a conditioning practice once or twice a year(bag skate) and even then it only has a minimal impact. The fact that he bagged skated them in the preseason and maybe twice already during the season suggests to me that he has lost them. A coach only has so many bullets in his gun each year and I think there are even fewer with today’s athlete than when I coached and even fewer with professional athletes than kids. If the leaders and the stars don’t buy in or lead then the cost is lost. Let’s remember the core of this team helped run Hartley off because he was not player friendly; yet much of his system and theatrics(coaching style) are better suited to this group than GG system and laid back style.

  • Lucky 13

    I find it interesting that some are suggesting firing Treliving.

    I guess we’re headed North with our assessment of him?
    If we had Chiarelli, I could understand the angst.

    Treliving has done some great things for the club, IMO.

    Nobody is perfect, we can say whatever we want in retrospect.
    However, consider the good things he’s done.
    Treliving’s trades have netted the Flames DHamilton, Kylington, Anderson, Dube, Parsons, Phillips, Lazar, Shinkaruk. I think we can agree most of these are promising.
    In the wings, lies Valimaki and Adam Fox. You’re right, their terrible.

    He also hasn’t broke the bank with (re) signing our players. He’s managed our Cap well.

    Yes he’s made some choices he may regret, however it doesn’t make him a bad GM. He has more autonomy now and I think will only improve.

    I’m not upset he brought Hamonic in. We needed a right shot D, he addressed it. Did he give up too much, probably but you can’t dictate the market, it’s a catch22.

    You mad that he brought in Mike Smith too, because I’m not.

    Try looking at the good things he’s done for the club, before making assumptions he has to go. His good outweighs anything bad he’s done.

    Now if he’s a smart GM, like I know he is, he’ll address the coaching thing on his own.

    • JusAFlamer

      I do not mind BT.
      i am one of the “GG must go” crowd but have been since 1/4 point last season

      BT at least looked at the holes that needed filling and got the best out there at reasonable contracts (cutting close on cap this year : with potential bonus’ catered in) Lots look at RW as weakness which yes it is, but where going to get a bonifide RW on bargain contract for basically nothing? (no one gonna take bad contract unless is for bad contract)
      Hamonic “assumably” needs time to adjust (he is looking better last couple games)

      BUT GG is forcing the square pegs to try to fit into round holes, because analytics say this “should” work. Without even paying attention to what it is he has as players or what their strengths may be. Next thing i see him asking for is. “Hey JG we need you to start chipping into corner and get into strength battles to get it back”

    • McRib

      What moves has Treliving made that has been positive, since Dougie Hamilton?

      Travis Hamonic is looking like an utter stiff, not even worth one second rounder. Signing Troy Brouwer. Trading for Eddie Lack. Singing Michael Stone to three years to block Andersson and Fox. Losing Byron, Falkovsky for nothing. The only other decent move was Mike Smith, but even he has been crap the last few games. We’ve drafted well, but that’s why you have good scouts, not a GM.

        • Lucky 13

          McRib, I agree on the GG hiring.
          It wasn’t the best option.

          Last season GG got the team into the playoffs, which I suppose, is a feather in his cap’

          This season, GG appears to be stuck, lost and ineffective.
          I can’t blame Treliving for not making a change after last season, but this one reeks of inefficiency. At so many levels.

          I agree Treliving must be held accountable for the coach if he chooses to sit back and do nothing. But he won’t, he’s too invested in our success.

      • The Doctor

        I wish people would stop citing Byron as some sort of foreseeable mistake. His play was utterly ineffectual when he was here. He couldn’t finish to save his life. He turned it around in Montreal, but nobody has a magic crystal ball that enables them to be able to predict things like that.

        • freethe flames

          I disagree; he was an effective member of the PK and his speed kept teams honest, yes he could not score. I also believe he was a key part of the locker room chemistry.

        • Nick24

          He was a good bottom 6 forward, and it was reasonable to expect him to start scoring at some point. It didn’t make sense to waive him, and it still doesn’t make sense that it happened.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Throw Tre under the bus. Convenient that you didn’t mention all the draft picks Tre got when he unloaded stiffs like Hudler or how he tilted the draft so that the Flames got Matty.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I don’t think one thing will make a dramatic difference but if I was to make a move I would trade Brodie for Simmonds… Both need a new start. Brodie is not what we hoped. I am not seeing the high hockey IQ needed for this role, I feel he has become one dimensional and teams know that he only passes. He is soft and his defence can be easily replaced. His offense may be tougher to find but this would be addition by subtraction.

