STOKING THE FIRE - NOVEMBER 3rd

Vintage Flame
November 03 2011 11:40AM

 

So here we are ten games, and a month into the season. As Kent pointed out in his article, Calgary has shown more areas that they need improvement in than they have excelled at. The PP being the obvious focus, and the inability to move around in the offensive zone to create better scoring chances with the man advantage, left Kent and many more of us with frustrating feelings and apparently hostile desires towards our T.V.'s. The Roman Statue reference was a suiting one I thought.

The Flames went with a different format prior to last game, going with the 11-7 formula, leaving Matt Stajan as the odd forward out and Anton Babchuk back in as the 7th D-man. The 2 game winning streak probably wasn't that indicative of the format change, thus we saw Stajan inserted back into the line-up vs. the Canucks. Babchuk isn't a great option against Vancouver at ES, so having the extra forward was probably seen as the better move at the time. As it turned out, it didn't really matter what they did or who they dressed. The whole team as a unit played horribly and was exposed in every way by the Canucks.

MOVING ON

One Roman that hasn't behaved like a statue and has been a popular topic of conversation is Roman Horak. With five points in his first seven games with the Flames, the youngster has moved up in scoring, but what has been more impressive is even at his young age, he is being counted upon in a strong defensive role as well. Horak is sitting around 60% for defensive zone starts, so he is hardly being given sheltered minutes, and has improved his face off percentages, adding to his defensive success. He has received praise from not only the coach, Brent Sutter, but also his teammates. Sutter praised Horak for his ability to absorb like a sponge what he has been taught, and practice it; most comments that have been common from both sides have been about Horak's work ethic.

"He's a good kid. He's a smart kid. He wants to learn every day and he's asking questions (about) what he can do better, to be a better player. It's great to see a young guy who wants to learn. He works hard every day." - Olli Jokinen

Everyone is really saying the same thing right now. I could probably give you the links to several different stories around FlamesLand, but I'm going to focus on one in particular that was brought to my attention by my good friend (but still recently fired agent) icedawg_42. Mark Spector is knowledgeable and always a good read. The dude knows his stuff. That being said, I was a little put off when I was directed to his latest article. Really Mark? Come on man... If you wanted a quote or an interview, all you had to do was ask. If you notice the date of Mark's article, it's Nov. 2nd. If you still have no idea what I'm talking about then let's rewind the clock back to Oct. 25th, when yours truly shared his thoughts on the plights faced by the Flames much maligned GM. Of course I'm kidding and I'll just chalk the coincidence up to a good fortunate choice of topic on my part... Even though I was first.

Let's not dwell on the sour; there is enough with the team right now. Let's get to the good stuff. My good friend, the infamous and quickly evolving notorious Book of Loob took a different path to get his point across the other day. After writing an extensive 11 point plan to save the Calgary Flames, he quickly turned on his own writing. The next morning he came out with the blazing sequel to which I have now dubbed, War & Peace, if you still account for the previous night's rant. Get a cold drink and a snack people; it's a long read, but damn worth it.

"OK, so more to my point last night. What I was trying to say was, if you're of the opinion that the Flames are simply no good and that the whole thing needs to be blown up and the team needs to start fresh, I want to know what you think that accomplishes right now?" - BoL

 GOOD NEWS

Yeah, believe it or not, there is some good news in FlamesLand. How about this? Kris Kolanos made his return to hockey and the Abbotsford Heat last week after not playing, due to injury, since Jan. 16 2010. In his first game back he notched three goals and added an assist for a four point night in a 5-1 win over Grand Rapids. For his efforts, he was also named the AHL Player of the Week. well done Kris, and congrats!

One guy that we don't get to hear much about is Flames prospect John Gaudreau. The tiny but mighty forward is doing well at Boston College and has drawn the attention of the Flames brass. He is second in team scoring, one point behind fellow Flames prospect, Bill Arnold.

