124Milan Lucic
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson/USA Today Sports

Taking the L as a Calgary fan

What a difference a week makes.

Last week seemed like such a blessed time. FlamesNation was debating how to juggle minor league goalies. I wasn’t at City Hall protesting budget cuts. Milan Lucic was still an Oiler.

It would be great to get a mulligan on these last seven days.

I get that it’s foolish to get so wrapped up in caring about a sports team when they will ultimately tell me that this is a business, and decisions are made accordingly. But I’m an idiot, so that point is moot.

Instead, I’m going to try and rationalize everything that has been going on with being a Calgary Flames fan in the last seven days.

Milan Lucic 

I get that when you think about it, this trade isn’t as bad as it seems.

James Neal was never going to move back into the top six, nor should he have. He wanted to go, and that was a hell of a contract for the Flames to move. They were going to have to take on dead weight. Did it have to be Lucic though?

Sure, Lucic was a positive CF%Rel for the Oilers. Someone had to be. He had a great face-off percentage for the extremely limited number of face-offs he took. He improves everyone’s height and weight according to some media personalities, ignoring how body growth works.

He also has one of the worst penalty differentials in the National Hockey League and has a terrible contract for someone who is going to provide grit in limited minutes.

He also tended to make news stories off the ice for all the wrong reasons when he was younger, be it for getting into barfights or for very public fights with his girlfriend.

The worst part of this though has to be that it seems to contradict the edict the Flames have been selling for the past few seasons. They keep drafting players who lean much more towards skill than size. This is a team that tinkered to find the most skillful lineup, and when they had grit, at least it was functional enough grit in Garnet Hathaway at a fraction of the cost.

It’s hard to see how the Flames decided they needed more grit after losing to the Colorado Avalanche – a team that won because they had the puck and not because they were grittier – and why they needed to over-commit to Lucic. Yes, the deal could have been a lot worse. No, it isn’t bad enough to be a fireable offense. The problem is that I don’t want to cheer for a team that could be doing worse, I want to cheer for a team that is actively good.

Ideally, he doesn’t finish that contract in Calgary. At least he can’t mess up the Flames’ expansion draft plans.

The arena, er… events centre

If the Flames had decided to break my heart by trading for Lucic, it would have been enough.  Instead, they finally got council and the Calgary Stampede to come together for a new “events centre” (read: an arena, but with more events) in a deal that sees public money pay $275 million of the budgeted $550 million.

Admittedly, the Flames made a great deal here, as they got a shiny new toy at half the cost. They also got it with a lot of other perks, and have council on board with streamlining the deal through. I just wish that I didn’t feel like I was going to suffer because of their great deal.

This deal comes at a time where City Council decided to really lean into a period of austerity and make cuts to a bunch of services around the city. Mayor Naheed Nenshi admitted the optics would not look good, and they don’t. Reading about all the cuts from Tuesday’s night’s council meeting stung.

It’s important to acknowledge that the pools of money for social services and for the events centre are two different ones, and it’s not like they were robbing one for the other. However, they could have balanced better. They could have made the smarter decision and invested in Calgary instead of the Calgary Flames.

There’s been a lot of great analysis (including from FlamesNation’s own Ryan Pike) and also not great analysis (especially those targeted towards the sports fan). Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the consensus around this deal is that it could have been worse.

This one will have Calgarians split, because some just want the peace and quiet of good relations to go along with a state-of-the-art arena. That being said, I definitely align with Calgarians who are disappointed with this deal.

None of this will ultimately matter 

The Calgary Flames will still play their 2019-20 season, and beyond. I’ll still watch their games. I likely won’t go to any, but I’ll find ways to watch them online. Council will keep making budget cuts, and they won’t be held side-by-side to the new events centre. It’d be easier to quit caring about sports, but as stated earlier: I’m an idiot.

Sometimes, you just need to vent that you wish things could be better, and turn the page. Hey, at least the Sam Bennett contact was pretty good!

  • Zorn

    As far as the Lucic trade goes I am in the wait and see” camp. Basically, bad for bad and the Flames save 1/2 million against the cap.
    On the arena deal, Nathan, I agree whole heartedly. Billionaires are what they are because they are brilliant business people. They know how to get something for nothing and the people get snookered. Sports teams come to cities not to make those cities great but because they are great already.

