VOICE OF THE NATION - WRITE IT DOWN

Vintage Flame
October 13 2011 10:55AM

 

 

 

So here we are two games into the season and the proverbial vultures are already circling the Saddledome waiting to pick the bones of a lifeless team, hollowed out by empty promises and misguided optimism from a newly appointed GM.

Does that about say it all? Did I miss anything?

The Calgary Flames got off to what at the least can be referred to as  a rough start. Okay it was a horrible start. But is this any reason to throw our hands up and start calling for the heads of the Flames coaches, management and to trade everyone not named Glencross, Tanguay or Giordano? I hardly think so. But what the hell did happen? Even the most optimistic of fans were left scratching their heads wondering, 'did this really just happen... already?'

Look folks, it's two games gone with 80 left to play. Why on earth are we putting ourselves through this already? It seems like it is just one thing after another lately, that all comes back to Jay Feaster. We have a ton of room in the comments below. None of you have ever been shy in voicing your opinions in the short time I've been writing here. So let's hear it people. What can Feaster do to make you happy as a fan base?

Half of the people were screaming for a full scale re-build, yet when he trades two core members of the team, we're suddenly ready to burn him in effigy. I have made no secret of the fact that of the core members on this team, Feaster absolutely made the right choices in Regehr and Langkow. The Flames are not going to change into an instant Cup contender over night, no matter how badly we want it, or how many live chickens we choose to sacrifice.

The other half of the fans seemed to be against the burn-it-to-the-ground solution, but did want to see change; a re-tooling of this squad. Well that's what happened, yet we are still not happy. Was it that the wrong people were traded? Were the wrong people re-signed? Did he not sign someone he should have? I wonder, because when I look at it, I don't see any viable alternatives to what jay did do in the off-season. However, in the interest of not sounding like the complete homer that I am, let's take a closer look at these three... points of contention?

Feaster traded the wrong players

I'm not really sure how anyone can subscribe to this to be honest. Regehr was a great defenseman for this team, but he was slowing down more and more every year. I don't believe he was the menacing obstacle that he was in 2004 and as for the infamous tunnel of death that existed between Reggie and the boards; it was quickly becoming an opportunity for faster opposing player to 'shoot the gap'. Reggie's offensive numbers are not really lost on the team either. in each of his last two seasons, he registered 17 pts. That's points, not goals. the year prior to those, he got 8 pts; none of them goals.

Speaking of not missing offense... We didn't even have Langkow last year, save four games, and the Flames still managed to finish in the top 10 in NHL scoring. Yes Langkow was our best two-way forward, but he was not going to be part of the future of this team. His health status and age were huge question marks, if not red flags for Feaster and I was happy to see him move both of these contracts, something that so many people thought he would not be able to do.

Feaster re-signed the wrong people

Four immediate names come to mind. It was the talk of the town as to who was going to be re-signed between Glencross and Tanguay because there was no chance that Calgary would be able to afford to sign both of them. Most of the consensus was on Tanguay, since he was the one that seemed so vital to the play of Jarome Iginla. isn't it funny now, how the accolades fall more upon Glencross and espcially the trio that we have come to call simply OMG?

 

 

Neither one of these signings seem absurd anymore. Dollars, term... It's all out the window since it's done and over with. It also doesn't hurt that Glencross and Tanguay are arguably Calgary's best forwards to start the season.

The other two re-signings, I agree, are questionable. Babchuk and Morrison leave a lot to be desired in the eyes of many fans. At the time of Babchuk's signing, prior to inking Scot Hannan, it looked like Anton was going to be playing top 4 minutes. Not a desireable slot for a D-man that was basically signed as a PP weapon, but a defensive liability. When the Flamesnation wroters picked their Stars and Goats for the year, Kent's choice for goat, fell on Anton Babchuk.

"Although I'm sure Brent Sutter is going to shelter Babchuk as much as possible again this year, I think he'll still end up a goat for various reasons: first, because I doubt he'll be north of a 60% zone start again, meaning he won't start so many shifts in the offensive zone. That's a difficult ratio to sustain for any regular skater, let alone a defender. If, for instance, Cory Sarich starts the year on IR, Babchuk will have to take a few more minutes and defensive zone draws.

