January 6th News and Notes

Robert Cleave
January 06 2011 06:48PM

              

The dog days of the season are here in full force, especially for those of us that cheer for Calgary. I would guess that for most fans the initial burst of interest brought on by the GM's removal has been replaced again by the familiar feeling of ennui that watching this team causes on most nights.

There's still news to be had, though, and on this week's review of matters near and far, the Flames fall on the Coast, the Habs drop another D man, and Jamie Langenbrunner's days in Jersey appear to coming to an end. 

FLAMES

Last night's effort needs no more rehashing from me except to say that when a team can ease off the gas as early as Vancouver did and still never look troubled, that's not a good sign for the team chasing the game. The haplessness that the Flames exhibited in the last couple of outings might well encourage Jay Feaster to only draw up one plan for ownership over the next few months, i.e. one that wouldn't concern itself with the results for the rest of the year.

I will add that if anyone thought that simply removing Darryl Sutter's dark presence would allow the team to play a better brand of hockey they can forget that, because you can lighten the mood all you want, but if the players are inept, you won't win. 

Brent Sutter spent this morning engaged in the normal fruitless activities that a coach feels compelled to attempt in dark times, shuffling his lines in the vain hope that he can find a combination that turns this group into the '78 Habs. Actually, I doubt he's that deluded, since he benched Joker in the second period after a few more errant passes, then removed him from Iginla's side in the third.

It also appears that he'll have Niklas Hagman exchange a press box seat with Ales Kotalik tomorrow evening when the Red Wings alight at the Dome. That shouldn't be a surprise. Kotalik's doing very little, and the Flames are the wrong team for a player with one plus skill (PP shooting from the point) to flourish on, as we've also seen with Jokinen. 

One matter that might strike a few people as odd was Sutter airing out Kipper after last night, but he's not completely without reason. Most of Miikka's dropoff in SV% is because the Flames couldn't kill penalties against  house league bantam teams most nights, but Kipper isn't quite where he was last year, and the Bieksa goal was not good by any standard. He's still a fair ways down the overall list of evildoers for this season, though. 

An interesting side note to the Flames' termination of J.D. Watt's contract was this comment from Jay Feaster. It's never bad to have a spot on your roster available just on the off-chance that a deal hinges on taking back an extra player and it isn't like Watt was adding anything of value to the organization, so that's prudence on the part of the boss.

The farm team could use some sort of help, though. They, like the big club, can't score a lick, and they're likely hoping that Mitch Wahl can get his year going after returning from a broken face. Wahl played his first game in six weeks on Monday, and as with so many Flame prospects, he hasn't been able to translate junior production to the AHL. It would be good to see him stay healthy enough to develop over the rest of the year, if nothing else. 

ELSEWHERE 

              

The Oil play the streaking (?!?!?) Islanders tonight without the services of Jordan Eberle, and it isn't just his wonky ankle that's a concern after an emergency appendectomy earlier today. The visitors have their own injury issues, of course, and Rick DiPietro's adductor strain means that Calgary product Nathan Lawson will have an outing at the Rex. As I mentioned in the preview on Monday, the trade of Dwayne Roloson was no big deal, since the Isles have no interest in success this year.

Roloson has had a mixed start in Tampa, as the veteran was chased by the Penguins one night after shutting out the Caps. He's still seems like he might be an upgrade on the Lightning's incumbent 'tenders, Smith in particular. Last night's stinker by the Bolts was really mostly notable for Steve Stamkos' wipeout and the Penguin that was hurt during the evening's proceedings.  

Sidney Crosby was rendered hors de combat for this evening's match in Montreal after suffering some sort of upper body malady, although his coach says it's not a significant problem. 

If Sid were a defenceman, I'd advocate avoiding Montreal just for precautionary reasons. Josh Gorges is the latest victim of the curse infecting the Bell Centre, as Pierre Gauthier announced today that the Habs' rearguard will miss the rest of the year due to a knee injury, joining Andrei Markov on the surgically unable to perform list. The trade for James Wisniewski makes more sense with Gorges' injury news, since they'd be expected to fill the same type of 4th-5th D role.

In happier injury news, the Blues, currently playing the Leafs in T.O., will likely welcome T.J. Oshie back to the lineup in the coming weeks. The feisty winger is recovering at a faster than expected clip from his ankle surgery, and Jeremy Rutherford hints that a late January return is possible.

