STOKING THE FIRE - NOVEMBER 30th

Vintage Flame
November 30 2011 02:08PM

 

Most of the conversation for the past week, or month, or this season, has been centered on whether the Flames could or should trade Jarome Iginla. I’m going to try and stay away from that particular topic in this issue. Instead let’s take a look around and see what else is stoking the fire of Flamesland.

The head-hunters are still out in full swing when it comes to the perceived "quick fix" for the Flames woes. From across the forums to the phone calls Pat faces on a nightly basis on overtime, fans have been calling for the head of Brent Sutter. Domebeers does his part on not focusing on Sutter as the problem but to the fact that Flames management saddled the coach, with a poorly structured team to begin with.

NEW EDITION...

 

It wasn’t the blockbuster move that fans had been waiting for, or rather hoping for but on Friday, the Flames claimed Blake Comeau off waivers from the NY Islanders. Not a bad move for Calgary. Comeau has great speed, but also has a whopping zero points this year after coming off a career performance last year. Some speculate that the change of scenery might be good for Blake as well as add another fast and young forward to the Flames line-up. It’s a low risk move as Comeau will be an RFA, and if things don’t go as hoped, they can walk away.

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Flames were fortunate in their waiver claim as the Ducks, Wild and Predators were all looking at Comeau. The Preds and Wild actually put claims in for Blake but were behind Calgary in the cue. The Ducks were ahead of Calgary, but due to crucial tight money issues, they were unable to make the claim. Cue the talk as to whether the Flames should be on the phone with Anaheim about a possible trade.

Comeau was very excited to get to Calgary, and the Flames wasted no time putting him in the line-up that same night for the game against the Blues. He looked fairly good, considering he knew no one on the team and was thrown right in. He even managed to register a few scoring chances and made a really nice rush to the net that almost resulted in his first goal.

LIFE ON THE FARM...

Elsewhere, there is a lot to be excited about within the Flames, but away from the Dome. Flames prospects are a great story all over the country. In Abbotsford, Leyland Irving was named AHL Player of the Week, marking the second time in four weeks that a member of the Heat has been given the honour. “At 13-5-0, the native of Swan Hills, Alberta, leads the AHL in wins (13), minutes played (1,022) and shutouts (3) while ranking fourth with a 1.94 goals-against average and 10th with a .927 save percentage."

THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT, I GOTTA WEAR...

Back in October, I was really excited about going to the game between the Calgary Hitman and Portland Winterhawks. It was going to be a chance to see Flames first rounder, Sven Baertschi, live and in colour. Alas, it didn’t happen due to an injury that kept Baertschi from playing. Since his return though, Sven has been on a torrid pace and is just tearing up the WHL, closing fast on the scoring leaders. His 45 points in 19 games (yes you read that correctly) has him only 13 pts behind league leader Mark Stone; playing 9 games less. Linemate Ty Rattie earned the player of the week honours in the WHL, but it is widely believed that Baertschi’s strong play has had a more to do with Rattie's success, rather than the opposite.

There is a lot to be excited about with Baertschi, and he seems to be getting better as the season goes on. There will be a lot of eyes on him during the World Junior Championships that are scheduled to begin New Years Day, as no doubt he will be one of the bright spots for the Swiss junior team.

 

Speaking of the World Juniors, Flames fans should be happy to hear that prospects Max Reinhart and Michael Ferland are among the 41 players that were invited to Team Canada’s selection camp. Ferland currently sits 6th in WHL scoring, 3 pts behind Baertschi; while Reinhart is 18th in scoring at 31 pts.

Definitely some good news on the development front. In the meantime, and in between time.. That’s it for now.

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 30 2011, 02:38PM
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FIST!!!!!!

are you saying that Rattie is a benefactor of strong play from Baertschi? After seeing his creativity and skill in camp, I would tend to think so, but then I've never really concentrated on watching what Rattie does.

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#3 xis10ce
November 30 2011, 02:57PM
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I don't work for the Fan 960, so I think I'm free to say I agree with Domebeers, time for KK and the works all the way down to hit the bricks.

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#4 Bob
November 30 2011, 03:08PM
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It's funny how just a short time ago we were lamenting on how poor the prospect pool was for the Flames and now we rant and rave about the kids in our system and we banged the drum loudly to ensure players like Brodie got a fair chance to make the big club. Now we have 3 rookies currently on the roster and we're drooling at the prospect of how many could make the jump next year.

