Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's only because Ken King lets him that Darryl says stupid stuff like this

Firstly, let me say: Our hearts have never left your side either, Hakan. And you'd be a better GM than Darryl Sutter, starting tomorrow. For one thing, you wouldn't sit down to speak to the media, the conduit to your fans, some four days after firing your coach, and declare that, basically, you're awesome. (Even though, Loober, you most certainly are awesome.)

It would be a surprise, at this point, if Darryl Sutter isn't the next head coach of the Flames. And, if that was a fact in and of itself, I'd be fine with it. I have no reason to think he can't still be a great head coach in the NHL, and of this group of players. (Especially with Ryan McGill, whom I'm very positive about, by his side as an assistant — which he says he'd like.)

But the sheer audacity of the way he declared himself the top candidate — and that he could do both jobs "easily" as though it's crazy that nobody else does it — is, once again, evidence of a manager run amok, allowed by ownership and a team president to say, do and act however he might like, regardless of consequences.

Those consequences, in recent years, have amounted to four consecutive first-round playoff exits. But as time goes by, let's not kid ourselves: It could very, very easily get worse. Nobody thought in the '80s that the Flames would be anything but a moneymaking hot-ticket amongst the best of NHL franchises. Then the 90s arrived, and the team sucked for eight years and almost left town.

And you'll say, "until Darryl got there," and you'd be right. But last I checked, jobs are retained on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately policy, and particularly in the NHL. And what has Darryl done lately, other than show a significant amount of old-boys-club loyalty and judgment shown to be increasingly poor?

Of course, he's also shown to still be a very smart hockey man when he keeps his head on straight. And I suspect he might keep that head on, you know, straighter, if there was another real hockey man at the helm instead of the guy who is, Ken King, a businessman from the media world who's damn good in the community but, damn, not so good at overseeing the hockey part of the hockey club. (There's a reason Brian Burke became president AND GM of the Leafs.)

So, for the third or fourth time, let me point out: The important part here is being overlooked, and that's the guy in the corner office, not the press box. And, I suspect, nothing will change with this team's fortunes until that guy is changed.

canaryshirt migrates west

duncan suggested he'd write a post called "canaryshirt migrates west" but since he didn't, i stole the title here. sorry, duncan. you waited too long, bud.

the truth is that i was really looking foward to reading that entry...

with jimmy canaryshirt dodging a bullet yet again (do you think he's got incriminating photos of darryl sutter ???), i think the unseating of ryan mcgill in the A means he'll be taking a job with the big club, be it head coach or asst. to daz if he takes the reins. realistically, it points to the latter option, especially since the current GM MUST be on a tight leash; knowing that he's got one year left to make this team work, and if there's not progress made, he'll get the sack a year from now whether he's standing behind the bench or not

i don't actually have much more to say on the topic, other than the dismissal of david marcoux came as a slight surprise to me. onwards and upwards, i suppose, but i wonder if the gaping hole left in the goalie coach position will be filled by ol' noodles.

it seems we'll have this all sorted out by draft day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

the spirit of mickey renaud leads the spits to the cup

well i guess greg nemisz wins the 08/09 battle of the flames #1 draftees, putting mikael backlund's kelowna rockets (lovingly referred to as the "backlund granthams" in my circle) down in an admittedly pretty boring memorial cup final game. hey, i'm not gonna lie. that was hardly the most exciting game i've seen outta the rockets OR the spits...

i have to say, with outings like this, it's really hard not to think about mickey renaud, and where he would have been this year. it was certainly a nice touch for the coaching staff to bring out his jersey as the cup was presented, even though the spits' former #18 would most likely have spent this past season in the QC.

i'm sure darryl sutter watched this game quite proudly; the spitfires' regular season plus-minus leader (nemisz), against one of the rockets' best finesse guys (backlund) and scoring grinder/pest (grantham). no question if these three progress as far as they've come, the flames future shall be rosy....

the spitfires have fought alot of adversity to win their first memorial cup today, from being thoroughly humiliated by scandal back in 2005, to the aforementioned unexpected loss of their captain last year. i gotta say, even though i'm a westerner and fully supportive of WHL clubs, i'm pretty happy about the result.

let the boughner-for-flames-coach talk begin !!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

so long, coach K !

i remember when mike keenan was hired, just shy of two years ago. i was in bed in toronto (being lazy ? maybe....) and i was shocked by it all....

