VOICE OF THE NATION - The Lonely Road of Faith

Vintage Flame
September 23 2011 10:18PM

As training camp and the pre-season gets underway,it seems like the Flames are working hard to prove that the promises they made in the off-season were more than the usual smoke and mirrors the fans had become accustomed to hearing under the previous regime. Actually showcasing the talent in the rookie camp with media coverage, rather than a meager half-assed acknowledgement at its beginning, was a good segue from the 'talk-the-talk' to the 'walk-the-walk'.

The Flames feel they have improved this team, even though it doesn't look all that different from the team of last year. They are better fiscally managed; they are younger, faster and more mobile. That's what they said they were going to do. Tweak this team without blowing it up and avoid the dreaded 'R'-word that Edmonton uses like a sacred oath. It seems like the team and players are all on the same page... But what about the FANS?

There has been such a wide variance here at FlamesNation about the direction this team has gone and where it needs to go. As to who needs to stay, and who needs to go; even as to who needs to lead this team, and who will bring it to ruin. All articulately outlined in various articles from mediocrity to optimism. Speculations from the Nation's finest have the Flames finishing anywhere from 4th or 5th, to 11th or 12th in the conference.

"I still think this roster lacks the talent to go up against the big dogs in the league. We saw the club near it's best in the last half of the season and they struggled to get wins against the top teams. However, if they see certain players reach a new level and if Kipper rebounds they could be a decent threat."  - Sincity1976

There are many comments like this, in various articles, and what I find most interesting, is that it's not really a definitive opinion one way or the other. Cautious optimism, if you will. The fan base, which was thrilled with an unbelievable second half from the Flames last year,was still critical that while Calgary was making a remarkable resurgence, still struggled to beat teams they needed to leapfrog to get into the post season. However... If the Flames were able to right some key wrongs and the core of this team, *cough* Miikka Kiprusoff, could somehow find his form circa 2004, this same team, without major changes could find its way back to the playoffs. Others, have a different take on the Flames second half and slightly less confidence in the core of this team.

"I go back to the team's record against good teams, top 4 teams, and it stinks. Smoke and mirrors would be how I would describe the surge. To me, you either think, like me, the team isn't good enough talent wise, which this offseason didn't fix, or you believe that the Flames took the first half of the season off, and then played in the second, which would imply, to me, there is a lack of urgency in the players, which this offseason didn't address." - Domebeers

So what is causing die hard Flames fans to not just look at both sides of the proverbial coin, but consider it and in some cases embrace it? Maybe part of the reason is that we have been to this show before, and quite frankly it didn't have a happy ending. Indecision from management and a lack of resources were the cause back then, but to the fans, it doesn't matter how the team got to where it was in the 90's, just that it was stuck there for so long.

"I remember how bad the team was during the late 90's and early 2000's, and it wasn't pretty. I honestly think during that time the only thing that kept the fan base enough to avoid relocation was Iggy. At that time he was our only promising young player. Now the Flames are far better than they were then. However, if we don't start to draft some promising young players soon, that same thing could happen again, except the dollar is better so they won't relocate. So far at least prospects are showing something. Erixon and Reinhart are maybe the signs that our drafting is beginning to improve. Time will tell."schevvy

 ... And time has told. The Flames have done a better job at drafting and the organization now has a significant number of promising prospects in it's system, as was discussed by yours truly in my series on the Fountain of Youth. So is that enough to forget the past and get excited about the future? Well I have no doubt that come October 8th, the Saddledome will be roaring and the excitement of the fans in attendance will resonate through the walls of the building and into the Flames dressing room.

What I fear all fans will be thinking in the back of their minds is, 'Do the Flames hear us?' Can we as a fan base, ignite these Flames so that we don't see a repeat of what happened last year in the first half? Can we fully embrace the words and the actions of Feaster and King in the off-season so that we are cheering to the guy sitting in the seat beside us that, 'This guy is a FREAKING genius'... Or are we going to resort back to sitting in a church, that happens to have an ice rink in the middle of it, mumbling into our heroin beer, 'Great! Another whole lot of bull...', well you get the idea.

