Monday, September 29, 2008

3rd annual (sortof) baby flames awards !!

two years ago during the last week of training camp, on my original eponymous blog (pre-hitthepost) i handed out a slew of awards to the baby flames. last year, in the midst of an incredibly busy period of work, i only managed to find the time to award the dreamcrusher, everyone’s favorite prize...

i realize there's still some time left in camp, but with most of the babies getting shipped back to their respective clubs this past weekend, i thought the lull in current flames activity provides me with a good time to fill up some space.

this year I’m going back to posting the full original awards lineup:

1. the TOMI MÄKI award
i've re-named this one, which was originally given out to to the most unassuming guy with no reputation whatsoever, who stood out as my favorite. tomi mäki took it the first year, i am heretofore naming it after him. this year it was already won in july's prospect camp by a guy who is not new to the baby flames awards (having taken home the title of ‘best shift’ in 2006). add to that an incredibly solid training camp, and john armstrong takes the prize hands-down... do me proud, man….

mikael backlund was unchallenged for this one. he was the frontrunner after july’s prospect camp, when he tried to do PMB’s spin move in a shootout drill, and it remains uncontested through exhibition play.

though he played 48 games in the NHL last year, dustin boyd's presence at this summer's prospect camp deems him eligible for these awards. i can't pinpoint a single shift during which boyd excelled, but let's face it ---the guy has six points in three pre-season games, so he's gotta be doing SOMETHING out there in 30-40 second increments.... of course, the ORIGINAL "best shift" award was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, so if i were to go THAT route, jamie lundmark (albeit debateably ineligible) would win it for his 19 minutes of penalties on a single play last week v. phoenix.

john negrin. a third round selection that is starting to look like he might pan out significantly better than most second rounders from 2007 [let’s thank chicago for picking maxime tanguay immediately before calgary’s turn]. he is calm and collected on the blueline and seems to have a strong sense of when to safely join the rush. he had a tough prospect camp due to illness, but excelled in training camp despite being saddled with eriksson... it’s hard not to get excited about the potential when talking about this guy….

unfortunately at this point, I’m gonna have give this one to matt pelech. I thought he was looking dubiously NHL-ready in july, but it translated into an epically slapstick performance in camrose (whereby he still won "hardest working player" from his teammates ---probably to take the sting out of his poor showing). once the nerves settled, he did fairly well but is still easily a year from the big club. i take full blame for being the one who rated him so high in july, and then was struck by his need for more maturity during the current camp, once i saw him exposed to actual comptetition.

sure we all know backlund’s good and negrin is surprisingly good. Clearly I think armstrong’s got a future, and greentree’s already a bubble guy. most underrated goes to david van der gulik. it’s too bad this guy flies so far under the radar cause I think he’s got some skills… he looks like he could be a strong checking forward in the vein of craig conroy... honorable mention goes to jd watt, who's game has improved thousandfold in the past year.

the jig is up, flames fans. curtis mcelhinney may have won the backup spot on the big club, but I still think matt keetley will be a superior goaltender. i suppose we’ll have to wait and see who makes the final cut (get it ? it’s a keenan joke)… keetley takes home the award on the merit of a couple of awesome perfomances at the oil country tournament.

pete vandermeer goes home with this one, taking the handoff from the last winner, richie regehr. pete wins this one mostly cause he’s got a goatee and is from sylvan lake [and because michael ryder STILL doesn't wear red, so dan gets overlooked once again]...

9. BEST HOCKEY SENSE (aka: best prospect)
I think it’s unfair to award this to just one guy (though when taratukhin won it two years ago, the prospect cupboard seemed otherwise bare), so I’m gonna break it into two: forward and defense. Obviously your winners are backlund and negrin. See above for details… a special shoutout goes to greg nemisz, who also looks to have a great playmaking future.

kris chucko would clearly be an outstanding choice for this award again this year, but since he won it last year, I think we’ll move on (shall we ?). aki seitsonen would wear the crown proudly, as would kevin lalande, but I think this year’s award has GOT to go to carsen germyn. At 26 years of age, the guy has played all of four NHL games. i’m not gonna lie, he’s still got some hockey left in him and doesn't look nearly as bad as chucko on the ice, but will almost certainly spend the rest of his career in the A. the poor guy didn't even see exhibition game-action, for cryin' out loud....

