Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One-on-One with Chris Nichols

"Who do you think will be the new GM of the Flames?"

I don't necessarily have any insight into that in terms of a name, but there have been some breadcrumbs left by Brian Burke in recents months as to the nature of his role as president of hockey operations as it will potentially relate to his new GM. 

This was from the Calgary Herald in December and I've referenced it a number of times since. 

Burke: "The thinking is — and this exists in a number of franchises in football, baseball, basketball, and now forward in the NHL — you’ve got someone there to steer the ship and mentor a young GM. First off, you avoid the big mistakes that young GMs typically make. And second, you don’t have to have an organizational shift, a major reorientation every time you bring in a new GM. You have someone steering the ship even if someone else is in command on a day-to-day basis.”

Between that quote and the times he's noted wanting to be patient with waiting for getting permission to talk to candidates (maybe once a team has been eliminated from the playoffs), it seems like the Flames will be getting a first-time GM. That could have changed had Joe Nieuwendyk been interested, naturally. 

We'll see. I think Burke will find a good match and I also don't believe he'll want to micromanage the new guy either, despite what some people might think. 

"Who do you think the Flames will go after in the off-season?"

Anytime you're in a position such as the one in which the Flames currently find themselves, with whatever you want to call this rebuild, you're immediately going to close off a certain portion of the free agent market. UFAs are prime of their career guys, or older, so they generally want to try to win in addition to getting paid. 

What the Flames will be able to offer though, is chances for the guys who want a bigger role than they currently have. Calgary is willing to spend money if it's smart money, which is different than a rebuilding team that only wants to slash payroll. 

I'm most interested to see how things unfold between the pipes for Calgary. 

"Were you surprised that Cammy stayed and do you think the Flames will sign him?"

I wasn't terribly surprised, given how last-minute some of the big name trades were at the deadline - plus the Kesler trade that didn't happen. Burke alluded to how that all sort of gummed up the works for several teams. 

I think the Flames will make what they feel is a reasonable effort to sign him again, but it'll really come down to what Cammalleri wants to do. He'll certainly be sought on the free agent market if he wants a new home. I do like how direct Burke has been with Cammalleri though. Very straightforward. Players like and respect that, which can be a factor when signing with the Flames too. 

"Please let us know about your site, and about yourself."

I started right before the trade deadline after seven years with My vision for it has been very simple, in that I want it to be daily value-added content for hockey fans. 

Aside from the staples of full line combinations and power play units, which appeal to poolies and hockey fans alike, the focus of the site is interesting stories and quotes - often with a social media twist of some kind. 

Most people don't have time to read even a portion of the NHL content floating around in cyber space, so I like to mine the info and point people toward stories worth reading. 

One of my favorite things to do is pull quotes that may not have had anything to do with the 'lead' angle in the original story, but may be even more interesting to readers. One of the most popular stories on the site, in fact, was one about Darryl Sutter discussing puck possession. It was buried in its original story, but was a fascinating take on it. Sutter has such a sharp hockey mind. 

Hopefully hockey fans will like and support the site. New content will be rolled out in the coming months and into next season as well. 

I've been in the media field for two decades now and have been writing about hockey or fantasy hockey professionally for about 14 of those years, dating back to my time with


  1. Great read. Very nice of Chris to share his thoughts

  2. Keeping Cammalleri was stupid. I do not care what the return was, even a 3 rd pick. Brodie was a 4th round pick, it shows that those picks are valuable. Gaudreau another one.

    The new GM will be George McPhee. He will move all the way over to the West. He shares the same beliefs as Burke and would slide in nicely. What about Hextall?

    1. McPhee is a logical candidate if he indeed does not sign an extension in Washington. We know earlier in the year Burke and McPhee had dinner together in Calgary prior to a Flames game. Although they are professionals, I am sure their relationship allowed for a "what if" conversation. I still think and agree with Chris that we could see a first time GM. Hextall would fit that bill. Perhaps Jim Benning is a front runner.

  3. new general manager will be burkes puppet and new coach will be trotz after he gets fired by nashville

  4. Hey Chris, why did you decide to go the route of your own instead of staying with an ESPN or Sportnet? @nicholsonhockey

  5. This will work if Burke/ownership come up with a set of rules on "steering the ship" and abide by them. If the new GM is mentored, not controlled we will have decent talent vying for the GM job. If not and Burke gets sticky fingers the GM position will be a joke. Still, I am optimistic it will work. IMO, Burke is a smart man and understands this. A failure will reflect directly on him.

  6. People are overlooking Craig Conroy. Young, motivated, respected around the league and the time he has spent around Burke eliminates "an organizational shift". If I was a betting man I would bet that right before the draft Burke will make an announcement stating "After spending last season with Craig, I feel he is the best condidate to steer this ship. Along with my guidance I feel Craig will do a great job". Burke will then hire a draft/scout specialist to join the front office and work with Conroy and himself. I have a feeling this entire season is an audition for Connie, and honestly, I believe he is the right guy for the job.


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