Friday, November 19, 2010

Roman Turek Profile In Courage Award

It's Friday, and that means just one thing: Funerals!

What? Hey, Yeah! It is also that time of the week when we present the Roman Turek Profile In Courage Award (the RTPIC)!

As you all know, the to win the RTPIC one has to make it through a dauntingly grueling nomination gauntlet. It's a wide open field, and winners can come from anywhere. Any man, women, or thing can win the bling. Sloth being a sin, it's probably best we begin.

Our first nominee for a week where our money just got a lot more attractive is what could be the end of START. For those who don't know, START stands for Stupidly Terrible Arms Reduction Treaty. Its aim is to cut into the strategic advantage in nuclear weapon delivery systems America (the good guys) enjoy over Russia (the bad guys). We happen to think nuclear weapons are one of the greatest things man ever invented in terms of things that can establish and maintain a peace. Much better than the Maginot Line. While this treaty has been agreed upon and signed, it has yet to be ratified, and we get have a feeling the new congress is going to be a little less sympathetic to this idea than the last one.

Our second nominee of the week is the TSA, the airline industries government nanny in America. Why? Because they are hot right now; they are everywhere. Honestly, all you have to do to get on the national news is fondle some strangers tits? We're heading to the nearest high school. When we first heard about this story, we were shocked. Who knew a sweet job like this even existed? We went straight down to the airport and were preparing to volunteer when we learned that they make you grab dong, too. Record scratch to the nth degree. The dream was over, and we headed home.

Our third nominee this week is Olli Jokinen. Yeah, Olli Jokinen. Because he cross-checked Wolski in the face. We stood up and applauded when Olli did that. Everyone in this city is crying out about how the Flames don't work harder, play with heart, or skate. Well, here we have an example of a Flame seeing his teammate and countryman Hagman in a little bit of an altercation, he shows some hustle, works hard and actually skates to get himself in position to make a play, and then he shows some heart and hits the guy in the face, ala Flame favourite Chris Simon. And Wolski kills the Flames, so it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. The Flames should cut Joker the 3 game cheques he is going to lose as a result of a suspension handed out by an office that has little legitimacy.

The winner of this weeks Roman Turek Profile In Courage Award is JB Smoove.


JB Smoove's father was Energy, and his mother was Timing, and the two actually met for the first time at the corner of Hilarity street and Entertainment avenue. It was a fortuitous meeting for the two, and they began pounding their nasty's almost immediately. Sadly, JB's mother would wake up to a full uterus and an empty bed.

Little JB would have a harsh childhood. Being born from the lions of Energy but never having Energy around in his life to teach him how to act, JB was often involved in trouble. He would break into houses and not know when to leave. He would start fights in the middle of regular conversation. He would turn porn on in the middle of the living room when guests were over. He was a just a mess.

One day, though, fate would intervene with young JB. He would smoke some crack and calm his ass down.

On a crack binge through Asia, serendipity would have JB happen to have a chance meeting with one Harvey T. Hound. Harvey was traveling through Asia on a sabbatical, having suffered a crisis of faith. 'They don't cheer' Harvey would complain to JB. 'Fuck that shit, Dog, they don't cheer because you don't cheer. You gotta bring the energy. You gotta bring the, man what the fuck, you gotta bring the energy Dog' JB would respond. The words of wisdom struck Harvey in a profound way. JB's energy rubbed off on Harvey, and he regained his lost zest for life (the gangsta DJ JB travels with didn't hurt things, either).

For giving Harvey the vigor and jump he is known for, JB Smoove wins this weeks Roman Turek Profile In Courage Award.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

They Think You Are Stupid

Hockey media is funny.

Brett Sutter goes out and punches a cab drive, unprovoked, in the face after a night of heavy drinking. It becomes the straw that breaks the camels back, and suddenly Sutter drafting his own kid and giving him a spot on the NHL teams roster that he doesn't deserve is starting to gather momentum as a legitimate story. A week later Brett Sutter finds himself traded to the Hurricanes, where he will play out his career for whatever team the Canes use as their AHL affiliate.