(how many of you scrolled down to read the dreamcrusher first ?!?!?)

keep your eyes on this blog, there are some interesting and exciting things upcoming... more on this soon !!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

flames v. panthers postgame: FUN

i love being at a game when the flames score 8 goals.... and i'm starting to get really excited about the potential of this team.

i realize that we need to take this win with a grain of salt. it was quite a few of calgary's elite players against the baby panthers with add-ons like bouwmeester, horton, and vokoun. still, the flames showed incredibly well, for the most part, offensively and defensively. guys like david moss, who has finally found his hands, was probably the best guy on the ice in either end.

most disconcerting, to me, is that rene bourque had a helluva first period but didn't seem to return for the final two frames. he was noticeably missing, and ended with less than six minutes of TOI. there's nothing in the news today so hopefully he's fine.

rhettro is still out to prove something, but i'm not sure his 9 penalty mintues (roughing, roughing, fighting) is the way to go. lundmark got his own string of stupid penalties: 19 minutes in total (instigating, instigating with a visor, fighting major, ten minute misconduct). oopsie !! he still looked good out there, and was rewarded with ice time on the PP, PK and 4/4.

eriksson had a rough go in the first few minutes, but wasn't his normal, horrible self all game long. sarich, on the other hand, was mostly awful... good lord. can't adam pardy just stay ?!?!

oh... um.... how GOOD is CAMMALLERI ??!? (or as the ladies behind me in section 201 were calling him: cammarelli ??)

i presume a good round of cuts will come this weekend, and i'm convinced mikael backlund will be on a plane back to vasteräs (i've actually been to the airport in vasteräs.... it's like a bus station). don't get me wrong, i think backlund has a solid future, but he needs to work on his defensive game. keenan removed him from the top line last night, and gave him chucko-like minutes, where backlund was completely invisible (greentree styles) in the final two periods. oh yeah, and he ended up a -1 in an eight goal game !!!! not good not good.... another year in the allsvenskan will not hurt the 19-year-old. he may last till the end of camp but i don't see him staying on...

lombo is innit to winnit. wow. mcelhinney looks to be getting the flaming C jersey, after last night. glenX really picked it up. if gio plays like THAT everynight, he'll get a TON of icetime..... and thank goodness bootuzzi was finally able to put one in the net and get it out of his head. it was a pretty cohesive outing, and the team looked like a TEAM. there is some serious chemistry starting up... i'll say it again: wow... it's exciting stuff....

i think the roster will be significantly smaller come tuesday when the flames play edmonton.

Friday, September 26, 2008

flames pregame/postgame: *yawn*

i don't mind the coyotes and i don't mind the panthers, but i'm bored already. last night's rematch reminded me a lot of the game in winterpeg, albeit almost entirely different players: the flames fought hard for the duration and came out on top.

it's hard to add much when you're guessing how things looked on the ice, having listened to the peter maher/rob kerr broadcast, but i figure that kipper was mostly untested but looked solid when he had to. i'm guessing that backlund had a great game but not great enough to avoid a trip back to sweden, with a team-high 3 giveaways. add that to a pretty tight roster, with no room up the middle in the top six after good showings by langkow, iginla, cammalleri and boyd. i'm presuming chucko will be the next brent krahn. i'm thinking eriksson's going to the QC and negrin's going back to kootnay.

and i'm also sortof guessing that my boy johnny armstrong might have gotten himself promoted to the AHL.... the fan 960 announcers were absolutely MELTING over him...

and on to the panthers (again). perhaps the flames' faithful will get a good look at mccabe's double cheeks and zednik's neck. we'll see....

it was nice catching up with a good chunk of the flames blogosphere last night on the open ice hits fantasy pool. my team, the screaming dobermans, had an unfortunate drafting mishap (finger, anyone ?) but still looks interesting, young, and promising.... jordan staal's just got to have a helluva year....


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

flames v. jets postgame: heartening

well, the flames had tough go in the first period but came back to manhandle the coyotes soundly in the last two. i didn't watch the whole game (interestingly, as my superstitions begin for another season, i listened to the horribly played first period while i was driving around) but saw some really positive things in the second and third.

even though he gave up two goals early, the highlights show that matt keetley was hardly responsible for the first. it was an ugly fluke goal whereby dion had the worst shift of his game by giving up the puck at his blueline, then falling on top of his own goalie. the second goal followed a couple of great saves (albeit with huge rebounds). i've said it once and i'll say it again: don't stitch "mcelhinney" on a flaming C just yet...

dustin boyd had another killer evening. the kid looks to be solidifying his spot on the big club... second line winger, it seems to me, to start the season.