    • PlayitagainSam

      But you could have bought Neal out! That’s the kicker right there and brought in a good skating tough guy for a fraction of the cost of Lucic a guy who look like he has no blades on when he skates.

      • MDG1600

        Whoa – settle down there Sam! Some people in these here parts don’t want to hear criticism of their beloved GM. Pretty much the entire hockey world are laughing at us over this trade yet I see post after post using mental gymnastics to rationalize that Calgary won this trade. Perhaps BT doesn’t want to concede what a brutally bad signing Neal was and his pride prevented him from buying out Neal.

        • HOCKEY83

          I think he conceded how absolutely horrible it was to have Neal on the team by trading him way for looch. He realized Neal was so useless that having looch and his NMC was far better than having Neal.

          • Who is Alberta’s team?

            Neal just did back to back cup finals. Think about that for a minute. Guy played intense hockey for 21out of the last 24 months. I don’t mean Sean Monohan intense either. Listen to his interviews. Guy was exhausted. Mentally too I suppose since he lost both cup finals. What’s lucics reason for sucking the last 24 months?

      • Flint

        Name one. “A good skating tough guy” who hits as much as Lucic and can fight and has Stanley Cup experience.

        And add his salary to 2 million for 4 years to buy out Neal. Who’s that guy and what do you think it takes to acquire him?

        • Flint

          And sorry…. just to clarify, that’s four EXTRA years….. so 8 years of 1,916million to buy our Neal (until 2026/27).

          And if you think Lucic is a terrible skater, you got a surprise coming with Neal. Go back and look at his goals last year. He’s not a better skater than Lucic.

      • Porcupine at a balloon party

        You’re really loving to troll here Sam. But do the math. Go ahead and buyout Lucic and buyout Neal. Then add the Oilers contribution to Lucic to your Neal deal. It’s the same freaking number

      • canadian1967

        I would genuinely have traded Neal for Brouwer (at Neal’s salary) to get rid of James Neal.
        THAT is how much I hate “the I don’t care real deal” James Neal.

        • Porcupine at a balloon party

          That’s something no one has been talking about. As much as flames and Oilers are cap teams, they still have cash budgets. That cash savings will go to other things. Be it front loading Tkachuk, scouting, more experienced coach in AHL, something else is front office. Cash is king

  • Chucky

    If you are going to run a city with a sports team and insist that the team build their facility on your land rather than a site the team selects then you are going to pay the price.
    Simple fact is the guy that pays has the say, the city wanted to dictate the location so they had to pay something.

  • cunning_linguist

    Why are you at city hall protesting budget cuts? The obliteration of our downtown tax base means a huge revenue shortfall. Totally unreasonable to expect that to be balanced entirely on the backs of taxpayers without spending level adjustments. $60 million is a drop in the ocean, and we need to take out a much larger hacksaw to the single largest line item of our municipal opex budget: payroll & salaries.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Leave off the sugar coating, the Lucic trade was a bad deal made by a desperate GM with limited options. When trading for Lucic is your best bet, you know how deep you are in the bung hole. Though Holland got no prize in Neal, he must still be LHAO having unloaded one of the worst contracts in the NHL at practically face value to his provincial rival.

    As for the new barn, what’s funny in a stupid and scary sort of way is that the public consultation and city approval for my application to build a deck in my backyard a couple of years ago took a helluva lot longer than the week Davison says is necessary for council to vote on this half-a-billion-dollar project. Do you really trust this debased and debauched council to do the right thing here? Remember these are the same incompetents who promised you the Olympics without raising property taxes.

  • buts

    After watching a year of James Neal this trade is a big win for our team that needs his size and ability to deter badly. Lucic is not as slow as the coil trolls say. He doesn’t have to fight he just has to be a presence and hit, he has great hands and has had some family issues I’m sure that have distracted his play, if he gets his confidence look out. Tre is getting better as the 3rd round insurance clause in the deal is smart. As far as the event center goes the city wouldn’t be doing budget cuts if city hall took a pay cut, they have gotten a raise every year, I don’t know about you guys I haven’t had a raise in 5 years. This council will probably ask for a delay to study, consult and let the negative conspirators gain momentum and kill the event center….I hope not. The center comes with a zero municipal tax increase, what more can a citizen ask for, besides did we get a chance to vote on bike lanes, the library, expensive art, the BMO expansion and I could go on and on. Calgary needs the boost of this Victoria park expansion and entertainment district that will bring in residential towers, bars and restaurants along with tax revenue to replace nothing but empty parking lots.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Lucic has been a spent force for the past two seasons. He was the punch line for every Chia and Oiler joke Flame fans made since he joined Edmonton. Now his trouble is our trouble. How so very generous of Tre.