And the hockey media is trying to spin the story? Why? Do you think we are stupid?

The fans were told that this deal had been in the works for at least a month. No it wasn't. The Hurricanes wanted Ian White for the last month, sure. But they had no intention of trading for the AHL depth that Brett Sutter represents when they began calling the Flames about Ian White. To suggest otherwise is to suggest the fans are gullible.

What's the problem with saying 'Brett Sutter was thrown in to this deal because he punched a cab driver in the head'? Honestly, what's the problem?

And it isn't just the locals. Bob Mckenzie and Darren Dreger are tweeting about how this move had nothing to do with the bar altercation? Again, either they are stupid and easily fooled or they think you are. You want us, the fans, to believe that when Gio got his extension, Jim Rutherford called Darryl Sutter up and asked what it would take to trade for Brett Sutter? Ian White just happened to get thrown in to the trade? No, that's just stupid. We think he asked for Ian White, you know, because we don't have to lie to protect our access to the team.

Look, Rob Kerr can go on the radio and say Brett punching a cab driver in the head had nothing to do with the fact that Brett Sutter now plays for the Hurricanes. It's ok for Peter Maher, Mckenzie and Dreger to spit that same line. It isn't our credibility they are eroding, it's theirs. The truth is the Hurricanes wanted Ian White, and then Brett Sutter went out and did something Sutter (read: stupid). He needed to be moved out, and the Ian White trade was a convenient vehicle. Any other narrative is just spin, but what irks us is it isn't even good spin, and they expect the fans to buy it.

Please stop before you guys turn into this guy. (What are the odds that Bob Mckenzie even gets that reference?)

Rubbertrout is still raising money for Movember and the fight to kill cancer. Please, if you haven't already, send him a donation. Times are tough out there, we understand, but even $5 would be appreciated.

Again, please donate. It's tax deductible!

More Rob Kerr. We don't know if he patented the term 'The Dion Rule' but we heard it from him so we will credit him. The Dion Rule is basically Darryl Sutter lies so don't believe him. If you are reading this blog we are assuming you are informed enough that we don't have to go back over the fact that Darryl claimed for months he would never trade Dion only to then go out and trade Dion, instantly destroying any merit his word had with the media and the fans as it pertains to player personnel (well we guess we just went over it). Anyways, the Dion Rule should be applied to anything Darryl Sutter says, at least if you pay attention.

Which brings us to Eric Francis and his latest article (while we are on the topic of diminished credibility...). Eric informs us that Darryl is denying there is a trade in the works. So? DARRYL SUTTER LIES TO YOUR FACE, MEDIA. If Darryl told me the sky was blue we would go outside and look, just to be sure. If Francis wanted to write a real story and not a lazy one, how about he contacts his contacts with the Kings (if he has them) and get the story from that end. A trade denial from Darryl isn't worth the ink.

Thoughts on the trade proper? Anton Anatoliiovych Babchuk, 6'5, 212 pounds of softness, questionable defence, and offensive upside. Just what this team needs: a cheap mans European version of Jay Bouwmeester.

Kosto is a 4th liner who has a contract for next year, too. We don't mind 4th liners per se, but we do mind paying them damn near a million dollars a year. Whatever. He won't punch anybody in the head, and is still cheaper than Nystrom.

These trades are meh but they save the team money. Hurray? Trading Kotalik would save the team money, too. Just saying.

Peter Maher was on the radio this morning talking about how the crowd needs to give the team some juice. We are divided on this. Fans can give their team juice, there is no doubt at that. But crowd at the Dome needs a reason to cheer, and it has always needed a reason to cheer. This isn't new, and it is especially old news for Peter Maher, who has been working here for damn near 30 years.

Stop spinning, Pope. The home team hasn't won a game at home in what, its last four tries (or something like that)? That's probably the reason for the tentative crowd. But it was nice of the Pope to insinuate the team is losing because the people who are spending big, big money to watch the games live and in person don't cheer loud enough.

We are suckers. The Flames are pushing last minute tickets, and we are considering getting some for the Chicago game. Despite our tone, we are fans of the team. That explains the tone, actually.

