Flames scouts pay price

The Flames draft record over the past decade, under the watch of GM Darryl Sutter, hasn't produced...

The Flames draft record over the past decade, under the watch of GM Darryl Sutter, hasn't produced the results needed. (QMI Agency/Mike Drew)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:14 PM ET

The grand poobahs of the Calgary Flames avoided losing their jobs.

Not the same for a trio of scouts.

Mike Sands, the amateur scouting director, Al Tuer, the WHL scout, and Fred Devereaux, who was based in New England, did not have their contracts renewed.

Tod Button, the teams scouting director, delivered the news to his charges, a tough task since he and Sands worked arm-in-arm for 10 years, and Tuer was part of the staff nine years.

Theyre good scouts and theyre good people. You spend a lot of time with these people on the road, eat meals with them, go to games with them, are in constant communication. Thats tough, Button said Thursday. The toughest part though is (people having) the simplistic approach to blame them for whatever shortcomings people see in the draft record. To me, thats not accurate and its not fair.

The ultimate responsibility of the draft record is mine. Theyre not being blamed for everything. Its a re-shifting, refocusing and a refreshing of the amateur scouting department.

Still, the draft record isnt pretty.

The club has a solid crop of young players coming out of junior this year and next, with the likes of Greg Nemisz, Mitch Wahl, T.J. Brodie, Bryan Cameron, Tim Erixon and Ryan Howse.

But the first few years under the watch of GM Darryl Sutter havent produced the results needed.

For example, only one player from the incredibly deep 2003 draft has become a full-time NHLer, Dion Phaneuf, who was traded away last season.

A few others have made the jump Brandon Prust, Dustin Boyd and Adam Pardy all came from the 2004 draft, but others have been slow developing, such as 2005 first-rounder Matt Pelech, 2006 first-rounder Leland Irving. Pelech will be given a good chance to make the team next season, as will Brett Sutter and Mikael Backlund.

The club still has high hopes on a few other players from that era, notably John Negrin and John Armstrong.

However, Button said the organization has a plan in place to restructure.

Is there more to come? Yeah, there will be more shifting, more change, more additions to the staff. That will come out when the full plan comes out, he said. Its not change for change sake. Its different view points and a different way of looking at things. Its not to appease anybody. Theres constant evaluations going on and we want to shift the way we do things.

There will be a new amateur scouting director.

The position will be filled, but I dont have a name for you yet, Button said.

The Flames are not cutting their scouting budget. In fact, theyve been steadily adding to their scouting staff over the years.

Button said they will take their time finding the right people, and fit a revamped staff around that.

Its more getting the right person in the right area. Weve got to go through the process, make sure youre making the right decision, he said.

Were looking at the who right now, not the what.


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