    • PlayitagainSam

      So the 3rd round pick is coming back? That surely means Neal is going to have a great year. Not a high percentage of 3rd rounders even play in the league.
      Justify a shltty trade for your team all you want but you now have the worst contract in the league.

      • Budgie

        Neal’s contract is brutal, you will hope for a new James Neal, I hope it happens so Calgary gets a third round pick. Why hope for a player to tank? That is un-Canadian, as un-Canadian as trading Gretzsky to an American team for big cash-greed.

      • HOCKEY83

        What did you get for Hall and Eberle? Larsson…the third pairing Dman. Not only that Oil nation trashed them both as they left the city…it’s what you do to compensate for the garbage trades The Oil constantly make. ON trashed FN about the Neal signing as much as FN trashed ON about the Lucic signing…give it up already. Both players are listed as garbage contracts only time will tell who this crappy trade worked out for the most. It’s very unfortunate that this particular trade is the only thing ON fans have to get up about over the last couple seasons…sad day to be an Oiler fan.

    • Canoe Ride 27

      Lol. First off I’ll admit that it’s sad there is room for Neal in our top 6. Time will tell how this works out, but watch Neal end up on his off wing with a left shot center named McDavid. Patrick Maroon had a career high of 11 goals until he played with 97. That turned into 27 goals. Neal is a shooter and has net presence. Time will tell.
      As much as I actually like Looch, the game has past him by. As far as the added toughness, it depends which Looch you get from night to night. What you always seem to get though, is the play dying on his stick.
      Congrats on the new barn.

      • wot96

        If you enjoy watching plays die on a player’s stick, you will love James Neal. You have to take a pass to take a shot. Couldn’t do either last season. His goals will come from shots by Connor off his skates, assuming Connor can retain possession long enough for Neal to drive the net.

      • Porcupine at a balloon party

        First off I’ll say thanks for a “not so bad troll post” canoe, but just a heads-up, game has past Neal too. I won’t deny he might score 20g if he plays on McDavid’s right for the year, but he will drag that line down to an extent he’s never seen yet. Expect 97 to finish a lot of shifts in his own zone if he’s playing with Neal.

    • MDG1600

      IMHO all that really matters in the Lucic/Neal trade is the contracts. Neither player is likely to be effective on the ice over the remaining term. The NTC and large bonus structure of Lucic’s contract makes it a clearly worse contract so all BT has done is make our cap situation worse in the coming years. I know all the eternal optimists like to think we can unload him to Vancouver or that he will waive his NTC clause for the expansion draft but sadly those are just hopes and dreams.

      • canadian1967

        Come on. Lucic will be bought out as soon as the buyout period starts just before the expansion draft.
        2 years under $4M and then 2 more years at $500K.
        It’s actually quite attractive at that point, and because the Flames know they will be paying a large signing bonus to Tkachuk they have saved actual Dollars to do this with the way Lucic isn’t owed a lot of “actual” Dollars.

        It’s not ideal, but the Flames wanted to save actual $cash to pay Tkachuks bonus and there was no other way to get rid of Neal, who CLEARLY needed to be subtracted from the Room.

        So good luck with that Oilers Fans. Sounds like the players and Coach wanted him out, and now you also added in Mike Smith to the Room as well. The Oil have NO hope of making the playoffs.

  • PlayitagainSam

    The Flames never lost against Colorado because of size and toughness . Colorado didn’t beat them into the boards.they lost because they totally outplayed Calgary in every facet of the game but the number one reason was that Calgary just could not skate with them.
    Giordano disappeared , Tkachuk was invisible, and Gaudreau was a non factor again.
    You really think Lucic would have helped Calgary in that series and be a difference maker? Not a hope in hell! I mean the guy can not skate. Many flames fans calling him a Neanderthal in Calgary.
    Good luck

    • BlueMoonNigel

      It is curious that with so many agreeing that today’s game is predicated on speed, some think that Lucic can still be a force. He can’t. Even tough guys need to be able to skate to be effective in today’s NHL. The game has passed Lucic by.