Another prospect that we haven't talked much about since his return to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, is Michael Ferland. he is currently second in the WHL, with 14 goals, and had a stellar game the other night with a 3 goal and 1 assist performance in a 7-3 win over the Swift Current Broncos. If you are looking to see this kid in action, the Wheaties are in town to face the Hitmen on Friday (*ahem.. icedawg!*); see this kid in person, he definitely has some skills.

RUMOUR MILL

Well here we go again with the Kyle Turris rumours. Not only are they not going away... they are actually gaining momentum. The good people over at Matchsticks & Gasoline have said that according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Flames are very interested in Turris, though just how serious they are on the aquisition, is still unclear. I shudder to think of the fall-out if this deal somehow includes Mikael Backlund...

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 icedawg_42
November 03 2011, 11:52AM
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nice job - any article that mentions me by name (twice no less) is definitely worth a read.

I hope beyond hope that Feaster doesn't move Backlund for Turris...I dont think he is that stupid. I still wouldn't be surprised to se Bork as part of that deal though, especially knowing that the Flames have been shopping him.

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#2 RKD
November 03 2011, 12:04PM
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First, I would replace Matt Stajan with Paul Bryon. Paul has speed, enthusiasm and drive. Sure Stajan is good on face-offs, but he's not a fourth line checker. Stajan is in the wrong role on this team.

Hopefully, the return of Backlund can spark the Flames. I would insert Backlund as the #1 center because Morrison isn't doing anything right now. Moss has been up and down on the first line.

If the Flames are in the sweepstakes for Turris, I say bring him on if the price isn't too steep. He's 22 years old, if he falters now he still has time to recover.

Bring back Nigel Dawes, lots of speed and was able to score.

Maybe the Flames will look like this in December:

Tanguay-Backlund/Horak-Iginla Glencross-Jokinen/Turris-Moss Bourque-Turris/Jokinen-Hagman/Kostop Dawes-Horak-Jackman/Morrison

No room for Stajan.

Way too much standing still by the d-men, put in Brodie/Carson see what they can do with speed.

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#3 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 12:06PM
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If the Flames wanted Turris that badly I don't see how they could reasonably expect to get him but to offer Backlund in the deal, or give up a 1st round pick. Maloney has to do a deal that serves his team, and frankly swapping a developing top 6 centre for a developing top 6 centre is what he should at least be trying to do.

Love the pics, VF, especially anything including that cantakerous doomsday-device-hoarding Farnsworth.

I really do hope the Flames turn this thing around and start climbing up the standings before Christmas or it will be a long winter.

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#4 PrairieStew
November 03 2011, 12:15PM
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How about Bourque and Stajan and maybe we can get a right handed defenseman in return - how about ex Flames Morris or Aucoin ?

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#5 icedawg_42
November 03 2011, 12:15PM
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I dont see a scenario where Bourque Backlund and Turris are all on this team together.

Backlund: NHL GP:97 G:11 A:24 PTS:35

Turris: NHL GP:131 G:19 A:27 PTS:46

Is it really worth giving up Backlund for Turris? IMO it is not.

I think Turris has been given better opportunities too if im not mistaken

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#7 icedawg_42
November 03 2011, 12:26PM
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lol @ the invisible man pic...although you could argue that Stempniak has been even more invisible.

the moral of the story is: NO ONE who has ever worn a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey should ever EVER EVER become a Calgary Flame.

*EDIT* Unless he's Lanny McDonald

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#8 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 12:41PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

lol @ the invisible man pic...although you could argue that Stempniak has been even more invisible.

the moral of the story is: NO ONE who has ever worn a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey should ever EVER EVER become a Calgary Flame.

*EDIT* Unless he's Lanny McDonald

A little late for that. The Leafs-cancer has been steadily metastisizing since the Phaneuf trade.

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#9 FireOnIce
November 03 2011, 12:45PM
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Is Olli Jokinen teaching Horak how to hit the posts better? Why are we letting him teach any of the youngsters anything?

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#10 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 12:48PM
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I would agree that a Turris for Backlund deal would be exchanging a known for an unknown (like a scratched lotto ticket worth $5 for an unscratched one that MIGHT be worth $50). But if Feaster has his mind set on it that who knows what could happen.

