Monday, September 30, 2013

Camp notes

As the camp ends, I thought I would just give my impressions on the past week.

Jay Feaster says don't call my Flames "lames"

As we waited for the roster this season, the doom and gloom reign supreme.  Everywhere we go, the Flames get told they are bottom dwellers.  Apparently, Feaster has heard too much of it.  He blasted the media, saying "I do not give a rat's ****** what you guys think."  Good on him. The players need to know that management believe in them. I love the fact that Feaster has not given up on them. The man is a great personnel motivator.

Burke lets loose on Baertschi 

Sometimes we forget how young Sven is. He is still learning. Although I agree with what Burke said, I do not agree with how he went about it. I just do not like management ever airing dirty laundry in public.  I agree with player discipline, just not in public.

Burke comments

I loved the quote "being paid to be patient."  I just hope we can be patient with the young players.  I also liked how he took the pressure off of Joe Colborne, describing him as a David Steckel type of player. He really wanted to make sure that he is not here to save the team.  A great maneuver by Burke to say what is expected of the kid and keep the pressure off of a 23 year old rookie.  I also love the fact he refused to label this team or predict how this team will do in this situation. 

Goalie situation 

In reality, this was penciled in before the season started. The Flames would never admit it, but common sense should prevail.  Berra had to be almost perfect.  He was on a two-way contract.  Financially, it was the best choice.  In all honesty, I do not think he was good enough to take the spot as the back-up slot.  He will be back this season if Feaster is being honest. 

Joe Colborne coming home

All I can say is: Welcome home. Joe is a great fit for the Flames.  As long as they use him to his strengths, he is a solid two-way center. Do not expect him to score 40 goals and have a 100-point season. I expect he can develop into a scorer, but let's get his defensive game first. We all know what wins cups.  Defense wins cups. 

Talking Stops, Time to Play

What do we know now?

After a training camp that has been labelled as “Excellent” “Great” & “Encouraging” by Feaster and the newly appointed President of Hockey Ops, Brian Burke, what do we know about the team and the players we so closely follow?

Burke is not convinced Baertschi has what it takes. When asked what the Flames see in Baertschi, BB responded with “I am not really sure.” He proceeded to explain how he sees a lack of commitment in Sven wanting to be a complete player. He also said he will not give up on him yet. After that Feaster came out and took the blame on his own shoulders for the expectations Baertschi has upon him now from the media and fans. Jay Feaster said he would like a mulligan and go back to the 2012 and not call up Baertschi as an emergency call up. He felt that stint put unfair expectations on the young man from Switzerland.
Although he was placed on waivers and cleared, Ben Street has been rewarded for a strong camp and has made the final roster. Blair Jones with a similar effort was not as fortunate and has been assigned to play with the AHL affiliate.

Breen and Cammalleri will start the year on the IR. When Breen becomes healthy, we will see him get reassigned to Abbotsford. Cammalleri will be needed rather quickly to help a roster that lacks offensive punch.

The goaltending situation played out exactly as I expected, with Ramo and Joey Mac with the big club, while Berra goes to the AHL to gain more experience on North American size ice. It is no secret that goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk wanted Berra to remain with the big club. But Feaster expressed how management felt Joey Macdonald would not clear waivers and they did not want to take the chance in losing the veteran goalie this early. Feaster gave a subtle inclination that later in the season we could see Berra and Ramo up with the club. Does this mean Macdonald could be dangled for a draft pick later in the year once they feel more comfortable with Ramo & Berra? I believe that is exactly what will happen.

A player I am very intrigued to watch is TJ Galiardi. He has been asked to play centre and had a strong camp. I am excited to see if Galiardi can use his speed and work ethic to become an offensive contributor that some scouts always believed he could become. He will never get a better opportunity than the one in front of him this season. Monahan is another guy everyone will keep a close eye on. I see him getting around 8 games and Brian Burke will make sure he returns to Junior, like he has done with many previous young players over the years. Now if Monahan can explode and put up some points, that could change the decision, but I have my doubts. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Flames & Leafs Make a Deal


Do you remember when Brian Burke said in his press conference “we will get bigger!”?
… Well, we just did.

Calgary Flames trade a 4th round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for centre Joe Colborne. Colborne is a Calgary native and will be excited to be coming home. The draft pick will become a 3rd pick if Colborne registers 10 goals or 35 points this season.

BORN: Calgary, AB           DATE: January 30, 1990
HEIGHT: 6’5” WEIGHT: 213 lbs.
DRAFTED: BOS - 1st round, 16th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft

Colborne has played 16 NHL games and notched 6 points. Many feel Colborne’s best years are ahead of him if he gets the opportunity to play. Calgary provides that opportunity and can use a big body centre.
With Toronto against the cap and with the risk of losing him on waivers, the trade makes sense for both sides. Colborne brings a cap hit of 600K and will be an RFA at season’s end. Feaster adds another young body with upside for a minimal price (like the Russell deal).