i have to say, i was open to the idea at first ---i thought it would be a good antidote to the playfair era, and i quite liked the thought of a more structured, disciplined group.... my first impressions were wishy-washy, and i have to admit i felt that way about keenan through his tenure. just before xmastime, i was ready to nominate him for a jack adams. midway through the playoff series with chicago, i was begging for today's result.

but let's be honest: keenan is taking the fall for sutter's mis-steps. while the coach definitely overplayed his #1 goaltender (kipps), his veteran pony (bertuzzi), and his favorite versatile defenseman (dion), we should not sweep sutter's mistakes under the proverbial rug. the coach will pay the price for the GM's errors. hopefully this isn't forgotten moving forward....

anyhow.... about an hour before my phone started buzzing with the news of the keenan sacking, i took this photo in the viking, alberta area:

if anyone knows which sutter household this is, feel free to let me know.... the brand under the name seems to be DS, so i'd guess darryl or duane.... my boss and i happened across it totally by fluke, getting lost on our way to wainwright.... he insisted we pull over and take a photo (i talked him out of making me knock on the door to insist on some answers)... ;)

i photoshopped out the address. i thought that would be considerate.

i was totally disgusted by the grammatically incorrect use of the apostrophe.... my boss talked about stealing it and then treating it like the urban myth gnome; taking photos of the sutter apostrophe in front of all 30 rinks in the league and sending them in postcard form back to the viking area sutter ranch....

that's kindof my dream.
feel free to sponsor me....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

i heart the heat

i <3 the abbotsford heat
(the team, not the name)

they can use ovie's "hot stick" as their team celebratory move:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

just for kicks

the following is an excerpt from an email i sent to one of my favorite people to shoot the shit about hockey with, my pal pvs.... it's been quite awhile since we had any good banter back and forth, and i chalk most of that up to the sad, sad fact that the poor guy was born into leafsnation (and, other than condolences, there ain't too much to say).... he knows it's grim, but he's got his head held high and is soldiering on ---burning that candle of hope that many torontonians do; hoping that next year, it'll be better....

"there seems to be a lot of talk about leafsville these days, even though ol’ burkey won’t even be able to see out of the hole JFJ dug for another year or two... he wants tavares bad, and he ain’t gonna get’im... hedman ? doubt it.... i sincerely hope they go for that other swedish kid, paajarvi-svensson. i can’t wait to see that guy in the bigs; he’ll take alltime “longest name” crown by three full letters (four if you count the hyphen), kicking the pants off the current titleholders, vanbiesbrouck and langenbrunner.... PLUS it’ll be the absolute END of don cherry; if he STILL can’t pronounce ponikarovsky, there’s simply no chance in HELL he'll get through a segment about this guy.... don't get me wrong, i love grapes but the meltdown on live television will be exquisite !!! just sayin’...."

no point whatsoever, fyi, other than the pleasure in knowing that i just made you count all of the letters in those names.... ;) it's been pretty quiet out there in the blogosphere and i'm nowhere near finished my csi: sutter part 3 post.... we'll see it this summer at some point, i swear. it just might not show up until july.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

canucks are ANIMALS !!! : vol.3

i'd be lying if i said i was sorry all those swedes got knocked out last night.
this one's for canucks fans: maybe it'll put a smile on your face(s).
either way, i've had it in the vault for awhile and i figure if i don't use it now, i might not get another chance.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

monday randoms

1. hey remember when i used to do sunday feedback polls ? hahaha, i'll have to start those again sometime.... maybe next week. maybe not. who knows (i gotta keep you guys on your toes).

2. i literally just spelled toes (above) "toews." had a little laugh at myself, then corrected it and wrote this bullet point.

3. craig conroy has long been referred to, during tsn-televised flames games, as "future tsn analyst, craig conroy." i always thought it was a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that our #24's charm and charisma would make him an awesome analyst upon retirement.... well, i guess duthie and the boys knew more than i did cause connie turned up on the panel yesterday with darren pang and bob mackenzie and, after an initial nervous segment where he started each sentence with the word "actually," he did a pretty good job... he was certainly no worse than kelly hrudey was in his first days, and i'm a big fan of "behind the mask" nowadays.... he does, however, need to learn that a brownish-maroon shirt does not go with a baby blue tie and a navy plaid jacket.

