During the first intermission of the game tonight against the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, Eric Francis took some time to lay into the recent Nikita Zadorov controversy.
To be clear here as well, Francis has been quite blunt when it comes to player criticism but more often than not that voice comes directly from ownership. Francis, despite what you may think of him, knows the pulse of Murray Edwards and Flames management. He’s careful with his words but is direct when he needs to be.
That’s why his notes about Zadorov’s trade request and his impact on the team must have ulterior motives.
Unprofessional conduct from Zadorov
Francis opened up his Sportsnet hit by talking about Zadorov and his agent’s approach to broaching the conversation of a trade request. He directly noted how unprofessional it was for him and his agent to “conspire” to release the trade request to the public.
It should come as no surprise that the request completely blindsided fans, teammates, and management. Reports noted that the team found out about the request on social media—the same time everyone else did. That is probably where this frustration stems from when it comes to ownership. When a player tries to gain leverage publicly before discussing it internally, there will be oodles of politics.
Francis continues his comments by revealing that the team has had multiple meetings on Zadorov’s trade request alone. Not just one meeting, but a few for his teammates to address how the trade request has impacted the team. To be a fly on the wall in that dressing room during those meetings and even now would be a real treat. The move still doesn’t sit well with anyone.
His comments were wrapped up by noting that right now Zadorov isn’t facing the full force of criticism yet based on how he’s playing at the moment. Zadorov has been one of the team’s best defencemen this season and is giving them a chance to win each night. I think players can deal with a certain amount of off-ice issues if the player is pulling their weight. That being said, once that play drops off a bit you can bet who the team will be directing their anger towards.
How Calgary moves forward
Looking ahead, I think based on all factors involved the team needs to prioritize a Zadorov trade. His value is at an all-time high based on his play, but if you let the distraction start to creep in then his value could drop.
The team already has too many headaches, and leaving this Zadorov situation to linger could hurt them in the long run. Despite his previous status with fans and the organization, it’s soured to the point of no return and it’s time the team managed that.