rene bourque had a good night as well. not sure how many SOGs, but if the opportunities continue to present themselves, this guy will notch a few to be sure. and he's sooo faaast !!!!

prust, primeau, pardy all showed fairly well again tonight. no mind-blowing but steady. prust must've been exhausted after what seemed to be an hour-long fight in the first period.

john armstrong. what can i say ? i think he's better than tomi mäki. i love this guy..... he had a great game, made some mistakes but seemed to be in the right place for the most part.

matt pelech scored a nifty goal with that wrister i was talking about back in rookie camp. he's definitely stepped up his play since that awful outing in camrose. he played quite alot but was mostly unnoticed ---a good thing for a Dman. i could say the same for giordano, who looked good moving the puck. smart. safe.

rhett warrener had a fairly decent game. low minutes, soft competition. and DEFINITELY pulled out his signature move on at least one occasion. what i find about rhettro is that he will try the pokecheck or sticktricks first, and when it doesn't work he'll go for the man (often too late). rhett ? this is not NHL06, and you're not being controlled by me. ie: go for the big hit first.

kyle greentree was on the ice at least twice. i'm not sure he did anything other than take a few checks.

that's pretty much it from here for now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

flames v. panthers postgame: w.t.F ????

kent wrote some nice, accurate notes in his liveblog over at fiveholefanatics which i would suggest reading to get a more complete overview of tonight's tilt.

but i'll just jump in with some of the more obvious (to me) notes.

jamie lundmark. um.... WTF ?!?! obviously, at some point this summer, lundmark decided that he doesn't want to play in the AHL, russia, or any other league not called the NHL. i was absolutely STUNNED by his play tonight. he had a huge amount of hustle, made a few hits, and put a few pucks on net. most significantly, however, was that he called attention to himself for doing GOOD things, not HORRIBLE things. tonight's game, coupled with what i saw at camp on sunday, makes me almost willing to concede that lundmark has picked up his game...

dustin boyd made a huge statement tonight, as well. ending as the night's first star was well deserved. he played most of the night (if not all night) with moss and lundmark ----a line that got decent minutes and looked strong at both ends.

anders eriksson. this has got to stop. please. somebody. it's painful to everyone, including some guy who sat behind me tonight and knew pretty much nothing about hockey (but was decidedly vocal about how bad eriksson is). i UNDERSTAND that he's under contract and thus deserves a chance, but he has NOT improved and will, once again, be the direct cause of losses this season if he's given a spot. pardy, who has never played an NHL game, was FAR stronger tonight. pardy, infact, was stronger than sarich.....

cory sarich scares me. my concern last year (that sarich would have been the goat, had eriksson and warrener not been so terrible) has returned. not a strong outing for #6 tonight. he's somehow able to make regehr look bad.

nystrom - primeau - prust were average at best. i'm tired and feeling lazy tonight so i'm not going to check TOI, but i believe prust had far less shifts than the other two, who (i believe) spent some time skating with glenX. all three of them could be traded/demoted/sent to siberia and i wouldn't even blink...

david moss works hard. reeeaally hard.

curtis mcelhinney had a decent game. he was sharp when he needed to be, mostly, but definitely got bailed out by his D-men on a bad rebound or two... and should CLEARLY have been hugging the post on the gamewinner.... mark my words: matt keetley will get a good look in the backup role. the fanattic should hold off printing #1 jerseys if the flaming letter on the front is a C.

bertuzzi - backlund - iginla. i'm not sure who came out more nervous: backs or bootz. they both looked pretty bad in the first minutes, but settled in okay... backlund will not get a roster spot based on tonight's game, but he was as solid as any 19 year old in his first NHL game on the top line could expect to be. the kid's got a future. but i'm not convinced the immediate one will be anywhere outside of sweden.... my eyes told me that he was about 50% in faceoffs, had a few shots on (or near !) goal and fed a couple of sugary passes to his linemates. nothing spectacular, nothing awful.

lombo - bourque. it was so nice to see lombo break out and have someone streaking up the wing with him, leading to a 2-on-1 and a very serious scoring opportunity (that looked like a terrible lombo finish live, but the highlight shows there was a gaping fivehole, but anderson got the paddle down). i feel some nice potential and good chemistry. yep.

glenX was not given much of an opportunity.

negrin is like backlund: helluva future, but back to juniors this year. the difference between the two 19 year olds is that backlund got to play with one of the league's best forwards, and negrin got saddled with eriksson...

other notables:

