The Flames signing of Roman Cervenka is old news by now, so I won't really get into it that much. Do I like this move? I do.
Youtube 'Roman Cervenka' and you get a highlight reel of his first 10 goals in the KHL's 2011-2012 season, and you probably will get excited about the the kid as well. Now, you can pretty well paint any picture you please with edited video, so take the images with mountains of salt, but from the goals presented in the highlight reel, I think we can assume a few things.
On the plus side of the ledger, Cervenka seems to be able to accept a pass on his stick without it yelping on him, which would make him one of the few Flames with that skill. He seemed to skate, in the limited footage of him skating, with his head up. He gets sprung for a breakaway, and he attacks the goalie with his head up the whole time, which is a good 'tell' that the kid doesn't get nervous when the puck is on his stick. He may have that elusive 'poise with the puck', or 'swag', if you will. He also seems to shoot the puck from non orthodox angles. He seems to like to set up at the side of the net, and he can hit the top corner from pretty close, which means he has hands. Finally, he shoots the puck from far out, which suggests to me he has a pretty decent shot. It could also mean the goalies in the KHL are terrible.
The thing that gives me pause is that this kid is used to playing on the big open ice of the KHL, and from the clips I watched, it seems that everyone in the KHL plays Jay Bouwmeester defence: Soft, with no hitting. I don't know if Cervenka is going to be able to go to the middle in the NHL like he can in the KHL.
What I did find humorous is that a good amount of people in the fanbase instantly panned this move. I don't blame them, either: The teams management has done really stupid things, and it has gotten to the point, evidently, that people have noticed. One of the reasons I rail against the bad management is that I think it can have disastrous effects on the fanbase: It breeds cynicism, and cynicism is like an acid to team market strategies. 'Every Game Matters' being turned into a punchline to be used on the Flames is an example of that. Over the long term, it turns the team from being 'cool' to something else.
I may be reaching, or reading the winds wrong, but I think the reaction to the signing was telling. I think if it doesn't work out for the team, then there will be consequences. I think the fans have run out, or are about to run out, on giving the team the benefit of the doubt.
I think the fact that the fans are losing patience with the team and it's over-promising and under-delivering makes this move somewhat ballsy on the part of King/Feaster. And I take enough shots at those two that I suppose I should dap them when I think they are displaying non-toad qualities.
To me, to take a gamble on a guy who has never played in the NHL, after their previous gamble on Karrlson proved so disastrous, takes some guts.
Look at what happened by the end of this last season: The 'Ken King is running hockey ops' thang went from underground to mainstream. It went from DB to Bob Mckenzie. Which is another way to say that Ken King has been placed into the realm of 'people who could lose their jobs for poor performance'. And for him to then go out and commit three million plus dollars to the cap for an unproven in the NHL type player is therefore a bit of a risk for him.
But that cap hit...I heard Feaster on the radio talking about how Cervenka was calculating and did his homework in choosing a team, and then I see that three million plus cap hit. So yeah, I guess he was calculating, in that he calculated which team would pay him the most money to come over. Good for him and I don't hate on people's ability to make bank, but just don't try and sell me that he came over here because he likes the teams chances to win, or anything like that.
And that cap hit...
What do you expect from a guy with that cap hit? 50 points, right?
It's why everyone disrespects Matt Stajan: he makes 50 point money and gives the team 30.
Cervenka, in his first year in the NHL, if he got 30 points I would probably be pleased. I am certainly not really expecting anything more. But that cap hit, it says 'we are expecting 50 points.' And more than the cap hit, the teams depth chart says it. Because right now, the centres are Backlund, Jones, and Cervenka.
I think the casual fan is going to expect the kid to perform, and if he doesn't, and the team is losing, it is going to get ugly.
Speaking of Matt Stajan, his days as a Flame should be numbered, no? I really don't think you can reward his type of play by keeping him on the roster. I get that everyone hates buying out players because of what it does to the cap. But what about the effect of having a player who makes a lot of money and doesn't earn it in the locker room?
I think if the Flames wanted to send a quick and easy message to the group that they are serious about winning, super serious you guys, would be to buy out Stajan, and at the press conference, don't lie about it. Say "We bought out Stajan because he was not doing the job we paid him to do."
This is kinda jumpy, but back to Cervenka: does the signing mean anything about the direction the team is headed?
