Why the Flames made a Monday management change

Brad Treliving

Not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs when expectations are high regularly comes with consequences. On Monday, the Calgary Flames mutually parted ways with general manager Brad Treliving after nine seasons.

The Flames exceeded expectations during the 2021-22 National Hockey League regular season. When they won the Pacific Division regular season with 111 points, there was high anticipation that their regular season success would transfer over to the playoffs. However in the first round the Flames were tested by the Dallas Stars in a tightly contested seven game series that Calgary prevailed. That was followed by a five-game series that saw Calgary get steamrolled by the Edmonton Oilers.

In the 2022-23 offseason, the Flames found out that their two star players from the previous season did not want to remain in Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau of Salem, New Jersey signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for less money than the Flames were offering, and Matthew Tkachuk was traded in a blockbuster move to Florida. Gaudreau and Tkachuk had combined for 219 points and were an amazing +121 with the Flames in 2021-22, before they moved to different franchises.

To replace Gaudreau and Tkachuk, Treliving acquired Jonathan Huberdeau from the Panthers and Nazem Kadri from the Avalanche, and signed both of them to long term deals. Both Huberdeau and Kadri showed a significant drop off in terms of overall production from the year before. Kadri had 31 fewer points with the Flames in 2022-23 compared to the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22. He was also extremely unproductive down the stretch with only three goals since February 20, and saw his plus/minus drop from +13 to -19. Huberdeau meanwhile had a 60 point drop with the Flames this season from last year in Florida where he led the NHL with 85 assists.

One could make the argument that Treliving tried his best to improve the Flames under difficult circumstances. At the time, the moves looked good. But when Huberdeau and Kadri did not repeat in terms of production, changes were required, and as a result Treliving and the Flames parted ways.

Kadri and Huberdeau were not the only players to see regression. It should be noted that Gaudreau himself saw a massive drop off in production in Columbus in 2022-23. Last year he had 115 points compared to 74 points this year. However, the most eye-popping stat is that he led the NHL with a +64 in 2021-22, and had the sixth worst plus-minus in the entire NHL in 2022-23 at -33. Not re-signing Guadreau made perfect cents and sense from a Treliving perspective. Just sometimes history, and immediate history cannot repeat itself, when you anticipate it. Players work best in certain systems under certain coaching perspectives, and when there is a change in environment you cannot guarantee production will be repeated. That was the case here, and as a result, Treliving is not the Flames general manager anymore.


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