The Calgary Flames conducted their exit interviews and final media availabilities of the year on Monday. The centerpiece of the day was a lengthy media conference by general manager Brad Treliving, followed by a lengthy chat with Treliving on Sportsnet 960 The Fan with hosts Rob Kerr and our pal Pat Steinberg. All-told, Treliving spoke for the better part of a full hour about the team, where things went wrong, and how things look moving forward.
Here are the main takeaways from Treliving’s chats. (960 has been nice enough to post all the audio for both Treliving chats: The media conference is here and his chat with Kerr and Steinberg is here.)
In both of his chats, Treliving categorized the season as a “missed opportunity.” He has some “real strong feelings about where things may have gone wrong,” but wants to talk to folks around the organization and get some input to see if others share his feelings.
I do want to take some time. I do want to get input from people. I want to get some other views from our staff, people I call almost the outside view, our scouting staff that watch us on a consistent basis but aren’t here everyday. Obviously sit down with the coaches. Get the players view here today. When things go well it’s never as good as you think it is, when things are bad it’s never as bad as you think it is. (960 chat)
Treliving noted in his press conference than the team “fell short at critical junctures” (and big moments), saying that in important games and important moments within games they weren’t able to get it done. He didn’t seem sold on the team having a lack of mental toughness or character, pointing out that a good portion of the team’s core is young and still maturing, but he didn’t shut down the notion of a skill deficiency and noted “We relied on too few to do too much.” On 960 he mentioned the skill deficiency concept again when talking about the team’s excellent possession metrics:
If you continue to do that, I do believe you’re going to have success. You keep doing the right things, you do it long enough you’re gonna have success. The skill deficiency is at the end of the day, you have to convert. (960 chat)
He also focused on the team’s (bad) home record and (bad) power play as primary reasons for the season ending when it did during the press conference.
That said, he was complementary towards head coach Glen Gulutzan in both formats, describing him as “a good coach” and talking at length with Kerr and Steinberg about specific attributes he likes about the coach. He declined to really get into evaluations of the coaching staff, though, noting that they need to have conversations and “figure out the why.”
Treliving declined to really criticize his crop of goaltenders, pointing out Mike Smith’s strong season prior to his injury (while acknowledging a dip in his game prior to that injury). He noted that the Smith injury put David Rittich and Jon Gillies in a “real tough situation,” in that they had to basically keep the team afloat during Smith’s absence and play games in arguably the toughest time of year to get your feet wet as a goalie. He noted that doubts haven’t crept in regarding the team’s goaltenders, “but we’ve got to look at everything.”
Finally, Treliving shared with Kerr and Steinberg that they aren’t exactly excited about having no picks in first three rounds of the upcoming NHL Draft in Dallas, but that they knew what the possibilities when they made the trades that sent those picks away. While they’re looking at somehow adding picks, they’re also looking at free agent signings (such as the signing of WHL standout Glenn Gawdin) to effectively act in lieu of having those picks.
All things considered, Treliving sounded very measured in what he said. He almost went out of his way to not discuss specific players – aside from praising Sean Monahan for playing through injuries that required four surgeries and Dillon Dube for his short AHL stint – and declined to get into a detailed assessment of his coaching staff. There are definitely changes coming, but it’s very difficult to tell for sure what they’re going to be given how little of his hand the GM tipped.