Scott Lepp, now of Matchsticks and Gasoline made an interesting comment in his submission to be the new FlamesNation contributor.

"Do you think Jay Feaster, as GM of the Calgary Flames, improved the team during the off-season? ... That answer is easy: NO.

... how can we reasonably expect any significant improvement from the Flames? We never even talked about how several of the Western Conference playoff competition crazily went out and improved their team during the off-season. I won't say the playoffs are out of the question and I won't ever rule out bounce-back-seasons - but, exactly how much is there to bounce back from? And, who will provide the bounce?"

Now I have to disagree with Scott here, and since I won the contributor search, I'm right and I get the last word. Feaster may or may not have improved the talent level of this team, which is up for debate in the comment section below. However, he DID improve the future of this team in a relatively short period of time. By freeing up a generous amount of cap space and the beginnings of what actually looks like a stable farm system, the Flames are showing the fans, even before the season starts, that they in no way intend to slip back into the 90's and spend nearly a decade watching the NHL like a group of spectators, rather than participants.

As the title here states, being a Flames fan is a 'lonely road of faith'. We wear our pride, our anger, our excitement and our disappointment on our sleeves; sometimes all at once. Something I have always found interesting over the years is that, when we speak as a fan base, we are united and devoted as the best of them. It's in the inner circles like the comments on FlamesNation, where we feel comfortable enough to express the doubts, concerns and skepticism. It's not a bandwagon attitude or even negativity, but it's the faith we have and defend.

I was so stoked the other night when the pucks dropped. Two games in the same night for the first night of the pre-season? There is an air of optimism to this season, but like I said before, it is cautious optimism. Flames fans have to be prepared to have a mighty thick skin this year. We are bound to take a lot of flak throughout it, but one thing is for certain. It won't take long to find out if we're all on the same page or not.

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 schevvy
September 23 2011, 10:54PM
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Proud of myself to get one of my quotes on an article! haha. In my opinion the Flames CAN be a playoff team, but they could finish anywhere from 6th to 12th. It depends on alot of different factors. Do we see the Kipper from 09-10, or the one from last year. Will the Flames defence be able to make up for the loss of Regher? Will players like Stajan, Hagman and Bourque have bounce back years. Will Jokinen hit less goal posts? Can Iggy and Tangs play like they did the majority of last year. These are just some of the factors that will determine how if the Flames can be a playoff team. The problem I have is that there are a bunch of "ifs", and people who need to have bounce back years. You can't run a team on "ifs". I think the team will have a very clear direction on the way they are going by the trade deadline this year.

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#2 everton fc
September 24 2011, 12:24AM
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After finally putting all four kids to sleep... I can finally comment!

I think we'll see more of Karlsson this year. Our defence, though deep in contracts, doesn't look so deep on paper. I said the same last season, and was challenged here... But if our defence doesn't hold up, or we have some injuries on defence... We'll need Karlsson to step up. Hope that makes sense.

If Backlund can centre the first line... I think our other lines are pretty adequate to make the playoffs, and perhaps make a run, if we are healthy. I think the line of Glencross/Jokinen/Moss could be a real good one this season, and our 4th line was arguably the best in the league, which means a lot more than some may think...

Who is our second line? Glencross/Jokinen/Moss... OR Bourque/??/Stempniak?? Does Stajan centre this duo? And where does Hagman fit in? Obviously Jackman's on the fourth line, with Stempniak here, unless Moss centres Tanguay and Iggy (which I think might work) and Backlund centres Bourque and Jackman. Bourque/Backlund/Jackman with Stempniak on the 2nd line w/Glencross and Jokinen. There are so many guys on the roster - NHL vets - it's hard to say. Could Moss centre Bourque and Stempniak, with a third line of Glencross/Jokinen/Hagman? Could we look like this:

Tanguay/Backlund/Iginla Bourque/Moss/Stempniak Glencross/Jokinen/Hagman Kostopolous/Stajan-Bouma-Meyer-??/Jackman

Those four lines are playoff caliber, me thinks... Until all the contracts run out and you rebuild with the kids.

