Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some Questions I Want Our Completely Unintimidated Media To Ask

So on twitter the other day, I asked George Johnson, Vicki Hall, John Down, and Scott Cruickshank when I could expect to see their articles talking discussing Ken Kings meddling in the hockey operations.

And today what did the good people of Calgary get? We got woe is me stories about how much of a bummer it is to the players, really and truly, to miss the playoffs from Johnson,Vicki Hall writing something about how it sucks for little boy Bouwmeester to not be in the playoffs, and Gio having a heart

Now, while I am sure it is news to somebody out there that the Flames won't make the playoffs, or that Bouwmeester never has, or that Gio may be captain someday, it isn't news to most fans. Which makes publishing those types of stories look a bit odd, considering that yesterday, Mike Keenan was dropping bombs on your moms and leveling some pretty serious accusations against the club, the main one being that Jay Feaster, nominal GM of the club, probably doesn't have the power to operate the hockey operations department without interference from Ken King, and Keenan thinks that because he charged that Darryl Sutter didn't have the power to operate hockey operations without interference from King.

To me, that is quite a charge, for a couple of reasons. It strikes at the narrative that Darryl was Caesar. It strikes at the narrative, provided by Ken King himself, that Ken King isn`t involved in hockey operations, and it strikes at the narrative that Jay Feaster is the GM of this hockey club and is the guy making hockey decisions.

In other words, actual news broke yesterday, and the main beat writers for the club ignored it. Hmmm. Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

Now one of the reasons I am disappointed in the fact that the papers are not covering the biggest story involving the Flames right now is that there are some questions that I think need to be raised, and the fans deserve answers to.

Did Ken King green-light the Dion Phaneuf for spare parts trade?

Did Ken King green-light the Matt Stajan extension?

Did Ken King green-light the Babchuk extension?

Did Ken King green-light the Regehr for Kotalik's contract trade?

And I think these questions should be asked for a reason. In the coming days, you are going to see the organization spin the news that King plays GM by saying that of course King plays GM, that is his job, to provide oversight. Notwithstanding the fact that King has always said in the past that he is not involved in the hockey operations of the club, King`s involvement in the hockey operations is going to be painted as a good thing.

But here is the rub: If Ken King is providing oversight, and this practice is found to have taken place when Darryl Sutter was here, then why was Ken King not fired for green-lighting the roster moves that got Darryl Sutter fired?

If Ken King is just as culpable for the crazy that took place during Darryl's last few years here, why is he still employed? Or if you don't want to go that far, why is he still allowed to oversee the hockey operations department?

The team does a press conference at the end of the year. I'd expect the press could request King's presence. I`m looking forward to the completely independent and not intimidated at all local press corp to bring these questions up.

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

Steve MacFarlane goes full apologist for Ken King in his latest article. Unreal.

"Even if it was true, and the Flames ownership group has its mitts firmly planted in the proceedings -- who cares?"

He actually wrote this. Well, for one, the fans care. Because we want qualified people running the show, not the owners pet former newspaper editor. And secondly, if it was truly not a big deal, why has King been lying about it and claiming he doesn't muddle in hockey operations? He must seem to think it would appear to be a big deal, no?

Just bizarre.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bombshell Mike Keenan Interview

Check it:

I would hate to toot my own horn, but the evidence is certainly piling up, no?

I imagine the fact that I have been correct about this whole management fiasco will stick in some people's craw.

And I just want to be clear: The issue isn't that Edwards and/or King are hands on. The issue is that they have always told the public that they are not. Probably because they know they would not be perceived as qualified people to do those jobs.

Fire King. Fire Feaster. Fire Sutter. Lanny 2012. 

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

The Approach

The Calgary Flames did not make the playoffs. Bummer, dude.

I wanted to highlight how I approach this thang.

The Flames did not makes the playoffs. So you could very reasonably ask "Why not?", but I don't. When I hear "Team X didn't make the playoffs" I think it is also reasonable to ask  "Were they expected to?"

Right? There is a world of difference between the Pittsburgh Pirates not making the playoffs, and the New York Yankees missing the playoffs. Hell, there is even a difference between the Pirates making the playoffs and the Yankees making the playoffs. And it is because of expectation; in the one market, years of cheap ownership has eroded hope, while in the other lavish spending has grown it. The same dull reaction a Yankee playoff birth elicits from their fans also escapes the mouths of Pirate fans upon another season ending in the summer.

The Calgary Flames did not make the playoffs. OK. Were they expected to? Because before I get angry at the team, I should probably decide on what grounds I should base it on. So, did the Flames signal to the market, to the fans, to expect a playoff birth? Did they set expectations level to 'make the playoffs'?

Why yes, yes they did. From my own piece on the issue:

"Expectations for the team: Feaster said that the expectations for the team were to be a 'playoff team'. He then qualified that with 'strong playoff team' and specifically said the team was 'not going to be one of those teams that squeaks in at the last minute at the 8th spot'. He then goes on to say that the club is going to challenge for the division. Which is nice bluster, for sure. But what if it doesn't happen?"