In addition, Babchuk was by far the luckiest Flames defender last year. pucks went in at an uncanny rate when he was on the ice. if that falls away, his defensive short-comings will be much more apparent."

As for Morrison, many thought the move to re-sign him was the wrong move to make. I'll put myself in that category as well, though I do see why they did it. I'm pretty sure if the Flames had been successful in securing a legit number 1 centerman, then Morrison would not have been re-signed. Morrison was actually my choice for 'goat' this year.

"Even though he was only re-signed for 1 more year, Morrison is 36 years old and coming off a devastating knee injury. It is going to be extremely difficult for the Flames to find a fit for Morrison and for Brendan to find his fit on this team. Last year he was a spark plug in scoring for the Flames while fans watched in dismay at the slow start plaguing Jarome Iginla. that not be the case this year, with too many options already present for the Flames to ensure the captain has a better start."

What's ironic to me is that the Flames re-sign Morrison, contrary to popular opinion; and then lose Backlund to a 6 week injury before B-Mo even gets back into the line up. Not Morrison's fault, but the weak group of centermen that already existed just opened a spot in the rotation that Brendan won't even have to compete for, at least in the beginning. For the record I still think he'll be a goat in the long run for Calgary this season.

Feaster didn't sign the players he should have

I certainly hope people don't think Adam Pardy belongs in this group. Was Pardy a better defenseman than Babchuk? Absolutely, but was he sustainable? Or reliable? Especially for the kind of money he wanted, or got? The fact that he is already on IR should answer those questions.

As for the whale I mentioned before, yeah, let's talk about Brad Richards. Feaster went after him and didn't get him. You can draw whatever inferences you want from it; parallel it to the Tim Erixon fiasco, but simply put? The Flames were in the running, but Brad wanted to play in the East. what can you do? You can't blame anyone for that. Well maybe Brad Richards. Go ahead and blame him, I'm okay with it. The fact that they weren't able to secure Richards is most likely what led to the re-signing of Morrison, so that's where i said I could understand why they signed B-mo.

Like Kent said,

 

 

This team is not as bad as they seem. Iginla needs to knock the cobwebs off after missing all of training camp and pre-season. The Flames obviously need to get Backlund back, hopefully sooner than the six weeks he was projected to miss. What is Swedish for 'Hurry the eff up'?

The defence should sort itself out. Giordano has looked great. I think Bouwmeester has shown that he wants to be a more active player, and has shown shades of his play in his Florida days, sneaking in the back and jumping up on the rush. Butler is what he is. he is unproven yes, but so was Pardy when he joined the Flames. he got better as the season wore on, and I'm confident Butler will too, playing with Gio or J-Bo.

The team on the whole needs to just shoot the damn puck more. you are not going to win many games, regardless of who your opponent is, when you get less than 20 shots on goal.

As for Sutter... Everyone wants him fired? Why? or actually a more important question is who would replace him? the Flames have gone through coaches like Christmas ties and enough is enough. Sutter is a good coach. he is the same guy that was here for the 2nd half of last season when everyone loved everyone and there was dancing in the streets... Cats and dogs living together, in harmony... I'm not sure if there is any merit to this, but this is my thought. I believe the Flames are going to make a strong push for free agents; two in particular. I think the Flames go hard after Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. These are guys to build franchises around. Parise is the guy that takes this team off the shoulders of Iginla and leads this team in probably every aspect. I also think there is a relationship between Parise and Sutter that might allow for a more convincing argument to leave New Jersey and not explore other markets.

I have faith in Feaster and what he is doing for this organization. He said they'll make the playoffs, and I agree with that too. it won't be easy, but hey if it was, Edmonton wouldn't still be the piece of crap team they are and wouldn't have their first pick overall from the year before announcing another first pick overall.

"I'm sorry - Edmonton finished where last year, caller? want to wager on where we finish relative to Edmonton this year? I'm tired of this question, I'll tell you very honestly. I'm getting a little sour. how many teams... every year, for the last  10 years, five years, eight years, have finished in the bottom five, bottom seven, bottom 10? They've had to pick anywhere from No. 1 to No. 10 year after year after year after year,and they still wander in the desert. And they're no closer to getting out than they were 10 years ago.