4. speaking of on-air personalities, i do love me some pj stock. the playoff beard is filling in quite nicely and i think his casual goofiness is his selling feature... my roommate and i were sifting thru some old hockey cards the other day and pj is now featured prominently next to the tv.... ;)

5. the other cards we pulled out (to help chicago win cause, hey ---stupidstitions don't end with the flames) were former hawks: al secord, curt fraser, alexi zhamnov, brian noonan, paul gillis, steve larmer and craig anderson. we also gave jamie mclennan and trevor kidd a spot on the mantel by the telly (near where pj sits) but after the hawks lost game 5, i suggested we take them down... during game 4 i texted my roommate to make sure he'd removed them and he responded, "i left noodles in... he's on the black aces. and in charge of goalie equipment."

now you know why i love my roommate.

6. andrew ference is not feelin' the love in boston... if you read the comments in that link it's pretty disheartening; they like him as much as i like eriksson/zyuzin/leopold... and if my half-interested and crude mathematics are correct then the fans are right: ference + gametime = loss.... bummer.

7. this article made me a very sad girl today.... i mean --- how delusional can sutter BE ??! hey, i'm not an expert, i'm not a pro scout, i'm not a GM but i know this much: if gelly was NHL-calibre, he would probably not be playing in the swiss league.... as depressing as it is, at least i know i've got until july 1st to prepare myself for this reclamation project.... is it better than bertuzzi ? probably, yes.

i guess that's it for today.
see ya'z.

Friday, May 8, 2009

the abbotsford heat ???

this will be a tremendously short entry but it was announced todaythat the new-look, new-locale baby flames will be either the abbotsford heat, the abbotsford ice hawks, the abbotsford storm, or the abbotsford flames. i didn't get off my butt fast enough to throw my team names into the mix; the abbotsford axemen (my buddy mike's idea), or my choice ---the abbotsford sockeyes.... ;)

let's evaluate:

there are so many reasons this makes sense. obviously, they are the flames' farm team (which is why they were dubbed the quad city flames, the saint john flames, and the moncton golden flames back in the day), and the logo would be an easy fix if they could get the rights to the old atlanta jerseys... unfortunately, marketing an AHL affiliate of the local NHL team's biggest rival might be a hard sell....

about a decade ago, one of my favorite trivia questions was "name five north american professional sports teams that don't end in 'S.'" the trick was specifying "north american" and "professional" in order to deem guesses like "AC milan" and "crimson tide" incorrect... the right answers were the tampa bay lightning, the colorado avalanche, the white and red sox, the utah jazz, the orlando magic, and the miami heat..... i wasn't a fan of these names then and i'm not a fan now, but i suppose if you want to get away from naming a team "the flames" then "the heat" is probably second best....

see #2 for reasons why "the abbotsford storm" doesn't work for me, and add in the fact that it sounds like a character on american gladiators.... or a WNBA squad.

ugh. is this my last option, for real ???? i don't know what the hell an ice hawk is, or if it's a real thing.... if they wanted to name the team after a bird, then why not the RAVENS or something suitably west-coasty ?? hawks are so.... overdone in pro sports....

here's to hoping the flames' brass can convince that the best name going is the one they've already got.... [though as i continue reading, it seems they've come straight out and said the team will NOT be called "the flames." unless they're taking media lessons from darryl sutter, i can only presume this to be true...]


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

8 reasons to not re-sign bootuzzi

1. he spends an awful lot of time doing absolutely nothing on the ice; time where he is not involved with the play, not backchecking, not forechecking, not in position, not skating, not creating havoc infront of a goaltender.

2. if the puck is on his stick, he will most often drop pass or backhand pass to absolutely nobody (unless we're counting the opposition). he also has a penchant for a spin-a-rama move to avoid a check, often losing the puck in the process.... hey, he might be able to spell "shot on goal" but i'm not convinced he knows its meaning....

3. he hasn't played a full 82 games since 05/06. why pay a guy full season money for for 3/4 season of work ?

4. he has a lawsuit upcoming sometime after october, a big one, and he certainly didn't play well in the games leading up to the last face-to-face with steve moore in december '09 (0G 2A -5 in the week prior). the trial could be lengthy, and even if bert were able to continue playing while it's in session, there's no reason to believe that he'll be focussed on the game. this kind of major distraction would also, presumeably, be a major downer for his teammates....

5. he spent the majority of his 66 games this year on the ice with daymond langkow, mike cammalleri and/or jarome iginla, and still only netted 44 points (15G 29 A)... maybe it's just me but when you get +/-18 minutes a night with elite calibre linemates and THAT's your output, you're not worth a new contract.

6. if mike keenan stays, then bert will get icetime over the younger guys (which will handicap the team's future top 6).