Lowe once traded a 4th round pick for Ales Kotalik who later had to be sent away by the Flames gift-wrapped in a 2nd round pick just to cover the stench. Sometimes management decisions confound us.

I guess my point is that from Maloney's perspective, he needs to move Turris and bring in someone, be it roster player or prospect or asset, that wins him the deal. As I've said before, if I'm Maloney I'm calling Chiarelli and asking for the secret formula of turning an unsigned RFA into a collection of franchise and complimentary players. Hint: find a blowhard with a chip on his shoulder and an ego.

I'd move Bourque closer to the deadline or as soon as he heats up and to an Eastern team where his ups and downs might not be so well-known. If you're lucky you could pull a Penner-esque deal.

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#11 Graham
November 03 2011, 12:51PM
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I'm not sure that I trust Feaster and Flames scouting department to properly evaluate the true potential of Turris.

If this guy really is a true #1 center and lives up to his third overall pick potential, you have to throw everything into the mix (including Backlund and or a first round pick). Likely Bourque plus a first or Backlund.

If his potential is a 2nd liner, I can see throwing Bourque the other way.

Needless to say, we can't afford another Stajan.

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#12 Kent Wilson
November 03 2011, 12:52PM
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Bourque for Turris might makes some sense. Especially since the Coyotes have Langkow, who seems to have been the thing that made Bourque a decent player.

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#13 suba steve
November 03 2011, 01:26PM
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I would love it if everyone would realize....Stajan is not an asset. Any trade involving him is going to hurt, just like the Kotalik deal. Bourque plus Stajan will net you less then Bourque alone.

To summarize: Stajan

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#14 Kevin R
November 03 2011, 01:43PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Bourque for Turris might makes some sense. Especially since the Coyotes have Langkow, who seems to have been the thing that made Bourque a decent player.

I think it would have to be Turris plus for Bourque. There is a lot of interest in him. Dont care if Turris was a 3rd overall, the price has to be right or let someone else give a 1st round pick for this guy, I dont see consistent 27 goal scorers being dropped on Maloney's lap.

I'm just mind boggled about Nashville signing Rinne for 7 years & 49 mill. Wow! Did they get some Obama stimulus money? Does that tell Weber & Suter they're serious & about to open the vault or hey, please take 4.0mill cause weez broke? I like Rinne, but, 7.0 mill a year????

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#15 the-wolf
November 03 2011, 02:02PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Bourque for Turris might makes some sense. Especially since the Coyotes have Langkow, who seems to have been the thing that made Bourque a decent player.

Bourque may be inconsistent and painful to watch a lot of nights, but at least we know he can score. I'd give up a 3rd rounder for Turris - tops. Anything else is too risky, especially moving Backlund who we at least know is not a complete jack-hole as a person.

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#16 the-wolf
November 03 2011, 02:03PM
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Kevin R wrote:

I think it would have to be Turris plus for Bourque. There is a lot of interest in him. Dont care if Turris was a 3rd overall, the price has to be right or let someone else give a 1st round pick for this guy, I dont see consistent 27 goal scorers being dropped on Maloney's lap.

I'm just mind boggled about Nashville signing Rinne for 7 years & 49 mill. Wow! Did they get some Obama stimulus money? Does that tell Weber & Suter they're serious & about to open the vault or hey, please take 4.0mill cause weez broke? I like Rinne, but, 7.0 mill a year????

Agreed - too much for a goalie.

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#17 icedawg_42
November 03 2011, 02:06PM
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That Rinne contract is completely baffling. It's almost like advertising that you are going to let Weber or Suter walk to UFA - then again the Preds are a cap floor team, or close to it, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. They are going to really regret that contract in a couple years (Luongo anyone?)

you are not going to get Turris for a third round pick. No chance. You'd have to at least throw a prospect like Neimsz in with that pick imo.