And I think Carson's your #7 d-man, if Sarich is ready for opening day. If Sarich is still "lame", I like Jordan Henry as the #7 d-man out of camp.

Our defence: Bouwmeester/Butler Gio/Hannan Babchuck/Sarich/Carson

Crazy tot hink Butler may be a #2 man here, and Hannan a #4. But that's the way I see it. And I think Butler will be here a long time - in a very positive way...

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#4 icedawg_42
September 24 2011, 10:23AM
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Ive got confidence that Gio and Jbo can lead the defensive core just fine..Im good with Hannan too...the bottom 3 are pretty weak and we'll see how that fleshes out. By all accounts Backs will see a role on 1st line until that horse has been beaten to death - that's good because he's clearly one of the most skilled and creative players on that roster. Vintage is absolutely right on Reggie, we all love him, love the tunnel of death, but when these high cap hit contracts have a strangle hold on your organization (cough cough Matt Stagnant) then something has to give.

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#5 Big Cap
September 24 2011, 10:43AM
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They way I see it: The Flames are another year older with again not a lot of upside in the prospect pool.

Iggy is a warrior and the face of the franchise. Case closed. However Calgary is also pinning all their Playoff hopes and dream on the Captain. He is getting older and his body is taking a toll. IE: Back issues already and he hasn’t played one game this season. Where does this team finish if he misses 35-50 games due to injury??

Kipper has been in the top 3 of goalies for the past decade. Great goalie. Case Closed. However Kipper is getting older and has the past work load caught up with him? We saw it last year, how devastating giving up one bad goal or weak, softy can kill an entire game. There is also something to be said about how confident the team plays ahead of him knowing Kipper or any starting goalie is less than confident.

Iggy and Kipper have been 2 of the leagues best players in their respective positions for a long time now. The Flames have won many one games because of the stellar play of #34, and have been fortunate to have #12 score big timely goals.

But having made it out of the first round only ONCE since 1989, who is gonna step and lead this team?? Joker, Hagman, Tangs??? These are not front line go to guys, they are support players - Not Leaders. Their playing history proves it.

The Calgary flames will be semi-completive for the next year or two. With NO playoffs. After that, there's gonna be some long long seasons in Cowtown.

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#6 Emir
September 24 2011, 10:55AM
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the reason I'm excited for this season is because of our coaching staff. Here is why.

the 05-06 season saw Sutter coach this team with an iron fist and ultimately took iggy, a good defense, a couple of decent forwards and a bunch of grinders to the top of the division. In the playoffs the team got sick of the czarist message and stopped responding. Playfair tried the same thing the next season and failed. Keenan came and did nothing.

so with Brent here he first had to deal with Darryl out ranking him. Hence he left and the players played, you could possibly argue that the 05-06 legacy lived on in the minds of the core. Leadership is what directs everything and our head coach is our most important leader on ice is our coach. This is the first season in 5 years where we can have confidence in our coaching staff, and this will be the difference maker that pushes this team to the second season.

I have to admit, this seems to be a topic largely overlooked this off season here at the nation.

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#7 Kevin R
September 24 2011, 11:05AM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Great first post schevvy! It really actually drove home the point I was making in my article.

It's the 'ifs' that give us this cautious optimism I was talking about. We all maintain the 'faith' that this team can be better. How many times do we hear people that criticize the Flames say, "This team is a lot better on paper"?

As to your question/comment about how the Flames will do without Regehr? I think they are no worse off. I was a strong defender of the trade, because as much as I liked Reggie, it was a good time to move him. Much like Langkow didn't fit in with the direction this team was or is moving, neither did Regehr. It just sucked cause he was such a fan favorite.

The addition of Hannan was a good one. Is he going to replace Reggie.. No.. but he can play those hard minutes, and I believe he can be more effective in this new, albeit speculative system, the Flames are looking at.