- the pocketdawg was hugely disappointing. PLEASE NOTE the new pocketdawg crew MUST be supervised when pumping your condiments. i definitely had dry bun after the first two bites... it sucked. that stuff is supposed to pool in the bottom... ;)

- anyone who loves the calgary stampede midway also loves those little donuts. well, welcome to the 'dome, my little deepfried sugary friends. even though you tasted kinda doughy and gross and i felt a little sick after, it was still nice to smell you all game... :P

- scott cruikshank over at calgary herald suggests that 13 calgary players are on one-way contracts. i'm guessing these 13 are:

1. iggy
2. langkow
3. aucoin
4. cammalleri
5. bertuzzi
6. kiprusoff
7. regehr
8. sarich
9. prust
10. giordano
11. ??
12. ??
13. ??

this means that three of warrener, eriksson, vandermeer, phaneuf, lombardi, bourque, glenX, roy & conroy can (presumeably) not be demoted. *sigh...
****EDIT: i now understand the one-way contract, which makes this bit here kindof moot. :D


like huey lewis once said "this is it." the flames hit the ice at the 'dome tonight for their first pre-season game against the panthers and i must admit i'm pretty excited about it all. it feels like eons since i had a pocketdawg and a beer for dinner.... ;)

i'm not really sure what to expect as far as lineup; i find that, historically, the top guys will alternate nights during the exhibition period. this year, however, i think backlund could feasibly play every night, allowing the staff to get an accurate assessment. i think he's the only rookie with a realistic shot to crack the lineup, and i'd imagine the coaches/brass wanting to give him ample opportunity to prove his readiness against actual competition or, alternately, his need for another year in the SEL.

in saying that, backlund has been playing with cammo & bourque, so i presume they'll play tonight. a sutter team rarely exhibits their top line in the first game, so i presume iggy, bootuzzi & langkow will get the night off (though, in saying that, i could definitely see them throwing big bert to the wolves in game #1).

this is pure guesswork, folks.

my presumed lineup for tonight's game (which i will be attending with my pops):

cammo - backs - bourque
moss - lombo - boyd
glenX - connie - DVDG
nystrom - primeau - prust

dion - gio
eriksson - negrin
warrener - pelech

the actual lineup has been posted here. i was right about backlund AND bertuzzi, i just couldn't possibly have forseen that combination.... ;) i picked dion & gio as a "real line" but chose the wrong one, as regehr & sarich draw in for tonight. i'm also fairly sure that warrener & pelech will lineup tomorrow night, as tonight aucoin will skate with adam pardy....

i'm sad about DVDG.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

a break from red: the blues

jason over at bleeding bluenote attended the fanfest in st.louis today. in addition to watching a scrimmage, checkin' out oshie & berglund, and seeing fatty score yet another goal, jason got to watch the blues unveil their third jersey:

(i want one !!!!)....


training camp day 2: ho hum

i swung by the 'dome to check out the second half of group A's practice, and was rewarded with a mini-scrimmage. i don't really have a lot to say on the subject, but i figured i'd throw some words together, here, anyways.

1. bertuzzi - langkow - iginla
like, duh.
there's no news here, but it WAS my first look at bertuzzi and SOFAR i like what i see. other than the one play where bert seemed to have a clear shot on net but held on for a pass to iginla (tanguay styles), the presumed first line should be pretty good.

2. giordano - phaneuf
yep, i was a little surprised too. ;)
after seeing regehr paired with sarich yesterday, it was comforting to not see dion take a single shift with either warrener or eriksson. warrener, for the record, did not look outrageously terrible.
[ hey, rhettro: mccabe called, he wants his signature move back (ie: the double cheek check) ]

3. studs
glencross, glencross, glencross. oh my !!! i don't think it matters where he plays in the lineup, he will be a huge asset. quite exciting to watch... negrin also looked very solid, totally unintimidated with the veterans: he very calmly poked the puck off bertuzzi's stick in a one-on-one drill. negrin also laid out hugo carpentier with a massive hit at centre ice.... awesome. DVDG reminds me of a younger craig conroy with good hands and, i hate to say it, but jamie lundmark was surprisingly competant.