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#18 everton fc
November 03 2011, 02:38PM
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RKD wrote:

First, I would replace Matt Stajan with Paul Bryon. Paul has speed, enthusiasm and drive. Sure Stajan is good on face-offs, but he's not a fourth line checker. Stajan is in the wrong role on this team.

Hopefully, the return of Backlund can spark the Flames. I would insert Backlund as the #1 center because Morrison isn't doing anything right now. Moss has been up and down on the first line.

If the Flames are in the sweepstakes for Turris, I say bring him on if the price isn't too steep. He's 22 years old, if he falters now he still has time to recover.

Bring back Nigel Dawes, lots of speed and was able to score.

Maybe the Flames will look like this in December:

Tanguay-Backlund/Horak-Iginla Glencross-Jokinen/Turris-Moss Bourque-Turris/Jokinen-Hagman/Kostop Dawes-Horak-Jackman/Morrison

No room for Stajan.

Way too much standing still by the d-men, put in Brodie/Carson see what they can do with speed.

Byron has yet to prove he's not a career minor-leaguer.

Morrison should be the 4th line centre. Backlund will be the #1 centre soon enough, though I see him as a #2... Perhaps a #3 on a very strong third line.

@Kent

"Bourque for Turris might makes some sense. Especially since the Coyotes have Langkow, who seems to have been the thing that made Bourque a decent player."

I second this. Makes sense. Perhaps Turris and a pick for Bourque. Or Turris and a d-man for Bourque and Babchuk/Smith/Sarich.

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#19 everton fc
November 03 2011, 02:40PM
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I bet if someone researched it... Bourque's goals would have made no difference in the games tghey were scored.

In general, I mean.

He's certainly not "Mr. Clutch". But on paper, he has a lot of goals...

Two reasons to move him. Hagman would get the LW on the 3rd line. Would it be much of a difference? Really??

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#20 the-wolf
November 03 2011, 02:51PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

That Rinne contract is completely baffling. It's almost like advertising that you are going to let Weber or Suter walk to UFA - then again the Preds are a cap floor team, or close to it, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. They are going to really regret that contract in a couple years (Luongo anyone?)

you are not going to get Turris for a third round pick. No chance. You'd have to at least throw a prospect like Neimsz in with that pick imo.

Probably not, but that's fine by me. I side with the Book of Loob opinion on this guy - completely unproven and obviously a bit of a douche.

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#21 Kevin R
November 03 2011, 02:54PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

That Rinne contract is completely baffling. It's almost like advertising that you are going to let Weber or Suter walk to UFA - then again the Preds are a cap floor team, or close to it, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. They are going to really regret that contract in a couple years (Luongo anyone?)

you are not going to get Turris for a third round pick. No chance. You'd have to at least throw a prospect like Neimsz in with that pick imo.

I wouldnt mind throwing in a prospect like Nemitz & a 2013 3rd rounder. But if Bourque or Backlund have to be in that deal, Feaster should just pass. I think Bourque will garner a much bigger return than Turris.

I think teams like Nashville that have self imposed caps have to spend the dollars on high goalies because they will win you games & keep an inferior team closer & appear more competitive in games. I just didnt thing Rinne was a 7.0 mill goalie, his pay level cap hit should have been in the Kipper/Luongo/Bryzgalov range of 5.0-6.0 mill. I cant help think this deal jeopardizes them signing both Suter & Weber, I think only 1 will get the big $$$. Feaster should be having a big dialogue with these boys.

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#22 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 03:50PM
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Okay, this is going to be long, better pour yourself a cup VF, but if the Flames want to retool/rebuild-on-the-fly primarily pursuing the UFA market here's what I think.

You are going to lose through free agency Hagman, Jokinen, Stempniak, Moss, Morrison, Kostopoulos, jackman, and P3L. 3 centres, 2 LW’s and 3 RW’s. If you were to keep to the template of retooling using UFAs and we were to assume that the Flames, because of recent history, are not the primary destination for the top-tier of UFAs available at this time (Suter, Parise, Semin) then here’s a sample of what you could target to get back and rebuild the team on the fly with a focus on hard work, grit, puck-moving defencemen and some proven talent.