Agree, as much as I wasnt happy with the return of Reggie, it was time to move him. With the deal we got on Hannan & seeing Byron, I am feeling way better about this deal. Butler progressing to a solid 4-5 dman would be a bonus. I gotta say, I am really excited about how the youth movement is looking to unfold at the end of this year. Whether they crack our lineup or not , kids like Byron, Baers, Holland, Reinhart, Bouma all look like bonafide future NHLers with good upsides. If Feaster can parlay some of our UFA's at the end of this year into more good prospects/picks along with the salary opening up & positions wide open. I can now see the plan. Next years draft could be a lot of fun. Just think, the emmergence of Giroux & JVR allowed Philly to move Richards & Carter. Thats pretty significant & pretty significant decision making, the type of decisions that will have to be made with Kipper & Iggy next year. So you can view this 2 ways, burning the fields to get rid of the pests & disease or plowing & preparing the field for a future crop. Either way,we are headed in the same direction.

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#8 schevvy
September 24 2011, 11:16AM
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@Vintage Flame

I agree with your assesment of the Regher trade, having see Byron play (albeit in 1 pre-season game, against an AHL level team) there is reason for optimism. Reggie was a great guy, great d-man, but it was a good time to trade him. Butler I think will be the #4 d-man until he shows he can't do it, and I think that is roughly where his ceiling is, 2nd pairing d-man. The Flames D imo is not as good as it was last year, but it will be ok.

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#10 schevvy
September 24 2011, 11:23AM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Ideally.. The Flames really should have traded Reggie last year. Was a tough call because of the run.. But high insight being 20/20.. I bet they would have made the deal last year and gotten more of a return.

The team has gotten more skilled in my opinion.. One of the big ifs will be a how. How they deploy lines and how they use what they have to their advantage.

Personally I think we end up seeing Jbo with Hannan on the top pairing and keeping Gio on the 2nd pairing.

I think a J-bo- Hannan pairing would be better for J-bo, it would let him have a stay-at-home d-man in Hannan playing with him which in turn would let him be able to rush the puck up the ice, and possibly get some offence back in his game. The way he can skate, I think he still has some offensive upside and putting him with a stay-at-home d-man gives him the perfect opportunity to reach his potential.

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#14 CitizenFlame
September 24 2011, 02:39PM
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I think the two most important "if's" for the Flames this season are whether Backlund takes a big leap forward and shows he's ready to be top line center and if Karlsson can prove he's legit and take some of the workload from Kipper. Backlund sticks with Iggy & Tangs and put up 20-25 goals, 50+ points, and Karlsson starts 20 games with around 12 wins then everyone else just needs to do what they're capable of and this team can make the playoffs.

I also think Gio and Hannan become the shut down pair with J-Bo and Butler getting better match-ups. I think Butler will grow into the #4 role adequately and by season's end the Reggie trade will look good.

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#15 icedawg_42
September 24 2011, 03:07PM
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I dont know - I take a bit of a different view for the return on Reggie. There's no use in trading like for like while you were in the cap situation Feaster was at the time. IMO the REAL return for Reggie wasn't Butler and Byron, it was CAP Space, plus 2 moveable pieces that might be able to log some minutes. There's no arguing that Reggie's departure left a big hole on the back end, but this organization has traditionally been strong in that area, so I think they could afford to take a step back without really risking being embarrassed on the ice. - I guess time will tell.

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#16 icedawg_42
September 24 2011, 03:08PM
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@CitizenFlame

Re: your take on the back end, I think that's a high possibility.

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#17 Mangotanker
September 25 2011, 01:50AM
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schevvy wrote:

I think a J-bo- Hannan pairing would be better for J-bo, it would let him have a stay-at-home d-man in Hannan playing with him which in turn would let him be able to rush the puck up the ice, and possibly get some offence back in his game. The way he can skate, I think he still has some offensive upside and putting him with a stay-at-home d-man gives him the perfect opportunity to reach his potential.

Not sure I understand your thinking there schevv. By putting J-Bo with a stay at home defenceman, like Hannan, he'll be able to create more offence because Hannan will be able to cover for him defensively?

But he had a stay at home defenceman in Regehr with him last year, and he still couldnt get much offence going.

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#18 RexLibris
September 25 2011, 11:01AM
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Good read, VF. I like it when a blogger notes a team's history to help illustrate their direction and decision-making in the present (eg: the Flames fans' reticence to commit to a slash-and-burn rebuild). Too often fans from other teams look at a franchise and compare that path to the one their own team has taken recently and call it wrong-headed or mistaken (Canuck and Leaf fans have this down to an art).

