Flames and Rebuilding - Follow the Money

Kent Wilson
January 02 2012 03:27PM

 

 

Feaster has been at the helm of the Calgary Flames for just over a year. And while some superficially significant moves have been made over that period (specifically, the trades involving Robyn Regehr and Daymond Langkow) the organizational path and mantra hasn't changed much despite the switch in management. Calgary continues to market long beloved heroes like Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff while battling to remain in the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

There has been a lot of discussion over the Flames apparent lack of a future direction since the off-season. While Calgary's reluctance to engage in a  "full rebuild" has various origins, "revenue" is probably one of the prime reasons.

According a recent story in the Toronto Star, the Flames are currently fifth in the league in terms of per game ticket sales ($1.5 million). Only Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and New York make more at the gate. Clubs like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, San Jose and Detroit take in about $400,000 less than the Flames in terms of ticket revenue per contest.

As a result, the Flames are currently only one of five teams that gross more than $60M via ticket sales per year.

That's big chunk of dough for an NHL club. It's also a big disincentive to change. Whatever dissatisfaction the fans may feel about the Flames futility the last few seasons, it hasn't shown up at the gate (at least, not yet). As a result, the signals Ken King and ownership are getting from the market are more "stay the course" than anything else. Veering off into uncharted waters in an attempt to push the club beyond the purgatory of mediocrity means potentially risking the strong, ongoing sales the Flames have established under King since the 2003-04 cup run.

Which isn't to say the franchise's motivation is necessarily venal. Calgary has spent at or near the cap for numerous years and the ownership has shown a willingness to bury various mistakes (be it of the coach or player variety) since sales improved in the early part of the new millennium. The franchise is also active in the community and with various charities. 

Nevertheless, $61.5M is a lot of cake to gamble with. There are obviously some aspects of the Alberta/Calgary market which make a rebuild gambit less risky for the Flames - the lack of other professional sports teams, the relative affluence of the city, a downtown dense with corporate headquarters and strong, grassroots support for the team (which is why Edmonton, despite being a weak sister for five years running, comes in sixth right behind Calgary).

But that's theoretical. It's easy to speculate from a distance that gate receipts would remain constant regardless of management's successes or failures. The truth is the potential fall-out of trading a player like Iginla or suffering through an unsuccesful rebuild could have large ramifications for what is currently a very healthy bottom line.

Loss aversion is a strong cognitive bias. People generally prefer to avoid losses more than anything else. It's a heuristic I once used to partially explain Darryl Sutter's descent into madness. As such, folks tend to try to avoid losses even more than they look to maximize gains.

This isn't my call for fans to boycott their tickets or refuse to pay for Flames merchandise until the team decides to fundamentally alter it's team building philsophy. I'll leave that up to the individual fan.

Just know that the Flames are probably at or near their regular season cap in terms of revenue; even with the team perpetually finishing 10th in the west. The club could therefore potentially risk a lot with an overtly aggressive rebuild, which is why we're unlikely to see a more meaningful "switching of gears" by the Flames in the near future.

Until there are stronger signals from the market to change or literally no other choice left on the ice, expect the Flames to continue to more or less tinker around the edges. 

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 03:43PM
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You couldn't be more right. Unfortunately this will fall on many deaf and ignorant ears.

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#2 ken king blows
January 02 2012, 03:52PM
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That really rubs me the wrong way. Continuing to have mediocre seasons in order to maintain the flow of money? I know it's a business, but still.... It's a game as well.

If I may quote Albert Einstein--> Insanity: Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

This team will not make the playoffs for a third year in a row, because management continues to twiddle their thumbs while counting the stash of cash they continue to gather.

My rant is now done... have a nice day

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#4 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 04:00PM
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Great article kent. I'll ask you and everyone else again like I did last night.

How do the Flames get out of this ever growing rut year after year? If you don't want to overpay and go balls deep in free agency this summer, can't trade many of your players because the 29 other GM's know what you have, and are constantly drafting 10th-16th (?); what does Feaster do to make this team an upper tier team? I can't figure out why they would not look into trading Iginla or Kiprusoff or anyone else for that matter that is over 30 years old. I get that without Iginla and Kiprusoff that the Flames will likely lose their share of games, but can it get much worse than it is now. There is no skill or speed in this lineup. They have shown over the last decade (minus 04) that they are a very inconsistent team with little heart. If the Flames could get quality picks and prospects for Iginla and Kiprusoff, at least the future would be bright. Right now the future looks like it did last year, and the year before that ect, ect.

