CALGARY – Fighting back tears, Brad Treliving paused several times when asked about the emotion of spending deadline day without assistant GM Chris Snow by his side.
“Snowy… he had a tough night last night,” said Treliving of his courageous colleague, who is waging a very public battle with ALS.
“So when you think it’s a hard day, he’s the one having a hard day.
“He was there, battling away.
“He was texting from the emergency room.
“That tells ya a little bit about Chris Snow.”
For a team on the brink, and an organization at a crossroad, it sure puts everything in perspective.
These are not great times for the Calgary Flames – a team that has struggled so mightily to live up to expectations it was officially deemed unworthy of spending any future assets in search of a short-term fix.
As expected, the NHL’s trade deadline came and went Friday with Treliving unwilling to part with any draft picks, futures or prospects who might otherwise have been shipped out to try improving the fortunes of a team that sits five points out of the final wild card spot with 20 games to go.
Needing roughly 30 of a possible 40 points to have a shot at climbing back into the playoff picture, the Flames GM simply couldn’t justify trying to prop up a “good team that just doesn’t know how to win,” as Blake Coleman put it a night earlier.
“For me, it was clear to our staff, we were not entertaining moving any ‘A’ assets, significant assets, for short term gain,” he confirmed.
“Where we are at right now, that was never an option for us.
“We weren’t going to start spending assets, and crossing fingers and saying, ‘I hope somebody gives us a bump the last 20 games.’”
In fact, with the team on a four-game losing skid, management was more focused on potential long-term deals. This meant that players with one year left on their contracts — like Mikael Backlund, Noah Hanifin, Tyler Toffoli and Elias Lindholm — could have been in play if the right deal came along.
That’s how far from grace this group has fallen.
“If there was anything that made sense on a long-term basis, we certainly would have done it,” said Treliving.
“Where we are right now, its’ not necessarily about trying to keep the team together.
“If you’re not looking short-term you’re looking long term.
“If there were moves to make to gain significant assets for the future, by all means.
“That’s where we spent a lot of the time on.”
Instead, Treliving decided to do a little “work around the edges,” making two cursory swaps, highlighted by the NHL’s first brother for brother trade.
Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey were sent to Arizona for Nick Ritchie and Troy Stecher.
All are rentals.
Ritchie was made expendable by the exemplary play of rookie Walker Duehr, and Mackey was mercifully relieved of his nightly press box assignment for a chance to pursue his career.
Treliving has been intrigued by Nick Ritchie ever since the hulking winger was drafted 10th overall in 2014.
Stecher brings the mobility the team lost with Oliver Kylington’s absence for personal reasons – an absence Treliving confirmed Friday seemed likely to extend through the rest of the season.
The Flames also sent minor leaguer Radim Zohorna to the Leafs for Dryden Hunt.
“You have faith in the group, but I’ve gotta do my job too,” said the GM.
“We didn’t gather in September and say, ‘I can’t wait until the trade deadline, and I hope we don’t do anything or are shipping players out.’
“But you have to deal with where you are at.
“Today was a day when we weren’t going to dig into our future.
“We’re a good team, we just have to start playing like a good team on a regular basis.”
Treliving alluded to leaving room for the (likely) addition of Harvard star Matt Coronato, and most certainly wants to make sure exciting prospects like Duehr and Jakob Pelletier continue to get plenty of ice time down the stretch.
This is about making the best of a bad situation, as opposed to making a desperate, regrettable move that impedes the team’s long-term growth.
“Help it when it makes sense and that’s what we did last year,” said Treliving, never shy to pull the trigger on a deal.
“You can’t just keep changing and changing and changing.
“Having said all that, I do believe we have a good team that has underperformed.
“We felt it was most prudent to work around the edges.
“In certain areas we have improved our team.
“We have 20 games here, we know the hill is steep, but we’ve made our bed and now we have to deal with it.
“I believe in this group, but the reality is we sit where we sit.”
Standing pat was the right move.
The current squad deserves nothing more.