The big question is, what this will mean for Monahan? I still believe he gets a few regular season games, but the likelihood of him going back to juniors is higher. I feel this has more to do with the injuries to Cammalleri, Hudler & Baertschi.

Something also tells me the next 48 hours could be interesting. Another move could be in the works.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Brian Burke Joins the Calgary Flames

Brian Burke

The Calgary Flames have announced that Brian Burke will join the organization as the President of Hockey Operations. Also the team announced that John Bean has been named as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing day-to-day operations.

Brian Burke will report to Ken King, as King’s role has not changed and will not change. Jay Feaster will remain the General Manager but will report directly to Brian Burke.  All other management and coaching positions remain the same.

 Brian says he has a lot of respect for Jay Feaster and likes what he has been doing with the Calgary Flames team. Burke said “I was at the draft and I thought Calgary won the draft. As a neutral observer; I felt the Flames won the 2013 draft.”

Brian Burke shared his three pillars:
                1. Play entertaining & physical hockey. Burke mentions becoming a bigger team
                2. Run this like a business
                3. Community service. Burke went on to say "Players give back to the community, if not they play somewhere else"

We know Brian Burke is a community guy and that was evident while he was in Toronto.
Now, let us hope when Burke says “bigger & more physical” that does not mean slow and less skilled. The Flames last two years have moved away from the big slower players and incorporated and drafted more skill and finesse. However if you look at the rookie camp roster, the Flames only brought two guys under six feet tall. Looking at Burke’s teams in the past, we can see he likes his big rugged d-men whole play a two way game. Calgary in my opinion lacks this on their team, and I think that is what he meant.

Some other quick notes:

-Ken King said the list included 60 names with Brian Burke always being at the top of the list.
-Jay Feaster was always part of the process
-Brian Burke said he will take a “background role” when it comes to speaking to the media
-Brian feels no professional sports organization comes even close to what the Flames do for the community of Calgary.

- Brian Burke also said "Players need to know management is going to back them up"

After the press conference Brian Burke did a quick interview with Hockey Central. During the interview he said “As far as I know Miikka Kiprusoff is planning on retiring.” With Kiprusoff being in town for his son’s school, we may get an announcement in the coming days ahead.

As for my thoughts on Brian Burke: I believe he brings respect, demands respect and a no BS kind of attitude that this organization can use during this rebuild.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Flames Preview 2013

On today's Flames panel, we have two questions.   How will the Flames do this year? Which Flames players are you expecting to have breakout years?

My answers to start with:

How will the Flames do this year?

This season will not be pretty.  Simply put, they just do not have the talent. But I am excited about the young talent.

For example, our two blue chips Centers, Corban Knight and Sean Monahan; both have exceptional talent, but need time to develop. Backland will be the number one center. The problem is that Mikael would be, at best, a number two center on most of the other rosters in the NHL. 

On the wing, our leaders in Cammy and  Glencross, and to some extent, Hurdler.  These three have to put up the numbers in order for the Flames to succeed.   Glencross has to a be a less of a selfish player.  He must become more of a complete player

Goaltending is a worrisome spot for the Flames. We're relying on an unproven goaltender in Ramo. Joey will be a stable influence who may play more games than people think. 

Defence is our strength, led by Gio, Wideman, and Brodie. There will be a war for spots four through six at camp. 
This season, the Flames are simply cellar dwellers. Young talents need time to develop. There will be growing pains, but I see light at end of the tunnel.

Which Flames players are you expecting to have breakout years?

My pick for breakout player is Jiri Hudler, who knows how to win. He is going to play in another gear this season. Look for him to take this team and run with it. He is in this for the long haul. He knows his role and embraces it.

Dearen's answers

What are your expectations of the Flames for this coming season?

Simple- I expect the team I cheer for to make the playoffs. I do not and cannot cheer for my team to suck or tank it to get another top draft pick. I understand that on paper our team is weak and when I was in Vegas last week, the Flames were paying 150/1. But anything can happen, games need to be played and the Blue Jackets had the same talk around them last season. Plus, have you seen ticket prices to a Flames home game? You ask people to pay that price; you better put a decent product on the ice! Realistically, I may be disappointed with that mentality but if you dress 20 players each game who work hard, anything is possible.

Which player do you expect to have a breakout season?

T.J. Brodie. His play over the past two seasons has many Flames fans taking notice. I however, would like to see a major improvement. In my opinion he had a good 10 game stretch last year when the games did not matter. My big question here is if he can do that for 82 games against top lines? With Bouwmeester gone and the team accepting that young players will make some mistakes while they grow into established NHL’ers, Brodie has to take the next step. No doubt he is talented and contains a lot of upside and I hope we see him take that next step and he should. I believe with another off season gone by and more minutes available, TJ Brodie takes a major step and becomes a vital part of the Flames for the future.

