Brian Burke had an eventful day. Firing Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod. Naming himself interim general manger. Giving his kids a chance to joke about his mad scientist hair on Twitter.
Here are five things we learned from Burkie today about his job and the direction of the Flames.
1. His Opening Press Conference Was a Sham
Burke said his assignment from ownership, when he was hired, was to take 60 days and evaluate how the current management group had done.
“When I took the job, I told [Ken King] that you can’t evaluate an organization from the outside,” said Burke, in speaking about his decision to fire Feaster. His evaluation included an assessment of Feaster’s transaction history, which Burke felt should have yielded a better bounty.
This is completely not what Burke was selling when he was hired, which was that he and Feaster would be a management team together:
"This is a relatively new structure in professional hockey. There are two teams in the NHL that have this type of management structure. There are a number of teams in the National Football League that do, a number of teams in Major League Baseball that do, and a number of teams in the NBA that do. And it works effectively. And it's going to work here. This is new for both of us, but I'm determined to make it work and I think it will work.” – Brian Burke, Sept. 7, 2013, on working with “demoted” GM Jay Feaster
We'll assume he just forgot the rest: “I’m determined to make it work, and by that I mean the handle on the exit door near Jay’s office …”
2. Successful Teams Are Big
As Burke said, “The teams that are successful in our league … one thing they have in common is they’re big.”
So is that true? Mirtle had the weight of NHL teams as of Jan. 2013:
1. San Jose (210.7)
2. Los Angeles (209.7)
3. Washington (208)
4. Winnipeg (207.3)
5. Ottawa (206.8)
6. Tampa Bay (206.2)
7. New York Rangers (206.1)
8. Colorado Avalanche (205.9)
9. St. Louis Blues (205.8)
10. Nashville Predators (205.4)
Well, we’re got some playoff teams, at least one conference finalist and one defending Stanley Cup champion in that mix from the 2013 season. Along with four non-playoff teams in the top 10.
What about the Cup finalists?
20. Chicago Blackhawks (203.0)
26. Boston Bruins (200.0)
By no means does this disprove Burke’s assertion, mind you. It’s merely a snapshot. In 2012, the No. 3 and the No. 5 weightiest teams played for the Cup.
3. Burke Doesn’t Like Flag Football
In case you were wondering if the Calgary Flames would one day resemble the Anaheim Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs in their truculence, pugnacity and all those other charming Burke buzzwords for “toughness," they will.
Said Burke on Thursday: “We need to play black and blue hockey. I want a little more hostility than I’m seeing out there right now.”
Said Burke in 2008 about the Leafs: "We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. That's how our teams play," Our teams play a North American game. We're throwbacks. It's black-and-blue hockey. It's going to be more physical hockey here than people are used to."
They could have just cued up the YouTube video and hit play.
4. Burke’s Guy Might Also Be Buffalo’s Guy
Burke said that the timing of this was due to the internal schedule that was set between him and ownership. But Burke also indicated that there being another team searching for a GM – the Buffalo Sabres – influenced the timing.
So does that mean Jim Benning of the Boston Bruins? Does that mean Claude Loiselle, a Burke guy from his Leafs days?
One thought on the Flames getting permission to speak with Joe Nieuwendyk: Burke said he wanted to dispel any notion that he was going to keep the GM job. Was this public – leaked to Darren Dreger – request for permission just a way to end that talk, or is Nieuwendyk potentially his guy?
5. Finally, Combs Are For Idiots
That is a magnificent coif, sir.
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Here is the Puck Daddy Viewing Guide: Spotlighting five things to watch for during tonight's slate of games. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
Create-a-Caption : "Matt Beleskey #39 of the Anaheim Ducks slides into the goal during the game against the Minnesota Wild on December 11, 2013."
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Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. ET
Preview: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m. ET
Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. ET
Preview: New York Islanders at Phoenix Coyotes, 9 p.m. ET
Preview: Boston Bruins at Edmonton Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET
Preview: Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks, 9:30 p.m. ET
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Five things to know about tonight's NHL games ...
1. Rick Nash faces Columbus. Hey, did you know Nash used to play for Columbus? Thursday night marks the first the greatest Blue Jacket ever will face his former club.
2. Avs out of the top eight? A loss to the Winnipeg Jets tonight, coupled with a Phoenix Coyotes win versus the Islanders, would leave the Avalanche 9th in the Western Conference at the end of the evening. Amazing how quickly things can change in the NHL. Keep an eye on Patrick Roy tonight if this happens. He was hot after the Avs dropped their last game to the Coyotes. He could be fuming if tonight goes poorly.