We have been to maybe 5 home games this year, and our interest to keep going...well, it's waining. Call us crazy, but winning is fun and losing isn't. We go to hockey games to be entertained, not to be bored. Would continuing to buy tickets be misconstrued as an endorsement of the direction of the team?

There comes a time when a consumer needs to take a stand. The fact that there are even tickets still available to see the Stanley Cup champions? That time may be at hand. Or at least starting.

Anyone catch what the coach said when asked about Kosto? "He brings leadership which this group could use." A team with Reggie, Iggy, Staios (barf), ect. doesn't have leadership? Are we the only ones who see this? Hey coach: THE PLAYERS ARE TRYING TO GET YOU FIRED! YOUR LEADERSHIP IS THE ISSUE!

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quickly On Iggy Trade Rumour

First's old. It's got to be at least a month old. We heard about it early, early November, so it had to have been percolating before that.

Which is why we laugh at all the hullabaloo that has been going around the local since last night.

Elliot Friedman wrote on his blog essentially that the administration of the Flames wanted to trade Iginla. He used the words 'clearly want to trade Iginla'. You don't use the words 'clearly' when you are a serious (in the hockey journalist sense of the word) news person unless you actually have a source who is trusted who has told you something. So this story has been out there since who knows when.

The particulars we have heard, as we posted on our twitter (follow us!), are: Brayden Schenn, a 1st rounder, and Thomas Hickey, but the 'Hickey' player in the trade is fluid. We have also heard that the deal would be a package one, involving Jarome and possibly Glencross, and may involve the Flames taking back money (ie an older player) as well.

That package isn't a good one, in our opinion. Schenn is a centre who is listed at 6 feet tall, which means he is shorter than that, and listed at 200 pounds, which means he weighs less than that. He is too small. And Jarome could play in this league at 19. So far, it appears that Schenn cannot. If we are trading Jarome for a guy who can be a cornerstone of a franchise for 10 years, we would prefer it not be an undersized player that hockeyfutures projects as a second line centre.

What makes this package worse is the fact that we have not heard about a competing one. Is this another situation where Darryl is negotiating with one party to his detriment?

Here is what we know, we think: If administration wants to move Jarome, it is because they can see the situation as clearly as we can. Not only that, but it also a tactic acknowledgement by administration that the losing cannot continue if they hope to continue charging some of the leagues highest prices, and fund a new building. Trading Jarome allows them to free up money, get prospects that were not drafted by the Calgary Flames (ie good ones), and also get a draft pick.

The rub is this: After last season, the team was done. That means that to most people, it was clear the team was bad, and a drastic influx of talent was needed. The team should have fired Darryl Sutter, and Brent Sutter as well. The team should have brought in management with a different vision, because it was clear (and being made manifestly more clear by the day) that Sutters current vision of the Flames was/is not a winning vision. If they were seriously thinking about trading Jarome Iginla, the trade should have been made this summer, after the GM had been shown the door.

Ownership wanted to fire Sutter from what we have heard, but were given an ultimatum by Ken King. Who the fuck is Ken King? Honestly, we hate to break it to Murray Edwards, but a inebriated retard could make money for this franchise. Ken King is nothing special. Anyone can sell a Kipper jersey in this city. But for some reason, ownership got spooked at Ken Kings ultimatum, and decided to not fire Darryl. Instead, they moved him up to a corner office where his damage could be mitigated, and they hired a lawyer named Jay Feaster to act as defacto GM.

More damaging, though, is they allowed the King/Sutter team (with the implication being Feaster signed off on the moves) one last kick at the can. They were allowed to maintain payroll, and the high spending Flames chose not to jettison expensive players who didn't (or don't) live up to the value their contracts imply. They instead chose to batton down the hatches and head straight for the iceberg. They resigned Olli Jokinen because everyone in the world save Langkow knew that Langkow was done. This was a bad decision because Olli Jokinen cannot play effectively against the other teams big lines, which was essentially what Langkows role was. Instead of getting Jarome an actual talent to play with, they chose to resign Tanguay off the scrap heap.