      • PlayitagainSam

        I was a big proponent of Lucic but you are right the game has passed him by. I said this watching his decline 2 years ago not because he has become a Flame.

        • Cfan in Van

          It’s been said before, but if you’re glad to rid yourself of Looch because the game has passed him by, have fun with Neal. The only thing he has going for him is penalty differential. He has no speed, hands, on-ice awareness, or toughness. Just floats around, screwing up, and demanding good ice time and line mates.

      • HOCKEY83

        He was able to catch a puck carrier 259 times last season. That’s all the organization expects from him. Rather than someone Like Neal taking a turn to go out a skate a circle around the ice and head back off and be 100% useless for the same money

    • MDG1600

      More succinctly Calgary lost because McKinnon totally dominated Monahan in every single facet of the game. When you have no answer for the other teams #1 centre it’s tough to win. To ever be a serious cup contender this team needs more out of Monahan than just “nice hands from the slot”. Teams win cups with a #1 centre who can dominate on both sides of the puck. O Reilly was MVP for a reason.

      • Budgie

        I kept wondering why Peter’s was matching top lines-I thought a checking line, try four defenceman, anything but matching lines-Ryan should be taking the draw and Bennett and Frolik as wings-Frolik has been named as trade bait but he can skate and check better than others

      • Skylardog

        Incorrect on some accounts MDG
        Backs played against Mac the majority of the time, nearly 51 minutes in the series. Backs was actually reasonable as far as CF% goes.

        Mony played just 17 minutes against Mac, Ryan 13 and Janko 7. Ryan and Janko got crushed badly with Ryan under 30% CF% and Janko under 27%. Monahan was at 42.5%.

        The point here is that the series was not played first against first for the most part, and when it was it was uneven but by no means lopsided. The problem was that Monys line couldn’t score against the second third or fourth lines of Colorado, and our 3rd and 4th got slaughtered no matter who they were against.

        And that is where the missing true second line comes in. Backs could neutralize Mac to some extent, but no one could score. Backs line did exactly what they are good at, shutting down the opposition. But Mony and a true second line needed to score. If we just had that second top 6 forward, and a second top 6 RW, Calgary wins this series in a cake walk. That is especially true when you take out the weakest two forwards had Tre had the foresight to properly tool the top 6. Janko and Neal don’t touch the ice.

        But Ryan was the worst forward stat wise. And Hamonic and Hanifin were by far the worst D pairing. Sad thing is, H&H were sheltered from Mac. But when they did end up against them, it was a bloodbath.

        Tre’s mistake, that has caused all the bad signings and trades, has been incorrectly evaluating Backs as a top 6 center that can score. If he puts him in the right spot, as a checking center on line 3, he goes and gets the guys we really needed.

        That and thinking guys in their 30’s have any UFA value…

        But it is true that the top line disappointed

        • Skylardog

          Sorry – missed this above. Monahan and JG had no goals against 5v5 vs Mac and actually outscored them 1-0. So how is domination of Mony by Mac a factor here?

    • everton fc

      They were also outcoached. Our Flames, I mean.

      As for Gaudreau vs. the Avs in the playoffs – again, the Avs coaching strategy neutralized “Johnny Hockey”.

    • HOCKEY83

      At least the Flames young guys gave themselves a chance to get some playoff experience. Here’s hoping they’ve grown from the experience and do better this season. While the oil’s young stars will just be wishing they played for a good team that actually had a chance at failing in the playoffs

