Friday, May 11, 2012

On The Coaching Rumours


Argh malarg, people. Argh malarg.

So I turn on the radio this morning to hear Dave Rowe talking noise about the following.

1) Troy Ward is being 'strongly' considered for the Flames head coach position.

2) Bob Hartley is being 'strongly' considered for the Flames head coach position.

And then, for whatever reason, I had to start drinking whiskey.

I guess we will start with Ward first.

From my perch a million miles away, and paying very little attention, it appears to me that, quite clearly, Eakins (coach of the Marlies, who the Heat were playing in the playoffs) out-coached Ward badly.

Why do I think this? Besides the Heat going 0/24 on the PP against the Marlies? Because Ward was so frustrated that his team was being shut down by Eakins squad that his big tactical adjustment was to sit the Heat's most dangerous offensive player, Krys Kolanos.

If you don't understand that one either, it means you are lucid.

Now maybe he sat Kolanos because Kolanos was out drinking and partying and raping and murdering before a playoff game. Or maybe Kolanos pointed out that Ward was being out-coached, and was sat for that. I don't know, because the club won't tell us why the head coach scratched Kolanos. All he says is that it was for 'internal reasons'. Which means I have license to speculate, so I don't feel bad about doing so.

But whatever the reason, to me, it doesn't look good on Ward. If Kolanos pulled a Radulov, that means 'the character in the room' that Ward is taking credit for building wasn't all that well built up. If it was because Kolanos was upset with Ward's coaching plan, it means Ward sat a player who could help him win because of ego considerations.

Either way, it doesn't make me want to give a guy who was feeling the pressure in the AHL and acted the way he did the reigns to an NHL team. If he has trouble controlling the room where Kolanos is the 'established guy', what they hell is he going to do when he comes to a room that houses Jarome Iginla?

The other curious move Ward did was not start Irving, the nominal backup for the NHL club, a guy who may end up being the starter if the Flames move Kipper, in these playoffs. Again, I have no idea why, but quotes from Ward seem to indicate Ward is a bit jealous Irving got to the show before he did.

“This year, his development changed and he became the second guy in Calgary at the National Hockey League level. Now he’s getting a little bit of humble pie. And I think that’s great for his development. I think that’s great in life, to get some humble pie.”

Yeah...I don't know why the minor league coach would make the back-up for the NHL squad who needs to play minutes to continue to develop 'eat humble pie' and not give him those said needed minutes. But that's what Ward did. And it should cost him any chance he had of becoming the Flames coach next season.

(Even if Taylor is in cold reality the better goalie, it doesn't matter. Irving needed to play, so the team could further see if they have a guy they should continue investing time and money in or not.)

Ok then, on to Hartley and these rumours that will not die.

WHICH IS CTHULHU LEVELS OF TERRIFYING!

What was it, last week or two weeks ago, that some guy went on twitter and said that Hartley was being interviewed by the Flames to fill the vacant head coach position? And then the hockey world laughed so loud that Feaster was forced to comment on the rumour. Feaster told, I think it was Roger Millions, that the Flames had not interviewed anybody and the rumour was bogus.

We all remember that, because we all remember starting to tie ropes around our necks when we heard Hartley may be coming to coach, and we all remember taking the ropes off when we found out it was a bogus rumour. 

Yeah, well, apparently the rumour is only bogus when people are paying attention. Because when the laughter subsided, according to what Dave Rowe reported on QR77 this morning, the Flames went out and indeed put Hartley on their radars, and will consider him for the position of head coach.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your noose's.

It was only yesterday that Millions wrote an article talking about how the Flames were perceived as a backwater, and no real coaches wanted to work with the team. I think this Hartley rumour pretty much confirms that.

Pro tip, Flames. When you float a trial balloon like 'Maybe we will hire Bob Hartley to coach' and the entire world laughs in your face, you shoot the trail balloon. You do not deflate it for a week, and then float it out again when the papers aren't paying attention because they are covering the Heat's playoff loss.
...

Did you guys notice that Gainey was available for hire? And did you notice the Flames didn't hire him? Even though people like Brent Sutter think the teams management is devoid of people who know what they are doing?

Odd.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Talkin' Million Dollar Man's Article


You will forgive me if it is old news, and it has been discussed already or whatever. I haven't been really paying attention. A quick look at FN showed me nobody had posted on it, but if this is regurgitation, my bad.

Anyway, Roger Millions, my preferred Flames PxP guy, wrote an article for SNET that I found interesting.

Here you go, kids.

The article talks about several things. The main talking point that is getting picked up from what I see is that Calgary 'may not' be an attractive destination for coaching talent. Roger writes:

"Rumours are starting to swirl that Calgary isn't exactly the destination of choice for many coaching candidates."

Which, like, shocking, dude. Rogers then goes on to list some reasons why this may be the case. His reasons listed are pretty reasonable. He lists the three straight years out of the playoffs. He lists the lack of top-tier prospects in the organization (before going on to put over a couple of prospects currently under Flames control).

But then he lists another reasons, and this one is, well, it's about the 'Kenspiracy':

"Then there's the thought -- right or wrong -- that Feaster does not have the autonomy to make a decision unencumbered. The organization is adamant that is not the case, but it won't go away."