Colin Dambrauskas from Hockeybuzz:

How will the Flames do this year?
It seems that the consensus has been that the Flames will, without a doubt, be basement dwellers in the NHL this upcoming season. Although this is likely not far from the truth, I expect the Flames while coached under Bob Hartley to be a strong character team that works hard and makes it tough on their opponents. Despite missing a lot of top end talent, the Flames will need to play a smart and physical game in order to keep games as close as they can. A strong defensive system, along with a group of guys who buy into their coaches plans, could help them succeed to a few spots out of the NHL’s metaphorical basement.
Which Flames players are you expecting to have breakout years?
During the process of a rebuild, having breakout years for most players is quite a feat. I say this not only because of the amount of uncertainties which is expected coming into this season, but also because of the mindset which most guys will carry. It is no secret that the Flames are amidst a rebuild, and as a result, players may exercise a little more reluctance towards giving 110% than they may have displayed in previous years. With that being said, I expect guys like Mikael Backlund and Karri Ramo to be the two biggest  “breakout” players this year given their experience levels. Being rather weak down the middle, the Flames need Backlund to take his game to another level and prove to the organization that they made the right choice keeping him around. The same can be said with respect to Ramo as the Flames have a dying need to replace the games and minutes logged by former tender Miikka Kiprusoff who has unofficially retired. Ramo has been playing overseas in the KHL and has not played an NHL game for about four years, despite being labeled as one of the best KHL goalies in recent years. While expectations may be somewhat low for the netminder as he accustoms himself to the NHL ice once again, I fully expect him to come in with a purpose; earning a starting position in the NHL.

Honorable mentions: Baertschi, Cundari, Stajan  

Shaune Vetter from Hockeybuzz:

How will the Flames do this year?

It's interesting listening to the complete and utter lack of expectations for the Calgary Flames this season. After so many seasons of what can arguably be called inflated expectations, the complete lack of any chance the Flames have in being anything but a lottery pick is quite sobering. 

Sure, a person could trot out the turn-around of the Blue Jackets last season and base an argument around their great season, which admittedly ended in a sideline seat and a worse draft pick then that club should have possibly had, but the key to that season was the change in attitude of the team on a day-to-day basis.

That's what the Flames fans hopefully have to look forward to! For almost a decade the Flames were a team that simply couldn't find the consistent game they needed in order to be more than an also-ran. Even think back to the playoff appearances after the Cup finals run: The Flames simply weren't able to do what it took when it mattered most, and a lot of that can arguably be attributed to the general attitude of the organization.

It's time to turn the page. It's time to see what some new blood can bring and to see if the team can learn how to win consistently. Sure... It'd be great to imagine a scenario where they turn the world on its side, use the Calgary flood as motivation, surprise the hockey world and at least complete for a playoff spot, but the simple truth is that this is a team that could struggle, but has a chance to at least learn to put for a consistent effort on a night-to-night basis that should benefit them moving forward.

Consider this: If they could find a way to become a team that teams really didn't like playing against again... Not because they won all of the time, but even in losing, they made sure you had to fight for every puck and every inch, wouldn't that have to be considered a huge step forward, regardless of whether or not they even get a sniff at a play-off race?

Which Flames players are you expecting to have breakout years?

When Sven Bartschi was an emergency call-up  2 years ago he immediately made an impact by  netting 3 goals in 5 games, Flames fans were salivating at the possibilities the Swiss prospect would be able to deliver. Of course, somewhere between the fanfare of spring and fall of 2012, something derailed and reality set in and the kid with the boatload of talent and some arguably unfair expectations had a bit of a stumble. It took some time for the kid to get his legs under him at the pro level, but after putting up 26 points for the Heat in the AHL, he was back with the Flames to finish the season and had regained some confidence by putting up 6 points in the Flames last 5 contests.

Although he shouldn't be expected to maintain that pace in 2012-2013. Sven should be able to continue to improve his complete game at the pro level and start to show that he might just be able to turn into a top 6 forward in this league. His work ethic hasn't been questioned, and now that he's a little stumble followed by a little success, he's in a better position to be able to understand what it takes to be successful at the NHL level.

The last word from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun:

How will the Flames do this season?

I see no scenario in which they finish anywhere but last in the NHL this year.

And that's a good thing.

Winning shouldn't be the goal or the focus - developing young talent should be. 

Even the staunchest of fans has to agree this team will be terrible.

The team has struggled for the last few years and now they're without a world class goaltender (even if Kiprusoff did return he would continue to struggle) and their best scorer in Jarome Iginla and have not replaced either with any proven commodities.

Which Flames player are you expecting to have a breakout year?

Curtis Glencross.

He will be given unprecedented ice time and opportunities to shine.

I think he's been capable of scoring 30 goals before but now there is nothing stopping him.
Flames Jambalaya is in no way, shape or form associated with the Calgary Flames Hockey Club or the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. This is a fans blog for fans. We just happen to love the Flames, so we write about it.