You know what? I look forward to the Battle of Alberta for the next X number of years. If the idea is, 'Burn it to the ground,' then Ken can find another manager to do it."

I like this attitude and I agree with his sentiments. WRITE IT DOWN!

E42f2ca09dfb26046c3060ff46473aff
Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 Colin
October 13 2011, 01:12PM
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@Vintage Flame

I agree with VF, especially on the 12 contracts coming off the books, lets take a look shall we:

Sarich 3.6M, Jokinen 3M, Hagman 3M, Kostopolous ~1M, Morrison 1.25M, Ivanans 600K, Hannan 1M, Smith 700K, PL3 500K

I'm not listing Stemp or Moss in the equation as I think both may be resigned, thats almost 15 million to work with there, that should give us something to work with to attempt to land a Suter or Parise.

Backlund, Stemp and Moss have a total cap hit of 4.5M right now, I can see that number going up some, but its not gonna eat into that 15M that badly that it will take us out of big free agent territory.

And with a new CBA there may be a Penalty Free Buyout again, so goodbye Babachuk and his 2.5, Stajan and his 3.5 and you suddenly have damn near close to 20 or more Million to work with. When you have a good core of Tanguay, Iggy, Backlund, Bouwmeester and Giordano, that 20 million will go a good way to improve the team next offseason.

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#2 Emir
October 13 2011, 11:10AM
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I'm a touch worried about the reactions to these two games. It really mirrors Canuck fans... I'm used to the critical fanbase but the whole jump out the window the sky is falling down mentality already is nutty to say the least.

Yeah those two games have been awful, but the fire him trade him bench him thing is crazy.

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#3 Kent Wilson
October 13 2011, 11:15AM
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@Emir

To some degree, it's a reflection to the general mindstate of the Flames fanbase. The club has finished two straight years out of the playoffs despite capped out teams and everyone is somewhat aware that the window is closing on this core of players.

As such, the faithful are highly vigilant towards signs of failure.

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#5 Domebeers.com
October 13 2011, 11:29AM
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Hayley Wickenheiser for coach. That is all.

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#6 icedawg_42
October 13 2011, 11:32AM
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here is my take: Im not bothered by the losses per se, but as I said in the post game threads, the COMPLETE lack of compete out of the Flames especially in St. Louis is what really bothered me. The Flames were plenty competetive the last half of last season, but you're damn sure that was because of the "Lunch Pail" attitude. As for Brent - he knows what the problem is and im confident he'll fix it. I think he's done a helluva job so far with the Flames. Takes a good coach to actually teach CHUD how to play hockey. Leave Brent be for now. Some people are all over him for "questionable decisions" early on. I've got no problem with him starting Karlsson, but looking at past history, Kipper has dominated vs St. Louis and struggled vs Les Habs, so I might have reversed that decision. Seeing Karlsson in game 2 or game 3? no problem to me - if it gets too far in the season and the Flames are behind the 8 ball, you are not going to see Karlsson much, so lets get him some ice time early. As far as Feaster? I agree with you, he moved out the right pieces so far, the only thing ringing in the back of my head are those 12 pending UFA's - if you dont start moving pieces soon I cant see it getting any easier down the road, just too damn much in play at once...my opinion anyway.

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#7 DontDamnMe
October 13 2011, 11:46AM
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oh yeah....I'm sure Parise and Suter are aching to play for an aging team with a "bottom 5 in the league" prospect list...

Those two want to play in Cowtown about as bad as Hossa wanted to play in Edmonton, but opted for a young Chicago teams that was showing flashes of what they soon would become...why would they come to Calgary? because Sutter coached and befreinded Parise for a little while? News flash...Sutter will not be the coach forever...signing long term with any team because you like the "Current coach" is always a dumb-ass move....cause coaches change....It could happen, but....yeah, probly not.

