Friday, December 3, 2010

Roman Turek Profile In Courage Award


Leslie Nielsen and Ron Santo? Noooo!

Leslie Nielsen was a big influence on me, and the nation, really. His style of the absurd straight man was not new, but he did it better than most. I celebrate the clowns, the court jesters of this world. If you don't laugh, you cry, and this world certainly provides an engaged observer plenty of opportunities to shed tears. The clown, the comedian, lifes escape artist, to me, is therefore a noble profession. Leslie was one of the best.

Ron Santo, one of the best Cubs players I never saw play. You think it's bad being a Flames fan? I have chosen, eyes wide open, to jump in bed with the Lovable Losers from the Second City! Yeah, fruitless and frustrating summers followed by disappointing winters (and I'm not just talking about me trying to pick up girls!).

One of the things that makes baseball great is that, in theory at least, you should be able to look at a guys stats and be able to compare them throughout the history of the game to players of different eras. Inside these numbers, a players worth is supposedly gleaned. Who knows, right? I think a players worth happens to be measured on how he impacts his community. I'm not getting soft. Championships do the most blessings to a community, so winning is the most important thing. But Ron Santo, being a Cub, never was able to bring a championship to his city. He played in Chicago his whole career, every year but the last as a Cub. But instead of being bitter that this All-Star wasn't able to get the team over the hump (though I am sure there is some of that in some of the older fans) everything I have ever read about the man or heard about him suggest that he is a beloved figure in his city. Which in turn leads me to believe he was a good person, and treated the people in his community with respect. That is the true measure of a man, really.

So this week, the RTPIC is going to go to these two gentlemen. I know I have been slipping with the RTPIC's, much to the chagrin of the DB crew and the audience. I will get back to the old school versions eventually.

RIP Leslie Nielsen (Police Squad!):





RIP Ron Santo (Oh no! He dropped the ball!):



And let's tie it all together, now:



Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Thoughts On Last Night

Simply put, last night was an embarrassment. It was an embarrassment for the fans, the city, and the franchise.

You all know we had an all-star team in the Eighties, right? You all know the fans in this city didn't support the team and the all-stars had to be traded away because the team couldn't afford them, right? You all know that now the franchise has basically unlimited fan and corporate support, it should be striving to be regain the form of the world class operation it was in the Eighties, right? You all know 'just good enough' isn't, right?

At some point, efforts like last nights begin to tarnish the 'C' and erode the value of the brand.

The players quit in the third. Forget for a moment that the Canucks are a much better team than the Flames currently. The players quit. At some point, you have to decide whether you are going to fire all the players on the team, or fire Darryl and Brent.

Something has to be done. This franchise isn't loved in Canada. It doesn't take much for it to turn into a laughingstock nationally. That is what it is becoming. And it is embarrassing.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Column For Wednesday, Dec 1

Two months of the season are done. Four and some change months remain.

How has the team fared so far?

The team has 22 points in 24 games, which is fucking deplorable when they are spending the money they are spending on what was at one time hockey talent.

So that isn't great. Have they beaten anybody, at least?

Why yes, yes they have. They have beaten eight teams for a total of ten wins on the season. Besides Killadelphia, who play in the East and should have won that game save for the NHL and it's continued pussyfication of the game, Calgary has beat the Columbus, Colorado, and Chicago, all teams who enjoy (currently) a position at the top of the standings in the West.

That's right. If you used 'C' as the starting letter in the name for your city, and that city has an NHL team, prepare to take big thick 'L's to the face when Calgary comes to town.

So if you are looking for positives, there is that. The negative is that the team is losing to teams in the bottom half of the conference, and they should probably not be doing that if they want to achieve some post season gates for the owners. Also, they have played the Red Wings three times and have lost all three (but they have been close games until the Wings decide to turn it on and win in the five last shifts of a hockey game).

We are now looking for the team to go on a good stretch, get on a winning streak, and then maybe they can play themselves up to 9th, and then they need to make another push, go on another streak, and maybe, if the stars align, they can make the 7th spot.

The team, it's managers, coaches, and it's players, put themselves in this position, so we don't feel sorry for them. If they want to be able to carry their heads with pride around this city, then they got to win, and that's up to them.

But the situation does put a big bright spotlight on games like tonights. Even if the team was in last in the conference with no hope, this would still be a big game. Beat Vancouver.

If the Stamps are underachieving (in the regular season, we have come to expect it from them in the postseason) then the season can still be salvaged if they beat the Eskimo's. Well, same shit applies here. If the team sweeps the Canucks, it will make the bitter taste of a wasted season less difficult to swallow.

You can't sweep a team if you lose to them the first time you meet, which makes this game an important one for the Flames. But this could get ugly in a hurry. The Canucks have won four games on the road this year, and two of those wins came against teams in the East, which is to say, bad ones. You know their coach is hoping to get his guys fired up to start winning on the road. It will be interesting to see how they (the Canucks) respond, how the Flames respond, ect. The Canucks play the Blackhawks next, in their (Chicagos') barn, so this thing could be a trap game for them.
...

This is old, but we haven't talked about Nystrom admitting to the world he was mentally weak, yet.

