Part genius. Part idiot.
Or at least, that's the ruling today in the court of public opinion.
Meet Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who right after getting it so right on Monday with the signing of Jaromir Jagr, apparently got it so wrong on Tuesday signing Tanner Glass.
Check the calendar. The GM either knows exactly what he's doing, or he's absolutely clueless, depending on which day of the week it is.
The last 24 hours really have been a spectacle to watch.
Shortly after the jubilant dancing in the streets over the news Treliving had shrewdly signed a future first ballot hall-of-famer to play alongside Sam Bennett, those same streets were filled with fan outrage. All the goodwill built up by bringing in the mulleted legend seemed instantly gone with the press release that the mastermind-turned-dummy had also signed Glass.
Yep. Same guy, who hours ago, knew exactly what his team needed to take that next step, suddenly doesn't have a clue. Sorry Brad, but this is a hockey market and benefit of the doubt is a commodity not available here. This is an oil and gas town. Oh, and we sell a lot of cowboy hats.
Tanner Glass is one of the worst players of the last decade... nobody should value "toughness" that much outside of teenage boys.— James Foster (@YKJFosterYYC) October 3, 2017
On the downside today, Tanner Glass is still in camp and taking line rushes with the Flames fourth line.— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) October 2, 2017
Treliving is so smart, so why on earth would he do something as dumb as sign tanner glass?— Stephan Worobec (@StephanWorobec) October 3, 2017
Screw You, Bobby McFerrin
Don't worry, be happy? Pfft.
Indicative of one of the issues we seem to have as a society, it seems people are never content. Rather than enjoying the beautiful flower garden, we fixate on that bit of crabgrass.
You got 80 percent on your exam? Well, what question did you get wrong?
It's as if the only one of the seven dwarfs to procreate was Grumpy.
For most of the day Monday -- the falling of snow certainly adding to it -- it felt like Christmas Day around Calgary. Fans had opened up that gift and inside was a super cool remote-controlled race car with No. 68 emblazoned on the hood. Awesome!
Yet, less than 24 hours later, the festive NHL regular season was ruined when inside the other box was a onesie. Well that's dumb, what use does this have?
Talk about a mood killer. You've seen Buzz Lightyear PJs before. Well, here are some Buzz Kill pajamas.
Toughness Incoming, Like it or Not
When veteran defenceman Deryk Engelland left Calgary in the summer, signing with Las Vegas as a free agent after being selected in the expansion draft, it left behind a void.
Not the most-skilled player, Engelland was the team's toughest guy and it wasn't close. His fight in Vancouver in the playoffs when he fought two Canucks at the same time -- then chirped the home bench to send over three guys next time -- was legendary.
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Engelland was the type of revered physical presence that skilled players in the NHL like having in the line-up. Engelland may have had a dime-a-dozen skill set when it came to his basic hockey skills, but those came in a big package and wrapped in a couple layers of coveted intangibles that gave him value that most fans grew to appreciate over time.
It's an element Calgary paid dearly to acquire too, signing as a UFA three years ago to a deal that paid him just under $3 million per season.
With Engelland gone and the departure of Lance Bouma too, you knew the Flames were going to address that void, you absolutely knew it.
Sure enough they did, only this time it came cheaper. Much cheaper. The deal Glass signed was for the league minimum of $650,000 on a one-year term.
With the provincial rival Oilers deploying the likes of Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Zack Kassian and Darnell Nurse, the Ducks deploying their usual cast of you-know-what-disturbers -- Corey Perry, Josh Manson, Ryan Kesler and Nick Ritchie. The other heavyweights battling Calgary for top spot in the Pacific Division this season are exactly that -- heavyweights.
Already feeling as if they get bullied around by those teams, Calgary was in jeopardy of falling into the lightweight division. At least with Glass now, that gives them some 'punch' and a good dose of that always-sought-after truculence. Let's call them welterweights now.