I went to a flames game about a month ago when they lost to Columbus in a shootout. I sat close to Ken King and asked the season ticket holders next to me who were the guys sitting with him.They said thatthey were the corporate head honchos (owners? sponsors? big spenders? I'm not sure). I found it funny they all had Flames jerseys on with #12 Iginla stiched on the back. In my mind the people who know nothing of hockey are making the decisions on which way this club is heading. Maybe that's the way it is in other NHL cities too, I don't know. But when I seen all those Iginla jersey I knew right away that those guys will determine if Iginla is traded or not, not Jay Feaster.

I'm frustrated. I can't imagine owning season tickets to this farce.

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#5 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:06PM
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Its the nature of the fan to be shortsighted and narrowminded with a what have you done for me lately attitude. If the owners weren't making money, this team wouldn't even be here for you to cheer for.

It's so easy for people to propose trades and say it is easy to rebuild, well truth is, you have no clue how difficult it is to get a good return for anyone.

You trade Iginla and Kipper and who do you market in this team? Who's jerseys are you selling?

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#6 jakeryley
January 02 2012, 04:10PM
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If this team misses the playoffs again, significant moves are required - and if they aren't done, then my apathy, which is by in large already present, will be solidified.

Either win the free agency bidding war - which isn't a very smart way to build a team as it's never the wisest way to spend money, or rebuild - those are the only two real options facing this organization built upon two ageing and cracking foundations. However, with management's reluctance to rebuild, something as dramatic as landing both Suter and Parise is needed for this team to become competitive again...I mean, we're still close to being a good team right? We only need another franchise forward and #1 d-man....right?...sigh.

The other option is of course to go into a full on rebuild. Those are really the only two options this organization has...IF they want to build a winner. Otherwise, as Ken so strongly points out...the Flames organization will continue to be perpetually irrelevant as far as the NHL standings are concerned.

I don't care how many times Jay Feaster, Brent Sutter, Ken King or Jarome Iginla tell me that they "think" they can be a good team. They can't. They aren't a good team, and certainly are nowhere near being a team GREAT enough to win anything of worth.

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#7 ken king blows
January 02 2012, 04:14PM
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@Kent Wilson

The people in charge may not be expecting things to change, but some of the fans still hold hope for this team making the playoffs, or are otherwise hopeful for a full tool rebuild. Its high time the guys upstairs made up their mind on what their goal is. They are NOT making the playoffs with the team they have assembled, so either make changes in the lineup to give yourself a better shot at the playoffs, or trade some of your assets and get retooling. It makes me angry how money is such a driving factor in having a team continue to slide down into irrelevancy.

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#8 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:14PM
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@jakeryley

And yet there is absolutely no way for them to become relevant any time soon. So patience is required. You are gonna be pissed off either way, might as well relax and enjoy the ride.

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#9 Ken king blows
January 02 2012, 04:17PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Its the nature of the fan to be shortsighted and narrowminded with a what have you done for me lately attitude. If the owners weren't making money, this team wouldn't even be here for you to cheer for.

It's so easy for people to propose trades and say it is easy to rebuild, well truth is, you have no clue how difficult it is to get a good return for anyone.

You trade Iginla and Kipper and who do you market in this team? Who's jerseys are you selling?

This team has pieces that it can market without KIpper and Iggy. Giordano, Backlund, Sarich (just kidding), Irving, Bouwmeester, Glencross, and potentially Baertschi and Reinhart.

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#10 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 04:20PM
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@JeremyWilhelm

I agree to a point, who are you going to market if Iginla and Kipprusoff aren't here. But what happens next year when Iginla walks and wants to go to a contender after his deal is up in Calgary? You have nothing on the ice or in the pipleline waiting to come up and still have the same middling team without Iginla. Iginla will not, and is not now, going to be a first line player for the rest of his career. I don't know what the answer is. There is solid points on both sides, I guess I'm on one side and everyone else is on the other. Usually when I make a decision it's usually the wrong one so just maybe you'll convince me yet.

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#11 jakeryley
January 02 2012, 04:22PM
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@jeremywilhelm

I disagree. I'm not advocating Iginla and Kipper be dealt, however this team needs to take advantage of what it can sell and still not set themselves back in the jersey selling category.

Bourque, Jokinen, Sarich, Stempniak could and should be advertised at the trade deadline - and they should be traded. If we're say...5 pts back from the 8th playoff spot come deadline time - would you be okay with them standing pat like last year only for them to miss again? Would you not advocate trading any and all players not named Iginla and Kipper?

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#12 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:27PM
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@John Deere Green

You are assuming he will do that. Which I believe he definitely will not. He will leave if management asks him to for the good of the team, but he loves Calgary and will no leave of his own accord. As he has stated in the media and to people who know him outside of hockey as well.

The team is in for a rough couple years, you can honestly not tell me nothing is in the pipeline. Baertschi and Reinhart are solid prospects, possibly even difference makers for the future, Irving is as good as I always praised, and I believe he sticks.