Just because your team has holes, does'nt mean free agents WANT to fill the holes...especially the top 2 free agents in the league...that for all you know will just re-sign with there current teams anyways...then what?

Parise: Hey Ryan, what say we both sign with Calgary and be the Miami Heat of the NHL and win 7 championships!? Vinatage Flamer thinks it a brilliant idea! I know the coach!(to be fare, Vintage Flamer never mentioned 7 championships, just being colorful and ridiculous...like his view points usually are) Ryan: Is'nt there core a tad aged....er...I want to go some place on the up-swing, or at least some place that you know...wins enough to make the playoffs..uh I'd really rather go to (Detroit, Washinton, Pitts,Philly, St Louis, Anaheim, Carolina...etc...hell even Edm might be more attractive then Calgary at this point)

Keep dreaming

There's always 8 years from now when You guys have finally replenished, and developed your future draft picks....who should be good players, cause you guys are gonna suck bad for a while. It's just how it works.

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#9 Rain Dogs
October 13 2011, 12:44PM
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Feaster absolutely made the right choices in Regehr and Langkow.

Absolutely????

I disagreed then, and I disagree now. And I'll probably disagree at season's end.

He made A choice.... that's absolute, but the right one? Nope.

But it's done.... and now we move on..

I agree that we all need to calm down.

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#10 Graham
October 13 2011, 12:44PM
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I think the fans expect the team to have an identity and to compete day in and day out.

Our current identity is, well inconsistency rules, and the team rarely competes for a full sixty minutes. These are not new issues, in fact these issues date back two?, three? four? or more years.

Why are some of the fans so upset, its the here we go again syndrome, lots of kool aid from the management over the summer, but few if any positives on the ice.

It's not the fact that we lost two games that bothers be, its the way we lost the two games. Lack of compete, lack of consistency, lack of leadership and heart.

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#11 icedawg_42
October 13 2011, 12:49PM
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@Graham

Yup.

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#12 RossCreekNation
October 13 2011, 12:54PM
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These 2 losses don't really mean a whole lot. This team stinks. Period. Its gonna be a long year, especially listening to Oil fan laugh at us with their sh!t-eating grin saying "told ya so".

As far as trading Regehr & Langkow goes, the moves needed to be made. The returns are debatable. And the only thing with Regehr is that they should have waited to trade him until the day after they were able to unload Kiprrusoff.

This group needs EVERYTHING to go PERFECT for them to even have a sniff at the playoffs. Its over.

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#13 Brent G.
October 13 2011, 12:56PM
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Great article VF. I agree with it completely. I am not enjoying this over reaction and no one seems to be able to be made happy by anything Feaster does no matter what he does.

Getting rid of Langkow and Regher were great moves. My only real knock on the guy is Babchuk and even then he should help the PP so its not all lost.

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#14 mslepp
October 13 2011, 01:18PM
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Current Flames/Feaster apologists main argument is that they're not as bad as they're playing.

This is more than likely true.

Conversely, they're also NOT AS GOOD as their second-half run last year, which most optimists were expecting. 'The run' was proven to be a case of having a load off their shoulders (D Sutt) and having a back-scratchingly favorable schedule. Adding to that, IMO 'the run' ended following the Heritage Classic. That's where the terrible start and 'the run' leveled out and they played at the level that best represented the roster/situation. During that leveled off period, they went 10-7-4... averaged out over the season that would equate to 94 points, or not quite enough to make the playoffs in the West and coincidentally, exactly where they finished.

Then, Jay Feaster downgraded the roster (slightly), and now we figure we can just pencil this team into the playoffs? Take a minute and go over Feaster's history as a General Manager (to save some time, I previously wrote a post in regards to this - http://odlawderaj.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/jay-feaster-what-can-we-expect/ - it's over the top and sensationalized, but has all the info on his history that you'll need).

Was I surprised they're 0-2, not a bit. This team has been regressing for over 2 years. I was, however, surprised at the fact that they showed such little effort in both games save for about 20 - 30 total minutes. The team has little to no identity, unless their identity is inconsistency.

The points you make are based on faith. I lost faith in the regime a long time ago and refuse to put it back in until they give me a reason to.

