Calgary Flames Trying to Improve Their Mental Game

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27: Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames speaks with the media  during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

An interesting tidbit out of the Flames’ development camp: they’ve hired a mental development coach (Dave Paskevich).

I’m not sure if this was Darryl Sutter’s call, or if it was made for Sutter, but it indicates that someone in the organization thinks that the Calgary flaws aren’t necessarily talent-related.

Earlier this month, I suggested Sutter was revisiting some of his less successful signings to prove they were actually strong signings that didn’t execute properly.

If Sutter is behind the Paskevich hiring, that could indicate he thinks the problems with Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay were mental. And solvable.

If it wasn’t Sutter’s call, it still indicates a faith in Sutter’s moves. Someone believes the Flames are a good team that just needs to get out of its own collective head.

One of Paskevich’s techniques is helping athletes learn to control stress. I guess it’s a good thing Mike Keenan is no longer coaching. And maybe it’ll be good for Sutter to have Paskevich around as he fights to keep his GM job.

It’ll be interesting to see how much of an impact Paskevich has.

It seems a bunch of NHL teams now use some kind of mental skills coach. The Senators, Canucks, Maple Leafs, and Blackhawks have all used one.

Obviously, it worked well for the Blackhawks. For the Maple Leafs? Maybe not so much. Although, maybe things would have been even worse without their mental development coach.

But it’s good to see the Flames actively trying to change their fortunes, rather than just repeating the same mistakes, which is pretty much what free agency was about for them.

Speaking of the Flames, here’s an interview with one-time Flame Eric Nystrom on what it was like growing up on Long Island as the son of Islander great Bobby Nystrom.