To replace Jokinen, Moss, and Morrison (and to be frank, I don’t see Moss walking on July 1st) you could target three of the following four: Jarret Stoll, Jiri Hudler, Paul Gaustad, and Torrey Mitchell. To take it further, if you were only replacing two centre positions by assuming that Moss re-signs and were to assume that Hudler would be unavailable because of Detroit ties that would still leave you with some decent options of people who may not receive a lot of attention on July 1st. Next, the wing. Losing Niklas Hagman only hurts because it has taken too long to happen, and the P3L experiment needs to die, and this is coming from an Oilers fan. So, on the port side you could target Tuomo Ruutu, Marco Sturm, and Travis Moen. All decent players, two of whom may be flattered if you were to call them right away with good offers, and would add something the Flames are currently lacking: heart. The starboard side is flush with opportunity and deep with options for wingers to play behind Iginla on the depth chart. You are losing Stempniak, Kostopoulos and Jackman. The available players here are Shane Doan, Brad Boyes, Andrei Kostistyn, Mikael Samuelsson, David Jones, and Mike Knuble. This group is of a higher tier than the other two categories thus far, but with so many available options one would have to assume that Feaster could at least attract two of the six to come to Calgary.

On defence you are set to lose Sarich, Hannan and Smith. Again, assuming you were to replace them all with UFAs rather than prospects at this point in your franchise’s development you would have the options of J.M. Liles, Pavel Kubina, Barret Jackman, Johnny Oduya, Willie Mitchell, Braydon Coburn, Joe Corvo, Johnny Boychuk, and Kent Huskins. Every one of them would be an upgrade on the backend relative to their positions (ie: if Babchuk is seen as a PP specialist, Corvo is a better one).

So, there are the options for Feaster to target immediately with aggressive, confident offers to improve the team and instill in it a more workman’s attitude that most Canadian fans admire, again assuming that all are still available this Canada Day.

At the trade deadline next year the Big Call has to be made about Iginla, but in the meantime Feaster can begin to create a more accountable, honest, and hard working atmosphere in the dressing room. It might even convince Iginla to sign an extension and stick around. It doesn’t tank the team and it doesn't mean the long, painful rebuild that so many fans and media in Calgary find to be anathema. So tell me, if Feaster came away on day 1 of free agency having attained two-thirds of replacements from those lists above, would Flames fans be happy?

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#23 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 03:54PM
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As for Turris, ask yourself this: if you had a former third overall pick with a good deal of potential holding out on you and demanding a trade, would you accept a third-round pick for him? If your answer is yes then you've just sold your franchise short and weakened your perceived position of power relative to other GMs and your players. Maloney actually has a fair bit of power in this arrangement and he needs to win the deal so he has all the time in the world to let some GM who needs to make a splash give him the proverbial "offer he can't refuse".

I only wish my Oilers could have a similar bidding war for Omark.

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#24 the-wolf
November 03 2011, 04:00PM
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I don't disagree, I'm just saying I'm not that interested in someone with his character who has done nothing in this league and so if I got him for nothing fine, otherwise, I could care less about Turris.

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#25 everton fc
November 03 2011, 04:30PM
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@rex

Good post.

"if you were only replacing two centre positions by assuming that Moss re-signs"

Moss is playing RW these days. And if he walks, Stempniak is an adequate replacement. I can't see us singing both. Unless Moss moves to centre, which I also don't see.

Signing either (or both) rules out David Jones, who I do like.

With Horak, where do you play Ruutu? 3rd line??? 2nd, to replace Jokinen? I see him as a third line option on a very good team. Sturm's too old, and Moen is pushing 30, as well.

I like Ruutu over Gaustad. Gaustad's pushing 30, as well.

Jackman's an ideal 4th line RW. I'd sign him. Keep him in that role.

Defencively, I think Coburn's worth a look. Ditto Boychuk. I'd gut our d-corp. I'd keep Gio and Butler. That's it, but that's me. I'd keep Hannan, as an experienced 5-6 guy, but only if he came cheap. To me, Butler-Hannan is a good 5-6 combo.

