Flames GM Brad Treliving: ‘hub cities’ gaining steam but ‘can’t just keep kicking the can down the road’

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the league’s four “hub cities” proposal is gaining some momentum but stressed on a conference call with reporters Friday that it’s certainly not done by any imagination.

“No. 1, where?” he asked. “What’s the traveling part look like and then when? If you go that route, is training camp in your own city or is it in one of the hubs? … Once you get to the city, when are you there, how does everything work?

“It’ll probably be a mandated traveling party, how many players, what’s the roster and all those things so certainly a number of issues to look out, but I think those are easily done once you have a format together.”

Treliving explained on the call that the league has a three-phase plan to resume the season. Phase 1 is self-quarantining and isolation, which players are required to do through April 30. The second phase is access to team facilities when players return to their NHL cities, including getting the players back on the ice. Lastly, is training camp.

Then there is the draft. Treliving confirmed the league called its clubs regarding the yearly summer event with June as a potential option. The original dates, June 25-26 in Montreal, were postponed at the start of April. The Flames GM warns of the league pushing all offseason activities too far back.

“The first thing we all have to recognize is that we’re not in a perfect position or perfect world,” Treliving said. “So at some point, you got to start checking off some of these boxes. There’s going to be a lot to be done so you can’t just keep kicking the can down the road.”

As noted, there are obvious questions about the draft order and conditions on picks but Treliving expects those to be sorted out in due time. The Flames have a conditional third-round pick attached to the trade last off-season that saw the Flames flip James Neal to the Oilers for Milan Lucic. The conditions: Neal must score 21 goals in 2019-20 and at least 10 more goals than Lucic. When the season paused, Neal was at 19 goals and Lucic had eight.

The Flames executive said he and his scouts watched Thursday’s first-round coverage of the NFL Draft to get a feel for how a virtual draft would work. Outside of the draft being long, he said it was really well done but did bring up the availability of team facilities and whether people can gather together in one spot.

“I thought watching it, if you follow that script, the most challenging thing was that you got a coach, a (general) manager, your personnel people, your scouts all in different locations,” Treliving said. “As you stare it down and the camera goes on, there were a bunch of phone lines. You need a lot of phone lines because you’re talking to a whole bunch of people and you want that secure and you don’t want that public.”

He assumes that if the draft does occur before the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season, that trades involving players wouldn’t be allowed. When the season will actually resume is still up in the air, however, the notion of players needing time to prepare and get back into game-shape is priority number one.

“I really do think it’s important to recognize a training camp and some league time is going to be needed,” Treliving said. “We’re going to be approaching two months here and in a lot of cases players nowadays, even after the season, don’t take this much time off, anytime.

“You talk about training, even their regular training has been different and unique so I think whatever we need to get the green light, we have to look out for the players and make sure they have enough time to properly prepare without putting them in a vulnerable position.”

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