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'THIS TOO SHALL PASS'

Flames GM on trying to stay positive, the three files he's working on right now, and what's next for the league

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / calgaryflames.com

Turns out, the stay-at-home gig packs a ton more pressure.

Way more than a sold-out barn ever could.

"I'm proud to say that I live in a house with three women and they haven't voted me off the island yet," Flames GM Brad Treliving chuckled as he chatted with the media Tuesday. 

Like everyone right now, Treliving is at home, isolating from the public as we work to flatten the curve and overcome the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Treliving, though, is an optimist - a take-charge kind of leader that strives to find the silver lining when times are tough.

Even now, there's reason for hope, and reason to smile.

"The one thing I can take from all this - and it's important for all of us to have - is perspective," the GM said. "It's given me a chance to spend a lot of time with my daughters, which I don't normally get a chance to do."

For all of us, family and friends can be that rock, to provide us all with a sense of community when the world is anything but normal. 

It's why Treliving reached out, suggested he, PR and digital staffers, and about 20 local reporters got together to chat Tuesday. Yes, 'formal' interview questions were, indeed, part of the equation, but there was more to it than that. It was really about getting together as a group, seeing the faces of longtime friends and colleagues that we haven't in nearly a month. 

A check-in, of sorts, to maintain a feeling of normality. 

And belonging. 

"When you're uncertain about things, that's where you get anxiety," Treliving said after thanking the tireless efforts of our frontline workers and heroes of the Alberta health-care system. "You're being a little bit naive if you think you have to have all the answers. Sometimes - and that's what I encourage of everyone - is to check in with people. Just the fact that you're thinking of somebody, you make the call, and you see how the heck they're doing. 

"That's important.

"You probably don't have all the answers and I certainly don't have all the answers. … Everybody's got their own issues, right? But the fact that you check in, you see how they're doing and you're ready to help, that's important.

"It's like anything else, and I can speak for myself. We came out of the chutes hot, you're ready, and you think this thing is going to pass (quickly). Every day that goes by, you're like, 'Ugh. Today wasn't great. Are we getting through this?' 

"But you keep getting after it each day. You check in, you see how everybody's doing, you help the ones that are having the tough day, they help you, and that's how you get through this stuff."

Treliving isn't much of a Tiger King fan, but has found other ways to keep his mind active. 

Currently, there are three "files" on his plate from a work standpoint: 

  • The 2020 NHL Draft, which will happen at some point and requires all kinds of prep from management on down to the amateur scouting staff. 
     
  • 2) A "restart" plan that involves all the work he and the staff are putting in - logistics and otherwise - to prepare for a possible 'training camp,' followed by the resumption of the 2019-20 season somewhere down the line. 
     
  • And 3) Preparation for the 2020-21 regular season.

While nothing is imminent on those three fronts, it's best to be prepared so he can hit the ground running when the league is given the green light. 

When that happens is anyone's guess, but Treliving did say he was intrigued by an article written by Jeff Passan of ESPN, which outlines a possible scenario for Major League Baseball to begin play in as few as eight weeks.  

The scenario would see all 30 teams play games without fans at stadiums in the Phoenix area. According to Passan, players, coaches and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels and would live in isolation, travelling only to and from the stadiums. 

The logical challenges are many, but the plan is theoretically possible and may chart a path forward for hockey to return in similar fashion later this year. 

Naturally, it's all speculative. But, if we've learned anything from this pandemic, it's that preparation is never a bad thing. 

"We're all looking for good news," Treliving said. "I always preface it by saying we have to take our appropriate place, and place the importance of our games in the appropriate spectrum. 

"We (sports) are down on the list. But that gives you hope and optimism that things are going to get better. You're always looking for reasons to be hopeful. At this point, everybody's looking - no different than we are as a team - 'How do we stay ahead of things?'

"One day sort of blends into the next right now. But at some point, it's going to turn into a sprint and you can't be in a situation where you're opening up the file for the first time. ... Let's have answers to the questions we know inevitably are going to come, and when they do come, we can act appropriately."

First and foremost, Treliving's concern lies in the health and well-being of the people in our community. 

But he's human, and the what-ifs and what-could-bes of his life's work linger in the mind's eye. 

At the pause, the Flames were playing some of their best hockey of the season. They'd won three of four and had gone 6-3-1 in their last 10, moving them back into a divisional playoff spot and potentially setting up a Battle of Alberta in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"It's been a challenging year," he said. "We've been through a lot. My grandmother used to say, 'This too shall pass.' So, you always look on the bright side of it. 

"Adversity doesn't build character - it reveals it. I was excited to take all those experiences we've been through and see how the finished product would look.

"Hopefully we'll get a chance to see that."

For so many reasons. 

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