Here’s the craziest thing about Sam Bennett’s trade request.
It never happened.
Bennett has not asked the Calgary Flames to trade him.
Several sources inside the club told Sportsnet.ca team management was blindsided Saturday by Elliotte Friedman’s second period report that cited Bennett’s agent, Darren Ferris, as saying his client would like a “change of scenery.”
No one inside the organization is questioning Friedman’s reporting.
But everyone is questioning how a certified agent could think this is an appropriate way to try effecting positive change for his client.
This isn’t to suggest Bennett isn’t contemplating whether the grass could be greener elsewhere.
Clearly his agent didn’t just make this up.
It just wasn’t properly communicated to the team.
It would shock no one to hear Bennett is unhappy alternating between Calgary’s third and fourth line, where the playoff specialist has gone back to being pedestrian with one assist, nine shots and a team-worst minus-4 rating in seven outings.
No one should expect him to be thrilled to see Dillon Dube, or newbies like Josh Leivo and Dominik Simon, given top-six tryouts the first seven games while he bounces between centering the fourth line and playing wing on the third.
But the proper way to go about exploring a possible parting of ways starts with a sit-down with the coach to express his frustration.
If that resolves nothing then the GM is alerted that the player sees the situation as untenable.
Now, as the team endeavoured to do Sunday, it’s up to the player to add clarity to a situation that immediately threatens to disrupt a team that had just come out of a players-only meeting in search of more unity.
Bennett needs to decide what he wants, and own it.
It’s an unnecessary distraction for a club at a critical juncture.
The Flames are understandably fuming.
The timing is horrific, especially since Bennett’s play is once again miles from the impressive standard he seems to set every playoff.
We’ll stop short of calling it selfish, as he has yet to crystalize his thoughts to management.
Ferris has done his client a tremendous disservice by going public with any of this.
Bennett has one more year left on a contract paying him $2.55 million, and the Flames have control of him as a restricted free agent one more year after that.
He is ripe for being one of the most logical players to be snapped up by Seattle in the expansion draft, so why would Ferris think this is a good time to go public with this?
It would make more sense for Bennett to transform into the annual playoff monster he’s known as this summer, upping his stock via the Kraken draft or trade.
Now, by virtue of his agent’s move, he’d be much harder to trade, or perhaps even keep in the lineup.
Perhaps the idea was to mimic the move Allan Walsh made in December 2018 when he suggested via Twitter coach Bill Peters was trying to run Michael Frolik out of town by demoting him from the second line and making him a healthy scratch. The team responded by moving the Czech winger back alongside Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk for a while to prove his worth. He did. It worked out for stretches before he was traded the next year.
This is different, as Bennett has had plenty of opportunities over his seven years in Calgary to step into some prime assignments. Some would argue being Backlund’s winger is a solid perch.
He simply hasn’t taken advantage of them, as he constantly reiterates as the key moving forward.
Selected fourth overall in 2014 as the highest pick in Flames lore, Bennett’s frustration with his career thus far is as understandable as a possible mindset that a change of scenery could change his fortunes.
This is a deep Flames team because of talented, gritty players like him.
But after scoring 18 goals as a rookie, the bulk of his regular season play has been marked by his penchant for needless offensive zone penalties and finishing on the minus side of the ledger every single year.
If not for Playoff Sam Bennett’s legendary Beast Mode it’s unlikely the 6-foot-1, 195-pound power forward would still be a Flame.
The potential he shows every playoff is what makes this relationship so frustrating for both sides.
And now, frustration is what has clearly prompted Ferris to try forcing the issue, just as the agent did days earlier with another one of his clients, Victor Mete, in Montreal.
No doubt seeing Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Pierre-Luc Dubois force their way out of their teams last week empowered this move.
Ferris did not return a text and Treliving isn’t in any mood to discuss the matter publicly.
This is an evolving – quite possibly devolving – situation.
You can bet if Bennett does eventually confirm he wants out, this could get ugly.
In many ways it already has.