3. The Brian Burke era begins. Sure, he's only the "interim" GM, but Brian Burke's running the ship right now in Calgary. His first move was sending Sven Baertschi down to the AHL. Will that little shot across the bow light a fire under the rest of the Flames versus Carolina?
4. Someone is losing three straight. The Red Wings and Lightning have both lost two in a row coming into Thursday night's contest.
5. Sharks face fifth straight loss. Tough to imagine the team that stormed out of the game dropping five in a row, but that's the number the losing skid will hit if the Sharks can't come out ahead of the Minnesota Wild. Working in their favour: they're 11-1-1 against the Wild at home, and that's where this one is.
Bold Prediction : I picked the Islanders to lose their eleventh straight and then they came back and beat the Sharks. My confidence is shot. So I'm going to make a safer bet this time around and predict a shootout in the Senators game. They've ended three straight with one of those.
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Harrison Mooney is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter!
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As the calendar flips to 2014, we’ll know definitively which players will have made the cut for their respective countries in the Sochi Olympics. But in the closing weeks of this year, we’re getting a sense of which players still have that shot and which ones may have squandered it.
Here are 10 players that have seen their shot at Olympic glory tainted by their play this season. Some were injured. Some under-performed. Some simply saw others play better.
There’s still time to reverse some of these downward trends … but not much.
Justin Abdelkader, F, Detroit Red Wings
He was invited to the U.S. camp after a season that saw him earn top line minutes with the Red Wings. He looked like he could be a valuable role player for the U.S. His role has changed, his goals are down, and he’s not expected to be in the forward mix for the U.S.
Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa Senators
The Senators keeper was invited to Olympic orientation camp for the U.S. and was expected to compete for at least the No. 3 spot on the roster. But his sub-par numbers, sinking with those of the struggling Sens, had him out of the running as of late November.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Columbus Blue Jackets
Depending who you talk to, the reigning Vezina winner either had a legit shot as the Russian starter in Sochi or was always going to play second fiddle to Semyon Varlamov. Regardless, his middling start for the Jackets combined with Varlamov’s masterful run for Colorado placed him firmly in the passenger’s seat.
Ryan Callahan, F, New York Rangers
Callahan was on the bubble for the U.S. in Sochi, seen as a player that might have been perfect for the smaller ice in Vancouver but perhaps not so much in the 2014 Games. A series of injuries this season have slowed him, including the latest: an MCL sprain that has him out up to six weeks. The danger here is that T.J. Oshie and Kyle Okposo have made aggressive bids to be the right wings behind Patrick Kane and Bobby Ryan on the U.S. team. Callahan might still make the roster, but can’t be considered a lock.
Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks
Crawford’s numbers (2.47 GAA, .907 save percentage) haven’t been great, and now he’s out three weeks, handing the spotlight to Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes in an attempt to earn the final goaltending spot behind Carey Price and Roberto Luongo. He seemingly had the gig last summer, but it slipped through his glove like so many Bruins pucks.
Claude Giroux, C, Philadelphia Flyers
His 15-games-without-a-goal start knocked his status down a few notches, and with the competition for forward spots on Team Canada, that’s no good. His season has stabilized a bit since then, to a nearly point-per-game pace, but the impression left by that early season stumble might be irreversible.
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
‘Twas a time when Holtby was being viewed as a potential third goalie on the roster, the young keeper along for the ride, being prepped for the next Olympics (should the NHL participate). But he’s been wildly inconsistent for the Capitals, and a downright liability in some games.
Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings
J-Ho’s down year for the Wings cost him a chance to overtake any of the other struggling American netminders this season. He still has a chance at being one of the big three, but goalies like Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop and even Tim Thomas have stated better cases.
Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Perhaps the best skater among Canadian defensemen, not getting a sniff on an international ice surface? A knee injury has hindered him this season, but his underwhelming offensive start basically popped his Sochi bubble. Alas, Erik Karlsson will have to carry the Olympic torch for smooth skating defensemen with mad flow.
Marc Staal, D, New York Rangers
Staal was a Canadian orientation camp invite thanks to his prior international experience and his rock-solid defense when healthy – ah, yes, “when healthy.” Staal suffered another concussion last week, albeit a “mild” one. He’s also struggled this season for the Rangers , and is out of the picture for the Canadian blue line.
Tomorrow: 10 players whose stock has risen dramatically for Sochi spots.
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