The following is the brief interview with Flames GM, Craig Button. This is the first of what will become a quarterly interview with Mr. Button asking him the most up to date questions confronting fans – particularily Flames fans today.
First of all I would like to report that the web site I write for Hockeysfuture has been tremendously surprised by the early success as a result of your trades. On behalf of the Flames fans on that site I would like to say “Thank-you for sticking to your guns and doing what you knew was right even though times were tough.”
I have a few questions I woudl like to ask you.
1. Do you feel this success will continue throughout the year, or do you feel that the team took the opposition by surprise and as teams get prepared to play us throughout the year they will be more prepared and make the games more difficult?
[Craig Button] We feel prepared to have success throughout the season. We want consistent, high performance and this is what we are building.
2. I asked you once after the draft what you felt the teams weakness was, you stated goal scoring at that time. Is that still the main focus of your attention, or are you looking at other areas moreso now?
[Craig Button] At any time, where you can strengthen your team we must explore the opportunity. Natural goal scoring is rare but by adding it, you can alleviate some pressure on the team.
3. I noticed you added several more scouts to the system – in particular in europe, could you share with our readers your thoughts on that?
[Craig Button] Players enter the NHL through the draft in 95% of the cases. It is imperative that we have a scouting system in place that can identify NHL players. With the NHL being a Global league, it is mandatory that we have a strong presence in ALL areas where this is NHL prospects.
4. There is much confusion over the actual status of Kobesaw, how long does the team have to sign him? and can you recall him if you sign him this year? does he qualify under the Van Ryn exemption for college students that leave to play in the WHL. And how do you feel playing in the WHL will change his development from playing in the NCAA?
[Craig Button] We have until June 1, 2003 to sign Chuck. After he returned to junior as an unsigned player, we can’t recall him. Chuck felt that playing more games in the WHL was a positive move for him to prepare for the NHL. It’s not a question of what I think as much as what he will put into the situation he is playing.
5. Where in the standings do you anticipate the team to finish? and do you anticipate any significant changes over the next year?
[Craig Button] Change happens in the NHL on an annual basis. The significance of any changes will be assessed after we have completed this season. We are going through the season with a purpose to be consistent and purposeful in our play. If we accomplish this the standing will take care of itself. Truthfully, I don’t like prognosticating.
6. Many people feel that the Flames Blue-line is among the strongest in the league both in terms of youth and talent. Many have compared it to a young Dallas blue line.
[Craig Button] We like our defense group and feel that they compliment one another and work very well together. The Dallas defense is very strong and to be compared to them is a great compliment.
7. With Leopold coming up next year, and the recent draftees from high school in the USA as defense prospects. Do you forsee any of the big 4 defenders becoming expendable? (Morris, Lydman, Regher, and Gauthier)
[Craig Button] I see this group of four growing together as Flames.
I would again like to take this opportunity to thank you for your time, and wish you the best of luck for the rest of the season. you have this writers full support. Thank-you for producing a competitive team for us fans.