I agree that Sutter is not the entire problem with this team's inconsistency...that's an issue that has been with this core/veteran group since before Brent arrived. However, Brent's refusal to allow some of the players to play to their strengths isn't helping. There's nothing more empowering to an athlete than to hear their coach and GM tell the media that they have to play one certain style because they're not talented enough to do anything else. Yeah, we know the team isn't a offensively talented as others, but what kind of positives can come from the coach rubbing that fact in.

Wouldn't that be a great employee evaluation to have in front of all your co-workers and customers. You know Bob, you're a decent worker for what you do, but your not that good at any particular thing. There are others that are younger and more talented than you, but we can't get them to work for us right now. Just do as your Manager says and we'll make it through this tough stretch. Well, good talk, go get 'em!

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#6 Bob
November 30 2011, 03:51PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:
Brent's refusal to allow some of the players to play to their strengths isn't helping.

I don't understand this comment. What players are you referring to, and what is your basis for saying Sutter isn't letting them play to their strengths?

There's nothing more empowering to an athlete than to hear their coach and GM tell the media that they have to play one certain style because they're not talented enough to do anything else.

Well yeah, that's why he is the coach. Too many of the Flames think they can play a river hockey style and they simply can't. I'm not sure how many more examples they need to see that, but 2 games under .500 at the 1/4 mark, should be enough.

You can bet that for every 1 time Sutter has made those comments to the media, that he has told the players 10 times, so it's not like the players are hearing them for the first time through the media.

I'm not endorsing that Brent let Iggy and Tanguay play "river Hockey", but when I watch this team and watch how Brent matches lines it's seem on most nights it's just "One" system and Brent wants everyone to buy in. That system is basic, be defensively responsible, try to get turn overs or reduce the number of shots or chances against and then head for the offensive zone.

Obviously, on this team there is a variety of talent levels whether they be offensive, defensive, hockey IQ etc...It's up to the coaches to not only recognize these attributes, but to also figure out how best to utilize them. That involves teaching, and I don't care if it's a rookie or ten year veteran, if you can give them options and assist them in the transition it gives you more options and more variables to employ through out the game. I don't think Brent has been able to get through to some players because I think Brent has forgotten how to be a teacher.

As for Brent and Feaster commenting about the talent level...how long would you like to listen to that before you just tune it out???

Hey, I'm not an NHL coach and there's a reason for it. I just think you need coaches that are teachers more than being drill instructors (A.K.A.Ron Wilson) in todays NHL. Brent was a great junior coach, and to be good he had to instruct, teach and mold those kids. Just because these guys are NHL'ers doesn't mean that can't stop learninig. And just because Brent is an NHL coach doesn't mean he should stop learning either.

Right or wrong, it's simply an opinion and observation. One reason I read Flames Nation is to continue my own education. I appreciate your feedback VF.

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#7 Domebeers.com
November 30 2011, 04:04PM
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"Cue the talk as to whether the Flames should be on the phone with Anaheim about a possible trade."

Who knows. Didn't they sign Hagman? I always find this 'Owner crying poor' ish to be a little hard to swallow, but again, who knows.

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#9 Jim McCormick
November 30 2011, 04:10PM
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I would agree that this year's edition of the Flames has, so far, been disappointing. Yeah, we can all keep our fingers crossed for a break out like we saw last year, but, with the way that other teams are playing, it will be a lot tougher sledding this season.

As for what keeps me upbeat is a number of things.

First, I do like some of the newcomers. I like Lee Stempniak. I like Chris Butler.

Second, I like the way that Mark Giordano has continued his improvement and that he seems to be picking up more and more of a leadership role.

Third, the fact that we have so many expiring UFA contracts (10 on the current roster) and that, should this year be a, well, a "non-playoff" year, that there will be the opportunity to change the locker room and the make up of this team over a short period. I would expect that some of that change will come by current Flames becoming former Flames before their contracts expire. In return, I would look for a replenishment of draft picks as well as possibly some prospects. But some of those UFAs will/should return. I named Stempniak. I think that Derek Smith, Tim Jackman and David Moss will warrant serious consideration for return. The rest, I believe, when weighing their relative performance and potential against the UFAs that will be out there, can be improved upon.

And lastly, I think that in Baertschi and Reinhart, we have two draft picks who are likely to be not knocking on the door, but busting it down, to play on this roster next September. Its been years since we've had that!

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#11 loudogYYC
November 30 2011, 06:35PM
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Does no one else think Jokinen should be re-signed? I may get a verbal lashing for saying so, but he's changed his game completely in order to become a useful player for us. Used to be a scorer and all that but now seems to be one of the most accountable players on the ice.