  • Clayton

    I think saying the Flames lost the series with the Avs because the Avs had the puck more misses the true analysis of the series. Why did the Avs have the puck more? Were they faster? I don’t think they were. There were not an abundance of time the Flames were outskated in the series. Re-watch it…the situations are just not there to validate this claim. Did they have better puck retrieval and puck control…yes. So why? I suggest a big part of it is the lack of size and grit they had. There were many times flames lost puck battles in the boards, or we saw flames forwards turn away from a loose puck or curly in the zone rather than take the puck along the boards. This wasn’t a lack of speed, it was from not stop rub outs into the boards. They were too easy to get off the puck. This isn’t speed. Now, that said, I am not sure Lucic helps this. He will certainly not give the puck away along the boards in a puck battle and teams will give him space, I am just not sure he can keep up with the play to be effective. One report said Johnny was slashed in his wrists 29 times in the 4 games. Whether that number is accurate or not, what is true was Johnny was hooked, poked, slashed, punched and grabbed all series long and noone did anything about it. I wonder how much more ice Johnny might have had if during game one Lucic had pulled Landeskog out of a mix rubbed his glove over his face a couple times and sent the message touch our boys and I am willing to take a two minute minor and break your face! Not sure that turns the series in the Flames favour, there were far too many details the messed up on, but I do think this adds a different element to the series. I think trade will be successful for the Flames. They get rid of a negative dressing room piece, a guy that didn’t fit their top 6 and expected a spot there rather than wanting to earn a spot there, and get a guy that will be overpaid, but do exactly what the Flames are expecting him to do…hit, hit, hit, intimidate, intimidate, intimidate. He was 3rd in the league in hits last year with sub-10 minutes per nite. That wears on a team over time.

    • Jobu

      Jobu hasn’t seen it since, but his eyes (and his memory?) told him that speed definitely was a factor.

      Flames FWD were constantly behind the play in the neutral zone, and the D were getting burnt on the outside. The result was that the Flames Fwds started to play further back to try and clog up any speedy entry. In doing so, they lost the ability to breakout and gain the zone since Colorado was too quick to the puck recipient. Any attempts to dump the puck in were collected by their big D first and passed back out into another speedy breakout. Colorado’s dump ins on the other hand caught our D flatfooted because they were trying to stop the rush. The FWDs again blew passes them and collected their own dump ins.

      That’s what Jobu saw anyway. You can’t get the puck back unless you pressure the puck carriers and the pass recipients. Colorado dominated the series because the Flames simply couldn’t keep up either to the puck movement and the speed of the puck carriers and chaser.

      • cberg

        The Flames lost two overtime games they should have won both. Forget the stats, the Flames were definitely in this series and could have easily won those and likely the series. Things to clean up and improve, yes, but to think they got run over is just fantasy. Lucic will definitely help. Looking forward to what remains over the summer.

        • Albertabeef

          I’m sorry but averaging 41 shots against per game in the playoffs without triple overtime is literally getting run over. Flames were out shot by an average of 9 shots per game, that’s getting owned. Consider the average during the season was about 28 shots against per game. Or you can just keep lying to yourself lol.

    • MDG1600

      Did you ever see Monahan beat McKinnon to the puck? It looked like McKinnon was in a corvette while Monahan was trying to catch him in a pontiac sunfire.

      • Budgie

        I hoped that Peters would stop putting Monahan on and put in Ryan to win the draw, if you have the puck to start then you have some advantage. Colorado’s top line was better than any Calgary lines

    • Budgie

      The other way to look at it was no one wanted Neal’s contract and he was taking a top 6 roster spot. The only deal was for Lucic, pretty much a straight across money wise, no significant cap savings for Calgary. Lucic is a role player, likely spot duty when a tough game is coming, or stands in front of the net, and plays on the 4th. line. It was the only deal to open Neal’s roster spot for Dube.

  • Jobu

    Jobu is wondering what Rittich’s arbitration hearing might sounds like.

    “You claimed that Rittich would be the starter this year”
    “He was hurt last year and we don’t yet know the state of his recovery”
    “You signed a backup to 2.7 million. What should a starter get?”
    “Its only been half a year of real success.”
    “The players in the locker room love him.”
    “He was a free agent signing.”
    “Look at those GAA and SV% numbers!”
    “He played behind a Norris trophy winner and one of the leagues best defenses”

    Lets hope it doesn’t come to this. Rittich feels like he is one of the teams best cheerleaders! We should be doing what we can to keep the kid happy.

  • Off the wall

    I think we should bring Ari back!
    I miss her passionate and thought- provoking remarks.

    I want to hear her side of all of this. Please come back Ari, we miss you!

  • Rockmorton65

    The Flames didn’t lose because of a lack of physicality or speed. They lost because that the pressure increases in the playoffs. And when things started to go sideways, no one had the experience to help “right the ship”. The only two players with significant playoff experience were James (checked out) Neal and Mike Smith, who was already carrying the team on his 35 year old back.