3. duds
chucko is an effin' lunkhead. like i said in prospect camp, he definitely has a good wrister, and (after seeing an uncharacteristically speedy puck-chase) i might even concede that he can skate. what i can extrapolate from this revelation is that chucko is probably just lazy day-to-day, and grows the most enormous elbows when there's an opportunity for a bodycheck.... eriksson was his useless ol' self, even when paired with negrin. hopefully johnny doesn't try to learn anything this camp....

and finally, i'm 99.9% sure that leland irving was wearing mcelhinney's #1 today, though i have no idea why. the only reason i'm not 100% sure is because i can't even come up with a remotely possible explanation... anyhow. i only bring it up in case anyone reads/writes about the goalies in today's skate. the information might be inaccurate....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

08/09 training camp day 1: interesting

i skipped the group A morning session today, but attended the groub B skate from the comfort of the club seats. with my tummy full of free popcorn and hotdogs, i observed the following interesting items:

1. cammalleri - backlund - bourque
although rene bourque is listed as a left winger, he was playing the right side on a line with backlund and cammalleri, where the newly acquired #13 tried out the left. backlund spent the entirety of practice at centre. cammalleri has a mean slapshot that seems to consistantly end up just below the crossbar, and backlund is not afraid to get dirty in the corners... the only reason i think backs will return to sweden this year is purely because of numbers (we have far too many bodies). i think, skill-wise, he could probably make the final cuts...

2. prust - primeau - nystrom
an interesting combination that seemed to work fairly well, for the most part. i'm excited to see more of prust but i think nystrom's days might be numbered.... i would be perfectly content to see this threesome as the flames' fourth line, but i don't know what that would mean for bubble guys like moss, boyd & roy (etc).

3. moss - lombardi - boyd
i realize it's early days but i wouldn't be at all surprised to see this line stick. if cammalleri's gonna play left, however, i would actually like to see him sub in for ol' mossy, here.

4. sarich - regehr
even though aucoin and vandermeer were paired with rookies (pardy and pelech respectively), sarich and regehr were joined at the hip. i would be surprised to see this duo split up... reggie seemed to be having the most fun of everyone on the ice today; he and kipper had a pretty good laugh at one point, and he was smiling like crazy whilst chatting with cammo during the post-practice stretching....

5. baby flames
if it wasn't for kris chucko, i think aki seitsonen would have the dreamcrusher award in the bag... sure he's big, but he's also pretty much useles... john armstrong, on the other hand, is a few years behind, developmentally, but appears to possess a significantly higher ceiling. seems like the coaches saw it too, as he was playing today with greentree & germyn, while seitsonen was banished to the "kid's table" with pete vandermeer & dan ryder.

i can come up with all sorts of excuses detailing WHY, but the fact of the matter is that matt keetley looked a whole lot sharper than kipper today. yes, keets has been back on the ice for over a week. sure, kiprusoff probably takes it a bit easy in practice while keetley still has something to prove. i've been saying it for years and i'll say it again: matt keetley is GOOD. watchout mcelhinney... the fanattic probably hasn't started stitching #1 jerseys just yet.... ;) keets looked to pull something in a mid-practice drill, but stretched it out and never left the ice... hopefully all is well.

that's about it. i'll probably drop in a bit more through the week to see more of negrin, chucko & how bertuzzi's fitting in... i'll keep you posted.

my current prediction:

bertuzzi - langkow - iginla
cammalleri - lombardi - boyd
glenX - conroy - bourque (played RW today)
prust - primeau - nystrom

[moss / roy ]

regehr - sarich
phaneuf - vandermeer
giordano - aucoin

[warrener / eriksson] (*ugh)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

the marcus nilson affair: hmph...

so the official word on marcus nilson is out ---he's signed with russian club locomotiv (not CKSA, as initially reported). the flames will pay him a million bucks but it won't count against the cap.

this is, presumeably, a loophole in the CBA that will have more stipulations in the future. and he's apparently getting more dough from the siberians.

training camp starts tomorrow ---the folks governing season ticket holders have once again put out an invitation to watch: this time with all the popcorn and pop you can handle in the avison young lounge on saturday afternoon !!!