And look what happened. The team allowed Darryl to ice a roster that had been proven ineffective a year before, and shock of all shocks, it appears to be ineffective this year as well. The fans have noticed, and management is panicking and contemplating making a franchise changing deal in the middle of the season. That's just stupid. The only leverage the team has in making this trade now in the season is that they can play out the timeline and hope LA gets desperate. But LA is 12-4 and doesn't seem to be in that great a need of trading for a $7 million dollar winger with 3 goals to his name.

It's almost like when the Silver Fox left this city, he took all the competent management with him.

Anyways, it's very simple. Ownership screwed up. They gave this hockey operations staff one year (we think two, to be honest) too many. It's stupid to us that they would pretend to care about what the fans think of the team now when only a few months ago Ken King was royally proclaiming that there was no problem because they were selling season tickets. Upper management has been given damn near, what? 03-04. the lockout, 05-06, 06-07, 07-08, 08-09, 09-10, and now 10-11, that is 7 years and some 16 games to build a sustainable, winning team, and all Darryl has done is make moves that were designed to win in the short term (all the draft picks traded away), and those moves have bust. He also signed a group of players to contracts that take them well into their 30's. That's fine, or it would be if they had been able to sustain their level of play, which some did and some didn't, but then he gave them all NMC/NTC's. That pretty much meant that he married the players, and the marriage hasn't worked out. That usually calls for a divorce.

The only defence we can think of for ownerships dereliction of duty is that Darryl had screwed the roster up so much (see our post yesterday to see the gridlock this club faces next year) that they decided to just keep him on until his bad contracts expire. But if that is the case why is he going to be allowed to move Jarome?

It makes no sense. From the outside looking in, it looks like a house divided. Ownership thinks trading Jarome may help the club but hurt ticket sales. They also want to clear out administration but are afraid to lose Ken King if they do. Administration is stupid, so that explains why they are doing what they are doing. Jarome may be loyal to the city and Flames, but he isn't about to risk his legacy by being the party that initiates the trade. Darryl isn't about to admit he isn't very good at building elite teams. So we have a Mexican standoff. And so it appears, again, for all the world that the Calgary Flames are an organization that is drifting at sea.

Do you want these people behind the trigger of a Jarome trade? Even if Jarome comes out today and says he wants out because the team is shit, then you still don't just go out and make a trade. You shop him around, you get multiple offers, you wait until closer to trade deadline to see if someone panics, and then you fire Sutter and Feaster and hire an adult to come in and make the trade.

This mess was created by Murray Edwards and his inability to not be intimidated by King and Sutter. So we place the blame for this mess of a season and the panic moves it will probably induce on him.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Looking To Next Year

The Godfather has a new post out (here), thankfully devoid of 'trade White for Crosby' talk, which was appreciated. But it got us here thinking about the roster. Specifically, about next years roster.

Caveats a-plenty. Who knows what the cap number is for next year, who knows if this roster stays intact past trade deadline (if you want to read someone who will indulge your 'Flames are a good team' fantasy, you should probably be reading the Kool-Aid over at Calgarypuck), ect. We're assuming, Dear Reader, that you can figure out the holes on your own.

Anyways, the numbers all come from capgeek. 2011/2012 Flames, how it do?

And that's the dirty.

Do you see where we are going with this? Kent rightly points out that Ian White is an asset that may have value, he is a free agent at years end, he doesn't really make the team win, so he should be traded, if possible. Agree, agree, agree. You can look at the chart, even if we want the midget, we can't afford him unless he signs for a million dollars, which probably won't happen (then again, the way he's playing...).

We are being conservative with our projections about the cap, because that's what you do when you plan for the future. But with that conservative estimate of a $60 million dollar cap, the team has around $4 million dollars in cap space, and needs to buy two defencemen, and a backup goalie, before it even begins to upgrade the roster. We don't think you can trade Ian White for anything of value (ie: a scoring forward), because the team, as currently stands, simply can't afford it.

The Flames can't afford it unless some of the current players on the roster are moved out. Now there are some ways to make capspace, and Langkow is probably going to be leaned on by the organization to retire, which may free up $4.5 million dollars in capspace. That would really help. But beyond anyone trading for Kotalik?