He has the right attitude and probably enough skill to be useful to the Flames for 2 more years.

I think so anyway.

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#12 Mangotanker
November 30 2011, 07:12PM
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Awesome news for Flames prospects in general. Nice to see Ferlad get an invite, since he didn't receive one to the summer evaluation camp. Neither did Max Reinhart, but I think we all knew he would get an invite to the Canadian WJ selection camp.

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#13 RexLibris
November 30 2011, 08:45PM
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Having cap space and having a budget are two very different situations and present a situation that, I believe, most Canadian fans have forgotten. Years ago our teams had a budget (for the Oilers in the early 2000s it was roughly $30 million) that was often far below what other teams, usually American, could afford to spend. The Ducks ownership likely doesn't have the advertising/gate/corporate revenue in place to spend more than what they are and make a profit. There is a point, also, at which the league's revenue-sharing payments are negated, if a team spends to a certain extent under the cap, which is the position that Nashville is in when trying to sign Suter, Weber, and fit Rinne's contract in. The Ducks also don't have the most devoted fan base, from what I can remember. San Jose and L.A. have a more consistent fan support by numbers if I remember correctly. It seems odd that this new CBA, and some economic circumstances, have so radically altered the landscape in only ten years, but many of the U.S. teams don't have the money to spend that they once did.

So I believe it when someone says that the Ducks ownership works off of a budget and is cash-strapped. Given that the Bobby Ryan rumours went from 0-100 mph in roughly 48 hours and that both Getzlaf and Perry are UFAs at the end of next season, and that the Ducks will likely be losing Selanne to retirement soon, I would have to believe that they will start trading pieces for prospects and picks. My guess is that the Ducks are going to start talking rebuild by the end of the year. If so, then Calgary is in tough because if the Ducks and, likely, the Canadiens start a rebuild at the same time as the Flames picks are going to become scarce.

Regarding the prospects, those are all some good signs for those players and it must be refreshing for fans, but I would respectfully offer a rule of thumb when looking at forward scoring prospects: one out of three. Between Baertschi, Ferland, and Reinhart it would be reasonable to expect one out of those three to turn into what Lowetide on ON calls a "regular NHLer" (meaning a career of at least 200 NHL games" taking into account draft pedigree and the likelihood of consistent performance at escalating levels of competition. With luck you could get two from that group, and I wouldn't bet against any of them at this point, but it is a long climb.

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#14 SmellOfVictory
November 30 2011, 08:53PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

Does no one else think Jokinen should be re-signed? I may get a verbal lashing for saying so, but he's changed his game completely in order to become a useful player for us. Used to be a scorer and all that but now seems to be one of the most accountable players on the ice.

He has the right attitude and probably enough skill to be useful to the Flames for 2 more years.

I think so anyway.

I think you have a decent amount of agreement from many of us on that. He doesn't get absolutely murdered against top lines, and he's a decent middle-competition centre. On a 1-2 year contract and similar cap hit, he could be a good bet to centre a line that gives the young guys a bit of a break over the coming seasons.

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#16 schevvy
November 30 2011, 09:48PM
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VF, it's Stoking TEH Fire. Get it right! :)

Anyway, I've liked what I've seen and heard from Flames picks. Having been able to see both Reinhart and Ferland in person, they both play a pretty good game. Reinhart is the better of the two, he plays a very all-around game, and can play in all facets of the game. Ferland, even though he's played really well this year, he gets alot of PP points. The game I went to he had 3 PP points and I believe the Wheat Kings have one of the best PP's in the league. Still though, very promising. And Baertschi goes without saying, 45 points in 19 games just about says it all.

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#17 Brett
November 30 2011, 11:28PM
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Now that Carlyle is available, I wouldn't mind seeing Sutter fired. If Columbus wins tomorrow, maybe it could happen!

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#18 Jeff Lebowski
December 01 2011, 02:29AM
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Did anyone watch Detroit v Tampa? Detroit plays the most appealing style of hockey. So much puck support that they essentially walk up the ice at will. Against Tampa's 1-3-1. Detroit would break out 4 guys from their end together, with the 5th guy up looking for the stretch and occupying 1 or 2 defenders. Made it a 4 on 1 (taking on the 1 in 1-3-1). Beautiful passing, simple plays, lots of flow and possession much through the middle of the ice.

You watch a guy like White play here and then watch him with Detroit. You do that and you see why guys like Bouwmeester tank offensively when they play here. The Flames have little skill. That's the problem.

