I don’t mean find a different corporate sponsor either.
If you're not familiar with the long-running CBC series, sole proprietors stand before a panel of successful business people and try to convince them that what they do is valuable and worthy of the panel investing money in them.
A fixture on the panel since the show’s inception has been Boston Pizza magnate Jim Treliving, who is Brad’s dad. Tough but fair, he didn’t become one of Canada’s wealthiest people by blindly making flippant investments. You need to pass his scrutiny.
Well, if we’ve learned one thing about Jim’s son this week, it’s that the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.
Like Father, Like Son
For the same reason the Flames feared an arbitrator would review Colborne's case, examine the salary of NHL players who had similar production, and award a salary in the vicinity of $3.5 million, Colborne may conclude that if the arbitrator might think that, surely one of the other 29 GMs will arrive at a similar conclusion.
After all, we're talking about a 26-year-old first round pick, who:
- Improved his production in each of his first three NHL seasons.
- Is coming off a year in which his scoring clip (19-25-44 in 73 gm) had him on a pace for 21 goals and 50 points over a full season. That's top 100 production.
- At 6-foot-5, has size that teams covet.
- Has soft hands around the net and is particularly lethal in shootouts.
- Can play all three forward positions.
Plus as a bonus, he's a model citizen in the dressing room and in the community -- personable, dedicated, and just an all-round stand-up guy. For example, the day after getting the news that he was not qualified, he was still out in the community representing the Flames.
.@Joe_Colborne & Curtis Glencross receiving a gift & blessing from the Tsuut'ina Chief at Treaty Day Celebrations. pic.twitter.com/Jkw394hlxh— Flames Foundation (@FlamesFdn) June 28, 2016
Just last week, the benefit concert for Colborne's Forces was centre stage.
Wow. Thanks for making last night so special. So proud of my #ColbornesForces team. @EmersonDrive @georgecanyon pic.twitter.com/u4MfRHwRj8— Joe Colborne (@Joe_Colborne) June 24, 2016
If that's not enough, you can top it all off with a recency bias that could crack open wallets just a little wider. In case you've forgotten just how extraordinary his close to last season was, let me refresh your memory.
Over the final five weeks of the regular season, he was fourth in the NHL in scoring. Fourth!
NHL Scoring - March 5 through end of 2015-16 season:
T1. Sidney Crosby PIT, 18 gm, 10-14-24
T1. Mark Scheifele WPG, 19 gm, 12-12-24
3. Joe Thornton SJ, 19 gm, 4-17-21
T4. Joe Colborne CGY, 18 gm, 9-11-20
T4. Anze Kopitar LA, 19 gm, 6-14-20
T4. Blake Wheeler WPG, 19 gm, 8-12-20
T4. John Tavares NYI, 19 gm, 10-10-20
T4. Derek Stepan NYR, 17 gm, 7-13-20
No matter how some of the goals went in and even if that production did come in so-called meaningless games, those are still stellar numbers over nearly a quarter of a season that put himself in some pretty elite company.
If Colborne does become a free agent July 1 and sign elsewhere, here are some of the potential costs of this calculated gamble by Treliving:
- Lose an asset for nothing.
- Maybe he scores 20 goals again. Heck, with his upwards trajectory offensively, maybe he gets to 25-30 a couple years from now.
- By walking away from two other arbitration-eligible players as well, that will earn Treliving a reputation of a GM, who will bail on RFAs rather than risk arbitration. Does that perceived cold-heartedness impact his future ability to woo free agents?
- Does his handling of Colborne, Jooris and Ortio build distrust in current players? Sure it's a business and players get that, but they are humans too.
On the flip side, what was the downside of paying Colborne and was it as bad as everyone feared?
Had Treliving just sucked it up and paid Colborne what he earned for market value for the upcoming season -- say $3.5 million -- there are a couple things to keep in mind.