Monday, September 15, 2008

in other news.... ;)

i had some to kill at the airport today, and went into the fan attic to find out how many bertuzzi jerseys they've sold.

um. none.

why, you ask ?

well, apparently the folks at the fanattic (owned by the calgary flames organization, i might add) are not printing bertuzzi's #7 because they're "waiting to see if he has an opportunity to take 4 or 44."

hm. interesting.

if you ask me, there is zero possibility that bootuzzi will get into jim vandermeer's #4. but i think it's fascininating that someone in charge of such things still thinks #44 will come available before the start of the year....

that's all !!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

baby flames v. baby greasers

this game was painful to watch on the internet. so i did alot of listening and far less watching.... BUT

- kyle greentree left on a stretcher after getting hit from behind. this does not bode well...
- john armstrong is effin' good. he's seriously mobile like backlund (or juice or foppa). he is my horse for sure, alebeit a longshot for the QC this season.
- matt pelech either had a terrible game, or he's just not a good hockey player. i'm gonna bank on the former but it was pretty much shocking. other than delivering the night's biggest hit, the monster looked absolutely awful (penalty, losing pucks, falling down etc). he will not be happy with that outing and i expect he'll bounce back on monday.
- mikael backlund is effin' good.
- brett sutter scored the game's only goal, shorthanded, topshelf: keeping on a 2-on-1.
- dan ryder is glad to be back, you can just tell...
- john negrin is effin' good.
- keetley was rock solid when he had to be and ended the night with a well-earned shutout.
- tj brodie and mitch wahl are ones to watch
- greg nemisz is effin' good.

so what once seemed an empty cupboard actually has some viable prospects !!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

oil country rookie tourney: baby flames

i just took in the first hour of the flames' rookie camp this morning at the saddledome, so there's not a whole lot to tell. plus i was only paying half attention cause i was with a friend of mine and her one-year-old, who was pretty stoked about the hockey (and therefore sucking up a lot of attention)....

the only news is the lines and pairings i saw towards the latter half of the practice, which is (presumeably) how the kids will line up in camrose. admittedly, i'm missing some players so i'm not sure if they were absent or just off my radar (for some reason).

greentree - backlund - nemisz
bouma - armstrong - watt
grantham - ryder - cracknell

pelech - brodie
negrin - aulie
jonsson - wilson
baldwin - cole

[sutter - carpentier - seitsonen ?]
[tremblay ? wahl ?]

i look forward to seeing how the boys fare in camrose....

Friday, September 12, 2008

the marcus nilson affair: final story

i am not gonna write much today cause i'm actually working (!!!) but i wanted to make a note about marcus nilson being released by the flames and signing with CKSA in russia.

thanks to stu hackel for the shout out on the slapshot blog, and the informative article on the situation. also huge thanks to shep for the swedish press link here.

too bad eriksson didn't want to go to russia...

baby flames start practice tomorrow at 10am @ the dome. i'll be there. anyone wanna join me ?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the marcus nilson affair: answers...(sortof)

with further information coming out regarding marcus nilson, but very little in the way of solid answers, i decided to enlist the help of the guys over at the NY times slapshot blog. they seem to have quite a good understanding of KHL/NHL relations, and post almost daily on the new goings-on, mostly with the radulov situation. the complete void over there regarding nilson seemed to be an oversight, considering the potential fallout of nilson not showing up to camp and trying to sign with the russian club that he's reportedly practicing with...

my comment this morning:
"a lot has been made of the radulov situation but it’s been extremely quiet on the marcus nilson front… in north america, that is. quite a few articles have been published in the swedish papers, recently, outlining that nilson is practicing with a KHL club, though still under contract with the flames….

i thought i’d bring it up here because you guys seem to have a pretty good handle on the KHL/NHL dealings, of late, and i’m fascinated with watching the nilson situation unfold. it’s the story of a guy who was a healthy scratch for most of last season, and who the flames put on waivers in june (but never bought out). a guy who doesn’t want to return to the team in 08/09, and a contract the flames should want to shake.

calgary could certainly stand to lose nilson’s million from the cap, and if nilson wants out (which seems to be the case) can this contract just be scrapped ? if nilson signs with CSKA moscow, will there be radulov-like fallout ? will sutter force nilson to honour his contract with a year in the quad cities, or suspend him for not showing up to camp ???

i wish i was fluent in swedish…. ;)"

stu hackel's response this afternoon:

"You are 100 percent correct (or maybe, since this is hockey we’re talking about, it should be 110 percent): We have written little or (in my case) nothing about Marcus Nilson, and it’s an oversight. Frankly, it’s been pretty time consuming to pour over the Russian sports press daily and figure out what has been going on with both the birth of a new league and the fractious relationship that league has with the NHL. Those are two major topics; they may concern individuals, but they are connected with very large issues. In Nilson’s case, it’s more about this individual player, so I’ve regrettably let him slip past and I’ll try to keep a lookout for news on him from now on.

As for what the Flames can do with his contract, it just can’t be scrapped. He has to be bought out or traded or assigned to the AHL. I don’t know for certain but I suspect they tried to trade him (that’s sometimes why teams put players on waivers, so see if anyone is interested) and had no interest.

