I know there are a lot of people who think Brad Treliving has done a good job as Flames’ GM so far, but I would like to express my thoughts on why I question his performance.
When he was hired, I like many others, didn't know much about him beyond the obvious. I was somewhat wary of the decision to hire a rookie GM, but with seasoned veteran Brian ‘I look like I slept in the car last night’ Burke as the big boss I wasn’t too concerned.
In Mr. Treliving’s introductory press conference he said ‘I am ready for this’ then repeated it with more conviction. At the time I got a weird ‘who are you trying to convince us or yourself’ vibe from it, but brushed it off.
I, like many others, felt Burke might be pulling the strings at least initially, but it soon became apparent that was not the case. More about that later.
Looking at the draft I can’t be too critical. Choosing Sam Bennett at 4th overall was a no-brainer. I can’t imagine a scenario where any GM would have chosen anyone else. Choosing Mason McDonald early in the second round seemed a bit early with lots of other highly ranked skaters available, but since it started a cascade of goalie picks, it at least insured the Flames got the goalie they wanted.
As for his free agent signings, I view them as a mixed bag. Although still early in the season the Hiller signing looks like a good one, and the Engelland signing looks as bad now as it did at the time he was inked. The Mason Raymond signing also looks like a good one so far, but it was risky, and the Rapha Diaz signing was not to my liking.
This brings me to the first move by Mr. Treliving I really didn’t like. Mr. Treliving decided because Paul Byron ‘had a strong arbitration case’ he would not be qualified which meant the Flames could have lost him for nothing. If he had a strong arbitration case it was because he earned it, so this seems like an insulting low-ball approach born from the budget-conscious Coyote’s culture.
In arbitration it is hard to imagine an award of any higher than $1.5 million per season. Calgary is at the bottom of the league in terms of salary cap (thanks mostly to Jay Feaster) and is paying Derek Engelland nearly $3 million a season to play bottom six minutes. In this context the risk of losing Byron for what may have been an extra ½ million seems a risk that simply wasn’t worth it, especially since he has been arguably the Flames’ most consistent forwards this year. Even though the chance he took paid off because Byron was not picked up, a person might wonder if Mr. Treliving even did a cursory risk/reward analysis. Or worse was unaware of Byron’s value to the team.
Back to who is ‘driving the bus’. At the end of last season Mr. Burke said that one of his priorities would be re-singing Troy G. Ward. Mr. Treliving chose to go another route, which brings me to my main beef with Mr. Treliving: his mishandling of the Flames affiliate in Adirondack.
Mr. Treliving chose Brian Petrovek to run the farm squad, and although it could be argued Kevin Breen was responsible for the recent Scorch debacle, the responsibility ultimately lies at the feet of the big boss.
How anyone could have made the decision to run a campaign showing the Flames’ mascot overcoming a firefighter in NY State where-since 911-they have been elevated to superhero status can be described as nothing less than gross incompetence. However that is just the business side. On the hockey side it is much worse.
Mr. Treliving chose to snub Troy G. Ward who was inarguably one of the best development coaches in the AHL in favour of taking a chance on unproven Major Junior coach Ryan Huska. This was a risky move and one I believe Mr. Burke should have vetoed.
Development of prospects and young players on a rebuilding team is more important than how the team performs. Since Mr. Huska has taken over behind the bench of the baby Flames the results have been a disaster.
Literally every returning player with the possible exceptions of Markus Granlund and Michael Ferland has regressed. The team was one of the best teams in the AHL last year and are now one of the worst. Two of the Flames top prospects, Sven Baertschi and Max Reinhart (who was the Heat’s top scorer last year) have zero points after seven games. Admittedly it is early in the season and the team and players could turn it around and my concerns could be for naught. However it could also be the beginning of a train wreck that could set the Flames back a considerable distance.
Fortunately, the Calgary Flames still have a great coaching staff in place led by Bob Hartley whose resume speaks for itself, but as of yet he has not received a contract extension and is in the last year of his current deal. This makes me wonder if Mr. Treliving plans on getting ‘his own guy’ behind the bench next year.
The thought of it makes me wince.
Factoid: Notable Bob Hartley accomplishments:
• Calder Cup – 1997 Hershey Bears
• Stanley Cup – 2001 Colorado Avalanche
• Northwest Division Title – 1999–2002 Colorado Avalanche
• Southeast Division Title – 2007 Atlanta Thrashers
• Swiss Championship – 2012 ZSC Lions
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.