It's a start. This team will retool for another good 2-3 years with the draft if Feaster has his way. I don't particularly like Feaster but I believe he is willing to make changes the right way, slowly and not from a position of weakness. Which is exactly what trading every name player on this team away for a hope of a quick turn around, because that is all it is, a hope and a prayer.

Patience is key.

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#13 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:29PM
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@Ken king blows

You could put all those guys you stated together and they wouldn't sell the same amount of jerseys and paraphenalia that Jarome and Kipper sell by themselves.

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#14 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:33PM
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@jakeryley

I think if you can trade them for high picks or position players that we need, then yes, but to trade them for the sake of just trading them would be silly, you are essentially giving up, which is a terrible attitude for an organization to adopt. No winning organization/company just gives up, especially when the long term plan is success.

That is like a company declaring bankruptcy and then in a year or two asking investors to give them money again with a new marketing scheme, there is no trust there anymore.

I am not advocating having more of the same, I don't like the head coach, and I think is a very very poorly built team, but changes can be made in the offseason without gutting the whole team.

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#15 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 04:36PM
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@JeremyWilhelm

Patience is the key? How long can we expect to wait? Has it not been a few years all ready? I don't think Feaster has any more pull with the owners than Darryl did, so should we expect changes next year inregards to the direction of the team? The year after? Or do we expect changes when ticket sales start to slow down?

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#16 schevvy
January 02 2012, 04:39PM
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The way the owners probably see it is if the buisness is working, don't try and change it. Iggy and Kipper (especially Iggy) make the team a whole lot of money through jersey sales, and ticket sales because they are (were) some of the best in the league. So if you trade one or both of those players, where are you going to get all the money from? The Flames have no up and coming superstar player like the Oilers have in RNH, and it is very very difficult to market a team on a whole bunch of 3rd liners. I'm not saying that not doing a full scale rebuild is the right thing to do, but owners don't want to chance it. Because if they're making a big profit right now, why do something that might risk it?

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#17 negrilcowboy
January 02 2012, 04:42PM
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the best method to market any flames product centres around a quality product on the ice, your aging stars ie iggy and kipper will soon be faded into legends. then what, or who? a complete rebuild is needed now, stat. honestly how long will the masses continue to drink the ken king koolaid? its been along time between truely competitive flames teams.

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#18 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 04:50PM
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@John Deere Green

Well, I would be prepared to wait another 2-3 years at least. The team isn't going to have any miracle solution unless they draft one. So the last couple drafts and the next couple coming up have to find the future.

That is pretty much the only chance.

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#19 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 05:05PM
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@JeremyWilhelm

So we wait 2-3 years before Beartchi (sp?) and Reinhardt are full time front line players, meanwhile we watch Iginla ect. slowly fade into the past while the Flames play less meaningful hockey? Why not trade "the core" for young NHL prospects and picks (I know they are not bullet proof frontline players) and provide a future and some hope for fans in the mean time. Now, I realize it may be 2-3 years before these picks and prospects are NHL ready, but at least you have something in the bank. If you let "the core" play out their contracts what do you have? Nothing but jersey sales, and a very poor team on the ice with no future.

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#20 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 05:12PM
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@John Deere Green

Because it is not good business to put an inferior product on the ice. Which is exactly what the owners and GM are thinking. Which if you think this team is bad right now, it will be much worse if you jettison Iginla and Kipper. Then not only are you selling a terrible product but you have no marketable players while you are waiting for the future to happen.

That and Iginla doesn't want to leave Calgary, so the optics of trading him look bad to the organization.

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#21 Shutout
January 02 2012, 05:13PM
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The problem with the article is that it believes a sports franchise to be a business like any other. Being a free market capitalist I am all for companies and businesses doing what they can to maximize their top and bottom lines.

However, a sports franchise is not about the bottom line. It is about a pursuit of excellence. About a competative spirit to chase a dream and to capture glory and fame. It is about winning championships and establishing legends and legacies.

Anything less is a farce. There are much better opportunities for rich people to invest their money if they are looking out for the bottom line. Why would you expect your sports franchise to contribute to that. It should not matter how much your team makes. It should matter how good your team is. How close are they to winning everything. Reaching for the stars and building a winning team.

Unfortunantly, I dont see that spirit of competativeness from this ownership group. Murray Edwards has taken an ownership group that used to be built around the ultimate group of fans that loved hockey and loved their city. Murray Edwards had changed the ownership group from a vision that was based solely on the Stanley Cup into one that is worried about the bottom line. Murray Edwards is erasing the legacy of Harley Hochkiss and the Seeman brothers and is re-creating eh image of Harold Ballard for the Calgary Flames.

