It seems almost impossible to me that a fan base can be so divided over what could be and should be a generational talent. There is no more polarizing figure on the Calgary Flames than Johnny Gaudreau. It seems if you are a Flames fan you either love him or you hate him and that’s just a ridiculous as it reads.
Has Gaudreau been perfect as a Flames player? Of course not. During the Flames last two playoff runs, especially last year’s dumpster fire as a TEAM against Colorado, Gaudreau has been noticeably absent. He has three points in his last nine playoff games. However, prior to that, during the Flames 11 game run in 2014-15, he had four goals and five assists. So the performance is there, it’s just finding that gear again and going all out.
And yes, he had a miserable 2019-20 season on the heels of his record setting 36 goals, 66 assists campaign of 2018-19. Gaudreau at times did look disinterested, he was criticized for his play (I know I did) and it was even questioned (not quietly) if it was time to move the Flames star forward. He wasn’t traded for a million reasons, which means he’s going to be a major part of the Flames success OR failure as the playoffs begin.
Why are we writing this? Because as the NHL’s RTP got underway, panic ensued when Gaudreau wasn’t with the “A” group during camp. I mean really folks, we’re going there? Really? If you looked at the groupings players were all over the place for conditioning and that makes sense. It’s like normal training camp and preseason: some guys play with one group, some play with another. That’s the reasonable and logical explanation. He wasn’t being punished for his poor play in the regular season. He didn’t have Covid-19. He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t be set up for a trade. All of the bull$#&t stuff that floated around was just that: caca. As a matter of fact, Flames GM Brad Treliving (who’s not one to blow smoke) has done nothing but praise Gaudreau’s work ethic and thinks he looks great since coming back to camp.
So, everyone can rest easy as Johnny Gaudreau was back on the Flames top line during the Flames inter-squad scrimmage today. If you thought for one moment that the Gaudreau/Monahan/Lindholm line wasn’t going to be on the ice when the playoffs started, you’re an idiot. Plain and simple. Despite the visceral reactions to his play by this fan base, he’s easily one of the Flames top three players and he’s going to be a major reason whether the Flames sink or swim in the playoffs.
Want to shovel dirt on his grave after the playoffs if he struggles, ok, that’s your prerogative. But at least give the guy and the team a chance to perform before you start the usual BS about how bad Johnny Gaudreau is. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: part of me wants him to be traded so he can go to a fan base that will appreciate him. Has he been perfect? No he has not. But none of the Flames have been stellar in their last two playoff appearances, so let’s pump the brakes on the demise of Johnny Gaudreau.
by Mark Parkinson