Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Out of Money

13

Eric Duhatschek explains why the Flames played their last game with only 16 skaters:

With three regulars on defence injured and unable to go on the long-term disabled list (Robyn Regehr, Adrian Aucoin and Cory Sarich), the Flames called up two young defencemen from their minor-league affiliate in Quad Cities, Matt Pelech and John Negrin.

Problem is, because they were right against the $56.7-million (U.S.) salary cap, they needed to ship Dustin Boyd and Warren Peters to the minors to make the numbers work.

Accordingly, the Flames went with only 10 forwards playing their second game in two nights — with predictable results…

“That’s part of the cap rules and the system we’re playing in today,” Keenan said. “As a coach, you could never agree with it, but that’s what it is and we’re all aware of it and we’re preparing to deal with [it].”

What exactly is the “it”? The cap rules or Daryl Sutter’s failure to manage them correctly? I’d like to see somebody in the media brace Sutter on this issue. How could this happen? Was he asleep at the switch? Or did he take a reasonable gamble at the trade deadline, a gamble he lost? I thought Sutter was wrong to trade for Jokinen even before this fiasco unfolded. I think it was more wrong today because I think making sure the team has enough money to ice a full team is a fundamental for any GM.

Given that the Flames had a 12 point lead at the deadline, it has to be on Sutter’s head if the Flames lose the division. If they don’t, it merely looks bush league.

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Comments

13 Responses to “Out of Money”
  1. Kent W says:

    The press in this town is cowed by Sutter. Rarely do they challenge his assertions.

    I’ve been critical of Sutter’s cap management since the season started. His most egregious error, as highlighted in the link, was retaining Rhett Warrener’s contract this summer when it was clear the best option for the organization would be to buy out the slowing and perpetually injured defender. Other missteps include needlessly signing Andre Roy and keeping Wayne Primeau around. He spent to the hilt before the year began and a lot of it wasn’t wise money.

    The funny thing is, the Flames were actually fortunate this season from a cap perspective: they hid Marcus Nilson in Europe, Anders Eriksson in the minors and Primeau has spent most of the year on LTIR.

  2. Tom says:

    The press in this town is cowed by Sutter. Rarely do they challenge his assertions.

    I think this is a problem throughout the hockey media. Reporters trade soft coverage for access. Dowbiggin said the Flames were merely unlucky – the same thing could have happened to any one of several teams right up against the cap.

    Bunk, I say. As far as I’m aware, it hasn’t happened to any other team.

    I think it was excusable the first year of the cap becvause it was set so artificially, and so low. The Canucks were sending players to the minors on off days to save space that year. But when the cap is $56 MM?

    Its incompetent in my view. I wonder whether he knew this was a possibility when he made his dealine acquisitions. If so, let him defend the gamble. If not, why not?

  3. mc79hockey says:

    Not mentioned by Duhatschek is that Sutter acted like a tremendous dick when he was asked about the salary cap problems that the Flames had at the trade deadline. This looks good on him.

  4. rajeev says:

    I don’t want to get in the fool’s position of defending Darryl Sutter and his team building or cap management acumen, but how important is it that the Flames had to play a few games down two forwards and that it may contribute to them playing Chicago instead of Columbus in the playoffs? Tom says in one post that it doesn’t matter who the Canucks get, but in another that it’s on Sutter if the Flames lose the division. I think it would be more appropriate to judge their playoff performance, given that playing CHI or CBJ is basically a wash (and I’d cant wait to play either if I’m VAN or CGY), and I don’t think home ice matters all that much. I like Lombardi as a player, but I think CGY creates more match up problems for the opposition in the playoffs with Jokinen in the lineup, and depsite the late season cap problems. It seems that that should be how Sutter is judged, and not by whatever roster shenanigans they had to endure during the the season’s penultimate and essentially meaningless week.

  5. Tom says:

    I don’t think the Flames are stronger with Jokinen. Their record since acquiring him certainly doesn’t declare that. They gave up Lombardi and a big chunk of Camalleri’s effectiveness. Plus a chance they would have to play shorthanded for periods of time if they did not stay healthy.

    I agree that Chicago and Columbus are basically a wash, but Sutter didn’t know that when he made his trades. And while I don’t care whether the Canucks play Chicago or Columbus, I do care about the Division. The extra home game does matter, and I’d rather be seeded third if I do win the first round. Sutter surely feels the way I do on the matter, particularly when the extra home game(s) that come with the third seed go directly to his bottom line.

    I agree that in the end it will be Sutter’s playoff that matters. I think the best way to defend it starts with, “I thought the Division was wrapped up. If I did run into an injury problem, we should have been able to live with it without risking the Division. Everything went wrong – we sucked, Vancouver got really hot, and the wrong players got hurt – and that made me look like an incompetent idiot.”

  6. saskhab says:

    Good stuff. I can sympathize a little as a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan that injuries make cap issues incredibly difficult. In the CFL, the LTIR is a 9 game list (half the season), and the Riders have since the cap came in place two years ago, led the league in man-games lost due to injuries. Both years, they have been found to be over the salary cap as a result. Since the CFL uses a year end audit to determine each team’s cap hits, they have built-in mechanisms to punish teams that violate the cap (both years, the Riders have been over by a small enough amount that they simply pay a fine for the dollar amount they exceeded the cap, and don’t lose any other assets). The NHL, however, calculates their cap on a day-to-day basis, and hence the Flames’ predictament.

    With no LTIR for the final 9 games, I wonder if some kind of cap rollover should be allowed. Allow the Flames to call up players to fill out a 20 man lineup, but the amount that they go over counts for twice as much against next year’s cap. This seems like a rare occurence and one that wouldn’t be suspectible to abuse (don’t allow the player to play for 9 games as a result, no matter how severe and each playoff game counts for the same). Obviously, the Flames wouldn’t WANT to lose Robyn Regehr for any playoff games that he actually could be healthy for.

    I agree that this is the result of mismanagement by Sutter and company. But I also think that maybe a provision like this could be an option. Not having a full lineup available is not in the interest of a league that claims to be the highest level of competition in the sport.

  7. Dennis_Prouse says:

    Perhaps one of the reasons the Flames haven’t been called out on this is because the media were in such a hurry to declare Calgary the “winner” of deadline day due to the fact that they were the most active of the contending teams. It looks pretty hypocritical for a writer to rip Sutter for poor cap management a month after lavishing him with praise for acquiring Jokinen. When will teams learn that big deadline day deals rarely, if ever, work out?

  8. Tom says:

    Perhaps one of the reasons the Flames haven’t been called out on this is because the media were in such a hurry to declare Calgary the “winner” of deadline day due to the fact that they were the most active of the contending teams. It looks pretty hypocritical for a writer to rip Sutter for poor cap management a month after lavishing him with praise for acquiring Jokinen.

    I think this is one factor, but Sutter was asked specifically about cap issues when the deal was made and Sutter made the reporter feel like a fool for asking the question. He didn’t have the cap space to make the trade.

    When will teams learn that big deadline day deals rarely, if ever, work out?

    I don’t know that they ever will. Why they don’t work out is an interesting question. Jokinen is a really good player. He’s flawed, but who isn’t? He’s better than Lombardi. I think it is probably because he isn’t a better fit than Lombardi was. With Lombardi, Keenan could run out many different combinations.

    I think he is stuck with Iginla-Jokinen-Camalleri and I don’t think that line works. There aren’t enough pucks for three scorers on the same line. I think Langkow between the other two is better, but that leaves Jokinen with Bertuzzi. That might be okay at one end of the ice, but at the other? I shudder.

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