Rather than do what needs to be done to make this a competative team for the future he is mandating a philosophy of mediocrity and middling average. A slight of hand marketing play to continue to attract fans with a team that is almost competative. Selling a chance at the lottery instead of a well thought out and reasoned plan to rebuild this franchise.

For Murray Edwards (billionaire) $2 Million is more important than a second round draft pick (trade to Buffalo for Ales Kotalik).

This is what our once proud franchise has become. A capitalist trough where dreams and hopes are trodden underfoot and where the glow of a shiny loonie is brighter than the goal light flashing.

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#22 Shutout
January 02 2012, 05:17PM
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The Calgary Flames are Toronto West. Murray Edwards is Harold Ballard. Jarome Iginla is Mats Sundin. Jay Feaster is any list of incompetent general managers that have been in TO.

Time for this ownership and hockey operations group to go big or go home. Only through bold strokes does this team have any chance of being truly competative is a couple of years. This path of average is going to make the dark years of the young guns seem exciting.

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#23 RKD
January 02 2012, 05:38PM
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It's not that the Feaster cannot trade Iginla, it's the Flames ownership who refuse to trade Iginla.

Even if trading Iggy will result in prospects, roster players, draft picks. Murray Edwards and ownership won't budge. Iggy=ticket sales = Ken King's job. As long as season ticket renewal is 97% and higher King won't be touched. Dreams of Lanny McDonald or Bob Nicholson being hired in the front office won't happen.

I believe Feaster has the cajones to trade Iggy, he went after Richards, traded long time Flames d-man Reggie and Langs.

Feaster has injected a lot of youth in the lineup in both the forward rank, but mostly the d lineup. They still have a lot growing pains.

Ken King and Murray Edwards hold all the cards here. Flames fans will boycott ticket sales if they keep missing the playoffs.

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#24 sam67
January 02 2012, 05:50PM
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I'll tell you what! My interest in this team and franchise is going the way of the Doe Doe bird! I will watch something else if there's something better on. I go to bed rather than stay up for later games. They don't seem to care, so I've decided, why should I? Why do we invest so much of our money, time and hearts in this organization? How many times are we going to hear, I think they've finally bought in, only to see them revert back to the old ways? At least the horrible teams of the 90's showed up and gave an honest effort nightly. They just flat out didn't have the talent! I don't think it's far off that this team will start seeing a decline at the gates! You can only sell snake oil for so long!

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#25 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 06:12PM
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@sam67

This is the kind of boohoo oh whoa is me attitude that gets me riled up.

It is very easy to be a fan of a team that is good and always has success, it really shows your worth as a fan when you can still cheer for the team when the going gets tough.

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#26 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 06:53PM
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@jeremywilhelm

wow, easy man. The guy's frustrated and can you blame him? Can you honestly disagree with him and suggest that the Flames are a great team to watch compared with teams like Vancouver and Edmonton. And as for the going getting tough, it's been getting tough going for years now (did that make sense?). I have to agree with SAM67, how many people get snookered into buying seasons tickets and merchandise thinking that the club is actually going to go in a different direction in the upcoming season?

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#27 Kevin R
January 02 2012, 07:06PM
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Very disturbing piece Kent. You're probably bang on. Sometimes reality is hard to digest. I've been a Season Ticket holder since 1996. For the first time, I feel some of the previous comments about it being about the money instead about the pride of our team and winning the Cup are correct. What really ticks me is I see Calgary as a way deeper and substantial city for corporate support than Edmonton. Cant these owners see you can enbrace a rebuild and look at all the new jersey's Hall & Eberle & RNH are going to generate in sales in Edmonton. This mentality just sucks! But lets assume its right. So then, what does Feaster do. Here are some thoughts:

-We need a very high end/NHL ready prospect. The only players able to garner that is Iggy or Kipper. Iggy's image is huge, from Alberta, big in the community & face of the franchise. Kipper is under the radar type of guy, quiet, lives off season in Finland. We have no young top 20 goal scorer in our near future within our system, Iggy is it. Leiland however is really looking like Kipper's heir to the goaltending throne. I think Feaster can effectively trade Kipper and not feel the backlash the way he would if he were to trade Iggy. No brainer decision.

-Trading Kipper will probably result in more losses & result in better draft picks. Lets face it, Leiland is young & we cant expect him to replace Kipper right away at the level of goaltending we've become accustomed to. But as long as owners dont care about winning & fans have Iggy & keep dumping money all is good & we will rebuild with Iggy anyway. Everyones happy, right?

-Does Iggy want to stay if we trade Kipper? Will he sign an extension this summer? Will he take a home discount & cap friendly deal? We'll soon find out, but if Iggy bolts ala Sundin we are so screwed.

