You’ve got to hand it to the Calgary Flames players. They remain good soldiers even though the battle appears lost.
Until head coach Bob Hartley or general manager Brad Treviling walk out and wave the white flag in front of the media, they will continue to talk about how they’ve got to buckle down and pull together to stay in the race for a playoff spot.
They do it night after night after coming off the ice having gained zero ground. All they can do is say the right thing.
“We’ve got to put on a streak, obviously. If we can do that, we’ll be right in the mix,” said centre Mikael Backlund after Monday afternoon’s disheartening loss at home to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Flames enter Wednesday evening’s game with Minnesota Wild nine points back of a wild card spot with 27 games remaining. Tough task? Impossible, most are saying. The players can’t say it though and Hartley won’t say it. Treviling never comes out and meets the media and even if he did, he wouldn’t say it.
Hartley’s job is to lead and win games, not go into the dressing room and ask everyone to give it a half-effort so the franchise can get a better draft pick. He’s trying to keep his job and maintain a reputation as a winning coach so he can get another job when he’s fired from this one eventually. Most of the players are playing for new contracts so they’re going to try.
And so, they and Hartley continue to push towards the end of the season or until Treviling announces the end of the playoff push by unloading some veterans at the trade deadine next week.
“We have to get back to the rink with positive energy, with positive thinking,” Hartley told the media at his post-game grilling Monday.
“We’re representing some very proud fans, we’re representing a very proud community. We want to cultivate a proud culture.”
Judging by what is being posted on Twitter, the fans have already come to terms with their team’s fate. They want the sale of veterans to begin now and the losing to continue so the draft picks are better.
All the players can do is try to win with the roster they are given and then say the right things when games don’t go well. Like with Monday’s loss to Anaheim and last Friday’s loss in Phoenix to the Coyotes. And maybe Wednesday’s with Minnesota. And maybe this Friday’s contest with Vancouver. You get the idea.
“We’ve got to look at this as a challenge,” centre Matt Stajan said.
“There’s lots of hockey left. We have to take it one game at a time and see where it goes.”