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#15 Domebeers.com
October 13 2011, 01:49PM
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@mslepp

'The points you make are based on faith. I lost faith in the regime a long time ago and refuse to put it back in until they give me a reason to.'

Exactly, well said.

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#17 Kevin R
October 13 2011, 01:57PM
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I think the return for Langkow was good, 2.5 mill in cap space + Stempniak was a solid move. Regehr I thought was worth more & would have commanded a better prospect than Byron with Butler in the deal. Regehr is enjoying & being a big veteran piece to that Sabre team. Feaster may have under estimated RR's value. But its done. Butler should be a 5-6 dman playing with Sarich. The Babchuk signing wasnt a very good one, it just log jammed the 5-6 d position with Butler/Sarich/Carson/Henry/Smith/Brodie/Babchuk We dont have a top 4 & the 10 goals against reflects that. As for the panic, it's just another word for venting & sometimes I find that can be very theraputic:):)

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#19 icedawg_42
October 13 2011, 02:02PM
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Yeah - the return for Lanks in cap and Stempniak is a good trade. As far as the return on Reggie goes, you cant dump salary and pluck juicy assets at the same time. The mandate HAD to have been dump salary when that move was made. Of COURSE you're not going to get freakin all-star players in return. Feaster needed the wiggle room to do what he wanted to do: ensure he had space to sign Scoreface and Tanguay. We'd all LOVE to walk away from every deal giggling to ourselves cause we just rolled our trading partner, but come on.

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#21 Scott
October 13 2011, 02:05PM
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I think the reason why Flames fan go crazy is because we don't know what our team identity is.

As mentioned above, are we a "lunchpail" team, are we an offensive team or a defensive team, a skill team vs an effort team.

The moves made this off-season, getting rid of Regher and Langkow and re-signing babchuk and bringing in Stempniak seem to reveal that mgmt is trying to change this team into an offensive team.

I'm not going to bring into discussion in regards to the players/coach's transition here, but I think flames fans get upset because we expect a defensive team and a lunchpail team and aren't getting that. If the GM wants this team to have more offensive flair, then the defensive lapses that have occurred shouldn't surprise anyone. The fan's expectations of this team and what it has been for the last decade was one built on their idea of grit and effort and team defense. The last fews, since the Keenan era, this team has been bouncing back and forth between what we have expected out of this team and what the Mgmt/coaches have tried turning this team into.

Once mgmt and coachs get on the same page and set an identity for this team (other than one that has fun and celebrates wins) the fans will get onside and these fustrations with game to game lapses will dissappear.

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#22 icedawg_42
October 13 2011, 02:07PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

The Flames have SO much room coming available, that I'm just hoping they don't have the kid in the candy store attitude. Pick a guy like Parise and build around him. They can't just run out on July 1st with pockets full of cash and start signing people.

I think this is an area that Weisbrod is really going to be a key part of. Focus on building this team instead of the signings of individuals.

Just gotta hope that something decent is available and willing to come here when that happens. I hope they dont just resign all these guys...if nothing else, take like for like, but younger, and cheaper. Worst case scenario, you get some of the same guys a lot cheaper I guess.

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#25 Colin
October 13 2011, 02:41PM
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@Vintage Flame

I'm not saying they pull a Florida and spend like drunken Monkeys. I would rather they focus on a big piece like on a Suter or Parise, resign some players like Moss, Backlund, stempniak(He's had a great start to the season as well so far, battling hard and looking good in the offensive zone, I wouldn't offer a contract till midseason at earliest though), and use the remaining cap space wisely and promote from within.

Picking up a Parise, Backlund could center a second line with Moss and Glenncross if Jokinen isn't resigned(which I think will be the backup, if we can't sign Parise or he's resigned by NJ before we resign Jokinen, kinda like Richards/Morrision this year) and we would have two solid lines and we'd have some money to upgrade on defense.

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#26 rubbertrout
October 13 2011, 03:12PM
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Vultures don't eat fecal matter do they? If not I can't see why they'd be circling the dome.

Zing!

