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Old 11-24-2021, 08:58 PM   #1
Steve Macfarlane
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Default Championship experience - a noticeable shift in culture?

After last year's comments and this year's first quarter, it really looks like they've worked out their culture kinks. Is it because of the 'old guys?'

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Old 11-24-2021, 09:09 PM   #2
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Great article Steve!

And I fully agree that it starts with Sutter coming in and leading with that winning pedigree.

There surrounded this young core that hasn't really won much, but can play some damn good hockey (see 2014-15, 2018-19), with some winning mindset people, and more importantly players that want to be better.

I don't think I can think of a single year where any player has been a "passenger". Everyone is playing their role to what I think Sutter is expecting of them. Room for improvement, but it feels like every guy wants to just win.

Lucic is a huge part of the "winning core" group of players and has been here long enough to establish himself as a person everyone respects for the work he puts in every night. Leads by example, and that's the type of guy who gives a team an identity.
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Old 11-24-2021, 09:21 PM   #3
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It's an easy narrative to push, but probably not.

It's probably simpler than that.

Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk was a line Sutter admits putting together too late last year.

Hanifin-Andersson was a pair Sutter attributed to an improvement in play last year.

Kylington-Tanev is a pair that has made a huge impact.

Markstrom is healthy.

I do think Gudbranson's penalty killing and Coleman's 200 foot game have made an impact this year.

I don't think Richardson and Lewis have been bad, but I don't think their championship experiences has somehow implemented a culture change. This core won the West before Geoff Ward came on board and implemented passive defensive systems. This year's team is in many ways what the 2019-20 team should have been, but I think even Peters had implemented a systems change from the year prior.
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Old 11-24-2021, 09:29 PM   #4
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Coleman also coming in hot off two cups and still putting it all out there.
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Old 11-24-2021, 09:30 PM   #5
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Culture Kinks is the name of my next band.
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Old 11-24-2021, 09:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Culture Kinks is the name of my next band.
Culture Kinks in a White Wine Sauce, Culture-monia, and later Helen Shapiro. The last name, their favorite, had to be dropped following an injunction.
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Old 11-24-2021, 10:29 PM   #7
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Thank you for this writeup, very enjoyable read.
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Old 11-25-2021, 02:03 AM   #8
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Culture Kinks is the name of my next band.
Damn it, that's good.
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Old 11-25-2021, 07:38 AM   #9
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No question about it Steve, experience matters and it's pretty clear the difference it has had on this group.

That's the "buy in" so often alluded too. Sit in that room and look across. see a few guys who have won the whole thing (some with the coach that is talking to you about what he wants), and you are way more likely and motivated to follow his wishes.

Huge change from previous seasons and its blatantly obvious with a quick look at the standings.
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Old 11-25-2021, 09:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GranteedEV View Post
It's an easy narrative to push, but probably not.

It's probably simpler than that.

Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk was a line Sutter admits putting together too late last year.

Hanifin-Andersson was a pair Sutter attributed to an improvement in play last year.

Kylington-Tanev is a pair that has made a huge impact.

Markstrom is healthy.

I do think Gudbranson's penalty killing and Coleman's 200 foot game have made an impact this year.

I don't think Richardson and Lewis have been bad, but I don't think their championship experiences has somehow implemented a culture change. This core won the West before Geoff Ward came on board and implemented passive defensive systems. This year's team is in many ways what the 2019-20 team should have been, but I think even Peters had implemented a systems change from the year prior.
Not sure why you're so quick to dismiss culture, it reminds me of people dismissing coaching. Yes, your best players have to be your best players and the Flames best have certainly been their best but winning attitude, change of leadership and a shift in the way one thinks has benefits that can't be quantified. My take is that most of the culture shift is on Darryl Sutter, but bringing in guys who've been there, done that helps him implement that change.

Not suggesting it's a magic bullet but the '04 team had Gelinas and Yelle already on the roster, then traded for Chris Simon and Ville Nieminen. These players knew what it took, that helps.
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Old 11-25-2021, 09:36 AM   #11
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^ Yeah I agree.

The culture starts with Sutter. He knows what he's doing, he has the resume, plus I think he scares the hell out of people through non Peters personal intimidation. Cult of personality.

Having a few guys on the roster that have won with him and will back him to the wall can't help getting others to buy fully in.
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Old 11-25-2021, 09:38 AM   #12
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It's the coach IMO.

