Feaster blasts Flames prospects for lacklustre performance, overlooking obvious positives
It would have been easy for GM to praise players such as Granlund, Ferland, Ramage, Ortio, Monahan, Reinhart and Poirier, but he went the other way
Flames GM Jay Feaster is hitching his wagon to a youth movement, but that doesn’t mean losing has become acceptable, he stressed.
Photograph by: Calgary Herald/Files, Calgary Herald
PENTICTON, B.C. — It would have been awfully easy to start with the bright spots.
After all, there were plenty of them.
Two full-value victories at the Young Stars Classic. Emergence of fresh draft picks. Surprising turns by unheralded entities. Lots of goodness to choose from. Goalies, defencemen, forwards. Take your pick.
Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster, given an opening to rave about his lads, went the other direction after the team’s 3-2 loss Sunday to the San Jose Sharks at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Through the media — and quite possibly in person — he gave the boys a blast.
“Obviously, a difficult way to end,” said Feaster. “I asked (coach Troy Ward), ‘Is it an organizational disease? What is it?’ We have to find a way to eliminate it. This has been the M.O. since I’ve been in Calgary — win a couple of games and then we decide we can just throw the sweaters out (on the ice).
“We played 20 minutes. We had a chance to leave here with three wins. That would have been good. For 40 minutes we just played shinny. And I don’t understand it. It’s not unique to this group. Unfortunately, it’s something that happens with the big club, too.”
A humourless chuckle.
“If we had decided to play for 60 minutes, we would have had a glowing report.”
True, the Flames were badly outplayed for two periods Sunday. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a one-goal setback at a rookie tourney in September.
Relatively meaningless, no?
“It is important,” countered Feaster. “I’m trying to figure it out. Something in the water? Something in the sweater? What is it? Again, it just isn’t this group. I’ve watched it. This will be my fourth season in Calgary . . . I’ve watched it for three years at the NHL level. We win a couple of games . . . then we decide it’s going to be simple, that everybody ought to quake because they’re going to play the Calgary Flames.
“I want that mentality knocked out right away.”
Not that Feaster was totally blind to the positive developments.
Plenty of rookies flourished — Markus Granlund, Michael Ferland, John Ramage, Joni Ortio, Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, Max Reinhart.
To that, Feaster added the names of Josh Jooris and Keegan Kanzig, a six-foot-six, 240-pounder who fought twice during the tournament.
(It’s worth noting that some of the best prospects had not been available because of college commitments — Jon Gillies, Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold, Ken Agostino, Mark Jankowski. And first-rounder Morgan Klimchuk is sidelined by an abdominal injury.)
If you think the talent base has been enhanced, you’re not alone.
Ward sees it, too.
“A couple of years ago, we wouldn’t have had a chance in the third,” said Ward, whose bunch rallied gamely in the final period. “I don’t mean to be disrespectful to those days, but we wouldn’t. In general, the process of how we’re moving forward and how these guys will step into an NHL camp . . . is really a positive situation right now.”
Monday, 7 p.m. at the WinSport Ice Complex, the Flames play their fourth game in five nights, taking on the University of Calgary Dinos.
Which, apparently, would be an ideal time for Corban Knight to pick it up.
Asked about the play of Knight, Ward didn’t sugar-coat things.
Yes, the centre had scored Sunday — as did Granlund — but the coach demands more.
“To be honest, he’s got to play with some passion, some vigour,” said Ward. “This isn’t college — you’re not going to have the puck all the time. You’re going to have to go get it back. When Corban has the puck, I’m fine with that. But when he doesn’t have it, he’s going to have to play like Ferland . . . and get his nose dirty.”
Knight is getting his first taste of pro after four seasons at the University of North Dakota.
“You can’t look too far ahead, at the depth chart and stuff like that,” said the 22-year-old. “Basically, we have the full month of September to try to compete for a spot. You have to take it one step at a time. This step’s done. So we have to move on to the next one.”
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