What the fuck is with the people in this city and their love affair for a first round draft bust who fled this team for a paycheque? Why are fourth line scrubs like Nystrom even getting interviewed in the media?

Look, we aren't the worlds most experienced travelers, but we have seen different markets in North America and how the sports media in different markets operates. Maybe the newspaper guys thought running a story about how playing in a Canadian market can be so tough, and how the Calgary chapter got a scalp in the form of Nystrom, would make their wives pussies drip. We don't know. But we do know that if you think the Calgary media market is tough, then you are a complete wimp. The fact that blogs like this exist is testament to the fact that the media in this city is not combative. The FAN960 guys aren't lobbying for players to be traded, or coaches to be hired or fired. They barely made a peep about Keenan.

This is a nice media market. It may be a loud, semi claustrophobic one, but it is a nice, professional one nonetheless. Phoenix has tougher media than we do. Or they would if the Coyotes could make it into one of their sports sections.

Enough with this noise about how Canadian markets kill their sports figures. They kill the sports figures who are here to collect paycheques and live the lifestye. Seriously, it's like that, and that's it. Nystrom likes sleeping in fancy hotels, he likes being treated like someone special, likes the money and the lifestyle. He jumps at every chance he can to do an interview, so you know he likes feeling like a 'star' and being famous. But he doesn't like the media and it's tone when the team decides to go on vacation in December and lose nine straight games? He doesn't like the responsibility of having to actually win, is what he doesn't like. He doesn't like 'expectations'.

A player who was drafted for his last name, who gave this organization 39 points, is talking about the pressures of playing in the NHL? Child, please. He is lucky he isn't talking about the pressures of having to play four games in five nights in the ECHL.

Fuck off and go away, please, Nystrom. We loved Kerr's take on the issue. To paraphrase, he said (sarcastically) something to the effect of 'I (Kerr) drove Nystrom out of town.' Exactly. Kerr has all the time in the world for the organization and it's players, and was a Nystrom cheerleader. Press like that was too tough? Good fucking riddance.
...

Fuck, you see what the good Mayor Nenshi is pulling? We will be upfront. We thought the guy was a product of academia, so we thought he would go soft and left when he got into power. Who knows, he may still. But so far, so good, right?

He wants to cut sending! Hurray! Even if some of his cuts are only symbolic, they should still be applauded. We never understand people who get mad at spending reductions if they are small and negligent on the budget. Yeah, there is still work to do, but every penny counts, and at least having the personal inclination to want to cut spending is a good thing (you know spending is out of control when we characterise $10 million dollars in cuts as 'symbolic').

Also, we like how Nenshi has made it look like a 4%+ tax hike is, like, a good thing. Shows the man can market, which isn't a terrible skill to have as Mayor.

And Nenshi beefs with the councils biggest tool, Pincott, which earns him mad kudos with us.
...

This talk about Jay Feaster being next in line for the GM post if Sutter is fired needs to fucking end, because if that is the plan, we are getting off the Fire Sutter train. Feaster is worse than Sutter. At least Sutter had played the game, could command some respect from free agents, and had access to the NHL GM's Old Boys Club (for better or for worse). Feaster is the guy famous for jacking up Tampa Bays salary structure so bad that they were forced to trade away real players like Boyle and Richards for monetary breathing room. It's a fucking joke this guy is being considered to run the team, especially considering this club could have gone with Nicholson and Yzerman if they had only been prepared to dump obnoxious piles of money in front of them.

Please, before we hired Sutter the organization was being run by a nice enough fellow in Button. But Button was a very bad GM, and we needed Sutter for the stability and seriousness his presence gave the organization. He may have plateaued as far as his abilities to improve the teams chances of winning a Stanley Cup are concerned, but that doesn't mean when you hire his replacement you hire down, and go backwards. If this club gets rid of Darryl it better be for someone with more cache, more bonafides, not less.

We know some more established media read this blog, and we implore you to stop this 'Feaster as legitimate option as GM' story now, before it garners traction. If you are going to talk about replacing Darryl, talk about Lanny McDonald, or hiring Nashville's GM (and their coach, too) away with the chance to build a team that he has the budget to maintain it, or whomever your particular favourite candidate is. Just stop talking about Feaster, and stop giving the idea legitimacy.
...

Everyone at the Flames ingame entertainment department should be fired. Fuck off with the techno, just fuck off with it, already. The crowd in the lower bowl doesn't respond to techno music because they aren't 17 year old girls with mouthfuls of ecstasy and a desire to dance all night. Are we being clear enough with you nimrods?

PLAY COUNTRY MUSIC. JUST FUCKING PLAY IT.

You know why people like country music? Well, lots of reasons, but a big one is THEY HAVE EASY AND FAMOUS CHORUSES! You want people to make noise? PLAY A SONG THEY CAN SING THE WORDS TO!

Look, the techno they play isn't even that good. It's pop techno. It's garbage. But we will try to meet you halfway. The next time the Flames score, play 'Thank God I'm A Country Boy', and if you want, go ahead and play the techno version (that's us meeting you halfway). We guarantee the crowds response to that will be 1000 times more noticeable than what you guys get with your stupid techno music.
...