-If we trade Kipper for a great package at the deadline, I think Feaster forces Iggy's hand & if he trades several moveable pieces that are UFA at the end of this year, including Joker, Sarich, Moss, Jackman, Stempniak. Also trade other players like Bourque, Stajan(haha), Babchuk. Get as many draft picks as possible & package them up for better draft picks if possible, maybe Iggy demands out. Maybe Feaster should just diplomatically force Iggys decision by planning to rebuild with him instead of the current let try to compete to mediocrity for him. Either way, we get him to commit to a decent contract to finish his career without handicapping us future, or he tells our greedy owners he wants out to win a cup.

How sad reality is,but its the Owners money, the owners team, I guess they can do whatever they like. As a fan who is desperate for some of that magic I experienced in 2004, maybe the stars will allign again in my lifetime to luck out for 1 year again. Thats my rant. Maybe Kent, seeing a boycott in not realistic, why dont we have a pool/contest to predict by which game the Flames are mathematically eliminated from post season. Maybe that might send a message. Im depressed now, so I'm going to walk the dog now.

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#28 sam67
January 02 2012, 07:16PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

This is the kind of boohoo oh whoa is me attitude that gets me riled up.

It is very easy to be a fan of a team that is good and always has success, it really shows your worth as a fan when you can still cheer for the team when the going gets tough.

I've been around for the good and the bad times, since the very begining. I've just had it with being sold a bill of goods. Status Quo isn't good enough. If it's broke one must take measures to fix it. If you don't fix it, it's not worth investing in.

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#29 schevvy
January 02 2012, 07:46PM
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@Kevin R

RE: Trading Kipper

I honestly can't see the Flames being able to get a great package in return for Kipper. Not too many teams are in need of an aging goaltender who is not among the elite netminders in the league anymore. The only way the Flames can get a stud prospect is if they trade Iginla. For right now, I think he could get us a prospect and a 1st round pick. Kipper cannot do that, I don't even know if we could get a 1st round pick for him (maybe very late 1st rounder at best). Sad times to be a Flames fan indeed.

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#30 schevvy
January 02 2012, 07:51PM
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On a completely unrelated topic: Did anyone else realize the New York Rangers are 24-9-4?? Are they winning on crazy lucky percentages or are they actually legit? Wow

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#31 John Deere Green
January 02 2012, 08:02PM
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Andy Sutton now has more goals than Jay Bowmeester. Nuff said.

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#32 Franko J
January 02 2012, 08:13PM
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@ shevvy

Yes Kipper stats are not what they once were, however, neither is the team playing in front of him. Historically in the past few years with exception to Thomas in Boston last year, the value of a veteran goalie to lead a team to the Stanley Cup is somewhat low on GMS lists when it comes to trades at the deadline or during the season. Most teams are copying Detroits blue print and front loading their team with skilled and fast forwards and dmen and reliable if not spectacular goaltending. Most goaltending moves are done during the draft or during free agency.

I must agree ,with Schneider in Vancouver, Rask in Boston, Harding in Minnie, and Bernier in LA as a few examples where the other 29 GMS in the league would look at trading prospects and draft picks before trading with Calgary for Kipper.

The Rangers I think are legit and I believe with Lundqvist in the net (elite goalies as suggested)they can compete for the cup. I think (hint, hint) they are a skilled winger RW and dman from doing some serious damage in the post season

Kent keep up the excellent posts. Great insight

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#33 jeremywilhelm
January 02 2012, 08:23PM
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@John Deere Green

We must be watching different Edmonton teams. Because the Oilers team i watch are terrible at hockey and play some real ugly games. The Oilers early season success was smoke and mirrors. They are much closer to being the Islanders than the Blackhawks.

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#34 Emir
January 02 2012, 08:50PM
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Thank you for the article Kent, I have been arguing this point ever since I came on FN. nobody ever really took it seriously since the argument was based on opinion and not fact, but you have provided that fact for me and thank you.

BTW, this is why KK will be here for a while.

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#35 Franko J
January 02 2012, 08:51PM
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@ KENT

As long as the good fans of Calgary are buying jerseys and going to the Saddledome to watch the Flames, and corporate interest and advertising remains strong, the honest truth is KK is here to stay. After all, KK main responsibility is to make money for the organization. Since profits are good and each year the team is successful at the so called box office, why would ownership kick KK to the curb?

Secondly, the ownership group does spend to the cap and is willing to buy a good team, unfortunately, with the play on the ice from this team the owners might as well invest in RIM stock or get financial advice from Bernie Madoff. The results moneywise would be just the same.

Maybe Kent:

If you take a look at the ownership structure with what 7 or so owners, with each their own vested interest in the club, it makes it very difficult to make sound hockey decisions. With this many owners how strong is the hierarchy of control in this organization? I suppose there is plenty red tape bureaucracy to go around with this team and sometimes all it comes down to is the money. (Profitability) Sometimes there are benefits to having more than one owner, but at what cost?

