Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Time for some Truculence in Cowtown

One of Brian Burke's best adjectives is truculence, the characteristic that he believes best exemplifies his brand of hockey, a hard hitting, never back down approach to hockey that clearly wasn't part of the Calgary landscape over the last few years.

That it seems is about to change, with Burke relieving General Manager Jay Feaster and Assistant GM John Weisbrod of their duties last week, he has set a new course for an apparent attitude adjustment for the Flames, or at least for those that will feel comfortable with the new branding to come.

The hallmark of a Burke team and make no mistake, despite the suggestion that the search is on for a new GM, this will now be a Burke team, is a certain level of tenacity, at times an us against the world mentality that becomes the main calling card both at home and away.

He developed that baseline through his many stops, from Vancouver to Anaheim and on to Vancouver, there were even traces of it in Hartford back in the Whaler days, but well, the Whalers were only on the radar of Hartford, never the larger NHL stage.

Since those days with the whale, Burke has become almost larger than life, the quotes, the bombast and at times the feuds, it's all made for a fascinating ride and at times for some fascinating hockey.

Hey came close to a Stanley Cup era with the Canucks, claimed one with the Ducks and the Leafs of today still bear his blue print, some of it good, some of it bad.

At times his loyalty to those he brings on the journey has cost him, at others his shoot from the hip style has provided the self inflicted wounds.

But at the end of the day, in most cases his teams compete, play the game hard and no one gets to be a passenger.

The Flames may prove to be a challenge equal to the days of Toronto, both markets love their hockey, have great expectations and in recent years more than a share of disappointment.

The last few seasons have been campaigns of much disappointment for Calgary hockey fans, a collective that one time believed they were but a player if not just one goal away from another Stanley Cup.

That began to unravel a few years back and last season's post season disappointment left the fan base to try and understand where their team was heading.

They can wonder no more.

The twin firings of last week were the first indication that the rebuilding job in Calgary is full on, the tentative steps of the last few years, where the Flames couldn't seem to make up their minds as to where they should go now firmly behind them.

When he signed on to his executive earlier this year, many suggested it was only a matter of time before the shoes began to drop, they tumbled last week.

The rest of the season will determine how many of the current Flames are ready to buy in, those that don't won't be around for long.

Burke however may be in place for a stay, his chance to remake the Flames and return the franchise to consequence in the West is one that could remove some of the disappointment of his recent stops.

It's a challenge that won't be tackled in anonymity, Calgary like all Canadian franchises is under the constant spotlight of media attention.

Every move will be analyzed, debated and then stored away for further review.

The announced intent to make the team a more formidable opponent will sit well in the watering holes of Southern Alberta, the first measure of that dedication to a more truculent brand of hockey will be when the Flames renew acquaintances with the northern cousins.

Rebuilding a team takes time and requires an evolution of sorts, winning the Alberta battles through the season will make for a useful measuring stick and provide some tangible proof that the culture in Calgary is about to change as promised.

Some of the key moments in the Brian Burke Calgary timeline can be found below:

December 14-- Flames' Burke vs. Sabres' Lafontaine in GM search
December 13-- Burke axes Feaster as he unveils vision to build a big, bossy, belligerent band of brothers
December 12-- 'Background Brian' Burke jumps on the Flames' front burner
December 12-- Brian Burke doesn't plan to be patient with Calgary Flames
December 12-- Brian Burke leaves little doubt as to his plan for the Calgary Flames
December 12-- 'He did his best:' Jay Feaster is fired, Brian Burke steps in as acting GM
December 12-- Brian Burke 'not kissing babies up here,' takes Flames' helm as GM Feaster fired
December 12-- Successful teams are big
December 12-- Calgary Flames fire Jay Feaster, Brian Burke steps in as interim GM
December 12-- Burke leaves door open for select smaller skilled players to play for Flames
December 12-- Calgary Flames interim GM Brian Burke didn't take long to make move
December 12-- Amid tumultuous day in Flames front office, Hartley gets vote of confidence


Oct 31-- Toronto Maple Leafs defeat Calgary Flames with the team that former GM Brian Burke built
Sept 6-- Can Brian Burke be anyone but Brian Burke in Calgary?
Sept 6-- Will the frank, fiery Brian Burke really be able to stay in the background?
Sept 6-- Burke, Feaster claim they will coexist just fine in Flames front office
Sept 5-- Bob Hartley glad to have Burke on board with Flames
Sept 5-- Calgary Flames hire Brian Burke as president of hockey operations
Sept 5-- Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster and hockey ops boss Brian Burke expected to make everything work
Sept 5-- New Flames Boss Brian Burke to shun spotlight
Sept 5-- Calgary Flames name Brian Burke as president of hockey operations
Sept 5-- Brian Burke brings bombast and brains to the Calgary Flames

No comments: