Folks, it sounds like changes may be in the works for the Calgary Flames. On the latest edition of the 31 Thoughts podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, the duo discussed the Flames’ troubles.
Friedman summed up the situation fairly succinctly:
We just talked about Nashville, the core got to a point where it was time to change it. I think they’re at that point in Calgary. Markstrom charged down the ice twice. I think that was all about we’re not playing hard enough, we’re not playing hard enough, we’ve got to play harder. I just think that that group, they’re not playing for each other. I do think Brad Treliving’s been making a lot of calls on guys, not just Sam Bennett. I think they’re going to look at it and say it’s time, we’ve got to change up our group. It’s hard to do right now because you can’t bring guys over the border,but I think they will aggressively try to change their mix, not just for now but in the future. I think you’re probably at the point where you’re looking at this group and saying you know what, this group had its run, and now we’re going to do some other things.
Update: Friedman noted during his Monday radio hit with our pal Pat Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan that the changes the Flames would be looking at would be a making long-term changes (and the team’s not throwing in the towel on the season.)
Most of the Flames “core” has been together since around 2013-14 (Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau), with subsequent pieces being added later in Treliving’s tenure.
Friedman and Marek also discussed the fall-out of the Flames’ last game with Toronto, which featured Jake Muzzin flipping a puck a Matthew Tkachuk’s chest at the end of the game, a scrum, and Tkachuk getting a bit crazy on the bench on his way off the ice. (That incident was likely in response to Tkachuk falling on an already-injured Jack Campbell in a prior game.) That loss was followed by a team meeting where reportedly Tkachuk was advised not to create havoc every game – in a subsequent column, Friedman’s phrasing was Tkachuk was told “not every game needs to be a riot.”
The Flames haven’t been awful since the Muzzin incident – they’re 6-7-0 – but they’ve also been extremely hot and cold in the interim. Changes are probably coming, but the Flames’ tenuous cap situation likely makes it tougher to make trades and tougher to make knee-jerk panic trades.
The Flames continue their road trip tonight in Toronto.