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#36 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
January 02 2012, 10:00PM
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Calgary is not Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. It has a little over one million residents, and if things keep going south over the next couple of years, look for sales and tickets to drop dramatically. The late-90`s and early-2000`s are a great example of this. The team consistently did not make the playoffs and, consequently, from 1999-2003, the Flames had a very, very tough time even selling 14,000 season tickets. Jeez, I still remember the annual drive for 14!!! And let`s remember, Iggy was a Flame all of those years.

It was the stanley cup run of 04 that changed everything. Suddenly, you had to kill to get a ticket, and prices incrementally rose as the Flames challenged for the NW division lead, year after year -until 2010.

In other words, success on the ice is what led to renewed fan interest and hence profitability -not player identities, even though those are important. Like I said, Iggy was a Flame prior to 2004, and the Flames were consistently in debt. The cap, the value of the Canadian dollar vis a vis the Amercian were also instrumental in driving the financial rennaiscance.

Thus, to assume trading Iggy will mean a decline in profitability is somewhat specious. Yes, a star player is an important component in generating fan interest and thus the sales of tickets and commodities, but this is greatly diminished in a losing environment, especially if it proves to be chronic. The Flames recent history is proof of that (even a 50 goal outing from Iggy in 01-02 did not help in selling tickets the succeeding year).

Alas, the point I am trying to make is that the ownership and management better remember that above all else, a winning formula on the ice is the one sure road to profitability. If they persist in being content to ice mediocrity too long, while desperately clinging to relics of a bygone era, they may find themselves waging another `drive to 14 !!!`

Fans have a breaking point, which even bigger markets like Toronto have to listen to once in a while, even though the Leafs did not fear any financial repercussions. The Flames do not even enjoy that certainty as their constituency does not consist of more than six million fans, but only a sixth of that.

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#37 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
January 02 2012, 10:08PM
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One final point: every corporation craves to generate more business and thus profit. Do not underestimate the desire of NHL owners to partake in the massive dollars to be had in post-season play. Icing a team capable of making the playoffs is a powerful incentive for NHL ownership groups, such as that of the Flames. It is capable of fomenting dramatic change and upsetting the established order. Iggy is but a chip -a valuable one at that, no doubt -but a chip, nonetheless, in a game whose dynamics transcend those of any one on-ice personality, no matter how beloved.

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#38 gussey
January 02 2012, 10:09PM
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Are you kidding me. Worst article ever. Talk about conspiricy theories. Its jan 2nd and were all ready saying feaster won't trade iggy because of ticket sells.. Seriously. A week ago after the vancouver game everybody was saying we were headed to the playoffs. They will wait till the deadline before making deals, just like every other team (do you see anyone else making them right now?). At that point they will judge whether we are a playoff team or a rebuilder. If we see a slide, mark my words, iggy and kipper will be headed out.

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#39 ChinookArch
January 02 2012, 11:17PM
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Kent, your position in this article is interesting and well argued, but I'm not convinced. Following the money is a good place to start, but there are other considerations. It's true that it's not in the interest of the Flames management or ownership change things that would disrupt the free flow of money, but there are 3 counterpoints: 1. The Flames will not make the playoffs for the 3rd straight year, and this will rob the owners of the most profitable games of the year. This is not a winning strategy for a group that want to maximize profits. 2. The ownership group is made up a successful men, with roots In an (oil) industry known for high risk and high reward. I don't claim to know any of them or understand their motivations, but I have never met a successful business person who didn't understand that doing nothing or the doing same is the same as falling behind. 3. The teams changes made over the past year tells me that a lot of changes are coming. The improvements in Abby shows the organization is serious about injecting youth. The hiring of Chris Snow and Joh Weisbrod point to coming changes in player make up. And I believe the hiring of Troy Ward in Abby points to a desire for an 'offense first' mentality coming for the big club, and the eventual departure of the last Sutter in Calgary.

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#40 RexLibris
January 02 2012, 11:36PM
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@Kent Wilson

Great article, Kent. Thank you for writing it. I have listened (read, actually) to several comments here over the past couple of years about the revenue generated by Iginla's role on this team and it became clear fairly quickly that his impact on this franchise was seen by fans as not merely limited to on-ice performance and community work. I think that his importance, financially, to the Flames, and by extension their fans, is what drives a lot of the emotion that surfaces when fans are engaged in the "trade Iginla" debate and what the return ought to be.