7. the penalties..... oohhhhh, the PENALTIES.... it's entirely possible that bert gets a raw deal from the zebras some nights, but more often than not his elbow's a little high or his stick is tugging more than nugding. i honestly think that most times he just can't help himself.... "benefit of the doubt" does not apply to #7 and probably never will...

8. bert can't fight. hey, i'm not gonna sugarcoat it ----what happened to steve moore is totally devastating, but the fact of the matter is that the "incident" seems to have emasculated the instigator. i'm sure bootuzzi is the recipient of a whole lot of on-ice trash talk [cal clutterbuck, in the minnesota star-tribune, "First game I played him, he said he's going to kill me. I said, 'I don't doubt it.' Then, I turned to the linesman and said, 'Did you hear him?' You know, just in case"], and he rarely stands up for himself. why ? because he can't, either for fear of a repeat incident or being overly penalized.... plus, he's probably been advised against it.... all of this would also, presumeably, be a bummer for the other guys on your team....

feel free to elaborate if you've got more reasons.
this is all i could come up with on a tuesday afternoon.... ;)

Friday, May 1, 2009

csi: sutter part 2: draft history

in the second and third parts of this examination of darryl sutter, i'll be looking at the moves he's made as calgary's general manager, and whether or not his mis-steps have outweighed the commendable deals. initially, i intended part 2 to be signings/trades but there's quite a lot to examine over sutter's term since taking over the wheel in april, 2003... instead, i'll analyze the drafting and scouting and try to come up with a way to objectively determine if he gets a passing grade, after a miserable and epic fail in part1: capspace (cap management).

while grading a GM's draft history is hardly an exact science, i think the most obvious and available criteria is simply counting the number of actual NHLers a team's selections produced, and how valuable the players were to their team(s). this is, obviously, a far more difficult task when looking over more recent drafts, so i will judge the later years by the junior-level success/failure of the players, and the number that appear to be vyable future pros. kent did most of the work already over at fiveholefanatics last june, so i'm just going to elaborate a bit on it....

another criteria i'll look at is the available players that calgary did NOT select in the first round, who were selected in the ten-or-so positions immediately following the flames. this will outline whether sutter and the scouting staff were overlooking superior players. the sample size, here, is very small, as only 2003 - 2005 draftees are really having an impact in the NHL at this point.

1 dion phaneuf
2 tim ramholt
3 ryan donnally
4 jamie tardif
5 greg moore
6 tyler johnson
7 thomas bellemare
8 cam cunning
9 kevin harvey

sutter's inaugural draft is a bit of a trainwreck, other than the selection of dion phaneuf (who, not coincidentally, was the result of the flames' highest draft position of the sutter era at 9th overall). tim ramholt threatened to crack the lineup once or twice but was overlooked in favour of the undrafted richie regehr, and eventually went to philadelphia last summer for kyle greentree (so i guess that's good)... looking down the ranks of the first round, there is a wealth of players with equal or greater value, so it would have been hard for sutter to pick a dud in the top ten.... in the later rounds, calgary passed over players like shea weber, david backes and maxim lapierre, but so did alot of other teams... there's no denying dion was certainly a homerun for flames, but this draft was otherwise tragic....

1 kris chucko
2 n/a
3 brandon prust/dustin boyd
4 aki seitsonen/kris hogg
5 n/a
6 adam pardy/fred wikner
7 matt schneider/jimmy pratt
8 n/a
9 adam cracknell

sutter beat the sophomore curse in 2004 by way of fluke, more than anything ---no thanks to taking chucko 24th overall (just ahead of robbie schremp, dave bolland, and the knife to the heart: mike green). in a bang-up third round, the flames picked up both prust and boyd and also collected adam pardy in the fifth. other than phaneuf, these are the only other three players drafted under the sutter regime, thusfar, to hold regular jobs in the bigleague. seitsonen and pratt are still grinding it out in the system but have "dreamcrusher" written all over them....

1 matt pelech
2 n/a
3 gord baldwin
4 dan ryder
5 jd watt
6 kevin lalande/matt keetley
7 brett sutter
8 myles lumsley

we saw some marked improvement overall in 2004, but 2005 looks like a step backwards. i think pelech has a future, and lalande is making huge strides with columbus' ahl affiliate, but baldwin, watt, keetley & sutter will probably not make it much further than abbostford, it appears.... dan ryder was an unfortunate gamble, and.... who the hell is myles lumsley ??? while pelech has been a slow developping project, there was really not any spectacular players immediately below him in the draft other than marc-├ędouard vlasic (who the sharks picked up nine down the line with the second round selection calgary gave them in exchange for miikka kiprusoff)... admittedly upsetting is paul stastny getting picked up 44th overall, having been overlooked by every team at least once....