No two Canadian teams are alike and the fans and their history are all, similarly, a unique product. The Canadiens and Canucks cannot share the same perspective because one is the New York Yankees (past-tense) of the NHL while the other can't seem to win a bingo-game in overtime. The only thing the fans seem to agree on is post-game celebratory anarchism. The same thing goes for the Flames and Oilers, Oil fans love to see young talent and have experienced excitement and success (to varying degrees) with it and so are open to the prospect of rebuilding. Calgary's success has been at the hands of veterans and their cup in '89 was the result of a superbly balanced roster, so it's no wonder that fans would gravitate to that model.

The one thing fans in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa can all agree on is that they know what it's like to have the existence of your team threatened. So in that regard, that lonely road of faith you mention is one that I think we all, as fans of "small-market" Canadian teams walk together. Albeit not hand-in-hand, we're not that friendly.

My only point of contention is when you say that the Flames have assembled "a significant number of promising young prospects in it's system". I'm not criticizing from an Oilers perspective because, once again, apples and oranges - We're rebuilding, you're not. But I take issue with the statement because you say this despite every scouting report I have read regarding the Flames prospect pool ranking their prospect group no higher than 26th. I've checked every online and print source I can find to ascertain where the Flames prospects rank and the bottom-fifth of the league seems to be the concensus. I would certainly say the prospect pool has improved this year with the addition of Holland, Reinhart, and Baertschi compared to the last 5 years, so if it's in comparison to previous years then I apologize.

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#19 Kevin R
September 25 2011, 11:30AM
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RexLibris wrote:

Good read, VF. I like it when a blogger notes a team's history to help illustrate their direction and decision-making in the present (eg: the Flames fans' reticence to commit to a slash-and-burn rebuild). Too often fans from other teams look at a franchise and compare that path to the one their own team has taken recently and call it wrong-headed or mistaken (Canuck and Leaf fans have this down to an art).

No two Canadian teams are alike and the fans and their history are all, similarly, a unique product. The Canadiens and Canucks cannot share the same perspective because one is the New York Yankees (past-tense) of the NHL while the other can't seem to win a bingo-game in overtime. The only thing the fans seem to agree on is post-game celebratory anarchism. The same thing goes for the Flames and Oilers, Oil fans love to see young talent and have experienced excitement and success (to varying degrees) with it and so are open to the prospect of rebuilding. Calgary's success has been at the hands of veterans and their cup in '89 was the result of a superbly balanced roster, so it's no wonder that fans would gravitate to that model.

The one thing fans in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa can all agree on is that they know what it's like to have the existence of your team threatened. So in that regard, that lonely road of faith you mention is one that I think we all, as fans of "small-market" Canadian teams walk together. Albeit not hand-in-hand, we're not that friendly.

My only point of contention is when you say that the Flames have assembled "a significant number of promising young prospects in it's system". I'm not criticizing from an Oilers perspective because, once again, apples and oranges - We're rebuilding, you're not. But I take issue with the statement because you say this despite every scouting report I have read regarding the Flames prospect pool ranking their prospect group no higher than 26th. I've checked every online and print source I can find to ascertain where the Flames prospects rank and the bottom-fifth of the league seems to be the concensus. I would certainly say the prospect pool has improved this year with the addition of Holland, Reinhart, and Baertschi compared to the last 5 years, so if it's in comparison to previous years then I apologize.

Hey Rex! I dont think any Flames fan would say our prospects were anywhere close to top drawer in light of how our previous GM decided to run this team & his philosophy to what it takes to win. I think what our faith comes from is your statement that every scouting report has been so scathing on our "empty shell" prospect outlook. We are gathering some strength from the fact that the well still has some water in it when everyone said it was dry. We have hope that this may be a youth movement rather than a demolition zone & with some right decisions and some luck we wont need to go through the agony of 2 first over alls to fill the well again.