When Iggy is in a slump ( He isn't too old or he lost it or he sucks now. If you think that you're not bright. He scored 40 last year. Last year!) they don't score much and if Kipper gives up 2 they don't win consistently.

Trading Iggy and/or Kipper is the stupidest notion. You need Kessel type return to impact this franchise and no team will give that compensation. You can not get adequate return for what Iggy and Kipper mean to the integrity of this team.

I listen to the call in comments and am thankful these guys aren't the GM.

For a very long time the majority of the highest paid players (core) were defensive players. The team is made up of third/fourth line talent (mostly rejects from other teams since we drafted more pluggers who never made it to the NHL with anyone. Hello Pelech, Chucko, Negrin, Armstrong etc.)

I've said this many times here in the past.

We need guys who can play with the puck. We don't have many now. We should keep those that can.

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#19 Kent Wilson
December 01 2011, 07:20AM
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@Vintage Flame

I'd say Rex is right on this one. It will be great if one of those three becomes a real NHLer and incredible if two do.

Kids are fraught with surprises and risks coming up. Exhibit A is Mitch Wahl, who before he turned pro was considered a top-5 prospect in the Flames system. A frequent top-two scorer on his team, Wahl finished with 96 points in his final year (the most of any of Sutter's picks) and was said to frequently play against other team's best lines.

A few games into his pro career he gets concussed, misses the rest of the season and his development is pretty much off the rails. He hasn't scored a point this year and the team loaned him to Hamilton recently because they didn't have a place for him on the farm.

Some other top prospects in the Flames system over the last five years or so? Matt Pelech, Ryan Howse, Dan Ryder, Kris Chucko...

A lot of kids look like a sure thing before they hit the real stuff. Injuries and other factors can derail them during formative years as well.

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#21 the-wolf
December 01 2011, 10:34AM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

Did anyone watch Detroit v Tampa? Detroit plays the most appealing style of hockey. So much puck support that they essentially walk up the ice at will. Against Tampa's 1-3-1. Detroit would break out 4 guys from their end together, with the 5th guy up looking for the stretch and occupying 1 or 2 defenders. Made it a 4 on 1 (taking on the 1 in 1-3-1). Beautiful passing, simple plays, lots of flow and possession much through the middle of the ice.

You watch a guy like White play here and then watch him with Detroit. You do that and you see why guys like Bouwmeester tank offensively when they play here. The Flames have little skill. That's the problem.

When Iggy is in a slump ( He isn't too old or he lost it or he sucks now. If you think that you're not bright. He scored 40 last year. Last year!) they don't score much and if Kipper gives up 2 they don't win consistently.

Trading Iggy and/or Kipper is the stupidest notion. You need Kessel type return to impact this franchise and no team will give that compensation. You can not get adequate return for what Iggy and Kipper mean to the integrity of this team.

I listen to the call in comments and am thankful these guys aren't the GM.

For a very long time the majority of the highest paid players (core) were defensive players. The team is made up of third/fourth line talent (mostly rejects from other teams since we drafted more pluggers who never made it to the NHL with anyone. Hello Pelech, Chucko, Negrin, Armstrong etc.)

I've said this many times here in the past.

We need guys who can play with the puck. We don't have many now. We should keep those that can.

There's no downside to trading an aging, one-dimensional selfish player.

5 playoff appearances in 15 years - what a hero!

Once past the first round in 15 years - call the HOF!

Iginla is selfish and a coach killer. He refuses to lead by example and when people here continually wonder why players come here and become lazy, hey, just look towards the captain. Why should others play hard and follow the system when the 'leader' doesn't?

Bottom line: we have not and will not ever win anything with Iginla. He won't do in his mid-30's what he couldn't do in his 20's.

Yet, he's still our best asset for trade bait. So how do you lose by trading a 34 year old that you'll never win with, but will garner the strongest return, from a team that can't make the playoffs and won't anytime soon?

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#22 the-wolf
December 01 2011, 10:36AM
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Yeah, poor Ryder, so much potential and so many problems.

It's true that you never know for sure, but at least there's some hope now.

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#23 the-wolf
December 01 2011, 11:17AM
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@domebeers - great article by the way.

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#24 RexLibris
December 01 2011, 12:29PM
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@Vintage Flame

My comment is essentially that when evaluating prospects it is always best to err on the side of a conservative estimate. Don't be negative, but don't be Kevin "Everybody is Gretzky" Prendergast either.

To that end, expect that one of the three becomes a regualar NHLer, and that the other two become good tweeners or life-AHL players. If two turn out, then life is better than you expected.