  • BendingCorners

    Our summer of boredom has transformed into a summer of discontent. But it isn’t all bad.
    Signing Neal was an expensive mistake and Lucic is the cost of correcting it. The owners save more money than a buyout would have saved them and the Flames get a bit of cap space – less than a buyout but maybe more than a buyout plus a tough guy, which Treliving seems to have decided he needs. Swapping #13 forwards normally doesn’t get much ink but these two are expensive. For Oilers fans the saddest thing must be that Neal is already their 4th or 5th best forward, even before he bounces back. They get his one remaining good season but use up more cap space and more actual cash. Holland won the deal but Treliving got maybe the best result he could, if Neal absolutely had to go.
    The arena deal could be worse but I still believe taxpayers should not be funding it, at all. A $10 surcharge per seat per event covers the cost with room to spare, over the 35 year life of the building.
    The proposed budget cuts are annoying and pointless – the administration wants people to protest because they want to keep on spending. Bringing city payroll and pensions under control is a daunting task and the City mangers want to avoid it. If enough people yell loudly enough maybe that message will gain some traction, maybe not.
    Anyway, it’s still summer and the weather is nice. Have cold one and enjoy the sunshine!

  • Off the wall

    I know this Arena Proposal is a ‘gut punch’ to Calgarian’s.

    From everything I’ve read, it CLAIMS, that taxes won’t go up, (it’s coming from other coffers) however the Mayor has already made it difficult for Calgary, with the tax situation there.

    One thing that concerns me, is why council has been given a week to vote on this? Something just doesn’t smell right.

    The share in revenue from tickets, isn’t exactly the $400M that is claimed for the City, because it is amortized over 35 years. Just like my money now will have less buying power in the future due to inflation, and rising prices over that same span.

    I’m not suggesting that the Arena Proposal be shot down, but I think Calgarian’s do deserve some more transparency in this. If the building itself hasn’t been drawn up, how does Calgary citizens really know how much the Arena is going to cost? Ballpark figures are exactly that.

    Billionaires want public help, for the betterment of whom?

    I love our Calgary Flames. I’ll always be a fan of the team. I hope that we can keep our Flames in Calgary forever, but I want that decision left to the citizens who live there.

    I’m pretty sure Nathan has better things to do than bring up Lucic’s past. Ever do something silly, even reckless when you were young(er) Nathan? No reply needed, we ALL have.

    • everton fc

      To your pointm, OTW, bringing up Lucic’s past is below-the-belt. My understanding is those who truly know Lucic call out his being a solid family man – he married is long-time girlfriend, and they have three kids. In addition, I’ve also read, and believe, Lucic is good to the fans, and to the communities he’d played in. It’s like bringing up Ferland’s past. Or McGrattan’s. Low blow, in my opinion.

      Welcome to Calgary, Milan Lucic. If Iginla thinks Lucic is a good man – and he does – then we should all welcome him, and wish him the best.

  • Alberta Ice

    Because getting Lucic for Neal and accessing Talbot to replace Smith (players who struggled on their former Alberta teams) are on the top of the news list for change this upcoming year, it doesn’t look very good for either team this coming year. I am still irked that Hath got away from this team. Young, motivated, and a real physical presence too. Watch him excel this year with a very tough physical team like the Capitals this upcoming year. Yes, Colorado was a faster team than the Flames in the playoffs, but the Blues combined speed and physicality to go all the way. High chance a Central division team will go all the way this next season. (That Dallas team looks mighty deep in all areas this upcoming year.) As to the BOA, twill be interesting how the ‘two swaps’ will turn out. Yep, due to the ‘swaps’ the BOA will make a good soap opera over this next year with lots of chirping from the BOA hardcore fans.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Yeah, Colarado didn’t let us have the puck, sure. But what the article fails to mention is that Colarado got knocked out in the second round and a pile of gritty goons went on to win the Cup.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    My turn to chime in on the Lucic deal. Funny story; I’ve been in the states on holidays with my phone turned off, checked out entirely from the world. I was wearing a Flames hat when I crossed the border back into Canada. I found out about the trade from a border guard… an Oilers fan who laughed me to scorn. Nice thing was he didn’t ask me any questions after that… let us drive straight back in (I think he felt bad for me).

