‪The Nation Notebook: NHL/Flames meet to talk officiating, Is there a market for Lazar? and what it’s like to be a GM on deadline day. ‬

Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

(Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern – USA TODAY Sports)

In today’s Nation Notebook, we look at the latest news around the league.

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NHL and the Flames meet to discuss the way their games are officiated

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman, the league and the Calgary Flames met to discuss the way their games are called.

We get phone calls, Part I: Last week, Doug was talking about a penalty Calgary took in its win over Philadelphia and I joked about the “Wideman Conspiracy.” One referee did not find that funny. The next day, he phoned to complain and dropped a bit of a bombshell: The NHL and the Flames met to discuss the way Calgary games are officiated. They went through a ton of video, and even talked about calls not made — including some specifically against Wideman.

From what I was told, it was very tense at times. The Flames lead the league in penalties taken and penalty minutes per game. Last year, they were 26th and 19th, respectively, in those categories.

You can’t forget what happened last year when Calgary Flame Dennis Wideman cross-checked linesman Don Henderson from behind and received a 20-game suspension.

Now, it appears the Flames feel like the incident has caused the team some issues. As Friedman wrote, the Flames have committed the most penalties this season and received the most penalty minutes per game.

Feel free to take either side on this. Is there really a conspiracy against the Calgary Flames? If the team has gone out of their way to chat with the league about the way their games are called, they must think there is some bias against them.

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In the same breath, it’s not like the team made a huge move in the penalties taken rank. Who knows whether the NHL’s referees have colluded against the team or not.

What is Lazar worth?

His name has been circulating in the NHL’s rumour mill for a while now. A former first-rounder, Lazar hasn’t quite panned out as the Senators hoped. 

In 175 NHL games, Lazar has only scored 36 points. Last year he scored a career high 20 points in 76 games, but this year he has only one point, an assist in 32 NHL games.

Despite his lack of production, the team isn’t ready to just give up on him as it’s rumoured that the Senators are looking for a first or second-round draft pick in return. 

As TSN’s Travis Yost wrote, the team should be looking to move on from Lazar in fear of “holding onto an asset for far too long.”

I don’t envy Ottawa’s position here. You don’t want to be the team that trades away Filip Forsberg for a song. But you also need to balance the very real risk of holding onto an asset for far too long, especially when the empirical evidence suggests that said asset is rapidly depreciating in value.

If there’s a chance to acquire a meaningful draft pick or even a decent rental option at the trade deadline, I think you have to say yes. There’s a chance Lazar becomes Niederreiter. But there’s a much greater chance he’s not long for the NHL.

The Senators are a team poised to make a push for an Atlantic Division title and instead of having their big story being how they are looking to buy, it’s how they are looking to sell on Lazar. 

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What it’s like to be a GM on deadline day

We’ve all been there. It’s deadline day as you play the latest EA Sports NHL installment and you’re looking to make a splash. 

Your team is in need of some scoring help, so you head to the league scoring leaders and try to put together a package for a high-scoring player to help supplement your team. 

While it’s easy to make deals in a video game, the NHL’s trading is actually far different. 

Yesterday, Yahoo!’s Jim Cerny wrote about life as a GM on deadline day. The article quotes Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving and current Carolina Hurricanes President and former Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell. 

The article provides great insight into the life as a GM. As Treliving puts it, “We’re not in the fantasy hockey business. We’re dealing with real people, real families, and you have to recognize that. I am very cognizant that there’s a human element to this. People’s lives are being turned upside down with the decisions you make.”


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  • Still an Oiler Fan

    So let me getthis straight, a lames defenseman cross checks a referee and now they are crying over the way their games are called. Burkie maybe if your players didn’t abuse officials this wouldn’t be an issue. Lamers=crybabies

  • Jordan88

    The whole Wideman issue pisses me off. He should be paying that refs lost wages for the time he missed due to his blatant assault.

    On the other side of the coin. If refs are punishing the team for it.. SHAME on them. Their job above all else is maintaining the integrity of the game and remaining partial to events that happen on or off the ice.

    I am not a flames fan by any stretch however maintaining the integrity of the game goes above all else and should be held at the highest standard bar none.

  • McRib

    Curtis Lazar should never have been a first rounder his draft year, but good old NHL scouts fell in love with his “character” and “smile”. Lazar only had 0.85 PPG back in 2013 playing first line minutes for one of the deepest teams in the CHL. I mean to put it into perspective Oliver Bjorkstrand had 0.97 PPG that year and he was barely a third rounder. Buyer beware on Lazar, looking at past comparables Sven Baertschi only netted the Flames a second rounder and he had far more offensive upside than Lazar.