Can he sign with CSKA? The short answer is no — because he has a year remaining on his Flames contract. And since the KHL has instituted a moratorium on signing players who are under contract with NHL teams, they won’t do that (unless they feel the NHL has been signing KHL players again, in which case they will drop their moratorium).

Nor can the Flames trade or sell him to CSKA. There are no mechanisms for that at this time and the NHL is not in favor of club to club dealing like that and will strongly oppose that in the negotiations of any future transfer agreement.

In Radulov’s case, the KHL says they had no formal moratorium in place at the time of the signing, even though Medvedev had said publicly (and privately) that the KHL would not do that. They contend that in the absence of a transfer agreement, they were not bound to honor the NHL contract when Radulov was signed. That’s the essence of the discrepancy that has to be decided.

If Nilson doesn’t report, I suspect he’ll be suspended, but unlike Radulov it doesn’t seem as if he’ll have a place to play. I’ve read where Sutter would like him to report and fight for a job in camp. It’s probably in Nilson’s best interests to do so.

Thanks for the comment and question. We’ll keep an eye out for news on Nilson."


i think right now it's a nothing story. nilson will probably not show up to camp, be suspended and informally retire (at least for the year). potentially, however, it will get effin' interesting....


in other news:

the baby flames land in calgary today, play golf tomorrow, fitness test friday and start practicing saturday morning at the 'dome....

the preseason is just around the corner... !

Monday, September 8, 2008

early lineup predictions: part deux

i have a lot of time on my hands and i do a whoollle lotta thinking about what the calgary flames will look like as the 08/09 season starts. i did some lineup predictions last week, but i must admit there is a part of me that's been second guessing the top line....:

option #1:
bertuzzi - langkow - iginla
this is the way i see it going down in reality.

option #2:
cammalleri - langkow - iginla
if your team only has two natural RWs, why put them on the same line ??? demote bertuzzi to the second unit and chuck cammalleri in here on the wing for some added speed and finesse.

option #3:
bertuzzi - cammalleri - iginla
i seriously doubt that langkow will get bumped from the top unit, but if cammalleri and iginla show some chemistry, why not give him a spot here at centre, leaving bertuzzi around to shovel in the garbage ??

uhhhh, that's kindof it for now.

i'm guessing that the rookies probably start camp sometime this week, on the ice over at the 'dome. i'm only presuming they'll get a couple of practises in before heading up to camrose on the weekend.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the marcus nilson affair: questions

everyone's new favorite blog reader, shep (who joins us from sweden), has been posting some interesting comments lately about the plight of marcus nilson and, to a far lesser extent, anders eriksson.

initially he linked to a fabulously translated article dated june 26th, but yesterday shep did all the work for us, quoting from an article on, published september 2:


"Calgary stops Nilson from fleeing
"They refuse to buy out me"
At Calgary - against his will.

Marcus Nilson forced back to Canada.

-- I was hoping that Calgary would buy out me. But they refuse, said Nilson.

Now begins the majority of NHL pros to go over to North America to prepare for camp and the season.But the Calgary Flames Marcus Nilson, World Cup players this spring, is not satisfied with stepping on the flight across the Atlantic next week.

-- I was not playing so much last year and had hope that Calgary would buy me out. But they refuse. Now I do not know really what is happening, said Nilson.

...The reason for the schism between Nilson and Calgary is spelled Mike Keenan. Keenan has decided to Nilson does not belong to the Flames future.

-- It will not work between me and Keenan. Just accept that and work on, says Nilson.

He does not know is where to play hockey in winter. The Russian league is an alternative, if the Calgary Flames drop Tre Kronor player"


i believe this story was also reported yesterday morning on the fan960. but it does pose an interesting question, with all of the current international transfer agreement stuff:

if marcus nilson wants to play in russia, currently he can't because he's under contract with an NHL club. i believe the rule is "hockey clubs [from different international leagues] would show 'mutual respect' for players currently under contract."

the confusing part (to me) is as follows:
while darryl sutter waived nilson late in june, he did not buy out his contract. WHY ???
- is he still hoping he'll get a return on the veteran in a nilson-for-player/prospect/draft pick deal ?
- does he intend on forcing #26 into a flaming C (or flaming QC) in 08/09 ?
- is he trying to send a message to the team that HE, and nobody else, will dictate the state of player contracts, no matter how much complaining ??
- is he just being a jerk for the sake of being a jerk ??
- does he LIKE being over the cap ???

on the other hand, if nilson wants out of his contract and the flames ALSO want him out of his contract, without nilson having to retire from hockey, i have NO CLUE what happens. can the contract just be terminated ??? does it have to have NHL approval ??? is there compensation of some sort ???

and DAMN why couldn't we be in this predicament with eriksson instead ??!?!