David Perron's coconut is an ongoing problem, so the news that St. Louis might be a potential destination for Jamie Langenbrunner isn't that much of a surprise. They have the cap space to take his ticket without sending any money back.

ON THE MOVE?

             

The rumours surrounding the veteran winger have ramped up this evening, as he was asked by Loophole Lou to waive his NTC in general terms today so that the Devils can attempt to make a trade. Dallas has also been mentioned of late as a possible destination for the 35 year old UFA to be and the Flyers have tabled an offer of draft picks, according to Anthony SanFillipo.

The Devils can't exactly take a pile of salary back, and if they do take any dollars back I'd guess that the player in question will be in his early 20's. Picks and/or prospects are the most likely return of choice.

FINALLY

Like most of you, I watched Canada's pratfall of a third period last night in Buffalo, although I have a very hard time getting too bent out of shape over the matter. Canada has a pretty astonishing grasp on the hockey world, but no team or nation wins them all, so losing a major tournament on occasion isn't the end of the world and shouldn't be considered some sort of national disgrace for these young men. 

That's it for this week. If there's anything you'd like to see get some attention, post a link in comments.

1a1030a8151ca7a0d81aea58f0fb1dbc
Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 negrilcowboy
January 06 2011, 07:28PM
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I find it very difficult to grasp the logic behind publicly embarassing your best player, let alone your star goaltender. Brent Sutter is walking a very thin edge by airing his disapproval of Kippers's performance of late. That is a closed doors sit down.Embarassing Kipper who has won the Flames more games than the alleged "system" is the wrong approach. I have not hear any players publicly questioning several coaching gaffes. A non existent powerplay,the goalie rotation why not start Karlsson against the Oil and Kipper against the streaking Isles? The continuos line shuffling, the lack of scoring from the 2nd and 3rd units? Alienate Kipper and your days in Cowtown are numbered, an unhappy world class goalie on a near cellar dwelling antique hockey club undoubtedly has leverage.

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#2 Wayne
January 06 2011, 07:41PM
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I thought the flames were gonna get kotalilk to go to Europe to spend the season?

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#3 FireOnIce
January 06 2011, 10:19PM
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If Sutter were still around, he would've offered up Backlund, Wahl, and a couple picks for the Langenbrunner reclamation project. And then sold it to us as "the final piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle".

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#4 CitizenFlame
January 06 2011, 10:48PM
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Sutter calling out Kipprusoff is laughable. The Flames can't score, so Kipper needs to be perfect everynight? The Bieksa goal was crap, but the third goal was a tip and the first he had no chance on. Call out the defenceman before you call out the goalie.

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#5 negrilcowboy
January 06 2011, 11:16PM
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CitizenFlame wrote:

Sutter calling out Kipprusoff is laughable. The Flames can't score, so Kipper needs to be perfect everynight? The Bieksa goal was crap, but the third goal was a tip and the first he had no chance on. Call out the defenceman before you call out the goalie.

Calling out Kipper may be a dangerous move, especially when your team is in 14 th.

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#6 mikeecho
January 06 2011, 11:43PM
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Where is Ken King to step in and defend his goalie.

He didn't like it when JBo was called out in the media for being soft, which is a fair criticism.

Now his own coach goes and calls out the best and most consistent player on the team. I can't believe he'd stand for that!

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#7 BCFLAME
January 07 2011, 12:01AM
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In regards to Kipper, there can only be two reasons behind B Sutter's public condemnation: a)They're hoping to rouse him to his 09-10 form; b) they're preparing to scapegoat him in an attempt to trade him at the deadline. For some reason, I just believe B Sut isn't confident in Kipper, and, given some of his performances this season, he may stand vindicated.

However, how many times can you ask the poor fellow to stand on his head and give the Flames a chance. He may be just getting tired and too old for this $^!#.

Get rid of Butter, try to find a better replacement, and get some scoring help (young scoring help, that is). I'm tired of people claiming that he's a good coach. I have seen absolutely nothing in his system, approach, and the results they have entailed that suggests he's the answer to anything.

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#8 44stampede
January 07 2011, 12:49AM
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The dog days are certainly here. What happened to this team? Nobody seems to care except a select few. Hags used to be one of those guys who showed up every night and fought regardless of how bad things were. Same with Glencross and Bourque.

Team Canada did us proud. Very tough for those kids to lose like that. Hopefully will be able to use it to build on and eventually, be a better for it.