  • TheRealRusty

    NHL front office and NHL referees are biased and a joke. Why do people pay money to watch games that are “managed” and suspensions that are handed out after it is randomly decided on a dart board?

    • ComeOn

      Seriously, you go from being one of the league’s cleanest teams to the most penalized and in the middle of the change is the Wideman incident. At least do Oiler’s fans a favor by exhibiting just a touch of thinking on the subject!

      Do you think the organization wanted to take this tact? Think they tried other approaches? This wasn’t the first move, it will inevitably piss off the league, but they didn’t go there without evidence to show the team’s point of view.

        • Xcameron

          I would suggest that YOU get YOUR facts straight. According to sportingcharts.com, last year the Flames were the 10th least penalized team in the league (total PIM). This year they are ranked 27th so far. I would say that is a VERY significant change in ranking for a team with pretty similar personnel (minus Brandon Bollig).

          So I think there is evidence here to support the claim.

          • Oil_Dude

            Adding a dirty slew footer like Tkachuk intensifies every game , plus Gio looks slower than ever so he ends up having to take penalties against faster younger players.

            New coach and new systems probably led to a lot of differences in play which probably led to some confusion….either way whining and complaining to the league is something we should have expected out of Burke.

          • Oil_Dude

            How about fixing the problem internally instead?
            It is outright whining. Burke has a history of it if you recall the Canucks run to the cup final and his little speech to the media.

            Maybe the so called tough guys in Calgary need to add some cement to their coffee so they can harden the hell up.

      • McDavid's Comet

        To be fair, Wideman wasn’t too apologetic to the ref involved after the incident. In fact he tried to side-step it and blame it on the ref. What is Calgary really trying to accomplish here? By bringing more attention to it isn’t going to make it go away. This issue with the refs isn’t a Calgary thing, its a Wideman thing.

        Solution: Get rid of Wideman, get rid of the problem.

        • The Doctor

          I’m a diehard Flames fan and I agree with you re: Wideman’s reaction at the time. I didn’t like it. He should have apologized fully, profusely and without reservation.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Not sure why that double-posted but I’ll add that McDavid has been getting gooned all year just like Geudreau with very few calls made. Rules don’t apply when you’re trying to stop a player as fast as the two of them I guess. It got a little better after the public ridicule that followed pictures of “veteran official” Chris Lee standing right over McDavid as the other team hauled him down and sat on him… But not by much.

    All teams have to go through this is what I’m saying. Not just Calgary.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    NHL officiating is a joke. It’s one of the only leagues where refs can blatently screw up and face no criticism or review process afterwards. Do the refs hold grudges? You bet they do – you have to be blind not to see it.

    What can teams do? Nothing. The league isn’t going to change things so beaking about it will only do harm as more grudges are created and nursed over the years.

    To fix the problem and restore faith on the refs the league would need to implement a semi-public review for each game which issued a statement on any controversial calls or non-calls that occurred. If found at fault the refs would need some sort of accountability process. No different from a standard performance review process that occurs at most typical workplaces.

    As for Lazar…. Bbbbbblllllltttthhhhhhh….. no thank you. Ottawa can enjoy what they drafted there.

  • Oil_Dude

    Chia was pretty smart and built a team to protect their star player.
    Calgary built a team of pansies and cheap shot artists (Bennet , Tkachuk ,Ferland , Engeland , ect) and then wonder why their star players get slashed all the time and the refs call penalties.

    Nobody wonders why no Flame went out and stood up for little Johnny Hoggy?

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Uh, not a fan of either team, but if we’re going out hunting for “cheap shot artists” I think a certain Mr. Lucic is probably pretty high on the list.

      • Oil_Dude

        Sure you can call him that , same with Kassian….difference is though? We don’t whine to the league when these players get penalties.

        I have no issues with players that play with that edge , my issue is that when teams have players like these and then complain to the officials about those types getting penalties.

        If you don’t want those penalties then don’t have those players.

  • Spiel

    We’ve seen the accusation of ref bias before.
    Canucks fans will say that Burrows gets no benefit of the doubt since he publically complained about Stephane Auger. Where there is smoke there is fire with Wideman.