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#20 RexLibris
September 25 2011, 02:06PM
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@Kevin R

Thanks for the insight. I have noticed over the summer that the fan opinion seemed to go from excited optimism to depressed cynicism and then back to a level of excitement and anticipation (of course pre-season is the silly season of optimism in the hockey world).

Like I said, the pool is definitely deeper than it was two years ago and so, from an internal assessment comparing the Flames prospects today to what they were a few years ago is certainly cause for optimism. My advice for an even speedier retooling though: find an RFA to trade to Brian Burke for draft picks. Those trades are gold!

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#21 Kevin R
September 25 2011, 03:02PM
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ReX! Unfortunately we dont really have any RFA's that would fit scenario, I do agree with you. I'm probably one of the minority that depending on how this season rolls out, we got some serious decisions to make with Iggy & Kipper. Dont get me wrong, I have 3 Flames Jerseys, Iggy, Kipper & then a signed one from Cory Sarich as 2 years ago the Flames PR people & Cory delivered my Season Tickets to my house in a limo & took pictures & I got a Sarich signed Jersey & Hat. Pretty cool. But Iggy & Kipper are 2 of my most favorite players, whether they are playing in Calgary or not & the end of this year may be the time. I wont get much support from other Flames posters though.

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#24 mslepp
September 26 2011, 09:38AM
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"Now I have to disagree with Scott here, and since I won the contributor search, I'm right and I get the last word."

^ That's awesome. Love it.

"By freeing up a generous amount of cap space and the beginnings of what actually looks like a stable farm system, the Flames are showing the fans, even before the season starts, that they in no way intend to slip back into the 90's and spend nearly a decade watching the NHL like a group of spectators, rather than participants."

^ However, I will stand by what I wrote before and have to vehemently disagree with this statement. Not necessarily the points you suggested re cap space and farm system, but you're assuming that management isn't going to proceed with the status quo of just making the playoffs being good enough.

How do we know that some of these contracts that come off the books (ie. Cory Sarich) aren't going to be extended? How do we know that, when the Flames are on the bubble again come trade deadline that Feaster doesn't use up that extra cap space on another attempt at slipping into the playoffs? How do we know that we won't enter next season with even less cap space than this year with a roster that's much different than we have now? How do we know that he won't deal even more of our picks? (already dealt a 2nd and 5th from next years draft)

Every indication coming from Flames management is that if the team continues to stay the course, everything will work out. Ask the Leafs how that belief works out. To me, there is (currently) no proof whatsoever that the Flames aren't smack-dab in the middle of another mid-90s debacle. In fact, the present proof leans more towards the drought given that they enter this year having missed the playoffs two years in a row and made no significant or even insignificant improvements to the current roster.

Again, I'm not saying they won't make the playoffs, they most certainly can... but when did settling for 8th place become OK for this team that was once thought of as a very serious contender for several consecutive years?

We could debate this 'til the cows come home, and I'm sure we will continue to do just that until someone's proven right. I hope it's you, but I'll believe it when I see it.

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#26 RexLibris
September 26 2011, 01:48PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

& @Kevin R

I noticed the same thing guys, which is why I wanted to write this article. It goes back to this whole lack of a firm notion as to what this team will do or how it looks after this season is over.

Fans here want to cheer and be optimistic, but they are still skeptical and reluctant as well.

Don't worry VF, I wouldn't hold your hand either. I need my hands to type and drink. ;-)

Okay, here's the part that may irritate a few Flames fans: as I see it the Flames are in a holding pattern this year (although it seems like under Sutter they were in a holding pattern since 2002) because they can't move anybody with the NMCs and NTCs. So Feaster has to wait until they expire or he can move some as expiring UFAs (my vote is it is more likely for the former than the latter). Any change in the roster and corresponding change of direction will have to happen next summer with the starting line being this year's trade deadline. Why would this irritate you? Because it is almost exactly what had to happen in Edmonton when Tambellini took over. He tried to move guys like O'Sullivan and Nilsson and Pouliot but (surprise!) no one wanted them. Instead he made a few small deals, tried to do what the club had being attempting to do for years (sign a big free agent) and when it all went belly up, wait it out and start from scratch. I see similarities so far in what Feaster has done, the Modin trade, the moving of Regehr specifically to go after Richards, and now the re-focusing of the amateur scouts on their priorities for draft prospects.