[shep: you should really start your own blog...]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the top ten greatest flames of all time

i was trying to figure out what to watch tonight, and while was flipping around the networks, i found a 1/2 hour TSN special called "the top 10 calgary flames of all time." because i've vowed to start writing more leading up to rookie camp, camp, preseason & actual hockey, i will share a liveblog for you folks (sortof):

håkan loob
my initial disgust at his low standing gave way to pure nostalgia in listening to ed whalen announce his goals. and you can be sure there were some nifty ones in the highlight reel... of course, if i was writing this list, loob would find himself at the top, but i suppose i'm happy other people (other than duncan) thought to include him at all....

gary suter
there's no doubt this was a homerun as a flames draft pick. the guy won the calder and had a all-round solid career; in an 80's-era interview here, he described his ability to score as 'too many of the other guys covering macinnis.' nice one, gary. probably a bit of an understatement....

joe niewendyk
um wow. this guy was effin' good, kids.
(and speaking of joes, i sure loved joey mullen)

kent nilsson
uhhhhhh... not much in the way of highlights here, hunh tsn ? i remember loving kent nilsson in the early eighties (the way i loved willie plett): i couldn't tell you a thing about his game, but at about six years old he was a favorite. it was so fun to watch him play that i'm fairly certain my love for the swedes is rooted here, not to mention my love for a good moustache. ;)

mike vernon
that was some seriously nice feathered hair, and the guy could stop a puck, to be sure. hometown boy makes good. yep....
but as tsn's #6 player on this list, how the hell did the calgary flames organization deem him worthy of jersey retirement ??!
(i've historically posted my issues with this and needn't go into them again now)

gary roberts
"consistant," said coach dave king back in the day of roberts. yeah. no doubt. a couple decades-worth of consistancy, i'd say. and with the strangest mix of linemates: leeman - fleury - roberts in one highlight, makarov - niewendyk - roberts in another. ha. amazing... and i'm not even talking about the mullet.

jarome iginla
after breaking all those franchise scoring records, i'm not sure how iggy ended up at #4 but who am i to doubt that the top three are gonna be better. apparently he did a lot of good things in that black horsehead sweater -- there's sure a lot of highlight reel footage in the third jersey (goals, fights).... oh, and iggy ? the baby dreads were not a good look. (fyi: the signature hand pump was not included).

i can only presume the top 3 are (in no order): macinnis, fleury & lanny.

al macinnis
whoah. beauty slapper, hey ? whatta bullet. god it would be nice if our current top blueliners were the calibre of macinnis and suter. too bad they didn't even bother to show him with the conn smythe (although they DID bother to mention it)....

theoren fleury
how can you not smile while watching this guy play ? even while on a regular shift with paul ranheim, theo still managed to put a few in the net. THAT is skill... and the post-goal celebrations ? pure magic...
i wonder if the fist-pumping was comparable after he hit a single for the calgary vipers a few weeks back ???? no ? well, at least THEY had the wherewithall to retire his jersey....

lanny mcdonald.
listen, nobody's gonna argue that lanny belongs here, or that peplinski - otto - mcdonald is the kind of line that legends are made of. the classic highlight of lanny scoring the cup winner and celebrating on the right boards ??? poetry.

[but let's not forget that håkan loob was on the opposite wing !!!!]

it's a bit sad that there is only one current player in this top ten, and that there's only one or two others on the roster or in the system that would ever be momentarily considered as even remotely possible to bump anyone off of it.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

newsflash: miracles CAN happen !!!

i'm still waiting to hear confirmation of a crossed Ts and dotted Is, but the press is reporting it's essentially a done deal: bryan mccabe, and his double-cheek-checking, overrated, overpaid, underperforming #24-ness, has actually been dealt to the florida panthers for mike van ryn and a draft pick or so.

here, the leafs get rid of a defenseman the public and media have deemed useless, replacing him with a younger, cheaper blueliner (who will inevitably be put under the proverbial blue-and-white microscope and thoroughly humiliated in the next few years).

no matter how you look at it, dumping mccabe is no short of a miracle.

[which means it's still possible to get rid of eriksson and warrener....]