This is something that some people here may not want to hear, and it has been mentioned already, but I bring it up as some background reading regarding fans' reactions to their team's perpetual disappointment: check out Leafs Abomination by Dave Feschuk and Michael Grange. You can read about a beloved franchise that has been hijacked and abused at the fans' expense for decades. I'll save you some time in coming to the book's general conclusion and one that speaks perfectly to the gist of this article, in the end the primary concern is about money, and if the fans want change then they need to stop feeding the dysfunctional system. In other words, if fans truly feel that the Flames organization doesn't give a rat's behind about winning and just wants to keep stringing you along ad nausuem for the money, then stop paying. Stop watching, stop buying and worst of all, stop talking about them.

Yeah, I don't see that happening, but it got that bad in Toronto, and the threat of it seemed to change the board's minds a little bit. So maybe a threat is as far as fans in Calgary would need to go. The same discussion happened in Edmonton right before Katz took over, so I'm coming at this with some experience.

With regards to the prospects and someone to take Iginla's mantle, I just don't see anyone stepping up in the next two years. I think Baertschi and Reinhart will excite, but not to the same degree. Likely the next Beloved of Fans will show up in some unexpected or at-this-time unforeseen way.

On that note, Kent, once the WJs finish I'd be interested in reading your assessment of Baertschi and Granlund (Markus, of course). The former seemed to be fairly quiet, concussion aside, and the latter had a good game today. Just curious.

Anyway, that post should put Vintage Flame a few cups of coffee over his daily limit. =)

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#41 the-wolf
January 03 2012, 07:52AM
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re: the article - I've been saying this for years now. The team is scared of the Young Guns era and prefers the status quo. Eventually though, they'll be right back there, it's just a matter of time.

re: Iginla - trading him just means fans will buy Baertschi jerseys next year. It'll be the new hot thing. Bottom line is this team needs top young talent and the only feasible way to acquire it is by trading Iginla at the deadline.

I agree with John Deere Green and Shutout. Having a sports team is about more than profit or should be anyways, from both a sporting and financial standpoint.

Also agree that refusing to spend $ is the only way for fans to get change. Supporting a broken system doesn't make one fan superior to another. Why should aperson have to blow their hard earned $ on millionaires and billionaires just to prove that they're some sort of super-fan? Especially when the millionaires and billionaires aren't giving it their all back to the fans.

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#42 Section205
January 03 2012, 11:07AM
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Q: Do you think Iginla and/or Kiprusoff will have a dialogue with ownership and give them the opportunity to trade them at a future deadline if they do not intend to re-sign with Calgary?

A: Yes. They have class and respect for the organization.

Q: Is it possible that either one will want to re-sign at a fair value and be significant contributors?

A: Yes.

Q: What type of teams would trade for Iginla or Kiprusoff?

A: Cup contenders.

Q: What position will those teams be drafting at?

A: 25th or worse

Q: What is the probability that those picks will develop into elite level talent?

A: Let's be generous and suggest 10% probability

Q: So how would a 25th overall pick significantly enhance the gradual rebuilding that every team endures?

A: There is a slight chance that it could significantly speed up the rebuild, but more than likely it would not speed things up at all.

Q: Do you think #12 and #34 trade value is significantly higher this deadline than in 2 or 3 years?

A: While they are getting older, it is probable that the return (late 1st round draft pick) will be only marginally less significant in 2 or 3 years.

Q: While the Flames are gradually rebuilding in cyclical fashion like most other teams, do you think Flames fans will enjoy celebrating the future career achievements of Iginla and Kiprusoff?

A: Follow the money.

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#43 the-wolf
January 03 2012, 11:50AM
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@section205 - yeah, I guess that makes sense if you believe that the most you can get for Iginla is a late 1st round pick.

Most people think otherwise.

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#44 Section205
January 03 2012, 12:08PM
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@the-wolf

I can almost guarantee that you would (will?) complain about the actual return for Iginla.

Obviously he wouldn't get anywhere near what Mike Richards got as a 26 year old centre.

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#45 kevin r
January 03 2012, 12:12PM
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the-wolf wrote:

@section205 - yeah, I guess that makes sense if you believe that the most you can get for Iginla is a late 1st round pick.

Most people think otherwise.

Bingo! I think having Iggy for this years Stanley Cup run & having him for next year as well will pry much more than a late 1st rounder, at least an A level NHL ready prospect for team who thinks their time is now. Kipper will get you better than a late round 1st rounder just because of contract versus $$$ owed on the remaining 2 years of the contract & the fact he is still a reliable, rarely injured solid goalie. I see Tampa & possibly Phoenix if Smith is injured more seriously. Can you imagine Kipper actually playing behind a well coached decent defence. Scary.

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#46 Kevin R
January 03 2012, 12:19PM
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Section205 wrote:

I can almost guarantee that you would (will?) complain about the actual return for Iginla.

Obviously he wouldn't get anywhere near what Mike Richards got as a 26 year old centre.