Or if you'd like a more, ahem, professional source, here is Feaster talking to TSN:

"Still, Feaster isn't afraid of making guarantees. "We'll make the playoffs this year," he (Feaster) said."

(That looks pretty 'Ouch' now, doesn't it?)

The Calgary Flames organization set the expectation level for their fans to have for them at 'Make the playoffs'. When we go forward in evaluating the season, we therefore have to evaluate it at that level. While many people now, and even before the season started, questioned whether this team was a playoff caliber team, that isn't really pertinent. The organization told us they were going to make the playoffs. They get judged at that level. Therefore, not making the playoffs means they failed in their (meager) goal.

Now that that is established, we can ask 'Why not?' to the statement of 'the Flames didn't make the playoffs'.

To me, how I approach things, it almost always comes down to talent. There are other factors at play for sure, but I really don't know how much they influence the chance to win, so it's hard for me to assign values of weight to them. For instance, I am convinced Brent Sutter is a bad coach because he does things like ice the 4th line in the oppositions zone. But theoretically he could be doing something in the locker room with the players that is acting as counter balance to his tactical mistakes. I don't know, and moreover, I can't really prove his tactical mistakes cost us points (HEY I CAN REMEMBER THAT STUPID SHOOTOUT SELECTION HAHA!) without resorting to pouring over video, which, uhh, no.

Besides, coach's are essentially at the mercy of two forces they don't control, expectation and player talent. And I have shown that there was expectation. So naturally we should look at the talent.

At the beginning of the season, when expectation was set at 'make the playoffs', what did outside observers think of the Flames roster, and hence, their chances to make the playoffs. I'll offer two, Puck Daddy's and TSN's. PD said no, the Flames would not make the playoffs. TSN was a little more generous: they shrugged their shoulders and went 'ehhh, maybe?'.

I don't think I am being outrageous when I suggest that the expectation levels set for this team, however meager they were, (and folks, 8th place is a pretty terrible goal for a team that enjoys as much fan support as the Flames do) may have been hard to justify given the talent level on the team.

The organization, however, made their bed, and now it will have to sleep in it. When discussing how it is that the Flames missed the playoffs, the answer is simple: the talent. At the same time, however, I am not saying blame the players for one reason: We knew that they were not good enough to begin with!

Obviously the players are the issue. But the issue isn't the players lack of character (although I think it is eminently fair to call out a team out that lost to Edmonton and Columbus in season making or breaking games on their 'give a fuck' meter), or at least to me it isn't. To me the issue is who assembled this group to begin with. I repeat, I blame the front office only because it was the front office who told me I should expect a playoff birth.

So to me, the approach is:

1. Flames didn't make the playoffs.
2. Where they expected to?
(Yes they were.)
3. Who set expectations?
(The teams front office.)
4. Why didn't the Flames make the playoffs?
(The players)
5. Were the players thought of as a talented enough group to make the playoffs?
(Kinda, but not really. At least not at any level that the organization should have been making guarantees or anything.)
6. So management over-promised and under-delivered?
7. They broke the bloody Disney Rule?
(That is correct.)
8. Blame management.

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Is Jay Feaster Still Employed

I don't even have a rant or anything. Because to me it is pretty simple: Until there is a management team in place that actually knows what the fuck they are doing, the Flames are going to continue to suck.

The Flames have been out of the first round of the playoffs one time since 1989. One time. That speaks volumes.

Hey Calgary: You are doing it wrong.

I don't think the people are stupid. But I do think the people don't know. So if you tell the people you have a playoff team, and then you end up not having it, I think it is easy for people to then blame the players. But I don't think it is correct. If someone builds you a stock portfolio and sells you on it by promising 10% return, and it doesn't perform up to expectations, you don't blame the stocks, you blame the person who built the portfolio!

I'm not saying don't blame the players. If this team was a complete one, if it didn't have a giant, gaping, Roseanne Barr vagina of a hole on the defence, and if they had a guy who could legitimately play top six centre minutes with Jarome, then it would be a different story, and blaming the players would be extremely appropriate.

But the Flames are not a complete team. They really are not even close to being one. (For example, they were icing Matt Stajan and Mike Cammalleri in top six centre minutes, and playing But7er top four defence minutes). And the people paid to know that, Ken King, Jay Feaster, and Brent Sutter, looked at the roster, and guaranteed a playoff spot.

Now management wants their allies in the media to ratchet up the heat on the players, because management wrote a cheque the players couldn't cash? You want to talk about the players lack of character? Fish rots from the head down, people.

Nobody put a gun to Jay Feaster's head and made him guarantee that a weak team would make a playoff spot. To me, that is a display of spectacularly bad judgment. Quick question: Do we want people who have displayed spectacularly bad judgment running this team? I don't think we do; How does Jay Feaster have a job? How are there not articles and columns talking about how the management has destroyed this team?

To me, the issue is just that. Management isn't up to the task. I don't see how you pen columns on whether or not the team should trade Jarome when the issue that immediately precedes 'Trade Jarome' is 'Are These People Even Capable Of Trading Jarome'?

Besides, everyone knows the real issue that concerns the fans is who the fuck is going to get Rob Kerr's suck out of the play by play booth. 

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