If Geoff Ward is still coach then Lucic, Richardson, and Lewis probably don't make a difference.

Sutter, his system, and the way he holds the team accountable are what's changing the culture.
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Old 11-25-2021, 09:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bingo View Post
^ Yeah I agree.

The culture starts with Sutter. He knows what he's doing, he has the resume, plus I think he scares the hell out of people through non Peters personal intimidation. Cult of personality.

Having a few guys on the roster that have won with him and will back him to the wall can't help getting others to buy fully in.

Those few guys are huge IMO, and shouldn’t be under appreciated.

It has to be a big difference in the locker room dynamic. Highly unlikely that the Nordstrom / Simon / Leivo bottom roster filler were part of team leadership, as compared to guys who bring the pedigree of having won with Sutter, and do things the right way.
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Old 11-25-2021, 10:15 AM   #14
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Of course it starts with Sutter, but players have to buy in and be involved.

Your top players have to do their job, of course. But so do the depth guys, and I don't think fans appreciate that enough. Fans want goals, and see 'event hockey'. But the little battles matter. Shutting down the other team matters. Doing your job every shift, definitely matters.

And it isn't just that they know how to do that, it's the professionalism they bring every day. Not just every shift, but also in practice. And having that confidence and maturity rubs off on the young guys.

It's a hard thing to put your finger on and identify. But coaches and players have been saying it for as long as I have been watching (the sixties), and no doubt long before that. Experience, and in particular championship experience, matters, according to pretty much everyone who has made it to the highest level.
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Old 11-25-2021, 11:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Enoch Root View Post
Of course it starts with Sutter, but players have to buy in and be involved.

Your top players have to do their job, of course. But so do the depth guys, and I don't think fans appreciate that enough. Fans want goals, and see 'event hockey'. But the little battles matter. Shutting down the other team matters. Doing your job every shift, definitely matters.

And it isn't just that they know how to do that, it's the professionalism they bring every day. Not just every shift, but also in practice. And having that confidence and maturity rubs off on the young guys.

It's a hard thing to put your finger on and identify. But coaches and players have been saying it for as long as I have been watching (the sixties), and no doubt long before that. Experience, and in particular championship experience, matters, according to pretty much everyone who has made it to the highest level.
My point is, the idea that a past leader (for instance Mark Giordano) couldn't have brought the same or better professionalism as Brad Richardson, a guy who played around 8 minutes a night on the Kings, and didn't even participate in the Cup Final, is more fantastical than rooted in reality. It makes a great narrative, but is it fact?

I think it was telling that Gio was selected to be Captain by a championship winning coach back in 2013. Hudler had the championship experience. Cammalleri had been on deeper playoff runs than Gio too. A guy like Bob was the epitomy of merit for this organization, because he didn't have championship experience goggles (for other guys too - Bollig or Raymond for instance)

Of course to some extent you want guys who have been through the wars. No one is discounting the experience of Gelinas for us in 04, or Justin Williams for the Kings. And in that sense, the experience of someone like Milan Lucic who was not only a champion in 2011, but also had some major on-ice playoff heartbreaks in 2010, 2013, and 2014 is invaluable. Thr most important thing however to note is that Lucic was here last year, and here the year prior. Where was the culture shift then? Didn't the team culture get worse replacing Neal with Lucic?

I just take exception to the idea that a guy who was just along for the ride is somehow causing a trickleup effect on this team's best players. This team had some pretty important leaders in past years. It reminds me of how much Gulutzan kept insisting Troy Brouwer's experience was vital to the team's success.

You don't have to have won, to be a winner in terms of how you carry yourself.

You don't have to be a winner, to have won, either.

I'm sure Richardson and Lewis make the coach happy with their attention to detail, habits, consistent effort etc. But I'm equally sure, for instance, 2019 Ryan and Hathaway would have made the coach equally happy, even with zero experience in the postseason.

Winning makes a guy like Richardson or Lewis seem heroic. But the results come before, not after, that.
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Last edited by GranteedEV; 11-25-2021 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 11-25-2021, 11:16 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by GranteedEV View Post
My point is, the idea that a past leader (for instance Mark Giordano) couldn't have brought the same or better professionalism as Brad Richardson, a guy who played around 8 minutes a night on the Kings, and didn't even participate in the Cup Final.