The Kenspiracy is mainlining like a that chick from Pulp Fiction. The rumours 'won't go away' for a simple reason: It's true. Feaster does not have the autonomy to make a decision unencumbered. Don't believe me? Ask Bob McKenzie. The owners run the show here.

But that isn't really bombshell material to me, because ol' DB has been pushing that storyline for a few years now. What is bombshellish is what Rogers puts out there next:

"Case and point whispers that on the way out Brent Sutter muttered to confidants that John Weisbrod is the only real shining light in Flames management and that Feaster may be overshadowed. That may simply be sour grapes on Sutter's part then again, perhaps not."

Black Rob. Seriously, wowza. Weisbrod is being looked at as the only shining star in Flames management? Ouch. Because...well, Weisbrod isn't a great manager. (Also, here, here, here)

Which part of the team is more shallow, talent in the centre position, talent on the blueline, or talent in the front office? Don't dwell on it too long, as the question promises to throw the ponderer into a Stajan-esque pit of despair.

What I love about all this speculation is that it points to a problem that isn't easily fixed without bloodshed. The owners don't seem to trust the people they hired to run the team, the people hired to run the team don't trust each other, they don't trust the players brought in, and the players don't trust the players brought it. There seems to be 'group disharmony' going on. Sun Tzu says that is a problem.

(Tzu writes of how this problem of group disharmony was solved in a military camp: When the top aristocrat in the area broke a camp rule that applied to all, the camp commander had the aristocrat executed. When the rest of the people saw that the camp commander would kill his superior for breaking rules that applied to everyone, the rest of the people quickly, (what's the modern term of art?) gelled.)

But it's not all doom and gloom from the Million Dollar Man.

"Finally, in a radio interview this past week Feaster suggested trades are in the offing. This time, Jarome Iginla's name is not among them. However, in spite of his no trade clause Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester may be in play."

This news warms my heart to no end. I hope they send JBlow somewhere nice. Like Siberia. Let's dance!



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

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back The Dump Trunk

More Cervenka.

So I was lurking the CP, and someone there found and google translated an article that had been written about Cervenka in some silly non English language called 'European'.

This one right here.

And what I found cute about the article is that Cervenka talks about how the Flames courted him. Did the Flames go sweet and subtle or aloof and hard to get?

Neither, apparently. The Flames pitch woo like Cole Hamels pitches Bryce Harper: 90 miles an hour in your face.

How ever there were negotiations?
It all started over agents. Representatives of Calgary during the playoffs arrived in Russia, so I have seen them too. They told me their vision and I liked it of course. Acted with the greatest interest and quickly.
What is the vision?
They just talk, you'll have everything uhrát itself, but want to give me a chance. They want me to play in two lajnách me to be much on the ice. I am especially pleased to have this early clarity about their future and that I can prepare in peace for the season.
Did you have the NHL and other offers?
We have been in contact with other clubs, but Calgary started first. For me it was very important that you are the only way for me did to Russia. Others probably relied on the fact that I go to the World Cup and that will solve everything there. But I was right after the end of the season to ninety percent of the decisions for Calgary.
That will certainly be perfectly mapped. What do you know about the club and the city you?
About the city do not know much, but I have an overview of the team. I know what players are signed for next season and how they plan for the future.
...
Are you satisfied with the terms of the contract?
As a freshman I could only get two-way, but they offered me the most I could get. But i guess you know that in my case is not about money this year. That amount is $ 3,775,000 including bonuses, which is very difficult to achieve. So in fact the other money.
 So, to translate the translation: Calgary showed up, and made it known pretty early in the process that it wanted to bed Cervenka. Cervenka was flattered that a senior would be so into a freshman like him, that he blushed and blushed hard. Then the Flames broke out the silver tongues, and hyped the kid up about how much action he would get from them. Cervenka must have been horny as all get out at this point, and that's when the Flames went from horseplay to foreplay, and made it rain on the kid.

Strip club romance, kids.

Again, to recap: Promised of ice time and a promise of a specific role with the club. Gee, what could go wrong here?

The other thing to note is that I think this was pretty much the same strategy the team employed on Erixon when it was trying to get him to sign; promise of max available contract, and promises about role and ice time. The main difference seems to be time engaged. In Erixon, the team waited until the last moment to try and sign him, and with Cervenka, the club went in heavy early to get the player they wanted signed.

At least the organization seems to be learning lessons.

I myself am not huge on promising minutes and roles to players who have yet to play a single game in the NHL. Not because I think the Flames will need to honour that commitment, but because if the kid busts and then doesn't get his minutes he is going to pout and I don't think you want unhappy campers in camp.

The other semi-interesting thing which I am sure you all also noticed is that Cervenka seems to be under the impression that this organization actually has plans about what it is doing in the future. Which is a bit of a shock to me, because the organization, to my eyes, has been operating without a plan since they traded Phaneuf.

Is this talk of the Flames organization's 'vision' just some sweet nothings the Flames whispered in Cervenka's ear? Or do you guys think it could actually be a true, honest to Whalen thang?

Actually, one more thing: If the Flames are already deciding the ice time of players, why do they even need to hire a coach? I mean, if Ken King can allocate minutes from the owners box in May, surely he can do it from behind the bench in October.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Salmagundi

Flames Enter Roman Era
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.

King/Feaster

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.

Expectations

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.

Matt Stajan

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."

Direction

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.

Joker Injured

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).

Coach

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 Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.