  • Petrolero

    NHL refs are the worst in North American pro leagues, they drop the ball against all teams. The lames are just looking for excuses. Howany times have they stiffed McDavid? I don’t hear Chiarelli btiching about it.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        you gotta laugh sometimes at what teams will ask for the players they could trade. there is no proof at all that Lazar is anything more than a 3rd/4th line player at most in the NHL and therefore might be worth a 2nd rounder from a contending team that could take a gamble on him, or a high to mid 3rd rounder in my opinion. at least Yak scored a bit more than Lazar has.

    • pkam

      Not a chance Lazar is worth a 3rd rounder.

      Yakupov is a 1st overall. Some may think he shouldn’t be 1st overall, but almost everyone would think he should still be top 3.

      Lazar is 15th overall but many think he should be a 2nd rounder, some may even think he should be a 3rd rounder.

      Yakupov was at 0.44 ppg career when he was traded. At this moment Lazar is sitting at 0.21 ppg.

      And what makes it even worse is Lazar has only 1 pt in 32 games this season. Yakupov had 23 pts in 60 games in his last season before the trade.

      The difference between the two is in Yakupov, there is a 2nd line forward if it works, in Lazar case there is a bottom 6, more likely a 4th line centre if it works.

  • In terms of reffing, the move to discuss this issue is valid as many of the calls are unsubstantiated and biased while judgmental calls are prominent against players and teams. For instance, Matthew Tkachuk is fast becoming targets for violent treatment and/or mistreatment without the opposition being penalized for their actions; and so has Johnny Gaudreau. Alternatively, when it comes to certain players….a penalty shot is dished out but this is not the case when it comes to the Calgary Flames i.e. no such exceptions are made.

    Becoming a General Manager. As Brad Treliving exemplifies, indeed “lives of players are turned upside down” and decision making can be overwhelming; and becoming a person in authority can be an arduous task.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Wideman’s disgrace aside, there are three good reason why Calgary does how it does with PIMs this year:

    1. Matt Tkachuck is Andrew Shaw without the class. He’s a rook slew foot artist who lacks respect for the game and his opponents and who doesn’t do Calgary any favours with the refs.

    2. Sam Bennett is a wannabe 1C who’s discovered that he’s actually a 3C and is attempting to play a physical game to more earn minutes but too often takes the stupid penalty option instead. That’s been his season so far. He needs Draisaitl lessons but that’s not happening.

    3. Dougie Hamilton is a wannabe top 4 D with wheels of lead and a head on a rusted swivel. Alas, he too often gets beat to the point that he’s holding, hooking or slashing. He’s Eric Gryba with too much ice time and far less hitting power.

    Take these three humps out of the game for a week or two and I’d wager that the Flames PIM/Game goes down by two minutes, or back to the league average. Leave ’em in and you can be guaranteed to lead the league in douchebaggery and whining, a Flames tradition since the 80’s.

  • Ragnarok Ouroboros

    I can sympathise with the Flames. The Refs do blacklist players; just think back to Theo Fleury and how he was blacklisted by the refs in his final years.

    look at Alex Burrows; he called out a ref who gave him a penalty that cost the team the game because the ref felt Burrows embarrassed him in a different game.
    Ever since, Burrows rarely gets a call from the ref even when he is the victim of a flagrant penalty.

    We know refs have a favourable bias towards some teams (Penguins, Boston, big market teams) and it wouldn’t surprise me if the refs would black list a team they don’t favour. Especially a Canadian team.

  • Jabs

    The Flames have had a culture of a lack of discipline going back decades. Nothing new here.

    Discipline and selfish plays has always been their undoing and it has been passed on from one leadership group to the next as acceptable behaviour.

  • TrumpeterSwan

    The Wideman ref issue was just Bizarre. It looked a little bit like a case of roid rage. Although there really is no evidence to suggest that the Flames are getting biased officiating as a result.

  • For years, the refs have shielded the Flames from calls, but the Wideman incident changed all that.

    They play a chippy style, always have. Now, it’s biting them in the ass because it’s being called the same for them like any other team.

    Leading the team in PIM is Tkatchuk with nearly 100 penalty minutes.

    Tkatchuk also leads the league in penalty minutes per 60 among players who’ve played over 50 games.

    No one here is going to dispute that he plays dirty, so it’s not like the refs are going hard on the Flames here.

    Rather, they’re calling it like it is. For a clutch and grab team, that’s the worst thing that can happen to them.