Friday, November 4, 2011

Misery Of The Faithless

Quoteth Dome Beers:

"Flames are in a tough spot, gang.

They get worked by the Canucks on their home ice, so are expected to put in a good effort. Detroit has lost 5 games in a row.

If the Flames win the attitude is 'well, they bloody well should have after their performance in their last game' but
 us non-believers can shrug and say that the Flames caught Detroit while they playing badly.

Almost no win, really.

And because the Flames are trying to turn us all into schizophrenics, they of course did win in Detroit.

We were watching the game, and we remarked to the ether that we had not seen a Detroit team look this bad in a long time. But maybe that is just a product of our perspective: Perhaps the Flames made Detroit look that bad.

It's a matter of faith. Do you still believe in this team, or have you lost the faith? If you still believe, then last nights victory over the Detroit Red Wings is reason for optimism, but if you don't believe, then last nights victory over a club that had lost it's five previous games it had played doesn't really tell you anything at all: We know the Flames can beat bad teams. The Flames, in fact, are probably the best of the bad teams. The question is are they more than that, and do they have a chance?

The title is a tell for our position on the team: A win over Detroit should be a win over Detroit, yet we are mired in the misery of the faithless: we don't buy in.

(Think about what miserable fucks that makes us: A win over the Red Wings isn't even good enough anymore!)

Instead of going over why, which is pretty well documented, let's talk about what it will take to make us believers.

We once heard some insane stat that most teams in the top 8 come American Thanksgiving tend to stay there. American Thanksgiving is what, November 24th.

From now till then, the Flames play the Sabres, Avalanche (twice), Wild, Hawks (twice), Sens, Jackets, and the Red Wings. If the Flames go 6-3 on this portion of the schedule...we might just start heading down the road to Damascus again.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bloomberg Businessweek FTW

Flames are in a tough spot, gang.

They get worked by the Canucks on their home ice, so are expected to put in a good effort. Detroit has lost 5 games in a row.

If the Flames win the attitude is 'well, they bloody well should have after their performance in their last game' but us non-believers can shrug and say that the Flames caught Detroit while they playing badly.

Almost no win, really.

Anyways, that little situation aside, we had a quick little chart we found in 'Bloomberg Businessweek' to show ya'll.

You know how it is our contention that a large factor in the teams suck is the bad management? Wanna see some ammunition?

Well, click that 'Bloomberg Businessweek' link for the full chart. It's their attempt at an efficiency measure as it pertains to performance measured against spending. We direct you to the link first before charting because their chart includes every major sports team in North America (which is interesting to take a look at) and our chart will be hockey team related.

Anyways, here is the methodology:

"A general manager’s job is to turn payroll dollars into wins. We’ve run the numbers on the last five NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL seasons to see who’s done it best—by winning often, spending little, or (sometimes) both.

Our method: By culling player payroll data from reported sources and pairing them with wins and losses over the last five completed seasons, we calculated an average cost per win in each league. Based on that number, we measured (by standard deviation) how far each team varied above or below the league norm. The result is a cross-sport rating of how every U.S. franchise compares to its peers in squeezing wins from money. We call it the Efficiency Index."

We call it 'ammunition'. Anyways:

(It is hard to read, just give it a click.)

And just for shits and kicks, averages!

Average Cost Per Win: $1.185.333.33
Average Wins Per Season: 41
Average Number Of Playoff Performances: 2.67, which we round down to 2 to be kind to the home team.

Obviously this chart requires some context; nobody who actually loves what is good about sports would try to argue that Wang is a good owner (Islanders). But from a business perspective, it's arguable he might be at least operating in a prudent fashion: he doesn't win a lot, but at the same time he doesn't spend a lot of money (relatively speaking).

This chart penalizes precisely the opposite behaviour: paying a lot of money for a team that isn't very good. Which is why you will find, maybe predictably, the teams that occupy the bottom of this list are the Oilers, the Flyers, the Rangers, the Maple Leafs, and the Flames. Teams that spend a lot of money, almost as much as the cap allowed in the preceding five years, and hovered around the bottom of the playoff spots, or in the Oilers and the Maple Leafs case, didn't even make the dance at all. And while we should also point out that indeed the Flyers made it to the Finals in the last five years, they have perennially been seen as a Cup contending team since the lockout ended, and the results have rarely been commensurate with the expectations.

We will end on this point: In a way, this chart shows us the power of expectations can have on how clubs operate. You will no doubt notice that, very generally speaking, the teams that rank high on this list have fanbases who don't expect to win, demand to win, as intensely as the teams on the bottom of this list. We could infer that the fervour for victory compels teams to spend money they otherwise wouldn't in an attempt to keep up with the arms race, and in an attempt to try and convince the teams customers that the team is indeed trying to compete and win.

If that is the case, if ownership in certain markets feel compelled to make the resources available to their teams managers because of market pressures, then it would seem to be in their best interest to try and identify and then acquire the managers who are best able to efficiently allocate resources. San Jose would be an example of this type of approach to running a club.

 If this chart has any value, it is in the fact that it shows the person who is managing the Calgary Flames, Ken King, does not seem to be a great allocator of the above average amount of resources he is allowed to allocate by the team owners. It would seem obvious to us that the team should try and upgrade in that department. Targeting executives from the Predators, the Sharks, the Red Wings, and the Ducks would seem to be a prudent course of action with this club moving forward into an offseason where it has the potential to remake and rebuild itself fairly quickly.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not A Lengthy Polemic

Because why use 1500 words when you don't have to?

This is our view, in a nutshell.

First, you need to decide if that game last night was an accurate reflection of the team. Is this team really 5 goals (or 4 goals for the keeners) worse than the Vancouver Canucks?

