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!