Calgary Flames hire a 'mental development coach'

Thumbnail image for Sutter.jpgYogi Berra, New York Yankees legend and expert butcher of cliches, once said that baseball is “Ninety percent physical and the other half is mental.”

It appears that Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter – or someone within the Flames organization – took that dictum to heart and wants the team to give 180 percent. Steve Ovadia of Puck Update reveals that the team hired a “mental development coach” named Dave Paskevich. Ovadia explains a little bit more about the situation and why the Flames would make such a move.

I’m not sure if this was Darryl Sutter’s call, or if it was made for Sutter, but it indicates that someone in the organization thinks that the Calgary flaws aren’t necessarily talent-related.

Earlier this month, I suggested Sutter was revisiting some of his less successful signings to prove they were actually strong signings that didn’t execute properly.

If Sutter is behind the Paskevich hiring, that could indicate he thinks the problems with Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay were mental. And solvable.

If it wasn’t Sutter’s call, it still indicates a faith in Sutter’s moves. Someone believes the Flames are a good team that just needs to get out of its own collective head.

If you’re like me, you cannot help but picture Robin Williams in his “Good Will Hunting” role, holding a sobbing Jay Bouwmeester as he repeats “It’s not your fault.”

All joking aside, the Flames could use all the help they can get. To say that I’m skeptical about their off-season moves is an understatement, but it’s always interesting to see teams go off the beaten path to try to improve their chances. Ovadia notes that the Senators, Canucks, Blackhawks and Maple Leafs employed someone in a similar position, so perhaps NHL teams are starting to come around to the process. Considering all the heart and courage required in this sport, it makes sense that teams are respecting the power of modern psychology.

We’ll see if it yields any results on the ice, though.

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    Video: Flyers raise Ed Snider’s banner to the rafters

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    The Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday raised Ed Snider’s banner to the rafters at Wells Fargo Center during a pre-game ceremony prior to their home opener.

    The legendary founder and Flyers owner passed away in April at the age of 83.

    “It’s a special night for everybody that’s going to be involved in it,” goalie Steve Mason told “This organization is rich in history, and the Flyers are who they are because of Mr. Snider — and it will be nice to see him get the respect he definitely deserves.”


    Video: Philadelphia Flyers pay heartfelt tribute to Ed Snider

    Tributes pour in for Snider, ‘the soul and the spirit of the Flyers’

    Habs depth d-man Redmond out six weeks with broken foot

    TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02:  Zach Redmond #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during an NHL preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on October 2, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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    The Montreal Canadiens have lost depth defenseman Zach Redmond for six weeks with a broken foot.

    The Habs announced the injury on Thursday, adding it occurred during a recent practice.

    Redmond, 28, signed as a free agent with the Habs this summer, inking a two-year deal. He’s appeared in 114 career NHL games, beginning his career with the Winnipeg Jets as an Atlanta Thrashers draft pick.

    He was able to secure a roster spot with the Canadiens to begin this season, but had yet to appear in a game.

    Redmond has had to overcome adversity in making his NHL dream a reality.

    In 2013, he returned to game action on a conditioning stint with the Jets farm team in St. John’s after missing only two months due to a lacerated femoral artery — and the loss of nearly two pints of blood — from a skate cut.

    The Jackets have been ‘sitting on 0-2’ all week, can’t wait to play again

    Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, center, reacts to a penalty between Boone Jenner, left, and Jared Boll during the second period an NHL hockey game against the  Winnipeg Jets  in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Winnipeg won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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    The Columbus Blue Jackets probably didn’t need such a long break so early in the season. It’s been five days since they last played, and not surprisingly, they can’t wait to get going tomorrow at home against Chicago.

    They can’t wait to get their first win either.

    “It’s a big game for us,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the team’s website. “We’ve been sitting on 0-2 for a week here. It sucks. We need to have a good start and feel good about ourselves.”

    A win Friday would certainly help. The Jackets kick off a tough, four-game road trip Saturday in Dallas, so the ingredients are already in place for another disastrous start to the schedule. A year ago, they started with eight straight losses, which is why Tortorella is at the helm now.

    The Jackets also play Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim, respectively.

    Against such tough opposition, they’ll need their goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, to be good. He played well in his last game, stopping 35 of 37 shots in a 3-2 loss to San Jose (the Sharks scored an empty-netter), but that was after he surrendered five goals to Boston in the season-opener.

    On that note, it will be interesting to if backup Curtis McElhinney sees any action on the road trip. Tortorella has been known to ride his top players, including his goalie in back-to-backs, so it’s no given that McElhinney will start Saturday against the Stars.

    Related: The odds say Torts will be fired first

    Don’t assume Fleury will be traded, says Penguins GM

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02:  Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on from the bench in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    Just because Matt Murray signed an extension doesn’t mean Marc-Andre Fleury‘s days in Pittsburgh are numbered.

    That was the message today from Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, after Murray re-upped through 2019-20.

    “The focus seems to be on what happens with Marc-Andre, but let’s let this play itself out first,” Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “Let’s not just presume that Marc is automatically out. He’s been the franchise goalie here, he is a terrific person, he’s a terrific player and I think that assumption, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.”

    This wouldn’t be such a hot topic if there was no expansion draft in June. But there is, and when it takes place, each team will only be allowed protect one goalie. And if the Penguins don’t trade Fleury, they’ll be obligated to protect him, unless he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.

    Protecting Fleury would, of course, leave Murray as a prime candidate to be chosen by Las Vegas. Unless, that is, Rutherford could strike a deal with George McPhee to, say, send Vegas a draft pick or player, in return for Vegas not picking Murray. Yes, that kind of deal is allowed.

    So it’s complicated.

    At this point in time, it’s quite possible that Rutherford doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The season is still young, and it remains to be seen which goalie will emerge as the starter in Pittsburgh. If it’s Murray, Fleury might want to be a starter elsewhere and Rutherford’s decision will be an easy one.

    If it’s Fleury, the decision could be tougher. While keeping both goalies would be nice, it would also be expensive. Next season, Fleury and Murray will make a combined cap hit of $9.5 million, and there’s only one net.

    Again, though, a decision doesn’t have to be made now.

    “Our focus this year is winning,” said Rutherford, “and we’ll deal with the expansion draft at the appropriate time.”