If it is, then there is no point in continuing the exercise. The team needs to be deconstructed, blown up, the parts sold for scraps and draft picks, and we need to start again.

If we don't believe the team to be 5 goals, or 4 goals, worse than the Canucks, we need to ask ourselves how is it they (the Flames) lost by that margin.

Personally, we think the team is badly constructed, but we also don't think that the team is 5 goals worse than the Canucks. So we are going to take a stab at answering how it is they lost by that margin.

Now obviously we are not talking stats here. If you were constructing the argument that the team is shit and needs to be blown up, that's what you would use stats for. But what are stats going to tell us about why the team didn't show up against the team that represented the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals? Stats will tell us the what: Jarome Iginla managed two shots on goal in a big game at home against a division rival. They won't tell us why.

See what we did there? We are not blaming the performance on coaching utilization, on match-ups, on systems of play. We are beyond that. They are factors for sure, but they are factors only to a point. We are blaming the lack of performance of the players on the players.

Ultimately, that is what we are left with. Again, the last game of a home stand, against a division rival, against a team the fanbase hates, against a team that represented the West in the Finals (or if you don't speak sports, that is to say a team you are to use as a measuring stick), and the Flames came out and let the Canucks ravish them.

There was no fight, no spark, no push-back, no nothing. We hate to say it, but it looked like the team came out, saw Vancouver was very good, and then the team, the Flames, decided they didn't want to get embarrassed by playing hard against them only to lose. So they decided to half ass the effort so they could look in the mirror at the end of the day and say "We lost to the Canucks but we weren't really trying so it doesn't mean we aren't any good."

They shut it down. At least, that's how we view it, you may disagree. You may be right to disagree; the Canucks may be worlds better. But in salary capped NHL, teams are rarely magnitudes better than the rest of the league. Vancouver almost lost in the playoffs to a Chicago team that had two lines and three defencemen last year. In other words, Vancouver almost lost to a flawed team, which indicates to us that they are not immortal herculean hockey players who are head and shoulders better than everyone else.

The Flames quit. We think they quit to preserve their pride, in some perverse way. But regardless of why, what does that tell us? More importantly, what does that tell us about the leadership of this team?

Quite honestly, does Jarome Iginla care about winning? If he doesn't, why is he on this team?

This may sound insane, Jarome is a Hall-Of-Famer, of course he cares. Meh, we don't know...

Jettisoned from the locker room in recent years: Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr, Daymond Langkow. Guys who were known to be leaders, and guys who it has been speculated Jarome developed rifts with. And why would rifts develop between players who want to win, like Regehr, and Jarome? Could it be the rifts developed over commitment to winning? Could it be these rifts developed because Jarome is a bad captain?

The Calgary Flames have an identity, despite what you hear in the sports media. Their identity is the Country Club. Jarome is a great player; it would be a shame if he let complacency tarnish his legacy as he winds down his career.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.

ps: If you want to argue that Jarome shouldn't be held accountable for managements inability to put talent around him we will listen to that to a point; However, Jarome Iginla is involved in player personnel decisions. Which makes Jarome, if we wanted to be very severe in our judgements, culpable in the poor roster decisions as well.

pps: On Talent:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hazing Allegations Rock The Flames


Calgary ( - The parents of a 27-year-old hockey player at the centre of a hazing scandal say the man was forced to skate hard, fore-check, back-check, and be responsible with the puck.

On Tuesday, the National Hockey League was not considering suspending coaches on the Calgary Flames for hazing incidents involving Matt Stajan.

The father of the grown man says his son was amongst several players forced to run defensive drills at a brisk pace. These drills also reportedly included contact.

Reportedly, several drills involving vision and puck possession were also conducted. Whenever Matt Stajan failed to run the drill to satisfaction, he was allegedly forced to run the drill again.

"They had what they are calling a 'practice," The elder Stajan said. "They were encouraged to move their feet and be physical, and the vets and coaches would judge them on that."

Relating another incident, Stajan's father said his son was asked to do at least three laps around the rink at high speed while carrying a puck on his stick. His son was judged on the effort he put into running the drills at the 'practice', he said.

This story was later confirmed by Jay Bouwmeester.

"Well, yeah, I mean, I just remember it being so hard when I had to go through that," quietly mumbled a genuflecting Bouwmeester. "I just don't think people understand, you know? What being asked to not turn the puck over will do to your psyche. They don't understand."

Matt Stajan's father shared similar sentiments.

"It's so wrong," Stajan's father said, adding he hopes speaking out on the matter might help prevent future hazing incidents. "I didn't think this type of juvenile barbarism was around anymore. I just can't believe that it (practice) still happens in this day and age."

Stajan told his dad that Coach Sutter was at the rink during the incident.

"I couldn't believe it," Stajan's father said. "He's a person in authority."

"It's bad enough he sends Rich Hesketh out to abuse little Matty during the offseason; checking up on him, weighing him. Now he is terrorizing him at the rink?"

After Stajan complained about the incident he was forced to apologize to his team for coming forward, Stajan's father said.

"He felt his career was in jeopardy." he said. "They have put him in the press box because of this."

Stajan has been in the press box following the incident and may be hoping to be moved to another team.

"That's more than the punishment for some of the other players who had to endure practice," Stajan's father said. "The difference is my boy complained."

When reached for comment, Matt Stajan did not seem to be backing off his allegations.

"It was gross. They made me skate up the ice real fast, and then back down the other way. For almost, like, 15 minutes. I was sweating. Do you know what that is like? To sweat? It's disgusting. It was terrible."

Flames brass have yet to respond to the allegations, although one member of the team did offer comment.

"Matt Stajan sucks." offered Harvey The Hound.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.