A Missing Ingredient
Travis Hamonic, the replacement for Dennis Wideman, does have some vinegar in his game, but let's face it, he's not here for that. His priority is to allow TJ Brodie to flourish. Micheal Ferland was a player feared league-wide in the WHL five years ago, but that's far from his primary MO anymore. He's a different guy now, plus he's playing on Calgary's No. 1 line. Matthew Tkachuk is a thorn to play against, but he's also of a different ilk.
There was no room at the inn on the blueline this September to bring in that element of toughness either. The candidates to replace Engelland -- Brett Kulak, Matt Bartkowski, Rasmus Andersson -- are better known for their first pass than their angry stare.
Given that, you just knew that fourth line winger is where that grit was going to be added.
That was reflected in what you saw unfold in training camp. Look at the players brought in -- veteran tough guy Luke Gazdic signed to a two-way deal and given an NHL audition. Cantankerous Joseph Cramarossa brought in on a PTO to audition for that opening. Internally, Garnet Hathaway was another option. So was Glass, also on a PTO.
Well, look around.
Of those four, the music stopped Tuesday and only one remained.
With the Flames opening the season against a gauntlet of four straight big-and-nasties -- the Oilers, the Jets, the Ducks and Kings -- you can fully expect to see Glass not just on the roster, but in the line-up for every one of those tilts.
"It's going to be fun. I love the rivalry games. They tend to suit my style of play and my game," said Glass after practice on Tuesday.
"I know the game is changing, probably away from that type of player, but you talk to (skilled) guys, they like to know they're taken care of and it's something I have no problem doing and I'm proud to do."
What Does Glass Bring?
Is Glass going to score a bunch of goals? No.
Is he going to create a lot of chances? No.
Are his analytics going to be very good? Probably not.
But what coaches like about him and why Alain Vigneault loved him in New York is he knows his role and he's good at it. Glass gets in on the forecheck hard, he throws his weight around and he creates wear and tear on the chassis of opposing defencemen.
There's value to that and it's why the 33-year-old has kicked around the league for all these years.
"He's a big, heavy body that provides energy," Gulutzan says. "A lot of fighting has gone out of the game. What's intimidating now is guys that can skate and punish you and will finish checks through you and he can do that."
The effectiveness of that was on display in the playoffs last year when the Rangers fourth line of Glass, Oscar Lindberg and J.T. Miller wreaked havoc on Ottawa.
"He was very effective for them in the Ottawa series. So much so that Ottawa had to change their line-up a little bit in response to the Rangers having Glass in," says Gulutzan. "He adds that element of intimidation through hard work and physical play and that's important to a hockey club. It's good energy."
Glass signing is irrelevant to Jankowski demotion, you knew #Flames were adding toughness. Dispute should be why F. Hamilton over Jankowski.— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) October 3, 2017
Big Boy Hockey
"It's a game of intimidation, it's played within walls," says Glass. "Like (Mark) Scheifele told me the other night, 'Come on, you're going to hurt someone out here.'
"Just the fact that he's saying that, you know there's a bit of a psychological game going on and I'm happy about that."
If Glass plays to his ability, he can impact a game much in the same way Micheal Ferland did two years ago in the playoffs when as a fourth liner, his rock'em, sock'em style had all of the Canucks defensemen off their game.
"It's footsteps, that's what we call it," explains Glass. "You hit a guy once, twice, and especially in the divisional games and rivalry games, you play against a guy enough times, it's not fun going back into that corner.
"If you get the art of the dump down where those pucks are settling a foot off the wall and they're not an easy play for them. you know as a defenceman that (the forechecker) is coming every time and it's tricky."
Flames defenceman Mark Giordano can attest. He's been on the receiving end. Thus, he also recognizes the contributions fourth line players can provide, without hitting the scoresheet.
"The first three shifts when he gets in on the forecheck on you and hits you, what it does is force you to move the puck quicker and that creates turnovers," admits the captain. "It does wear you down. If you're playing a lot of minutes especially, the easy game is when you can always face the play and look up ice. When you have to turn and get pucks, it makes it a lot harder."