      I don’t know what has happened to Simmonds this year but he was one of the most reliable players for many years. I am confident that he would be the missing top 6 piece which frees up Ferland to play with Janko and Bennett. He could easily be an 80 pt player with Johnny and Monny.

      As part of the same move, Rass moves up to play with Stone, while Kulak and Hamonic round out the last pairing.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I totally agree, Tre has been a great hire. He works harder than anyone in the business and is still makes himself available. I didn’t hate the Brouwer signing at the time but I expected more. I hated that we lost Byron and the way Janko was treated but the pros greatly out weigh the cons.

  • CMC

    BT gets too much credit for the DH acquisition. Dougie is still not a 6 million dollar dman. He shows promise particularly as a pp specialist but has a lot of deficiencies in his own end.

    • Lucky 13

      I understand your point, but Dougie is only 24, had 50 points last season and he’s not the only one who is having a down year.
      Our defence as a core has been less than stellar. ???

      It is a bit confusing that he is so good offensively, yet lacks sufficient time on the PP.
      Who’s to blame for that?

      • TGIF

        Hamilton is on pace for 40 points but he is a defensive liability. He is huge and can skate but still refuses to use his size to his advantage.
        Watch when he gets scored against he just kind of stands there looking around.

        • BlueMoonNigel

          It has never been Dougie’s game to put opponents through the boards. His prodigious reach allows him to masterfully stick check opponents which is a far more effective way of separating the puck from the enemy puck carrier.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        So no other club except Calgary was interested in Dougie after Boston nixed the Edmonton trade?

        You, Sir, are not a reliable or credible source. I couldn’t see any club not moving mountains to their hooks on Dougie back then as he was a prodigy. Tre landed him in Calgary because he outsmarted and outhustled his peers.

  • Kevin R

    Hahaha Ari, maybe you should have waited until Friday to do this one. Have a real bad feeling about the next two games, so much so, I have bet against the Flames on this road trip.
    Historically, teams do not like making such major changes, so those that are hard on Treliving, wow, just look at the starts in Montreal & Buffalo. I won’t mention Edmonton, because that situation is on a different dimension.

    To me it’s either Coaching change or major player trade. There are usually no upsides to either move, players are at their lowest value & changing coaches can derail a season pretty bad, especially one where our unprotected 1st is on the line. I get Tre’s reluctance & willing to give this group they believed was good, a chance to get things turned around.
    I would say coaching would be the lessor of the two evils here. Especially because I feel this coach is struggling & is too stubborn to change anything.

    If you make a block buster deal I would say we are too soft & Simmond’s is absolutely a player I would target. I would love to get OEL, depending on price. I would prefer to get a a tough D & I would definitely ask Winnipeg what they would like for Trouba. Brodie would thrive in Winnipeg in my opinion. Hamilton might get Marner +? Maybe.

    But maybe before we do anything rash, how about Coach get out of this horrible rut & try a few things here. For Pete’s sake get Tkachuk off of that 3M line & get a line formed with Bennett, Janko & Tkachuk.
    Then try Brodie with Hamilton & Gio with Hamonic. If that doesn’t do any good then look for a RH D for a decent LHD in the market. If it’s Stone or Hamonic, that will allow you to reunite Brodie & Gio.

  • Fat Tony

    Id like to go with the obvious here and say the team needs a coaching change but after reading the comments, I think we have already covered that.
    I don’t think that Hamonic is the right D partner for Brodie. Move Brodie back to the right side and pair him up with stone who I think compliments his style of play better, then pair Hamonic up with Kulak on the third line.

  • SeanCharles

    One change: revamp the 4th line in an attemp to be fast, gritty and tenacious on the forecheck.


  • Sammy p

    Maybe a good start would be referring to them like the adults that they are and stop with the Dougies,monys,chuckys,,Hammys and Ferlys ,they are not immature atom aged kids for goodness sake,enough already with the baby names.

    • KKisTHEproblem

      Agree wholeheartedly! They are not our friends either (maybe some of you know some players but most of us, I speculate, don’t). I have always found this habit a bit irritating. Maybe its my age…..

  • The Fall

    After many sleepless nights… At this point, the only way to save Brouwer is to put him with Backlund.


  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Trade the team to Seattle, Houston, or Quebec for future considerations.

    It’s addition by subtraction; being a Flames fan is to be generally unhappy 85% of the time. Who needs it?