I think it was telling that Gio was selected to be Captain by a championship winning coach back in 2013. Hudler had the championship experience. Cammalleri had been on deeper playoff runs too.

Of course to some extent you want guys who have been through the ways. No one is discounting the experience of Gelinas for us in 04, or Justin Williams for the Kings. And in that sense, the experience of someone like Milan Lucic who was not only a champion in 2011, but also had some major on-ice playoff heartbreaks in 2010, 2013, and 2014 is invaluable.

I just take exception to the idea that a guy who was just along for the ride is somehow causing a trickleup effect on this team's best players. This team had some pretty important leaders in past years. It reminds me of how much Gulutzan kept insisting Troy Brouwer's experience was vital to the team's success.

You don't have to have won, to be a winner in terms of how you carry yourself.

You don't have to be a winner, to have won, either.

I'm sure Richardson and Lewis make the coach happy with their attention to detail, habits, consistent effort etc. But I'm equally sure, for instance, 2019 Ryan and Hathaway would have made the coach equally happy, even with zero experience in the postseason.
It isn't about one guy bringing it. It isn't a 'thing' that the leader carries in to the room. I mean, it can be at times. But it's more than that.

Richardson and Lewis aren't the leaders on the team. To some extent, Lucic is a leader for sure. But you don't have to be a leader to lead.

It is a huge boost to the culture of a team, and great for the stars to see, to have your depth guys be leading by example, being the hardest workers, being professional every day, being 'reliable', and knowing (and doing) the little things that help you win.
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Old 11-25-2021, 11:21 AM   #17
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I don’t think it’s about making the coach happy, Granteed

IMO it has more to do with leadership. Suppose guys like Tkachuk and Johnny know the team relies on them to win, and view themselves as the leaders. And Geoff Ward knows that if they don’t bring it, the team is going to be in tough. Best players have to be your best players, right? Are they going to look to Nordstrom, Leivo and Simon for anything? I don’t really see it. The coach didn’t even trust those guys enough to slot them consistently

Contrast to Sutter who has multiple Cups, and now has his Richardson, Lewis, Lucic. The guys doing things the right way bring the credibility and veteran leadership that helps get the buy in from the young top offensive guys. These guys did it, and the top line guys are seeing Sutter’s message reinforced by people he trusts

It seems pretty logical to me that the combination of Sutter plus his leadership group is having tremendous impact on the whole team.

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Old 11-25-2021, 11:22 AM   #18
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I'm sure Richardson and Lewis make the coach happy with their attention to detail, habits, consistent effort etc. But I'm equally sure, for instance, 2019 Ryan and Hathaway would have made the coach equally happy, even with zero experience in the postseason.
It's not just about making the coach happy, it's about having earned the respect of both the coach and the other players. Lucic, Richardson, Lewis, Coleman. These are guys that not only make the coach happy by playing the right way night in and night out, they have been there. They can positively contribute to the locker room and command respect even as 4th liners (in some of their cases) because they have the experience and the pedigree. They actually know what it takes and what kind of effort is required to win the cup. It's not just coming from the coach, it's coming from guys scattered throughout the roster.

I loved Hathaway, but if you think he commands even 1/4 of the respect a guy like Lewis does, you're probably wrong.

Sports psychology is a real thing. A big part of the game is played between the ears, in the locker room, and in practice. To change the culture you can't just have one coach and say "ok, change the culture," you need guys who buy in. And the more guys you have, the easier it's going to be to change the mentality of guys who struggle with buy-in. It's natural for guys like Tkachuk and Monahan who may not be producing the way they'd like to go back to old habits, but they have an entire team holding them accountable and saying "this is the way you win" from guys who have actually won.

Saying any one of these guys was a passenger is completely missing what it takes to win the cup.
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Old 11-25-2021, 11:24 AM   #19
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^ that is well said
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Old 11-25-2021, 11:35 AM   #20
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Gaudreau throwing that check is culture. It’s confidence and playing to an expectation and knowing that there is a team, and a few really tough guys who will support him if it’s needed. That hit is probably as energizing and Lucic escorting the puck to the net. It’s everyone pulling the rope the same. I’m sure the goalies are as excited when either gets a shutout, and it’s a team confident in their play and their system and each other. And fancy stats and traditional stats don’t measure that. And it’s also fickle, so hopefully it continues and makes for something special.
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