Well I guess thats where this thing is at the crossroads. If the return isnt overwhelming and Iggy wants to stay & be part of a rebuild, why even bother asking him to waive. Get him signed to a front loaded 4 year extension before the CBA expires so we can pay him 7.0 mill per year on the first 2 years & then 3.0mill for theother 2 years & then the cap hit is only 5.0mil. Add an extra year to get the cap hit even lower if need be. But if Iggy doesnt want to be part of a rebuild, then the time is "now" to get a bidding war & get a meaningful return. But if this thing is about t-shirts & jersy's for another year, then that will be the upsetting thing.

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#47 the-wolf
January 03 2012, 12:39PM
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Kevin R wrote:

Well I guess thats where this thing is at the crossroads. If the return isnt overwhelming and Iggy wants to stay & be part of a rebuild, why even bother asking him to waive. Get him signed to a front loaded 4 year extension before the CBA expires so we can pay him 7.0 mill per year on the first 2 years & then 3.0mill for theother 2 years & then the cap hit is only 5.0mil. Add an extra year to get the cap hit even lower if need be. But if Iggy doesnt want to be part of a rebuild, then the time is "now" to get a bidding war & get a meaningful return. But if this thing is about t-shirts & jersy's for another year, then that will be the upsetting thing.

Exactly, to say that Iginla would only fetch a late 1st rounder borders on the absurd.

@section205 - I've also stated many times in the past that you obviously only make the move if it's worth making. I think it would be. But I've never advocated giving Iginla away for nothing. And certainly never compared him to Mike Richards. But at the deadline, signed for 2 runs, you should be able to get something meaningful back.

You may be interested to know that I never complained about the Nieuwendyk return. That was left to the hero worshipers.

Moving Iginla and Kipper (move on may as well move the other) remain the only solid bet to get skilled youth into the organization (more of it anyways). By the time Baertschi, Backlund, etc. develop Iginla will be just a memory. Of a guy who never won anything for the Flames.

Don't worry, neither of us have any control over the situation, but time will tell who was right. After all, I was apaprently wrong years ago for suggesting Carter and Giroux would be a good return for Iginla after his last 50 goal season. How short-sighted of me.

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#48 Section205
January 03 2012, 12:44PM
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@kevin r

"Can you imagine Kipper actually playing behind a well coached decent defence. Scary."

If this is true, then why should we trade him?

Imagine how scary we could be with Kipper plus a well coached decent defence.

Funny People complaining about this core (ie Kipper and Iggy) for years, and then those same people complaining are the ones trying to suggest the fantastic trade value in the marketplace.

It has always been true that these players are more valuable to the Flames than they are to anybody else in the league.

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#49 kevin r
January 03 2012, 12:50PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Exactly, to say that Iginla would only fetch a late 1st rounder borders on the absurd.

@section205 - I've also stated many times in the past that you obviously only make the move if it's worth making. I think it would be. But I've never advocated giving Iginla away for nothing. And certainly never compared him to Mike Richards. But at the deadline, signed for 2 runs, you should be able to get something meaningful back.

You may be interested to know that I never complained about the Nieuwendyk return. That was left to the hero worshipers.

Moving Iginla and Kipper (move on may as well move the other) remain the only solid bet to get skilled youth into the organization (more of it anyways). By the time Baertschi, Backlund, etc. develop Iginla will be just a memory. Of a guy who never won anything for the Flames.

Don't worry, neither of us have any control over the situation, but time will tell who was right. After all, I was apaprently wrong years ago for suggesting Carter and Giroux would be a good return for Iginla after his last 50 goal season. How short-sighted of me.

We're on the same page bro, I may hero worship Iggy more but I know when its time to do the right thing for the hockey team. Personally, I think the Nieuy trade was like getting fired from a job only to find a way better opportunity. That trade back then & Fleury as well was precipitated by a .65 dollar & no salary cap. They were gone like Brad Richards if we didnt trade them. This time around, its just good hockey management.

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#50 jr_christ
January 03 2012, 12:51PM
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Interesting comments here.

If you look at www.forbes.com you can see the revenues, operating expenses and net income of every NHL team over the past 5 years.

While the Flames have one of the highest ticket revenues, they have finished with net loses 4 of the past 5 years. So... even if you continue to sell out the regular season you NEED to make the first round of the play offs OR you NEED to cut salaries in order to continue to generate a positive net income. Revenues don't mean a damn thing... it's the bottom line that matters in a business.

The oilers may not generate as much revenues, but they's make positive net income for the past 6 seasons for over 20M in profits. Hmmm... when you put it that way it sounds a lot better.

Oilers have finished out of the play offs for 6 years (already assuming they're effed this year too) and have made 5 times the profit the flames have. Last time the Flames finished 6 years out of the playoffs the team was pending sale twice, and had an average attendace of 13K fans.

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