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#9 CitizenFlame
January 07 2011, 05:46AM
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@ BC Flame- I think I finally agree; time to jettison Brent Sutter. I hear a lot of how he is a great coach. He brings structure, but that's it. No results. The worst two seasons in nearly a decade are on his record. Everyone complained about Keenan because they never practised the PP, is it any better now? I don't have anything agains Brent Sutter but the results aren't there. He isn't meant to coach this team.

@ 44stampede- agreed as well. Time to start making the trades. The middle two lines have given up. There is no fight in this group. To be fair, it was probably prompted by the benchings. In any organization, the employees will have worst attitudes when they are managed poorly. Having 14 forwards for 12 spots is not good management on an ongoing basis. Competition is good, but how can players concentrate on playing if they are constantly thinking if they screw up they are benched?

Finally, I know that players may be worth more at the deadline, but I keep seeing trades this year including players similar to what Calgary has available. Hannan to Washington in particular, comes to mind (Could've been Saarich?). Langenbrunner will soon be available. That is just another aging center on the market to compete with what Calgary will be trying to shop going forward. This team needs to move a forward, a center specifically to create space for Backlund full time.

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#10 mikeecho
January 07 2011, 09:06AM
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Although I still think Brent is fairly unproven in the NHL, I've never really had any issue with him...until now.

After watching 24/7 (I know it's a tv show and was produced to create a certain effect), I just can't see Brent being as positive, engaging and high energy as a guy like Bylsma in Pittsburgh.

Bylsma seems to have the ear of his team, they have fun, and he really seems to preach a positive, high energy environment full of confidence (which the Flames see to sorely lack).

You could say it's easy to do that when a team is a winner, but he took over a team in the same position as the Flames (granted I think they had a million times more talent) in mid season as a rookie NHL head coach and had them finish the season as cup winners, so that has to say something.

Any time you see Brent, he seems to drone on and on about 1 thing...the system.

He reminds my of the teacher on Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Bueller...? Bueller...?

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#11 the-wolf
January 07 2011, 09:40AM
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I don't think the season can be blamed on Brent Sutter. He's not my choice of who I'd have hired, but he's hardly the reason this team is suffering. Face it, Iginla is the most overated leader in pro sports. Everyone talks about emulating Detoit, but Detroit's best players buy into the system and show up to work hard every night. No honest observer can say that about the Flames captain. Face it, when the best player on the team, the captain and face of the franchise takes periods off, games off, stretches of games off, then what does that say to the rest of the team?

You then consider the lack of talent and scoring ability, how is that Brent's fault? Even when the team does show up and generate chances they can't put them in.

And it's not like Keenan, Playfair or Darryl had these guys any more motivated than Brent. They're still the same inconsistent group as always.

Why? Because it's the same core and leadership group now as back then. A "special group" as Darryl himself put it.

Besides, if we were to somehow go scorched earth, Brent would fit well in that scenario.

That all said, I'd purge the organization of King and all the Sutters and Todd Button and Feaster just to start with a clean slate.

On the other hand, as long as ownership stays the same, will anything ever change?

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#12 everton fc
January 07 2011, 09:43AM
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I've said this before here; Brent does not seem capable of inspiring veteran players, which we have in spades. The young coahes in Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Tippet in Phoenix have a lot of youth, but also a lot of vets. These young coaches are inspiring all players. This is critical, in any business.

I like the Sutters. Always have, as hockey players and people. But the times have changed. Young coaches can also be fair-but-firm. Young players need fair-but-firm. They need structure. And they need to be surrounded with a supporting cast of classy, dedicated vets who can help them mature. We have a few of these vets on the roster. But we also have some younger vets who are too soft on the ice. Stajan. Bouwmeester. Bourque.

With the Habs down another d-man, they may take a vet like Sarich for more than he's worth. To me, Sarich is the type of vet you want in the dressing room as part of a "youth movement". But he's expendable, at his current price tag. Or maybe the Habs would take Pardy for, say, a pick and Lars Eller, who hasn't done much yet, but at 19 years of age, may have a future... Or how about Sarich (or Pardy) back to the Bolts for someone like Bergenheim? (Just throwing out names/ideas) Timing's everything, isn't it?