    So my take is going to incorporate some ideas that I don’t think get talked about enough:
    – Did the Flames lose this trade? Yes. (I am willing to admit that and accept it)

    – Did Tre need to find a way to move Neal? Yes. I think the relationship was so soured there would have been further detriment to the whole team to have him in the locker room (benched last playoff game… yikes)

    – Could the Flames have bought Neal out? Yes and No. We have heard repeatedly in the past how stingy Flames ownership is when it comes to buyouts. I honestly think the Brouwer buyout was Tre’s last bullet in that regard for a big long term deal. If bought out… it may have been the end of Tre and ownership told him he needed to find another way.

    -Is there a difference between the Oilers and Flames organizations regarding financial priorities and appetite? Yes. Flames waited for Oilers to make the bonus payment before the trade. Further to that… Flames will be paying a lot less real dollars on the Lucic deal than Neal. That matters more to the Flames than the Oilers because I believe the Flames are not as well off financially as an organization and the owners have different financial priorities. This adds to the “yes” answer for the buyout question in the last paragraph. The Flames technically can still buyout Lucic… it doesn’t help the cap but the REAL dollars paid by the org is substantially less than what a Neal buyout would have been. The Flames org prioritizes real dollars vs. cap dollars higher than the Oilers do.

    Although we lost the trade, the team will actually be no worse off. Neal was playing bottom six minutes and that wouldn’t have changed based on our current crop of forwards. I understand the thought that adding an element Neal didn’t bring to play the same kind of minutes might have some benefit. Do I think Lucic will suddenly regain some offensive form? Absolutely not.

    • Kevin R

      Good post! So sick of this argument that potentially benefit both teams. Real dollars dont even come into the debate because people dont write the buyout cheques. But that is real. Someone had noticed on cap friendly that the last 2 years of Lucic’s contract goes to a limited NTC, where it’s a list of 8 teams. Does this mean he doesnt have to be protected?
      Just curious. Anyway, Ownership lets Tre build his team & if he pi$$es cap space away, so be it, just make sure the team is successful & they wont care how he manages the cap space. But real dollars is a different manner.

      Yes Nathan, I am disappointed in dragging some of the past in this article as well. I feel it is unnecessary. Most players have some issues that are made larger because of the MSM. Ferland had issues, Mcgrattan had issues but these are upstanding people. Judging the trade the way you spinned Lucic’s past is wrong.

      Now lets just get the games underway so we can argue all year about who is better & who stole the trade. Gonna be a long year.

    • Budgie

      If Neal does score 21 then Calgary would get a third round pick-Lucic has to score 10 or less and Neal 21–perhaps there is a silver lining-I hope Neal rebounds and brings us that pick

    • Good take. I think both teams lost this trade but each gained some potential of what was lacking. No one knows if one or both will fulfill their new teams expected roles. Neal, on paper, has the better chance of recovering some of the touch he had not that long ago. Will he? Before he was traded I was saying that he had a chance but based on what I saw last year he looked just terrible in all situations he was put in. Even when it was obvious to himself, team and fans he was struggling he didn’t show the professionalism of “fighting through it” by doing the little things right. Maybe he does.
      Each team should be praying that both players are putting a ton of hours on skating and shooting drills.

  • InSinR8

    The budget cuts and the “Event Centre” have nothing to do with one another. The city is not giving money to the Flames to build it, the Flames are giving money to the city. It is the City’s building, it is an asset, you can belly ache all you want about how much the Flames are going to pay to play in it but the reality is they are giving the city the money.
    Neal was terrible, slow, no heart, no push back, nothing. Watch the 4th game in overtime, who was coasting back, stick not on the ice and shrugged when the Oilers scored. Neal is too slow to play with McDavid, hell he couldn’t keep up with Monahan and he isn’t exactly fast.
    Lucic cap hit is his cap hit but he is only costing us $2.25 million this year and $3.25 million next, then $4.25 then $3.25. The Oilers already paid him his $3 million bonus for the 19-20 season. In 20-21 there is a Modified no trade clause added to his contract – “June 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 – Modified NTC: Submits a list of 8 teams he can be traded to / July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 – Modified NTC: Submits a list of 10 teams he can be traded to”
    So he can be traded before the expansion draft. I also think that Seattle would be interested in him in order to get to the cap floor. He would only cost them in real dollars about $7 and a half million but a 12 million dollar cap hit. Hell we could eat his bonus in the first year like the Oilers did to sweeten the deal and they would only be paying him a total of $5 million

  • Burnward

    Did anyone really believe they weren’t going to build this arena?