So, in then end I think Calgary will go their own way, but that they, like any cap-strapped team with too many locked pieces in play, will have to simply wait it out and capitalize when the opportunity presents itself. We had the Summer of Steve, maybe the Flames will have September 2012 as the Fall of Feaster. Or maybe not, that sounds like a tragedy.

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#28 RexLibris
September 26 2011, 08:46PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

"Okay, here's the part that may irritate a few Flames fans: as I see it the Flames are in a holding pattern this year (although it seems like under Sutter they were in a holding pattern since 2002) because they can't move anybody with the NMCs and NTCs. "

I agree.. and I disagree. I think the Flames are in somewhat of a holding pattern, but it's not as dependent on these clauses as you suggest. Feaster has dealt 2 significant players with NMC's, so it is possible if the right circumstances come around. I just don't see any of those circumstances. I think the Flames would have a tougher time moving the player than the contract. If that makes any sense.

Yeah, it does make sense. It has been easier to move contracts lately (see Campbell, Brian) but the player still has to be competent enough to do up his own skate laces. And most of those trades come at the beginning of the season, or the very end, when teams are trying to get above the cap. Not at the deadline, unless they are taking on cap space to do the other team a favour and then it usually involves giving up a draft pick as well as the player. I'm assuming you're talking about Stajan or Hagman. Hagman could at least be banished to the AHL, but Stajan, barring a good turnaround year, is unmoveable unless paired with an asset (a 2nd rounder would probably work, but this year it would have to be a third and that may or may not be enough).

It's this trick of the cap-floor that I think many Oiler fans forget when they say that Horcoff is untradeable. He can't be moved right now, but in the last year or two of his contract when his cap hit is 2 or 3 million above his actual salary that I think he becomes more valuable to a cap-floor team. Not that he's going to garner a huge return, but he isn't a contractual boat-anchor either.

I don't think the NTCs and NMCs are absolute, it's just that the moment a player has one it dramatically diminishes their trade value. The return for Regehr is a recent example, but also look at what Dany Heatley got for the Senators and compare that to what the Sharks were able to get when they traded him. Havlat isn't much of an improvement, but he's certainly better than an inconsistent Milan Michalek and an obsolete Johnathan Cheechoo. On the Heatley note, I would've given anything to see the look on his face when Wilson told him he hadn't put Minnesota on his list of 10 places I won't play. I'm sure Heatley probably just put Edmonton 8 or 9 times and threw in Ottawa once as well, just for good measure. Serves him right and I hope his car doesn't start this January in St. Paul. I know mine probably won't here.

Avatar
#30 RexLibris
September 27 2011, 11:03AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
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props

@Vintage Flame

I agree that they don't appear to be in a rush to move Horcoff, and certainly won't this year, because he is needed for leadership and mentoring off the ice as much as his FO% on it. The man is absolutely dedicated and a consumate professional which is what is needed in a young dressing room. Next year is likely to spell the beginning of the end for his time here, so we shall see. I agree though that it is better to remove that contract from your books before you enter negotiations with any of the young forwards. As for Hemsky, Tambellini is notoriously patient and he want to see who is the better RW for the team, Omark or Hemsky. Of course based on the defensive lineup the correct answer will probably be Nail Yakupov.

Admittedly, the timing for the expiration of the ELCs for our core forwards and the overlap of Horcoff's contract is going to make it pretty tight. That being said, the first contract after an ELC doesn't necessarily have to be of the Stamkos or Doughty range. Bobby Ryan is probably the one that the management will use as a template. Also, the standard has been set that a player who gets too much of the pie often gets stranded in a wasteland where the team can't afford to surround him with good players. Rick Nash is the example I would use here. I have no doubt that of the four rookies we graduated last year one of them will be gone in two years' time and another probably in five years. That being said, if Feaster can move Regehr, and Tambellini can trade Staios, and Bowman can move Campbell, then who knows what happens with Horcoff.

But enough about my team. I'm picking the Flames to beat the Pens in their home opener, provided Crosby is still out of the lineup.

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