After being eliminated in six games on Thursday evening to the Dallas Stars, the Flames were finally back in action. That is of course on the annual “locker cleanout” or “garbage bag day” that the Flames hosted virtually this year due to obvious reasons. There were lots of important topics covered by a wide range of players that impact the past, present, and future of the Flames group.
The most shocking news to come out of the media availability was the injury news for team:
The Matthew Tkachuk news was not as shocking to most people, as it was widely assumed the Flames star was dealing with some sort of concussion related issues.
More surprisingly, Rasmus Andersson and Sam Bennett were dealing with quite severe injuries. Andersson was playing through a broken foot, while Bennett was dealing with a torn triceps.
With how Andersson was playing, you wouldn’t have known he was dealing with such ailment, and the same goes for Bennett. Although it was strange to see Milan Lucic take a number of draws for the third line, it makes far more sense.
That being said, Bennett was one of the Flames’ best players and the fact that he was able to produce as much as he did with a torn triceps is simply out of this world.
We C You Sam Bennett
Speaking of #93, he also made it known during the media conference that playing centre during the postseason was something he relished:
What does this mean for next season? Who knows, but if he is still playing for the Flames it’s safe to say that his play this postseason should give them a solid third line centre option for at least the first quarter.
It has always been difficult to peg where Bennett should fit in the lineup, but maybe after all of this time that centre ice position is looking like a permanent fit.
Some of the biggest news coming out of the media availabily was the comments made by Johnny Gaudreau. The Flames’ number one player has faced a ton of criticism after their most recent playoff exit.
Some of it deserved, and some of it not, which of course has lead to more speculation that he could be on his way out this offseason. Gaudreau’s response? Pitch perfect:
The belief has long been that Gaudreau would like to play closer to home one day (based on one quote), but these comments cement his desire to play for the Flames. It’s not often you hear a player definitely say that they want to play for a team for the remainder of their careers, but in this case it was extremely refreshing to hear from Gaudreau.
Whether he stays for next season is really up to Brad Treliving and Flames management, but they absolutely won’t have to worry about Gaudreau wanting out. Whether he is traded or not is an argument for another day.
One of the feel good stories of the Flames season had to be Milan Lucic. His initial acquisition was met with a ton of backlash and after his season got off to a rough, rough start it didn’t get any better.
After Geoff Ward took over, however, Lucic found his niche on the team and really turned his season around. The second half of the season and the start of playoffs showed that he really started finding his groove and clearly he felt it too:
Whether or not he maintains the momentum into next season remains to be seen, but great to see a player go from contemplating retirement to being a key cog in the Flames group. He also lacks no enthusiasm for the team next year:
Lucic was also questioned about his penalty in Game six that eventually started the Stars comeback. He acknowledge that he wished he didn’t take it, but at the same time his lone penalty, that really shouldn’t have been called a penalty, was not the sole issue for the team’s collapse.
Will they stay or will they go?
Of course, the biggest question on most people’s mind is who of the Flames group would be returning next season. In addiiton to their various UFA’s, the Flames also have a number of key pieces that could be moved in order to look for a fresh vision next season. This was clearly on the forefront of a number of player’s minds when being asked questions (most likely by being prompted).
Captain Mark Giordano was hopeful that his defensive partner TJ Brodie would be back next season:
Having been drafted by the team in 2008 and being stalwart on the backend for the past nine seasons, it would be tough for Giordano to lose his longtime pairing partner.
A player that also has been the centre of some scrutiny, Sean Monahan, made it clear as to where he wants to be next season:
Although it’s not out of the realm of possibilities by any means, it would be hard to see the Flames move their number one centre unless the deal was well worth it. Clearly leaving Calgary is not at the top of his list of desires this offseason.
Finally, UFA goaltender Cam Talbot wasn’t as definitive as the currently signed players, but also offered some positive news heading into free agency:
Very complimentary of the city and his teammates, Talbot would be a prime candidate for the Flames to bring back. Having already gotten to know him and his game, management could be looking to re-up the tandem of Talbot and David Rittich – who were far from the problem this season.
Of course, after Talbot’s playoff performance, there could be another team willing to give him more money than the Flames are comfortable with.
Finally, the Flames’ Interim Head Coach took his final availability to talk about the team’s potential and not his job situation:
There is no doubting that Geoff Ward was given a difficult situation this season and responded as best he could while doing so as classily as possible.
His playoff decisions in Game Six completely soured his appearance to most fans, but I don’t think the door is completely shut on his return. Time will tell, but I don’t think the players would be opposed to his return and I don’t think management would either.
Since the media day was virtual, there were a number of Flames players we did not get to hear from yesterday.
Will Erik Gustafsson, Derek Forbort, Travis Hamonic, or TJ Brodie be back next season? What were Matthew Tkachuk and David Rittich’s take on the postseason run and Game Six? Lots of questions that will remain unanswered until the “offseason” picks up again in *checks calendar* October.
It’s bound to be another wild “summer” for the Flames as they ponder yet another questionable exit.
What were your thoughts from media day? Let us know in the comments below
Photo by: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images