For one, if the negotiation ended up in arbitration, which was the expectation, it would have been only a one-year deal. In a player-elected arbitration case, which would have been the case in this instance, the team gets to select the term with a choice of one or two years. Treliving could have simply said one-year and even if the number awarded was the worst-case scenario outcome, the silver lining is it would have been just for 2016-17.
- You keep the asset and have the ability to get something for him at a later point.
- If his numbers do return to 'normal' as the Flames expect, that should also result in a more manageable 'market value' salary for 2017-18.
- You retain all the intangibles and character mentioned above that are good for the organization.
Livin' and Learnin'
Every year that passes, Treliving is getting more and more comfortable in his own skin as an NHL GM. A couple months into year three now, he's building quite a reputation both around the league and with Flames fans, many of whom cleverly refer to themselves as 'Trelievers'.
If you go over his resume during his time at the helm, most of the blemishes date back to his first couple months on the job where he came to Calgary in late April 2014 after several years in Arizona. Soon after arriving in his new city, he was drafting, signing and trading for players, despite not knowing his team or the organization nearly as well as he would have liked.
The trade for Brandon Bollig at the 2014 draft, the drafting in the second round of truculent Hunter Smith, while a skilled guy like Christian Dvorak lay in waiting, the signing for big money of Deryk Engelland, Jonas Hiller and Mason Raymond -- the latter expected to be bought out on Thursday.
Sure, Treliving made those moves but with his relative unfamiliarity with the team, you know he had others from the front office in his ear the whole way.
I asked him last year to reflect on the challenges those first few months presented.
"When I first got here, I had a computer full of reports and had seen them all play at certain times and I had opinions on them but it's different," he told me. "Until you're living with them and you're spending time with them, you don't know them. Now I see them every day, you get to know them as people, you get to know their character, you get to know their values, and all those things are critical. The difference is night and day."
There are going to be bumps in the road. Welcome to life as an NHL GM. The Lance Bouma situation last summer and how best to proceed was the classic definition of a dilemma and the Colborne situation this year -- in which Calgary is skeptical that his offensive numbers from last season are repeatable -- put Treliving in a similar predicament.
But he demonstrated Monday in taking a risk and not qualifying Colborne that he's a guy willing to learn from the past and is not be afraid to make a bold decision if it is in the best interests of his hockey club.
There will always be hindsight after any damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't decision. The Colborne outcome will open himself up to criticism if ends up signing elsewhere and turns in another good season.
But if you're fan, what you like is Treliving is a guy that makes moves with conviction, he removes emotion from the equation, and he's 100 percent focused on building a Stanley Cup contender.
With last weekend's superb 24 hours at the draft as another prime example, he is quickly establishing himself as one of the brightest young managerial minds in the NHL and while that may not be good news for some players along the way, it is great news for supporters of the team.
Welcome to the Scotiabank Dragons' Den.
By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.
- Gold Star: Eight Takeaways From an Excellent Draft Weekend for the Flames - What a weekend it was for Brad Treliving and the Flames. In looking back, I examine the emphasis on skill, the legend of pick 166 and other weekend storylines. (June 26, 2015)
- Practical over Sexy as Flames Bring in Brian Elliott to Shore up Their Goaltending - There were more alluring options in first round pick Marc-Andre Fleury and big start Ben Bishop, but as it turns out, Elliott was the good fit. (June 25, 2015)
- Eight From 80 Feet: Eight Random Flames Thoughts as the Draft Approaches - In this look at the current goings-on with the Flames, I examine Jared Bednar as an asst coach candidate, Sam Bennett, implications of the Andersen trade and more. (June 21, 2016)
- Eight Nuances of the Flames 2016-17 Schedule - Easy start, brutal stretch after that, ripped off for Saturday games, strange Flames-Oilers schedule, longest set of home-and-home ever, no Stamps-Flames conflicts until Grey Cup. All this and more quirks. (June 21, 2016)
- Like Looking Into a Mirror: New Head Coach Cut from Same Cloth as GM - After wondering for a couple years what "Brad Treliving's guy" would like like, the Glen Gulutzan hire confirms that what he was looking for was someone like himself. (June 16, 2016)