A certain manufacturer and distributor of brewed beverages in this country claims in an ad campaign that there’s an unwritten code in this country and then proceeds to list a bunch of actions that are supposedly reflective of Canadians. Not surprisingly, many of the code items are hockey-related, but there seems to be one missing. Allow us to rectify this error:
There’s an unwritten code in Canada. If you live by it, chances are …
You’ve left your coat on some pile and knew it wouldn’t get stolen.
You’ve never made a move on your buddy’s girlfriend.
You know that on a road trip the strongest bladder determines the pit stops.
You’ve kept all your hockey trophies.
You’ve replaced someone’s pint if you’ve knocked theirs over.
If your buddy’s in trouble, you’ve got his back.
You’ve clapped for a dancer even though she shouldn’t be a dancer.
You’ve used a blowtorch to curve your stick.
You’ve used your arm as an ice-scraper and YOU’VE MADE A PROJECTED LINEUP FOR YOUR FAVOURITE HOCKEY TEAM IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY WHEN IT’S STILL MONTHS AWAY FROM THE START OF THE SEASON AND HARDLY ANY COACHES KEEP LINES AND DEFENCE PAIRINGS TOGETHER ANYMORE SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
But no matter how pointless the exercise, it’s something that has to be done and besides, the powers that be at FlamesNation don’t seem that keen on that hard-hitting and oh-so-timely-and-relevant after-the-fact analysis of the trade that sent Pat Riggin from Calgary to Washington in 1982. So we’ll keep that piece on the shelf a while longer and take a stab at what the Flames lineup could/should/would look like on Oct. 1.
Kent W. took a stab at this a while ago, but the subsequent acquisition of Nigel Dawes has created repercussions that have been felt from Cranbrook to Cremona to Carstairs and so the topic begs a re-examination, even if it’s from someone who has no clue why the old California Golden Seals trio of Dennis Maruk, Bob Murdoch and Al MacAdam was called the 3M Line.
OK, let’s start with the easy part — Jarome Iginla plays right wing on the top line. Also, despite recent cyber-innuendo suggesting otherwise, Alex Tanguay probably doesn’t play anywhere on any Flames line.
In his lineup, Kent had Olli Jokinen playing the wing because of the Flames’ relative shallowness there compared to centre and you know what? That hasn’t changed all that much in spite of the addition of Dawes. So the Finn stays on the wing in this set-up, too. Kent, your royalty cheque for borrowing your intellectual property is in the mail.
Even if Brent Sutter has promised to crack the whip and keep the forwards honest in regard to their defensive responsibilities, a solid two-way centreman is a must beween Jokinen and Iginla and the best man for the job is Daymond Langkow, no matter how much “He’s-not-a-true-No. 1-centreman” wailing that provokes.
After that, it’s easy enough to assemble two more three-man partnerships but it’s a little harder to assign “second line” and “third line” labels to them according to the classic definition. In this scenario, Curtis Glencross, David Moss and Dustin Boyd play together because they had some nice moments together during the 2008 pre-season and, for various reasons, didn’t get enough extended time as a unit once the regular campaign got under way.
The presence of Craig Conroy and Rene Bourque gives the other second/third line some nice versatility and this is the trio that would get the tougher opposition in a match-up situation.
The Flames would presumably like to make Wayne Primeau and his $1.4-million ticket disappear before the season gets under way, and if they can that might open the door for Mikael Backlund to make the squad for some carefully chosen minutes and cameo power-play time. Not sure Backlund won’t actually start the season in the minors, but it was fun writing the names of two Swedes and the son of a Swede on the same line.
If it’s determined that spot duty would be detrimental to Backlund’s development, then it’s stick in Jamie Lundmark and pray he doesn’t play his way back to the minors yet again. Bear in mind that Brian McGrattan will get the call on nights Sutter believes some muscle is needed. There’s Brandon Prust, too.
As for the back end, it seems unfathomable the Flames won’t at least try former WHL Central Division wunderkinds Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf as a pairing. That would allow Calgary to keep Cory Sarich and Robyn Regehr together as a punishing shut-down pair.
Barring any significant August movement at the Saddledome offices — and the cap situation would seem to preclude anything drastic, including the return of Todd Bertuzzi at a bargain-basement price — those are the building blocks the new coaching regime will have at its disposal. Is it good enough in a tepid Northwest Division field?