i took my roommate down to the 'dome again today to watch the morning sessions, and to fill up on free sandwiches and salad at the season ticket holder's prospect camp lunch. about 170 (i'm told) people attended this function, in the avison young lounge, and there was a mini Q&A with director of scouting, tod button, which was very informative. i hate taking notes, though, so bear with me as i forget a bunch of stuff that seems important now, but didn't really at the time...
the three things button addressed that were of interest (to me) were:
1. as of the current off-season, the flames employ six full time & three part time scouts in north america, which is (according to button) the most of any NHL team. the full-timers are based in medecine hat, kelowna, eastern ontario, western ontario, quebec, and two northeastern american cities that i can't recall. button explained that with the new task of scouting US high school players, the flames have added an additional part-time guy in the new england/great lakes region (i vaguely remember him mentionning boston & chicago), as well as a part timer in quebec, and another in ontario. they've also currently got two fulltime scouts in europe (finland/sweden), and are looking to add another in the czech/slovak/russian zone. ultimately, this SHOULD improve scouting as the team moves forward.
he noted that the flames have also employed some nerdy number crunching guy "in the maritimes," who's working on a magic formula with the statistics of undrafted players to see if you can devise which will become the superstars... i'm guessing it starts with GP and moves into some crazy quantum mathematics... next up: the flames will employ a tarot card and palm reader [the latter part i made up, but the formula guy actually exists, as i understand it].
2. someone queried button on the flames' penchant for drafting WHL guys, which i concede is an excellent question. button pansied around that one a bit, swearing that the flames always draft the "best available hockey player" but did admit that if it came down to a coin toss, they do prefer the western canadian guys. he began his answer by denying that sutter has ever told the scouting staff to focus on WHLers, and insisted that early in his (button's) tenure, the flames selected "a lot of europeans."
3. as for the current camp, button explained that this year is less of an evaluation style camp (read: no scrimmages), and the focus is instead purely on development. in addition to the public drills and power skating practices, the players are also given seminars on such things as finances and fitness.
as for today's on-ice sessions, there's not a whole lot to add from the last days. backlund, pelech, boyd, and keetley are really throwing down the gauntlet while other guys (like dan ryder, for instance) are playing with a huge amount of heart, but not really pulling away from the peloton.
kris chucko has transitioned from "a guy i don't really like" to "a guy i really don't like," after this morning. on wednesday i questioned if he was sloppy or lazy, but i'm starting to think the guy might just not be that smart. he absolutely LEVELED ryley grantham in a 3-on-2 drill, with what appeared to be a very illegal shot to the head. if that weren't enough, during a 1-on-1 matchup, he gave john armstrong (aka: my new favorite) a completely unnecessary two-handed slash to the arm. while there was definitely more physical play today from all the skaters, in the way of jostling & pushing on the boards, chucko was the ONLY player to take it too far, in my opinion. somebody needs to sit this guy down and explain the definition of the word PRACTICE. besides, the flames have already addressed the need for "loose cannon" (see: steve downie) by signing andre roy.
i'm not going to go into much detail on backlund, today, but let's just say that in a shootout, the dude will probably score, and you'll probably want put that tally into your "goal of the year" file. he had a bit of fun with it today, both seriously trying to put some pucks behind irving with well-placed wristers, but also attempting both the PMB and the marek malik, much to everyone's amusement. i still think he could use some extra conditionning/maturing, but he's gonna be a starter in the next few years to be sure.
the only other notables, for me, are:
1. leland definitely looks to still have some fivehole issues. a LOT of goals between the legs this morning.
2. aulie and nemisz are now gone to team canada camp in ottawa.
3. apparently john negrin was sick early in camp and didn't do the conditionning tests on monday with the rest of his group, so he missed today's session to make them up. this mysterious illness could easily account for why ol' johnny didn't perform as well as i'd expected in yesterday's session, and why he might have been cheating on drills wednesday....
camp resumes tomorrow (SATURDAY !!!) at 9am. who's comin' ??