I don't know. When I first heard the news, the first thought across my head was that the team was not rebuilding.
It's weird, though. The team can't trade any of it's players right now, so we don't know if they are going to get rid of vets. But bringing in a 27 year old guy, to me, seems to be the club saying that it is still trying to win with the Iggy Kipper version of the Flames.
Which, if that is the case, I think makes the trading of Jay Bouwmeester the top priority for the club. Bouwmeester isn't nearly good enough to be eating the cap space of two players. What Bouwmeester represents is a top four blueliner. But he makes the price of two of them, and he doesn't provide the value of two of them. It's wonderful he plays all those minutes, but that speaks to the depth of the blueline more than anything else, in my view.
If the club could turn Bouwmeester, a top four defenceman, into two top four defenceman, then the club would be farther ahead talent wise, then if they kept him.
To me it is a must do move, and I am interested to see what the club does with him. But it also a no brainer move to me that they trade Iggy and Kipper. So you never know.
So Joker was injured. And injured to such an extent that his play was pretty dreadful when he tried to play through it.
This pisses me off. This is one of the reasons I am very glad Sutter is gone.
I get that a guy wants to play because he is a UFA and wants to make a contract. But the Flames commitment should be to their fans, not to a UFA. It seems clear from looking at the numbers that Joker should not have been playing when he was injured. And yet, Sutter played him, and played him in the top six.
Did that cost the Flames a playoff birth? Probably not by itself, but it certainly did not help the Flames chances. Would calling up someone from the farm, say a Horak, have hurt the teams game as much as playing Joker did? I don't see how it could have, seeing as Joker was a minus 820 the last month.
That said, he is a guy who can play in the top six. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I would look to resign him on a one year contract, if the team is going to go for it again and not rebuild.
Like, if the team is trying to win, I don't see how swapping out Joker for Cervenka gets you anywhere closer to the goal of winning. Having them both in the lineup does. So I'd resign him (or get find another centre who can get 50 points).
I was glad to hear that Feaster said something to the effect that he was going to wait until the playoffs are over before hiring a coach. I'm assuming that means he is going to wait until Tippett is available. If he becomes available.
But to me, the Flames coaching gig looks like a no win job, and I doubt many accomplished people are going to want it. If the team chose to rebuild then that changes things, but as it is now, it looks like an older team, where the players control the room. Who wants to ruin their reputation on that?
Rob Kerr Sucks
I can't stress this one enough. It's not personal. I keep getting emails from the Domebeer-aholics telling me stories about how Kerr has a heart of gold. I do not care. I DO NOT CARE.
His job is to call play by play. And he isn't good at it. I don't care he is nice to children. What does that have to do with calling play by play?
I could be off base here, but this is how I see it: Roger Millions called out the Flames. Because he was a homer. People who don't understand that are the idiots who got him fired. Yes, idiots. Just because Roger calls out the team for not being able to get the puck out of the zone does not mean he hates the team. It means he wants the team to win. It's like me. I don't hate the Flames, I actually like the Flames, I just don't like incompetence.
Anyways, the mouth breathers who think the Flames are the best team ever no matter what is occurring got Roger fired. So Sportsnet needed a replacement, and they hired Loubardias. The guy who made that decision was fired a year or two later, probably because he was greenlighting putting people like Loubardias into broadcast booths. And the one of the first things the new Sportsnet prez did was to fire Loubardias. So again, replacement is needed. King has veto power over who goes into the booth, and suggested they use Rob Kerr, because they are boys. And so Kerr got the job. And Kerr has taken the football and fumbled it spectacularly.
Now I have heard speculation that this coming up season could be Kerr's last year calling play by play, because the powers that be are not mouth breathers and can see as clear as the rest of us can that Kerr is over his head.
But if that is the case, what is the point? Sportsnet has a capable guy in Millions right there, on staff. If they don't want to fire Kerr, swap him and Millions. It's so simple even King could figure it out.
Loubardias = Whalen
Finally, I have to touch on this. Last week, while I was attempting to make the case that a nice shiny red blender could do a better job at calling play by play than Kerr can (all the fun stuff is on twitter) one Andrew Walker, of the FAN960 radio station, the flagship of the Flames, attempted to compare Loubardias (SKEEE-YORES!) to Saint Whalen.
Yes. For Reals.
I don't think further comment on that one is necessary.
Furthermore, I think