You play like you practice, you practice like you play and if you’re not ready, well that wasn’t the start that we were looking for practice, so [Friday] is another day. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- It didn’t take long for Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley to decide he didn’t like what he saw.
Fourteen minutes into Thursday’s practice -- give or take a few seconds either way -- Hartley sent players to the boards and after a brief skate and an even shorter meeting just off of center ice before banishing his crew back to the dressing room.
“That’s pretty safe to say and you know if you’re not ready to work, well might as well not work,” Hartley said. “Simple as this.”
“I always tell them, you don’t want to practice, don’t get on the ice. If you get on the ice, it’s work. We’re very fortunate people, we work about an hour, hour and a half a day and you need to be ready. Obviously we’re trying to change lots of mindsets over here that games are not only on game days.
“I try to teach them that we never practice -- we always play. You play like you practice, you practice like you play and if you’re not ready, well that wasn’t the start that we were looking for practice, so [Friday] is another day.”
It’s the first time this season Hartley has used the tactic.
The Flames coach admitted he needed to in order to remind his players that there’s still plenty of season remaining, including Friday’s game against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Saddledome (7 p.m. MST, Sportsnet-Flames, Sportsnet 960 The FAN).
“You always have to keep it up your sleeve,” Hartley said. “We’re not going to get comfortable because it’s the end of the year. I’m already in mode for next year, we still did lots of good things, but until you’re a playoff team, you can’t get a passing grade.
“That is exactly the message that we are trying to get to them.”
It was a message received loud and clear from his players.
As much as Hartley wasn't pleased, captain Mark Giordano admitted players weren’t happy with how practice shook down, either.
“Guys weren’t happy,” Giordano said. “We came off the ice, we talked about it for a bit as players and decided there’s nothing out we can do now but go take care of ourselves and we better make sure we’re ready for tomorrow (against the Rangers).
“We have smart guys in here. We know we weren’t good enough out there. We’ll all take care of ourselves, whether it be a bike ride or a workout today and get ready for tomorrow’s game. That’s the most important thing.”
Hartley stressed the short spin isn’t much in the way of a newsworthy note, though.
“I don’t make a big thing out of this,” he said. “At the end I just told them you guys don’t seem ready to work. Before someone gets injured or anything, I said ‘I don’t want one guy to shoot a puck’, I said ‘everyone in the room and that’s the end of the day’.”
Players received that message, too.
“You know, it is what it is,” assistant captain Curtis Glencross said. “You can’t dwell on it. We weren’t sharp. Obviously we weren’t sharp so coach thought it was best to get off the ice and do an off-ice workout.
“It is what it is, right? You can’t read into it too much. We’re going to be ready tomorrow night."