I try to use my Bob Mackenzie voice internally when judging prospects, not the Pierre Maguire voice.

Way back when, the Oilers promoted an entire line from their farm club to the big roster for opening day because they had played so well together that it was thought that they could find some moderate success and continue to develop in the big league. Brian Swanson, Daniel Cleary and Jason Chimera were all elevated at the same time. Swanson was a bust, Chimera took years to develop his game and Cleary was a classic Detroit player reclamation. It is examples like this that I would use when averaging out the likelihood of forward prospect development.

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#25 Jeff Lebowski
December 01 2011, 01:29PM
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the-wolf wrote:

There's no downside to trading an aging, one-dimensional selfish player.

5 playoff appearances in 15 years - what a hero!

Once past the first round in 15 years - call the HOF!

Iginla is selfish and a coach killer. He refuses to lead by example and when people here continually wonder why players come here and become lazy, hey, just look towards the captain. Why should others play hard and follow the system when the 'leader' doesn't?

Bottom line: we have not and will not ever win anything with Iginla. He won't do in his mid-30's what he couldn't do in his 20's.

Yet, he's still our best asset for trade bait. So how do you lose by trading a 34 year old that you'll never win with, but will garner the strongest return, from a team that can't make the playoffs and won't anytime soon?

Your description of Iggy is plain wrong. 2010 Olympic team assitant captain.

They don't put players you describe on a team of Canada's best players for 2010 (not that long ago).

If you look post lockout: The reason Calgary has not won is because the construction of the team has been terrible. It was based on how the game was played >2005. Lots of grinders, low talent.

The problem for the Flames for the past few years has been the philosophy used by Darryl Sutter. The league tried to select out that style with the rule changes. It was the greatest miscalculation and a failure to adapt. Stubborn Sutter. That's not Iggy's fault.

You will never get the return on Iggy that equate to what you have by keeping him at this point.

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#27 the-wolf
December 01 2011, 03:38PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

Your description of Iggy is plain wrong. 2010 Olympic team assitant captain.

They don't put players you describe on a team of Canada's best players for 2010 (not that long ago).

If you look post lockout: The reason Calgary has not won is because the construction of the team has been terrible. It was based on how the game was played >2005. Lots of grinders, low talent.

The problem for the Flames for the past few years has been the philosophy used by Darryl Sutter. The league tried to select out that style with the rule changes. It was the greatest miscalculation and a failure to adapt. Stubborn Sutter. That's not Iggy's fault.

You will never get the return on Iggy that equate to what you have by keeping him at this point.

What exactly do you get by keeping him? Missing the playoffs 3 years in a row?

Aren't superstars supposed to make those around them better? Truth is Iginla is far closer to a Kovalchuk than he is Sakic or Yzerman. He can put the puck in the net (when he feels up to it, if it means getting on the Olympic team, but not against top lines, the best teams, the first or last 20 games in the season depending on the year or when the score is close)and not much else. Even his physical game is gone. You're hero-worshiping and 2004 is long over.

And what did I write that's inaccurate? How many coaches have we gone through and how many of them has Iggy bought into? Unless he's allowed to roam around and do as he wants he pouts. Playing zero defense and waiting for 1-timers all games in not leading by example.

As for the Olympics - he sure tore it up against Norway and Germany, I agree. Of course, when Team Canada comes calling every summer for the Worlds, Iggy would rather be water-skiing in Kelowna. But he's 'earned/deserves' it. Uh-huh.

He's the main reason behind the country club culture that permeates the room. Leaders are supposed to lead by example, not drop the gloves every 10 games when the score is out of reach.

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#28 loudogYYC
December 01 2011, 05:18PM
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@the-wolf

Unfortunately I couldn't agree more. Iggy can get away with murder because of what he's done in the past. I think he's way too complacent to be a true NHL captain so to argue @Jeff Lebowski's point, the Flames don't need that kind of impact moving forward.

I agree that we need players that can play the puck instead of always chasing it, but I don't think Iggy is that player either. He's the trigger man that needs plays set up for him. Just pay a little more attention the next time Iginla carries the puck past the opposition blue line. Without immediate support he loses it 9 out of 10 times.

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#29 the-wolf
December 01 2011, 05:26PM
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People also like to overlook that the real leader in 2004 was mostly Darryl himself. Add in Gelinas and 15 other lunch bucket types and that's where the hard work and success came from. Iginla was forced to keep up. One of the reason they fell was because Darryl traded away all the leadership so that it could be 'Iginla's team.' With disastrous results.

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