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#27 Derzie
October 13 2011, 04:04PM
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We all know that with most of the Dutter baggage coming off the books next year, this year is about building the value of your trading pieces and building a winning culture. So in 2 games, that mission is off to a poor start. That said all is not lost by any stretch. The Flames leadership need to focus on what the problem is. The symptom is really poor and inconsistent effort. There is a reason for that. Normally it relates to coaching, Be it goofball line pairings or yelling too much (or too little) or just not wanting to play for your coach. It also can be a room division. Maybe Gio and Jarome are dividing the room. Who knows? Tonight will be another piece of info. The are 79 more after that. Given next year's cap freedom for Feaster, this year can either be a sellout in a big way or a small way. Either way there will be a sell off. This will be a different team next year no matter what they do this year. That's what Feaster was hired for. This is still mostly Daryl's mess. Feaster did his job of drafing well, getting younger and dropping the cap. He's not skating, that's up the rest of the Flames. Of, and the fact that this year is the last year for this version of the Flames is not news to the players. That may be part of the lack of compete as well. Defeatist maybe. I'm still watching every game knowing that we are at or near the bottom of a trend.

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#28 RossCreekNation
October 13 2011, 05:19PM
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The plan:

-sign any UFA's that you plan on keeping (Moss & Hannan might be a couple I'd consider, but its still too early, particularly on Hannan).

-trade all remaining UFA's for whatever you can get (Olli's interesting b/c you might be sitting there July 1st & see him as the best option by the time that roll's around).

-hope there are teams out there interested in Kipper & Stajan next off season - both have salary's that are lower than cap hits, so some bottom-end payroll teams may have interest there.

-add to core group that I doubt this team moves regardless of what happens this season (Iginla, Tanguay, Glencross, Giordano).

-overbid for key free agent(s) - yes, Parise and/or Suter. Iggy has 1 more year at $7M, then he has to sign for significantly less if he wants to stay & win (could also get an extension done with him July 1st to eliminate the questions).

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#29 Colin
October 13 2011, 05:43PM
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@RossCreekNation

Hannan would be one you look at much later in the season, closer to the Trade Deadline, if the team is underperforming and won't be a playoff team, he's trade bait, team is performing as expected and may squek into playoffs, keep him and asses value in the offseason, team is in fight for 4/5 playoff spot, maybe give him an extension around the trade deadline.

I think the only one we really 'need' to resign is Moss, Backlund is an RFA so expect him to be resigned, the ONLY one that I'm really considering out of all the other UFAs that need to be resigned is Stempniak, I've really liked his game early on, very small sample size of course, but I'd be curious what it takes to re-sign him.

The best thing this Flames team can hope for is that in the CBA negotiations next summer new buyouts without penalties are allowed, GOODBYE STAJAN AND BABCHUCK.

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#31 RexLibris
October 14 2011, 11:59AM
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Hey VF! I skimmed the article and all I have to say is that the Flames are fundamentally flawed in their most basic approach! Everyone knows you don't sacrifice chickens! Cows, man, cows! I shouldn't have to tell a Calgarian this. Goats are acceptable in a pinch, but we all know that nothing gets done by those rink-rat Olympians unless it comes served on a platter filled with beef.

Preferably prime rib.

I would like to add that the Richards' non-signing is very likely similar in many respects to Hossa's refusal to sign here years ago. Although in Richards' case he seemed to pick travel and city destination over Calgary, but the refusal stings all the same. For what it's worth I was actually hoping he'd sign with the Flames. Not because I have your best interests at heart, mind you, but the details hardly matter.

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#33 RexLibris
October 15 2011, 10:58AM
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@Vintage Flame

No no no, see the idea with sacrificing animals was that the gods would take whatever they wanted and leave the rest for the puny humans. FREE BBQ! Zeus and the family are happy just with the smell. And they usually drank wine at those shindigs, hardly savage. Anyway...

I knew Richards would be a long-term high cap-hit contract, which is sort of why I was hoping the Flames would land him. It would have married your team to that player for the foreseeable future. But also, in a non-hating way, it would have allowed Flames fans to finally see results from the old "what-would-Iginla-do-with-a-real-centre" game.

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