It is so easy to write about the Calgary Flames simply from a title standpoint. Whether things are going great or going poorly, you always have that team nickname to fall back on! Right now, things are going REALLY poorly in Southern Alberta.
Should I really go into my spiel which those who read my stuff have now heard hundreds of times? Ok, once more. I’ve maintained over the years, despite being an Oilers fan, I’m a Flames well wisher. It’s best for the province when both teams are good, which in turn is best for the rivalry. And don’t get me wrong, I want to beat no team more than the Flames as an Oilers fan, and I expect Flames fans to feel the same way. But I don’t subscribe to this theory that it’s fun watching them be awful. There was no joy from 1997-2003 in beating the Flames as an Oilers fan, and I’m guessing it was bittersweet for some Flames fans from 2007-2016. For both fan bases, the other team should be a necessary evil.
So now that I’ve said that, let me pile on the Flames!!!
I’ve really liked the direction the Flames have been headed in since hiring Brad Treliving. Yet all of a sudden in the last two weeks, everything appears to have gone from running smoothly to being on the verge of destruction. The Flames have now lost six of their last eight games, the latest two coming in humiliating fashion. One to the rival Oilers, the other to the likely hated by most (because if you don’t love them you likely hate them) Maple Leafs. They’re now just clinging to the final wild card spot in the West, and if you go by points percentage (which I believe is much more accurate) they are on the outside looking in.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night that Brad Treliving’s job could be in jeopardy as he still does not have a contract extension for next season. Nobody is commenting on it, and as Friedman said on Saturday the whole situation is “really weird”. Agreed.
If they are seriously thinking of letting him walk…are they nuts?!
I understand things aren’t perfect right now for the Flames. I fully understand the very recent struggles this team has had, but this clearly isn’t about what’s gone down in their last eight games. This appears to be yet another bizarre happening with an organization which has had plenty in the last 10 years or so. And the one constant through it all has been Ken King.
Daryl Sutter leaving coaching to focus solely on being GM, that was bizarre. Jim Playfair run out after one season as head coach to bring in a well past his prime Mike Keenan. Jay Feaster hired as assistant GM…not by Darryl Sutter. Rumours of Brent and Darryl Sutter being at odds during Darryl’s final season there. Rumours of Jay Feaster not being given the green light to rebuild a clearly deteriorating hockey club with a very shallow prospect pool. Brian Burke being hired as President of Hockey Operations while Feaster was still the GM. That’s quite a freaking list boys!!!
From the outside looking in, it’s felt like Burke actually brought some stability to the organization, which coming off the job he did in Toronto, few thought he could do. But the hiring of Treliving and the combination of the two of them has seemingly been tremendous. Where is the wrong move for Treliving?
Since he’s been running the draft they’ve done an amazing job with things. 2014 they had one of my favourite drafts. 2015 I was so bitter that he got Dougie Hamilton for such a cheap price when he would have been a perfect fit for the Oilers (and the Oilers three picks they could have offered were better than the three Flames picks according to the draft value chart, but the Bruins wouldn’t deal with Peter Chiarelli), and then with his remaining two 2nd round picks Treliving made two real solid picks. Last year, more of the same. In fact, this is what I said in my write up on them as one of my six teams whose draft I liked:
“I’m not trying to be a homer for Alberta. But the Flames are crushing it with Brad Treliving running the show. I used to love destroying Jay Feaster, but I have nothing but praise thus far for Treliving.”
I don’t care how Sam Bennett is currently doing, that was the right pick. As I said, the Hamilton trade before the 2015 draft was a steal. Last year Tkachuk falling to 6 was a gift, but he didn’t screw it up. The Brian Elliott trade, again I don’t care how it’s gone that was a no brainer deal to make, literally everyone in hockey praised him for it! Chad Johnson, great signing to be the backup, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik, getting 2nd round picks for guys who were about to walk like Curtis Glencross, Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell was all great! Has Glen Gulutzan been a good hire? Probably not, although this team when they’ve simply gotten good goaltending have looked like a playoff team.
And that’s the big difference. You look back at 2015, and I was saying it at the time that things just simply snowball. Analytically they weren’t a good hockey team, yet they maintained their roll all season. You start to get bounces, you start to get massive saves, and everyone just starts to get this feeling in the room like nothing can go wrong. All of a sudden guys start playing above their normal levels and you start seeing extraordinary performances like we did with all those late game comebacks they had that season.
This season? Well lately it looks like they know they aren’t going to get that save or that bounce, and when it goes that way (as Oilers fans have seen for the previous seven seasons or so) guys tend to not have anywhere near the fight they would normally have. Can’t we all relate to that? I know it’s never easy as a fan to look at these guys as every day people, but if you start getting a few breaks one day like traffic isn’t heavy or there isn’t a long lineup to get your coffee in the morning or perhaps someone you don’t like isn’t at work, doesn’t that give you a lot of extra jump? Vice versa, if it’s a day where it is basically the lyrics to “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, you’re dragging your feet and have a tough time getting up for other things you have to do that day.
If Flames upper management was smart, they would realize that in 2015 this team was still in the beginning of a pretty big rebuild. I wondered this at the time and it might be right in the long run that it was actually more of a curse than a blessing that the Flames had that amazing run in 2015 with McDavid and Eichel at the top of the draft. What would make sense would be if management’s expectations started getting far too high after that season, but the way Friedman was talking yesterday morning on the FAN 960 is that isn’t it at all. I believe he said “even if they make the playoffs I’m not 100% that he (Treliving) would be coming back.” Wow!
I don’t know how else to say it other than this is going to be a MASSIVE mistake in my opinion should the Flames let this guy go.
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