Finally, a salute to the Irish for not raising their corporate tax rates, even after they just sold out most of their sovereignty to the IMF. Oh, and fuck German exporters. What, it's only currency manipulation when the Chinese do it?

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fin

It's over. But, then again, it has been over for this team since the season started.

The team has 20 points in 23 games. The team has a goal differential of -5. They are .500 at home and sport a losing record on the road. The team gives up goals at even strength, and doesn't score any on the power play. Things have gotten so bad that somebody mentioned it to Murray Edwards.

We have talked before about money and the Flames. The Babchuk trade is a major example of the team making a move not to increase it's competitiveness but rather to save money. It's like the 1990's all over again!

We think the ownership is getting spooked. They are spooked because they fear the fan base may revolt and stop spending money. When the team was losing in the 90's, the team wasn't selling out the Saddledome. A good 4,000 people were added to the season ticket roster after the 2004 Cup run, and ownership does not want to lose them.

Which is why Murray Edwards is speaking. After being told what hockey was, and what hockey team he owned, Murray looked over the situation and in his wisdom decided that to calm down the fan base he would speak to them. And here is what he said (via The Sun):

The message I gave to Jarome (Iginla) and Darryl and Brent (Sutter) is that failure is not an option...We have to make this work.”

Uh oh. What the fuck is this asshole talking about?

Seriously, where to start. The message he gave to Jarome? Jarome is part of the upper management for this team now? Wonderful. What could go wrong with that arrangement?

Also, failure is not an option? What the hell is this guy talking about? Failure was certainly an option last year. Did something change? Hey, Murray, if the team didn't make the playoffs last year, and you allow the guy who built it to return with largely the same team for the next season, why are you expecting different results?

Edwards is full of shit. What we suspect happened is that someone got through the guys bubble to tell him that the fans are pissed and the season is over. Murray wants to keep selling tickets, so he comes out with some tough talk about 'making it work' in the hopes that he can convince the people to not give up on the team in the first month of December.

And what the hell does 'making it work' mean? What the hell is the plan with this team? Does 'making it work' apply if the team squeaks into the playoffs and gets bounced in the first round? Or does 'making it work' mean a Stanley Cup, or at least a deep playoff run?

At the very least the words are succor. We can't remember the last time a Flame owner said something like this in public, to the media, for the fans. Darryl may very well be at the end of the leash.

Which means...who the hell is going to be the GM of this club? (Answer: Lanny McDonald).
...

Although the grim playoff picture is terrible news, and the word that Ales Kotalik is close to returning is even more terrible news, it is not all bad. The Flames timed their roadtrip of death with 'black Friday', one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This allowed the team to find some great deals on things they will need later on in the year. Like golf clubs.
...

Do the Flames deserve this fate or are they just unlucky?

(numbers used for this exercise are from NHL.com and are from 11/25/2010)

We looked at the Western Conference, which has 15 teams. For arbitrary reasons, we split the teams into thirds. We then assume the top 5 teams are good teams, the next 5 are mortal teams, and the next 5 are bad teams. We then took a look at where the teams ranked in the three categories (5-5 Goals For/Against, PP%, PK%). The teams that ranked in the top 5 in the conference in any of the respective categories were awarded one point, while the bottom teams were awarded three. It reads like golf, with lower numbers being better. We get:




For this exercise, a middle of the road team would have 2+2+2=6 points. The best a team could do is 3 points, while the worst is 9. You will notice the Oilers have 9.

Teams in the top seven positions of the standings will be lucky if they have a total greater than six. By this measurement, two teams are lucky, the Coyotes and the Blues. The numbers would suggest they should be in the bottom half of the conference. The Sharks, sitting in the middle spot of the standings, have been unlucky this season. Their numbers suggest they should be in the top half of the conference. For the bottom half of the conference, a number less than six would indicate that the team had been unlucky. One team fits that criteria, and that is the Wild. That would give us two lucky teams (PHX, STL), and two unlucky teams (SJS, MIN) while the rest of the teams are roughly where you would expect them to be. We didn't count Chicago or Dallas as being unlucky as they fall within the range of the standings where you would expect a team with six points to fall, between the 6th and 10th spots. Looking at it in this way, the Flames are not an unlucky team, as they fall within the bottom half of the teams in the conference, and that is where you would expect to find them.

In otherwords, there is nothing special about this current group, and teams without any specialness to them don't win Stanley Cups. So it isn't a travesty to find them sitting in 14th place. They are middling 5 on 5, have a terrible PP, and a middling PK. It is a middling team.
...

A talent infusion is needed. If Murray Edwards is really pissed off about what is happening, he has two options, it would seem. He can wait this season, and next season, and by the 2012-2013 season the Flames get out of the capspace hell Darryl has put us in. Or he can start buying players out now, freeing up the capspace that will be required to sign the talent needed to make this club elite again. Pretending the Flames have a good team that loses because it doesn't work hard, or is snake bitten is not a good strategy.

And going young is not the answer. Going with a more talented team is the answer. However that can be done.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.