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Treliving taking a step back to 'unpack' and assess Flames' needs with draft and free agency around the corner

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Early Saturday afternoon, hours before it became more advantageous to be an emperor penguin than an emperor of the ice lanes, Brad Treliving was busy at his other job.

The one measured in smiles and memories, not wins and losses.

"I'm on dad duty," reported the Flames' general manager, pre-customary late April/early May blizzard. "Best job in the world."

Still, the background television content only illustrates the pull of his other job, his public job. Old habits, after all, die hard.

"Well, I am watching a little bit of Dallas and St. Louis before we go out," confessed Treliving, with a weary, resigned sigh. "I got nothing else."

Hockey's like that.

"I've taken a little bit of time the last week,'' said Treliving. "You try and get away from it a little bit and let the dust settle.

"You need some sort of release, right? Maybe go for a long run, don't pay attention where you're running and try to find your way back.

"We've got a new addition to the family the last month or so. His name's Murphy. The last weekend of the season my daughters suggested: 'Why don't we go over to the dog breeders? Just to take a look.' And, of course, our truck became plus-one.

"My girls are on spring break. Being around them, their activities, has helped between sorting through the rubble that was the ending of the season, and formulating a plan moving forward."

With the playoff exit liable to remain an open wound for some time, the inevitable process that starts with disbelief, followed by anger, then grief, has reached the taking-stock phase.


Video: "This is a group that cares a lot"


"It is hard to see the good right now," admitted Treliving. "Look, I know this is a team that people at the beginning of the season hoped could just make the playoffs. Well, we had 107 points, finished first in the Pacific Division and first in the Western Conference.

"Those aren't easy tasks. That's not insignificant. 

"But … as I said at the end of the year, part of becoming a good team is that you're judged differently.

"There are teams that missed the playoffs that felt they had a great season.

"But as you grow your team, grow your franchise, expectations become greater and you're judged differently. That's the reality and you want that expectation.

"So you can't lose sight of the fact that we've taken huge steps here, a lot of good things took place, but … I use that word a lot these days, it seems … but it's more than just that your season came to an end. It's how it came to an end.

"Not taking anything away from Colorado. I just felt we left too much on the table. It's one thing to go down playing your best. We didn't."



A part of the painful process of sifting through the debris field is the constant revisiting of the accident scene. It's might seem like Groundhog Day for Masochists but pouring over game footage is an utterly necessary exercise in not best avoiding a similar fate a calendar year from now.

"You want to deal in reality, not in the fantasy world," explained Treliving. "You can't deal in emotion. You can't deal in what you think happened or what people say happened. That does you no good.

"When the series is on, you're IN it. Deep-dive. Living day to day.

"Going through the early part of the series now, there are things that you couldn't see as clearly the day after the season ended as you can afterwards, watching the games.

"Ultimately, our game didn't get to where it had been for so long. The things we'd done well - in broad terms, create offence and limit other teams - we weren't able to do.

"Certain guys you thought played poorly and weren't as bad as you'd thought and others that you thought played okay and really didn't.

"Coming up with different conclusions. That's why you do it.

"Sitting back, dispassionately, you can begin to piece this thing together a little bit."



Today begins a round of more meetings, involving the coaching staff, remaining players, ownership, hockey ops. Ahead, June 21-22, the NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, the Flames holding five selections, including No. 30 in the first round.

Followed by July 1 free agency. Intriguing outside possibilities to explore. Inside qualifying offers to pitch or pull back on.

"There's lots of stuff going on,'' says Treliving. "You can put a majority of it under the title Draft Prep. For me, it's going to be a lot of scouting meetings, pro and amateur, the next couple of weeks.

"When you really study, go back unattached and unvarnished and watch the games, you're coming up with some different conclusions which lead to different decisions.

"And that's why you do it.

"The biggest thing is it ends so … quickly. It's … over. Especially down the stretch and in the playoffs, you don't even know what's going on in the world. You just shut yourself off, shut everything else out. And then … boom! A 2x4 across the head.

"So it's hard to detach but you've got to do it. As every day goes by you, you've got to get on with it. The to-do list doesn't get any shorter."

So he'll enjoy the momentary dad duty, go for a run and get lost or take Murphy for a long, contemplative walk, and does plan on getting away with the family for further pre-training camp decompression later on, following the draft and start of free agency.

"That's not," Treliving added, "for a while yet. There's a lot of work to do.

"Everybody wants the Why? Right now. Short answer: I don't have it yet. I'd be BSing you if I said I did. But we'll find it.

"We're still unpacking the box."

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