As part of Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article today, the scribe quotes Calgary Flames’ coach Geoff Ward who spoke to the media in an attempt to set the record straight when it came to one specific area of the Sam Bennett trade speculation. Ward detailed his conversations with the player and it seems pretty clear, that certain assumed optics, the Flames are not and have not been holding Bennett back.
While rumors are that Bennett is unhappy with his playing time and position on the Flames roster, not all the evidence points to the center/winger having a reason to be upset. Not only did Bennett spend time with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan during the third period of Calgary’s 4–3 shootout win over Winnipeg on Monday night, but the coach says he’s given Bennett ample opportunity to choose where he plays.
As per Friedman’s article, he quotes the coach who explained what’s really going on from his perspective. He says:
“At the beginning of the season, and what a lot of people don’t know, I basically gave Sam the choice of where he wanted to play. He wanted to start at centre and so we started him at centre, and he came in after a couple of games and said, ‘Hey, I think I may want to take the other option,’ which was playing on the wing. We gave him a choice to play in two different positions at the start of the year. So before anybody jumps all over that as to reasons why he may be unhappy, let’s just quell that right now.”
What the coach is saying here is that any rumors Bennett is being sandbagged by the Flames is simply not true. Whether it’s a miscommunication on the part of Bennett’s agent or that the player isn’t being honest in what’s really happening behind closed doors, Ward seems to be suggesting that Bennett has had more opportunities than most to be effective this season. It just hasn’t happened.
In other words, if there’s an issue in terms of Bennett’s lack of production, it’s on the player and not the coach or organization. They’re doing their part. It’s up to Bennett to make the most of the chances he’s being given.
What Next for Bennett and the Flames?
Friedman says, “Expect the Flames to proceed cautiously” when it comes to what comes next between the two sides. The NHL insider notes that because Bennett was GM Brad Treliving’s first-ever draft pick, it doesn’t look great if he gives up on the player.
Second, the Flames still know that Bennett has a track record of being productive in the playoffs. Trading him before the post-season and then potentially watching him find succcess with another team is not a wise move for a Flames team that needs to have playoff success this season.
Finally, this is not the first time Bennett and the organization have been frustrated with each other. There’s a belief inside the organization that this could all blow over.
Friedman notes that Calgary has tested Bennett’s value on the trade market, but have yet to make a move. If one is made, it will be at the speed the Flames want to move and ay decision will not be dictated by the player or his agent.
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