Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Treliving reflects on the 2017-18 season

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.

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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.”

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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.

  • Franko J

    “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.”

    Well one would think after watching the Flame’s implode in the last month of the season Treliving should have already shared his feelings with “others” in the organization. Yesterday’s exit interviews should have been a formality at best.
    Not to sugarcoat anything if I was able to tell Treliving an unbiased and in emotional assessment of this team it would be this:
    NGE from the coaches.
    NGE from the leadership on the team.
    NGE from building a roster that can execute and compete on a nightly basis.
    I think biggest shock to Treliving was he truly thought he put together a solid coaching staff along with a strong roster.
    One thing is to reflect, however, it is better to take action and accountability from the reflection in the mirror.
    Plenty of soul searching from this organization this off season.
    Going to be interesting to see what comes about.

  • PlayitagainSam

    Treleving is the reason they didn’t make the playoffs. He had a chance at the trade deadline to do something while the team was in contention and did nothing to push them into the playoffs.

    • Cfan in Van

      With their performance up to the deadline, there’s no indication that anything worth acquiring would have made enough of an impact. Would we be more happy if they overpayed with assets for a big fish at the deadline, and then still faced all the injuries at the end of the season which would inevitably sink the season? I wouldn’t.

        • Cfan in Van

          I disagree. Everyone rages about Tre throwing out picks last off-season, but we’d be missing some pretty awesome D prospects if they threw them at a trade-deadline pickup. And we would have either still missed the playoffs, or wouldn’t have enough of a roster left in the first round to avoid getting swept again.

      • PlayitagainSam

        SanJose went out and got Evander Kane for a 1st a 4th and a prospect. That’s not an overpay especially when Treleving traded this 1st and a 2nd for a 5th dman in Hamonic.
        The Kane type of player would be exactly what this team needs. Some colour,personality and offensive flair is what this team is lacking.

        • Cfan in Van

          We don’t have a first, so you’re probably giving away Valimaki and someone else for Evander Kane. Then we get injured, fail anyway, and Kane leaves in the off-season. You can have your Kane for 25 games or so, because I don’t want him…

          • PlayitagainSam

            It didn’t have to be Kane but he could have at least tried to get something better than Stewart. I mean seriously every team that thinks they have a shot usually try to make a deal that gets them over the hump instead of nothing.
            Even if you had to put a d prospect in play ,so what? I thought we had the best d on paper anyway?

          • Beer League Coach

            Kane is also in his contract year. He is busting his butt for a big contract this summer. Once he gets it he will likely regress to what he showed as a Buffalo Sabre. Would not give up anything more than a 2nd round pick for him.

        • Cfan in Van

          By the time the deadline rolled around, it should have been glaringly obvious to most that it was no longer “go for it” time, as it was to start the season. If not Kane, why don’t you let us know what piece would have been worth our top prospects (ie: what single move would have turned the season around for us)?

        • Jano

          So who would have you gone after and what would you have given up to get said player? With Mike Smith injured at the time, and I’m guessing Monahan was already playing in substantial pain, it would be tough to give up promising futures for a rental.

  • Justthateasy

    Hey boys and girls, I doubt this is a novel idea but here goes.
    Ryan O’Reilly said it best. Halfway through the season they knew they were not making the playoffs and he had lost interest.
    This season is way too long with too many teams having no hope part way through.
    We need less regular season, more teams making the playoffs, and therefore longer playoffs with more on the line. You will have more feeling of success and less feeling of hand-wringing angst.
    There are too many regular season games with too many injuries and for 14 teams; all for nothing. We will then rotate the coaches and see if anything changes. There is too much disappointment and too much lack of success. We can’t all win!

  • redwhiteblack

    The pre season was a bit of an indicator something was off. Then that first game against the Oil. I never felt confident in the group’s potential at any time this past season. At the core I never felt confident in the coaching staff. They failed to get anywhere near the potential there. That said a lot of players did not have good years. Vegas and Winnipeg had players with breakout seasons and that’s what you need to move up the ranks. Good coaching can help that.