It may be a moot point. The Flames have 11 players with a NTC/NMC, and Mr. Kotalik happens to own one. Everyone on the blueline has one, the goalie has one, so the easiest players to trade will be found in the forwards. Of the group of forwards without protection, Jackman, Moss, and Backlund are probably not going anywhere. Ivanans sucks, so trade him if you can but we don't think that's realistic. So that leaves you Meyers, who is a replacement level player who has a minimum value contract, and Hagman, who is a hard worker, but makes $3 million dollars a year.

Fuck, do you see the problem here? We are talking about getting rid of useful players to make up capspace that's being wasted on garbage like Kotalik. This is not how a good team is suppose to be run. This would be a moot point if the Flames had any talented EL contracts or rookies that could play and balance out the cap allocation, but...

The real problem with this team is that it isn't that talented, and it is locked in with the same group of mortals for next year (the 2011/2012 year in question). How can you upgrade the roster if 11 of the 17 signed players have NMC/NTC's? If 11 of the 17 are good players, then it is less of a concern. But they aren't.

We are willing to listen to the nostalgia that exists regarding Langkow. We liked him as a player, too. But if he misses this season, he is done. But the ball is in his court. He should retire; who knows if he will. If he retires, the Flames would get the $4.5 million in cap space (that is currently allocated to Langkow) back, and breathing room with it. If he doesn't, then he has to prove he can play, and at 35 years old and having missed a full season of hockey, we are doubters. Or, if he isn't healthy, the Flames go through another year of paying for Langkow to rehab (and having it cost against the cap).

But even if Langkow retires, and we get the $4.5 million with the $4 million in cap space (or more) the team currently has on the books, what is the team going to do? Cap space is only valuable if you have valuable players to use it on. Go ahead and look, is there anyone out there who is coming in and saving the franchise?

Yeah, we see Semin and Richards. You think they are going to fit in the cap here? And then we have to resign Glencross, add two depth defenceman, and a backup goalie who isn't complete shit? Good fucking luck with that.

Look, here is what it is. The defence looks set, the goalie is set provided he doesn't demand a trade, and the teams problem is the forward corps, which Darryl Sutter's fetish for NMC/NTC's have pretty much set. There are no easy answers here. Not even rebuild. But the forwards do need to be upgraded.

Maybe the answer is to trade J Blow-over-the-legal-limit. You can quibble with us in the comments, but we see Langkow, Kotalik, Jokinen, as the forwards that need to be moved out. You know our position on Jarome, but in all honesty, you really don't want to trade him when he is at the bottom of his value arc, do you?

What a mess. All we crave is assets that have liquidity to them. And some goals.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sutter, Scoring Chances

Look Brett, your father is doing a good enough job turning this organization into a laughingstock, he doesn't need your help.

Unless we missed the press release, Brett Sutter has still not been suspended by the Calgary Flames for punching a cab driver, unprovoked, while he was heavily intoxicated.

Why not?

Seriously, how does a player who has 18 games, 2 points, and a minus 4 to his name not receive any punishment for embarrassing the organization? Why was he not suspended by the team, at the very least?

Even if you don't think he did anything that serious, at least understand the optics of the situation. Because to us, the optics look terrible.

Brett Sutter, who is a terrible player at the NHL level, lacking any skill whatsoever, and who, quite frankly, is barely good enough to play in the AHL, is on this roster for one reason, and it's obviously because his last name is Sutter.

He doesn't have the talent to play regularly. He doesn't have the talent to beat Meyer's out of the lineup. If he can't beat Meyer's, he isn't taking anyone elses spot. He has no spot on this roster. Do you know what good teams do with their young, err, 'talent', when it can't play regularly at the NHL level? They send it down to the AHL so it can develop. Brett Sutter has no spot on the Calgary Flames. He is also 23, which means that if this organization wants to get any return on it's investment in nepotism, it should send him down to the AHL so he can be getting playing time and experience. But they don't. They keep him up in the press box.

