Monahan given every opportunity to
The Calgary Flames are willing to let rookie Sean Monahan learn from his
mistakes and build experience.
TORONTO, ON -- It's going to be a rough season in Calgary. It's going
to be a rough few seasons in Calgary. Right? Based on what you see on
paper, that's probably the best way to describe it.
The Flames have been needing to "rebuild" for some time. They should
have traded Jarome Iginla one season prior to actually doing so. They
should've moved Jay Bouwmeester out sooner, too. There are still some
pieces on this roster that some could argue should be dealt now.
But this season's group of Flames is a hard-nosed one. They're willing
to work and they're willing to battle. Most pundits didn't expect the
Flames to start the year off with a 1-0-2 record, collecting four
points out of a possible six. Granted, it's super early, but it's
clear head coach Bob Hartley isn't afraid to hand the keys over to
certain players in certain situations, and that's led to some early
"You make a good team with good people," Hartley said. "That's what we
have. We have work to do. We're not celebrating, and we're not happy
with where we're at. We should have six points. We're disappointed,
but at the same time we're not living in the past.
"The 20 guys in the lineup, we're happy with them. The effort is
there. I think the execution is still a work in progress, but at the
same time, as long as we see that intensity and that commitment is
there, I don't see a reason to change."
Star rookie Sean Monahan, drafted sixth-overall in June, is a prime
example of Hartley's coaching tactics.
The Brampton, Ontario native has been put out in almost every
situation in his first three games in the NHL, and while he's produced
well, it's evident he has a lot to learn at this level.
"We have a saying in our coach's office: Mistakes are acceptable, as
long as you learn from them," Hartley said.
"If we're going to keep him and not play him, we might as well send
"It always makes me laugh when (people say) a young coach can't coach
in the NHL because he has no experience, or a young player cannot play
in the NHL because he has no experience... If you don't play him, you
can't go to Walgreens and buy experience off the shelf. Experience is
a combination of success and failures."
In his first three games, Monahan has scored twice and added an
assist. He's eager to play and eager to learn, and while Sunday's home
opener wasn't his best showing, you can see the intensity in his game.
"He's creating a lot offensively, he's making some plays with poise
that guys who have played 600 games in the League wouldn't even have
the poise to make, and that's what we're impressed with," said Flames
defenseman Dennis Wideman.
"Sure, there are going to be some mistakes. He's playing center
against some really good players as an 18-year-old. There are going to
be some mistakes, we just have to be there to back him up."
Monahan has also made friends by admitting his mistakes. It's one
thing to sit back and battle your in-game demons internally, but when
you step up and take responsibility of your blunders, your teammates
As for the kid himself, he's willing to play wherever the coach puts
"I'll take whatever I can get," he said.
He's averaged just under 13 minutes of ice time per game and should
see that number climb as he gets more games under his belt. He's going
to continue to play with an offensive chip on his shoulder, but he
knows where he needs to improve on as soon as possible.
"I think you can always focus more on defensive zone coverage,"
Monahan explained. "It's something I want to continue to get better at
and that's something that will help me in my career."
The Flames have something special in Monahan. He's a gifted athlete
and with more games under his belt, he'll soon own Calgary in a few
seasons. I didn't see too many Monahan jerseys at the opener, but I
suspect that'll change pretty quickly.