Glass is also a guy you can deploy on the penalty kill, so add another attribute.
Not surprising for a guy, who has got himself into over 500 NHL contests, Glass also packs all of those other intangibles that makes some fans cringe, yet character-craving teams embrace.
"Great guy in the room, so first of all, he brings that to your group," says Gulutzan. "He's one of those guys that people like to be around and you can tell that right away when you're around him."
Let's not forget also that this is an Ivy League-educated player. Just because he fights, he's not a dummy. The prairie kid from Regina, who was a ninth round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, went to Dartmouth College for four years. In his third and fourth seasons, he averaged just under a point-per-game. In his senior year, he was team captain.
As for the fan argument that if Glass was any good, he wouldn't have to settle for a PTO this summer, does the name Kris Versteeg ring a bell?
Sure, last year was a rough one for him, spending the early part of the season in the AHL before getting recalled by New York in March when the Rangers needed a spark.
But Glass is feeling good now, still riding the high of last year's playoff success when he chipped in a goal and three assists in his seven games.
"There are those dog days of the winter when you're in the minors and you're wondering what the heck am I doing there, but it was a good confidence booster that I know I can come back and play well and have an impact," says Glass. "It gave me confidence that I can do it again this year."
It seems that there always has to be that one polarizing player every season that divides the fan base. Coaches like Glass, teammates like him, some fans like him, yet other fans -- well, not so much.
Engelland was that guy three years ago, who certainly came out on the other side with a ton more fans than he had going in. That's a rare journey though. Usually, once you've been labelled, there's no digging yourself out. Troy Brouwer will know a thing or two about that.
When two weeks ago, Glass laid that big hit in the corner against Vancouver then scored a goal seconds later, I summarized the sequence in a tweet. That tweet instantly made it's way to the Big Apple where in the process I heard from all sorts of Glass fans already missing him. It was interesting. I know he's got his detractors, but seems he was beloved too. Much like Engelland.
With the love-hate relationship already started, it will really kick into gear when things get going for real on Wednesday night in Edmonton.
"It wasn't easy, by any means, but I'm proud of the camp I had," says Glass. "My family has been behind me the whole time, supporting me and made it a lot easier. I'm just looking forward to getting it going now."
So is everyone else -- players, coaches, media and fans too. Well, most of them, anyway.
By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Do so now! It's another way to be alerted to new stories I've written, other articles from my colleagues that I've enjoyed and I'll occasionally use that space to weigh in on the news of the day.
Recent Flames Reading:
- Cuts Like a Knife: Driving Home This Evening, 8 Thoughts as Flames Cut 10 Players - As the number of players left in camp begins to shrink, time to check in to how things are looking. Oh, and this Bryan Adams song will get lodged in your head. (Sept. 27, 2017)
- Giving it his Best Shot: Jankowski on Target in Quest to Make Opening-Night Line-up - Brandishing a lethal shot, Jankowski scored in each of his first three pre-season games as he gives it his best shot -- literally and figuratively -- at making the NHL. (Sept. 24, 2017)
- Imperfect 10: Suddenly, Flames Can't Beat Edmonton and Fan Frustration is Rampant - Losing in two's to the Oilers is a bad habit not going over very well with the fan base. Overall, it's been 10 straight defeats. My take on a bad start to the pre-season. (Sept. 19, 2017)
- Hungry for More: Slimmed-Down Andersson Anxious for Second Helping of NHL - After spending four weeks in the NHL last season experiencing the lavish lifestyle that it is, Rasmus Andersson wants more of it and that served as motivation this summer. (Sept. 17, 2017)
- Oh Canada: Smith/Hamonic Rejuvenated and Grateful for Fresh Start in Canada - It's been 7 years for Travis Hamonic and 15 years for Mike Smith since they last played for a Canadian team and for both, it was in junior. Both are pumped for the season. (Sept 15, 2017)