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Hoping to get Bennett 'recentred'

George Johnson: Coaches and Treliving weigh in on Sam's struggles

by George Johnson @georgejohnsonCH /

This isn't a punishment.

A condemnation.

A slam. Or a slur.

"We aren't,'' stressed Calgary Flames' GM Brad Treliving, "taking him out to the Back 40 and shooting him in the knee.

"Look, we're not happy about this, either.

"We think Sam Bennett's going to be a great player for us for a lot of years.

"But he's 20. When I was 20 I was trying to figure out how put gas in my car and tie my shoes.

"So, No. 1, we forget that he's 20.

"If you're asking Sam right now, he's not saying 'Yeah, you're right I'm 20 …' He's p--ed. 

"Which is exactly how you want him to be."

Sam Bennett sits.

Whether or not he returns in an owly mood when the Flames entertain those dastardly Edmonton Oilers in a Battle of Alberta rematch on Saturday night remains, as Thursday, a coaching decision.

If so, he certainly won't be lacking for motivation.

Trooping off the ice eons after his teammates Thursday morning after undergoing the customary odd-men-out extra work from assistant coach Martin Gelinas, Bennett looked understandably chagrined.

Among this franchise's growing stockpile of young gems, he glistens.

These sorts of decisions - particularly with players as high-profile, as vital moving forward, as Sam Bennett - are far from knee-jerk reactions, though. 

The third-year man has gone 10 games without a point but clearly coaching dissatisfaction at a perceived malaise in his overall game has been incubating.

"I thought in Edmonton he worked real hard but last game ( a 5-2 paddling of the Florida Panthers) he wasn't as good as he needed to be,'' said boss Glen Gulutzan, addressing the hot-button issue of the day.

"We're at the time of the year we need guys to be going.

"He's a young guy. He's got a lot of pressure he puts on himself. Sometimes guys just need a break to sit and watch a game and they come back a lot better.

"We've been working with Sam the last three, four weeks trying to get his game back in order."

Gelinas has been entrusted with helping deliver the message to Bennett. The two met at length Wednesday when the call to scratch was first made and they spoke again today.

"That's 19 years of playing experience trying to get him re-centered,'' said Gulutzan. "Get him back on the right track."

Gelinas knows the frustration and confusion of going from lineup to press box.

"The reality is, he's a good player, a good kid,'' said Gelinas. "From a coaching standpoint, he. It's a re-set. this will be good for him.

"Hey, I was a first-round pick, too. And it happened to me. There's a very, very few players who don't go through this at some time in their career."


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