@wolf

I agree that Turris comes with a perceived attitude problem. He's a definite crap-shoot. But maybe worth the risk if we also had a coach (like Renney up in Edmonton) who's also good with younger players.

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#26 RexLibris
November 03 2011, 04:56PM
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@everton fc

My requirement for players was guys between 26 and 34 and not top-tier, please-form-a-line-to-the-left-of-my-throne UFAs.

And sorry, but since when is a guy in his 30s not suitable for the Flames? If you want UFAs and you want to keep them under 30 you are fishing from a darn small pond. It's like Montreal demanding a franchophone coach and GM, it severely limits your options.

As for your D, I don't think Bouwmeester is going anywhere. The trade value that most fans seem to apply to him is the trade value of 2006, not 2011. Unless you can find a GM looking for some cap baggage to bring his team up to the floor I don't see that contract moving.

The biggest advantage that I can see in bringing in all those UFAs is that it gives you the chance to change the culture and perhaps reinvigorate the others.

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#27 Kevin R
November 03 2011, 06:34PM
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@RexLibris

Rex, nice realistic analysis of the UFA scenario, but it's basically just changing dirty underwear. If you cant land Suter or Weber or Parise, then dont bother resigning different journeyman players. Just play the kids. You know what, there is no retooling thru UFA's unless you have major pieces in place already or journeyman to fill in the blanks of youth in place. You cant retool 1/2 the team with UFA's. Would imagine Feaster knows that so expect Feaster to resign a few, let a few walk, trade a few & start next year with 3-4 rookies.

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#29 RexLibris
November 04 2011, 12:01PM
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@Vintage Flame

I realize that Suter, Parise, et al are going to be the ones that Flames fans feel are truly needed to get the team to where you feel it should be but my point in this exercise is to highlight the kind of improvement that could be made in incremental changes that might immediately improve the team. That is, in my estimation, what the fanbase here has been calling for rather than any prolonged detour through the bottom of the league. From where I sit, I would absolutely take any of those available free agents over the existing roster options. And as I said before, I don't think age is a determining factor for your team. Regarding the Flames prospects, I think Baertschi, Gaudreau and Reinhart, to name three would be well served to spend another year developing after this one. At least let them spend some time in the AHL. I know that has been too common a refrain during the Sutter years, but rushing them into a no-win situation when a team is already full of expiring contracts and veterans on the tail-end of their time only puts them at risk. The Oilers did that with Gagner and it didn't help him at all, that's why they waited with Eberle until the dressing room environment was healthier for young players.

I don't see any real way of gathering draft picks for the Flames outside of moving Kiprusoff who, as you noted, becomes a focal point at the end of this year with the NTC coming off. My assumption is this: if Kiprusoff is traded it signals a rebuild in more practical terms than a trade of Iginla would in a symbolic one. You have 20 men on the ice that can, potentially, score. You only have one that can play goal and there is no replacement for the role that Kiprusoff plays with your team. If he goes I don't see any realistic way that the Flames can expect to be anything other than a bottom-third team because your backups aren't of the same calibre, your defense isn't strong enough and your forwards can't score enough goals to make up the expected difference. Just as Iginla is the gate through which 90% of your offense must pass, so Kiprusoff seems to make up about 90% of your team's defensive game plan.

This isn't a damning criticism of the Flames, any good goalie should make up the majority of the team's defensive strategy, it's just that there doesn't appear to be anyone waiting in the wings to pick up that mantle without a significant dropoff.

It seems that your team is slowly being pulled towards an inevitability and the fans (bloggers included) are arriving there reluctantly as well. That the next two years are going to involve letting the team play poorly, and bad contracts expire, to focus on drafting prospects and playing rookies, and pursuing some key free agents. In other words, a rebuild. It isn't exactly like the one here or in other cities, but just like sport itself, no two teams play exactly the same style but they all play the same game.

How many cups is that, now?

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