Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
It was the first day of training camp and the question put to coach Bob Hartley fixed on the Calgary Flames’ complex three-way goaltending battle.
“I’m a coach, not a banker,” Hartley answered. “I’ll make the best possible decision for the organization.”
And that, right there, really summed up a discussion that will not be resolved until the conclusion of Saturday’s final exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Of the three candidates to play goal for Calgary this season, one – rookie Joni Ortio – is in a far different place, career-wise, than the other two. At 24, he is the youngest by far and at $600,000 a season, he is also the cheapest by far.
If the goal in Calgary is to continue developing this still wet-behind-the-ears team until it is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, then keeping Ortio ahead either the 33-year-old Jonas Hiller or the 29 year-old Karri Ramo makes sense.
Complicating matters is that banking question Hartley raised. All three goaltending candidates are on one-way contracts and all three require waivers to get assigned to the minors.
from Aaron Vickers of CalgaryFlames.com,
CF.com: What veterans have surprised you in training camp?
BT: I wouldn’t say surprised. You’re always hopeful that they come in and are ready. I don’t worry about our veteran players too much in that they’re always prepared. Our fitness testing and levels were exceptional. I think in terms of just this camp, Matt Stajan is a guy that has really been good. He’s been a leader, as he always is. You can even see it, I think he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. He’s moving better. There is a real assertiveness and seriousness about his game right now. There’s been a lot of guys that have played well but Matt just jumps out for me. He’s made sure he has come in physically and mentally prepared and it’s showing.
CF.com: You must feel pretty comfortable with the options Bob Hartley has to deploy for 3-on-3 overtime?
BT: We talked a lot about it when the rule came in. We talked a lot about personnel. We’ve had two of them now but they haven’t gone very long – a minute of two, I guess. I think we’ve got options. What I think is unique is we’ve got a lot of defenceman that can play in it and I’m not sure how many defenceman league-wide can play but we’ve got the Giordano’s, the Russell’s, the Brodie’s, the Hamilton’s, the Wideman’s. There’s players that are built for it. And then you get into the forward group. The coaches will come up with a strategy and some groupings of players but I think we’ve got some options to play with.
more Q & A...
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Getting back to his roots as a Saskatchewan farm boy, the 35-year-old recently spent a week assisting the farmer he grew up working for. Yes, that meant driving combines and other machinery the typical Calgarian has never heard of.
"I love going out there and being involved -- harvest is the best time of year," said the product of tiny Rosthern, Sask., where Regehr rents out nearby farmland he bought years ago.
"I was doing all sorts of stuff like picking up barley swaths and straight-cutting wheat in the combine. The machinery keeps getting bigger, more automated and complicated but I'm fairly comfortable."
Returning to Calgary in time for his two young sons to start school, Regehr and his wife have returned to the home in northwest Calgary they lived in at the tail end of his stint here. The house will serve as the base from which he helps operate an oilfield rental equipment company called Blueline he started seven years ago with two partners. He has long spent summers getting out to the rigs, learning as much as possible about the business. That won't change.
What has changed is a daily routine that now revolves around the boys, Shane and Wyatt, and wife Kristina.
“Shootouts are exciting, but this is going to be unbelievable — nobody is going to leave.
“It’s going to be slingshot hockey — it’s going to be just like a saloon door. It’s going to be back and forth, and it’s going to be great.”
-Bob Hartley, head coach of the Calgary Flames. More 3-on-3 OT talk from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“Dougie Hamilton is coming on a mission, but it’s a mission where there’s still quite a few lessons to learn,” Hartley said. “We haven’t even scratched the surface with Doug Hamilton. He’s a great young man … [but] he’s not the Messiah. He’s just a big part of our hockey club, like every other player.”
If the Giordano-Hamilton duo stays together, and indications are it might, it could be one of the more potent defensive pairings in the NHL, two highly skilled and mobile defencemen who combined to score 90 points in the league last season. Add Dennis Wideman (62 points) and T.J. Brodie (41) and Calgary suddenly boasts the most potent blueline in the league, though Brodie could miss anywhere from a week to a month at the start of the season, recovering from a broken bone, suffered during Monday’s exhibition opener. All the more reason to stockpile depth on the blue line.