Why? To act as motivation to Meyer's? That's retarded (Darryl Sutter makes a lot of stupid decisions, so you may be numb to it by now). We think it has something to do with the fact that Brett makes $75,000 if he plays in the AHL, a league in which he has 23 goals in 212 games played, but $500,000 if he plays up in the NHL.

Brett Sutter is a punk. When you repeatedly tell a police officer in Arizona, a state that doesn't even have ice, that it's ok that you punched a cab driver because you are celebrating your rookie hockey game, it pretty much exposes you as being a punk. Darryl probably wants the punk out of his house the same way we want the punk off the roster. So he cooks up a big fat paycheque for the kid, so Brett can move out and stop bothering him.

We really don't think it's that far-fetched an idea. Since Darryl took over as the GM, he has been using the Calgary Flames as the Sutter Family employment office. Normally we would be content not to talk about it, even though the team has a terrible draft record and the scouting department is where Darryl tends to stock his kinfolk. Darryl's Caesar, and if he wants to use his royal power to enrich his family, well, that's a perk of the job. But we don't have to pretend about his motives and give him cover for it.

Brett Sutter is on the roster to collect a big league paycheque. We can live with that provided he acts like a good little child and is seen but not heard. The moment his ledger goes from positive to negative he has to go. And because he doesn't do anything, you know, on the ice, his ledger is neutral at the best of times. Which means going out and causing brand damage to the Flaming C makes him more of a distraction then he is worth.

He should have been suspended at the minimum. He wasn't even going to play in those games, so it wouldn't have effected anything, really. It just would have made the organization look classy and professional. He should be sent to Abby, too, but again, he is only up here so Darryl can give him a payday he would have received in no other organization in the NHL, so we are not holding our breath.

DB, other people have done things like this, worse even, while wearing the Calgary Flames colours. Yeah, you are right. You mean people like Al Macinnis, Theo Fleury? You know, Hall-Of-Famers?

The rules for mortals are different. Brett has no leash.

Some numbers talk.

We are big proponents of shots. The more shots you take, the more chances you have to score. Not all shots have the same percentage of success, however. 100 shots from the slot probably get you more goals than 100 shots from the blueline.

So let's look at the Calgary Flames. They have 495 shots for, which is good for 16th in the league. Colour us crazy, but a team that lacks true, dynamic scoring talent should be looking to increase it's shot totals above that of middle of the league. The less ability you have to score, the more opportunities you need to score.

What's driving down the shot totals? It could be two things, talent or coaching. The team may not have the talent to generate puck possession, which means it isn't taking the puck up the ice into the opposition's zone, which is why they generate few shots. Or it could be coaching. The coach is employing a safe system designed to limit chances against the team, which limits opportunities to be aggressive and generate shots.

The Calgary Flames, as the media and fans are told in a whine by the coach every day now it seems, are a defensive hockey team. So that's what limits the shots. But is that true?

The Calgary Flames have given up 460 shots. That's good for 8th place in the league. That number would suggest that the Flames are indeed a defensive oriented club. Which isn't good.

The Calgary Flames have a record of 6-6 when they outshoot their opponents, and 1-3 when they get outshot. That means on most nights they generate more shots than their opponents, but they still can't win more than half of the time, and when they don't outshoot their opponents, they lose. 

What this really means is the team is sunk. If they play their game of hockey (outshooting opponents, keeping shots against down), their chances of winning isn't that much greater than 50%. If they don't play their game, their chances of winning are quite a ways below 50%.

Personally we are not fans of Coach Sutter, but it appears that it isn't the coaching that's the problem. The team doesn't have the horses to go out and just play, which is why coach wants the team to play safe. At the same time, the team doesn't have a gamebreaker that would allow it to win those close hockey games on a consistent basis.

The team is not a good one. It isn't better than any other team in the NHL. It doesn't have the talent to win games, so it has to rely on the vagaries of bounces and luck and the smile of the hockey gods. The team does need to show more urgency, work harder, and play smarter. But it also needs more talent.

Our top forward in plus/minus is Morrison at +1. Yikes.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.