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#13 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 10:11AM
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@everton fc

Maybe the "CORE" can't motivate the coach. Its the midway point of the campaign and the Flames need to play 670 hockey, might as well say gotta win 7 of every 10. This franchise is in crisis mode. A pro scout from another organization stated that in his opinion the Flames were half a decade away. can't wait until tonight when Lobotomus and Charlie wag the dog against Detroit. The media coverage of the Van game was a joke,radio had them as the dominant team,tv had them snakebit, and one print had them as outgunning. Blow the whole thing up. Make it known that every single player GIO included is available at the right price.I stated Gio because he is the only one of your assets that a championship team would want. He is your captain, your heart and soul and deserves to hoist the big mug. strip Silent BO of the A. he's as vocal as a mute and as gritty as emery cloth.

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#14 Monaertchi
January 07 2011, 10:23AM
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@the-wolf

A-friggin-men.

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#15 everton fc
January 07 2011, 10:27AM
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@negrilcowboy

All human beings are self-motivated. Some need inspiration.

Whether in sports, or business, inspirational people fire-up most around them. Those that are drips, malcontents, and so on, need to move on down the road.

We have a lot of drips on our roster. Some soft players. And probably a few malcontents. These mutts need to be moves. No question. I do disagree with those who say Iginla is a problem here. The problem is obvious when you look at our #1 centre, and our 2nd and third lines. Poor player personnel moves, and bad contract. But that's my opinion.

I guess giving Brent a shot with a roster he helped build, as opposed to one inherited, warrants discussion. But I have my doubts about Brent here. In Calgary. Not necessarily as a coach...

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#16 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 10:47AM
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@everton fc

Maslow's hierarchy of needs. These guys don't have a worry in the world. Big houses big bank accounts. a few of the core have been winning the lottery every year.In horse racing the credit often goes to the horse, but the hardcore gambler looks at the jockey.

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#17 everton fc
January 07 2011, 11:40AM
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The jockey "inspires" the horse. Developing trust. Earning respect.

Sometimes using the whip.

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#18 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 11:56AM
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@everton fc

You'll never win the Kentucky derby ridin a Clydesdale.No matter how good the jockey, but a bad jockey can fall off the horse in the gate.

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#19 Rain Dogs
January 07 2011, 12:10PM
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I'm pretty sure Kiprusoff can handle criti-vation?, moti-cism?, throw-kick in the under the bus?

If Sutter is trying to motivate under hard times, go for it. I don't think he's delusional enough to do it if he knows it will backfire.

However, if he believes what he's saying at face value, especially in regards to THAT single game. Then he IS delusional.

I always find this idea funny:

pretty fancy tip-in in front by Sedin "can't go in the net on us."

....uhhh.... apparently, it can. Maybe WE should try that.

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#20 Tach
January 07 2011, 12:14PM
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For all those looking to blow things up and go on the rebuild - New Jersey just got a 3rd to conditional 2nd rounder for Langenbrunner.

That is a 34 year old on an expiring UFA contract - making the salary cap hit pretty much irrelevant. Dude only has 14 points this season, but he has been pretty consistent the last 4 years with an average .75 points per game.

Where does this put the market for, say, Hagman who is .5 points per game over the same span and also on an expiring UFA contract. Maybe a fourth rounder - maybe a fifth? What about a guy like Glencross who is under a half point per game over the past three seasons? How long is it going to take to rebuild through the draft with a selection of fourth and fifth rounders. Way too long in my estimation.

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#21 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 12:20PM
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@Rain Dogs

perhaps the Flames troubles scoring are all "systemic". I will have to analyse all the stats, but i will overlook one critical telltale one, heart. I will give the shots on goal, aka feable dumps at the net and time of possesion 40 feet from the net heavy sway in my breakdown of the play.A juniour scot told me years ago after watching Pat Kane play, and i paraphrase it. You can take the other team and a garbage pail of pucks, and i will take kane and six pucks, and i will win.

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#22 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 12:34PM
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@Tach

Very good point, Jamie 12 letters has also been a CAPTAIN,and WON TWO CUPS.What he brings to the room is worth the 1.5 mill dollar hit. Winning. If i was with the Flames management i would have Sarich walk around the room and show all these flat tires the reason why you bust a nut every night.

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#23 icedawg_42
January 07 2011, 02:53PM
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We need to convince someone that Stajan is worth a third rounder and a bucket of pucks.

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#24 negrilcowboy
January 07 2011, 03:38PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

We need to convince someone that Stajan is worth a third rounder and a bucket of pucks.

I'd set for a bobble head and a happy meal.

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#25 everton fc
January 07 2011, 04:00PM
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Stajan could be packaged. Or, he could end up leaving here the same way Primeau did. He might do better in a non-hockey market, like Nashville, Carolina... (Of course, they'd actually have to be interested!)

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