In what has been one of the most tumultuous seasons both on and off the ice for the Calgary Flames, General Manager Brad Treliving sat down with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Their 30 minute discussion talked about the Bill Peters situation, how the Flames view analytics, and much more.
If you want to listen to the full episode, here it is in all of its glory.
Here are some of the highlights from their discussion:
Treliving opened up a bit about his handling of the Bill Peters situation. He mentioned that he wanted the process to be handled thoroughly and for all the facts to come out before they decided their course of action. He specifically noted that while a lot was coming out in the media, some of that information was determined to be not completely true.
The most important part for him was keeping the team going, and ensuring that they did not lose focus on the ice. The whole staff, he mentioned, was involved and effective. He gave a lot of credit especially to their coaches, general managers, players and PR team for handling this situation correctly.
In the social media era, it’s important to get things right, and that was a major focus throughout the process.
When Flames Assistant GM Chris Snow first found out about his ALS diagnosis, Treliving wanted to ensure that when the story broke to the media, it was handled correctly. He wanted to make sure that Snow and especially his family were in a position to deal with the media and all that surrounded the diagnosis.
Snow, he said, is a true professional, and has kept up his pace of work even through the diagnosis. Treliving tried to take things off his plate, but Snow was adamant that he wanted to keep things going at the same pace. At one point, Snow’s workload had decreased so much that he went to Treliving’s office and told him to stop. He told Treliving that the work kept him going and that if it became too much he would say something.
Snow has been specifically responsible for the Flames’ analytics department. Treliving noted that the Flames have invested time and money into tracking pretty well every facet of the game on the ice. He specifically noted that the Flames used their own information rather than what is available on the internet by saying that information online covers about a fifth of the actual game, and may not be telling the full story. The team prefers their own data that they collect.
They then take that information, and have created a way to give players a numerical score after the game. The highest score Treliving mentioned was a 101, and the lowest he noted was a score of eight. Treliving mentioned that Mark Giordano had some of the highest scores last year during his Norris Trophy winning season. He refused to say which players achieved the highest or lowest score, but did say that he was very aware of which player got the low score of eight.
One player that Treliving noted as being better than the eye would suggest is Derek Ryan. While he is not known for his offensive output, GMBT noted he makes a lot of little plays that make a difference on the ice. The term that he uses is “successful plays on the puck” and talks about how Ryan makes a lot of “successful plays with the puck”. Specifically, Treliving talks about Ryan’s ability to win 50/50 battles, make and take bumps in the corners, and win faceoffs.
Tkachuk and Kassian
On this topic, Treliving makes two clear points. The first is that the off-ice battle in the media has been big, and the team has not played their best hockey while this has been going on. It is important for him that the team focuses on their first game against St. Louis before concerning themselves with the Battle of Alberta rematch. They don’t want what happened in Montreal to happen again, so there has been a lot of focus placed on the task at hand.
He also says that Tkachuk is “a top player”, one that the other 30 GMs would want on their team in a heartbeat. Tkachuk has been a driving force on this team, especially on some of the more difficult nights, and he will stand behind him and his style of play. He also mentioned that Tkachuk’s teammates have his back 100%.
Friedman ended the segment with a number of quick questions about the team. Generally, Treliving said that he was quite happy with the team and the way it was constructed. Because most of the core was relied upon heavily when they were younger, they bonded and developed into a cohesive unit. The team is always looking to improve, but they seem to like their core guys of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Giordano a lot.
While he is happy with them as a unit, he mentioned that they have some work to do to get them going. Specifically, he noted that they are not getting the same amount of offence from their defencemen and that their forward group still had more to give. He also singled out the goaltending as being quite good, and that both David Rittich and Cam Talbot are developing quite well.
One thing that he mentioned as well as that as a General Manager in his third term, he has learned a lot and grown in his experience. While he comes across as a quieter guy in the media, he was once an aggressive player with a fiery personality. He has had moments where he has been angry and made decisions in anger, especially in previous roles, but has been very thankful for the people he has had around him.
It is always good as Flames fans to hear from the General Manager in his own words. Having someone as eloquent as Elliotte Friedman interview him made for an excellent chat. You can hear the full interview on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, from wherever you get your podcasts.
Photo credit: NHL.com