Part of what Giordano does so well is help newcomers and young players integrate into the Flames lineup and Hamilton is no exception.
“Whenever you go to a new team, there are differences in the style of play,” Giordano explained. “With defencemen, it’s when to challenge, when to stay between the dots, little things like that. But Dougie’s been great. He’s asked questions when he needs to know something, but he moves and skates so well, it’s easy for him to make those adjustments.
from Emily Sadler of Sportsnet,
Calgary Flames defenceman T.J. Brodie has suffered a broken bone in his hand and is listed week-to-week, the team announced Wednesday.
The 25-year-old has been a steady presence on the blue line the past two seasons, playing 81 games in each of the two last campaigns. He stepped into the No. 1 defender role during captain Mark Giordano’s absence last year.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Now comes the hard part for the Calgary Flames: What to do for the encore?
Just about everything that could go right did so for the Flames last season. A team projected to be in the running for Connor McDavid unexpectedly made the playoffs, and even won a round. The Flames did so despite losing their captain and best player, Mark Giordano, with a biceps injury for the final quarter of the season, plus playoffs. It was a year in which they scored nine times with the goalie out of the net, completing one miracle comeback after another.
Defenceman Kris Russell established a single-season NHL record for blocked shots (283). Right winger Jiri Hudler tied for eighth overall in NHL scoring and won the Lady Byng trophy. Left winger Johnny Gaudreau tied for the rookie scoring lead and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy. Bob Hartley won the coach-of-the-year award. Just about every player who mattered had a career season in Calgary.
Unhappily, the general pattern for teams that make a 20-point year-over-year surge is they tend to fall back the next season, something both Hartley and general manager Brad Treliving are aware of. “Remember the Colorado Avalanche” could be the team’s slogan for the 2015-16.
from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun,
Who has the NHL’s best blueline brigade?
Don Cherry is casting his vote for the Calgary Flames.
The Flames landed Dougie Hamilton in what was arguably the most surprising swap of the off-season, and CBC’s legendary Coach’s Corner analyst certainly approved the move, proclaiming on Twitter that “Calgary has the best defence in the league now.”
And this isn’t one of those cases where everybody else figures ‘Grapes’ has gone crazy.
The Flames offence often started with the defence last season, with the blueliners chipping in 193 points — nearly 30% of the team total.
With Hamilton joining a cast that also includes Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman, the Flames defence corps will likely be their best asset this winter.
By Joe Sudberg,
The Calgary Flames were the darling story in the Western Conference last season, taking many media projections that had them in them at the bottom of the standings and flipping the script, en route to finishing third in the Pacific division and nabbing a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The Flames were in the postseason for the first time since 2009, and they didn’t disappoint when they got there.
Facing the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, Calgary jumped at the opportunity of pulling off an upset and completed it, taking the series in six games. The Flames ended the series with an emphatic 7-4 victory (winning their first playoff series since 2004 in the process) before falling to the Anaheim Ducks in five games in the second round.
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
“Let’s get going here,” the Calgary Flames general manager was saying on Wednesday at The Hamptons Golf Club. “We’re ready. I think when that calendar turns over to September, these last few days seem to creep by. But we’re ready to go. We’re eager to get going....
“You can definitely sense an excitement in town,” said Treliving who is entering his second season as the Flames’ GM. “But I don’t think it changes anything for us.”
Well, one thing has changed.
Especially after Calgary’s surprisingly impressive 82-game campaign and even more surprisingly impressive post-season.
“Last year at this time, people were questioning whether we could walk and chew gum at the same time,” Treliving said. “Last year at this time, the only belief was within the four walls (of the Flames dressing room). The expectation for us is going to be no different here.
“We also have to temper the comments outside. Regardless of what people think, you have to go out and do it. That’s the challenge for our group.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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