    And as for the money…find me a large municipality that doesn’t shat away millions every week on stupid decisions and I’ll show you a unicorn that poops gold bars.

  • TriPPiNvdUb

    Why does everyone ignore what the players,coaches and managers say about the game? It doesn’t matter how many times they tell you that physical play and intimidation is a big part of the game and having a guy like Looch out there allows you to play bigger and with confidence, fans and analysts alike all brush it aside. But have any of those critics ever stood across a sheet of ice, a cage or a field from another human being in a battle of wills? I fought in martial arts tournaments for years, played lacrosse and hockey and from my experience it always matters, preparation is first and foremost but your kidding your self or just don’t have any clues what your talking about if you don’t think having Someone like Milan in your corner helps you play to the best of your ability. Does know one remember Evander Kane pushing these guys around last year? Or how about Hams getting KO’d in the first week of the season?

    • Luter 1

      Don’t waste your time, FN believe the Flames can get away with a bunch of 5 footers and that the Avs didn’t win partially because of aggressive, tough hockey that the Flames couldn’t match. What I don’t get is how we were too slow supposedly against the Avs but somehow with the same players we would be fast enough this year?
      Neal was useless and Lucic fits a needed role on this soft as pudding team. Watch and see. Gaudreau’s doing backflips thinking about the extra ice he will be afforded after Looch tunes someone after they pull their usual BS on Johnny.

  • HarveysFleaCollar

    Not sure how this is tallied up as loss..the flames got rid of a troublesome, under achieving asset. They brought in an asset that brings the biggest missing ingredient..toughness. At worse..this is a push..I dont see it as a push though, I see it as a chance for both to reinvent themselves. As far as the arena…WIN for Flames fans.This new writer is on the weak side..let’s get something a little better..and to beat the dead horse after Pike has already? C’mon!

    • Kevin R

      Yeah I find it hard to believe he will never attend the new building for a concert, show, trade show, circus solei, anything that new buildings attract in the entertainment industry. I can assure you one thing though, I will never go the publice library, ride a bike down any of these bike lanes, ride a bus down these rapid bus routes, go out of my way to look at the millionsspent on expensive art. Dont recall voting on any of that either.

      • Albertabeef

        Remember those stupid art cows? Man those things were horrible. They have the same kind of thing but dolphins here in Vic. I don’t exactly agree with the public art spending, however just because you don’t use certain things does not mean these things aren’t useful. Have you ever rode a bike down center street in rush hour traffic? It’s 10k from Beddington to DT on Center street, it’s about 20k on the Nose Creek(Deerfoot Tr) bikepath.
        Same goes for the #3 Center Street bus route. If you ever took it during rush hour you would understand the need for those rapid buses. Also downtown to the airport by train and bus is brutal. Take the train to Whitehorn and catch the 57 airport, is a grueling trip. Which if you want to make that trip even longer catch the 57 at Chinook station.

  • Derzie

    Setting emotion aside for a minute, here’s what we know:
    – Neal & Lucic have been terrible. They also are very expensive.
    – Oil prices have dropped in the last 5 years. That means much less money to go around.
    – The world plan to replace oil is gaining momentum
    – Alberta is where it is because of oil
    – Rich people, and provinces, undervalue social investment
    – Not rich people, who came to Alberta from less rich areas, value social investment

    Simple, albeit arguable, conclusions:
    – Value discussion about Neal & Lucic are making lemonade of lemons. Really sour lemonade.
    – Less public money available means no one gets fully what they want. Also, in what world do governments make people happy anyway? I’ve yet to see it.
    – With oil declining, we need to look at future beyond oil and that includes green energy and civic enrichment. Flames, Olympics (which have already been erroneously turned down)
    – A healthy country has balance between rich and poor. An unhealthy country does not (e.g. US)
    – We need a facility to ‘keep up with the Jones’

    • BlueMoonNigel

      If Oilberta is on the forever decline because of the world’s rejection of fossil fuels, why the devil does Calgary need a new facility to “keep up with the Jones?” Wouldn’t the quarter billion be better spent in investing in green technology or diversifying the economy? How about chucking it to David Suzuki or Bono to tell us how to live our lives the right way?

      • Albertabeef

        If I am not mistaken Calgary and the U of C are world leaders in green technology and innovations. I may have heard incorrectly though. Calgary has won all sorts of “green” awards over the last decade or so.