1 leland irving
2 n/a
3 john armstrong
4 aaron marvin
5 hugo carpentier/jusso puustinen
6 jordon fulton
7 devin didiomete/per jonsson

2006 could still pay dividends, or it could be the biggest bust in the lot (tbd)... selecting leland irving, the fourth goaltender to go in the draft's first round, was a big gamble ---one which may yet turn out to be a steal (or, alternately, a big waste). a lot of great players were drafted early in the first round, but after irv there doesn't seem to be much that calgary missed out on... as for the rest of the flames' lot, john armstrong is the only one looking to have any real NHL potential, and spent most of last year on IR....

1 mikael backlund
2 n/a
3 john negrin
4 keith aulie
5 mickey renaud
6 n/a
7 cj severyn

in the 2007 draft, sutter traded calgary's 18th position to st.louis for the 24th and 70th slots. picking up both backlund and negrin was a coup, as no exceptionally big names were selected between st.louis and calgary in the first round (and, as of this writing, backlund looks to be one of the better first round players)... no preferrable players were selected immediately afterwards, either. sutter also pulled a rabbit out of his hat by dumping the useless andrei zyuzin off to chicago for adrian aucoin, his enormously overpriced contract, and the draft pick that led to the acquisition of cj severyn. personally, even though calgary only had 5 selections in 2007, i think sutter et al. did their homework; keith aulie, a world junior grad and captain of the wheatkings, looks to be the future replacement for robyn regehr and is one of my favorite prospects in the system... while severyn is a bit of a longshot, and the passing of mickey renaud was heartbreaking, backlund, negrin, and aulie make this draft a success...

1 greg nemisz
2 mitch wahl
3 lance bouma
4 nick larson/tj brodie
5 n/a
6 ryley grantham
7 alexander deilert

considered a very deep draft, i the flames look like winners this year as well (in yet another year where sutter traded down, sending alex tanguay to montreal for their 25th spot, and giving up calgary's 17th ranking to acquire mike cammalleri). i can't begin to explain how excited i was that day, thinking that our GM had made the most of a bad situation (reportedly tanguay wanted out of calgary but listed montreal as the only team he wanted to go to with his NTC) and collected a very good player as replacement, while only dropping 8 positions in the first round. because of the depth of the draft in 2008, and because it's too soon to know for sure, i think calgary did well by picking nemisz ---losing out on only jordan eberle and mattias tedenby with the deals... i think nemisz' numbers last year might have been inflated by the calibre of players around him, on a very successful spitfires squad, notable players selected shortly after nemisz include viktor tikhonov & tyler ennis.

the very first thing that jumps out at me (when looking at all six drafts) is, other than the anomaly of dion phaneuf, there are no potential "superstars" in sutter's early years. furthermore, other than boyd and pardy (and debateably prust), not a single player currently holds a fulltime job in the NHL ---but i wholeheartedly expect that to change in the next year or two.

the other thing that stands out is that the flames' drafting has slowly improved over time. again, it will not be 100% clear for another few seasons, but it seems that the number of current or vyable NHLers has increased through the years and the 2007/2008 players, especially, have exciting potential (i'm looking at you, aulie). tod button has been at the top of the flames'scouting staff foodchain since before the sutter era, but the flames' scouting staff has increased by about a third in the past six years, so the steady rise in the value of the draftees is to be expected (as of november, there were 15 scouts employed by the organization).

actual/probable # of NHLers drafted:
2003: 1
2004: 3
2005: 3 - 4
2006: 2
2007: 3
2008: 3-5

ultimately, if it's SUTTER under the microscope and not his entire scouting staff, then he should be judged more by trades-for-draftpicks, than the selections themselves. i presume that, on draft day, the players are ultimately decided on by sutter, but agreement by his staff would be paramount; sutter is quoted in a 2005 randy sportak-penned article,"It's a consensus, not anybody's lone decision. We put players where we think we can get them and what we need and go from there."

looking over the sutter era draft history, i would suggest he's done fairly well. i think that the draft-day trades look to be paying dividends, for the most part, and i think the upward trend in acquiring NHL-calibre players is, ultimately, increasing. the bottom line, here, is that even if sutter were to be shown the door this summer, i think his growing scouting staff should most definitely stick around.... they seem to be learning... ;)

trades/signings later.
when i get around to it...