The beating pulse

Calgary Flames v Phoenix Coyotes

I get a chance to sit back and chat with Calgary Flames fans after each and every game the Flames play. It’s a really enjoyable thing to do — it’s a passionate group of fans; they love their team, and they hate to see the team they love play poorly. Which was why Wednesday’s 4-0 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild was so disappointing.

Not to drudge up old demons here, but that was a garbage performance. You’re in a tooth-and-nail playoff race and you come out with that? It was simply okay for half of it, and absolutely uninspired and listless for the other half. That’s not acceptable into the final 20 games of the season and without a playoff berth assured.

Calgary pissed away points last year but had a 13 point cushion to do so. They have no cushion here, and to see that lack of inspired hockey on Wednesday was very disheartening from my pretty objective standpoint.

When taking calls on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the pulse was centered on two topics. Both of them happen to share a last name. It seems the Sutters (coach Brent; GM Darryl) are the two biggest things on the the minds of fans right now, with patience seemingly running out.

Let’s start with the GM. The overwhelming sentiment seems to be that the signings, trades and shuffling he’s done over the past two to three seasons has not been right for the team. The examples most commonly referred to? Well, the Phaneuf trade being the most recent. But, with hindsight being 20/20, there’s been some questioning of other moves. A six-year contract for Rene Bourque, a long term deal for Daymond Langkow, giving up a first rounder for Olli Jokinen, and a $3.6 million cap hit on Cory Sarich are also frequently brought up.

As for the coach, it seems the system he’s employing and the way he’s running the team hasn’t been met with a lot of positive fanfare. Comments of "He’s stifling any offensive creativity" and "He’s not letting them enjoy the game" have been brought up frequently all season, not just last night. The feeling among some seems to be that the coaching staff isn’t utilizing some of their players correctly, and that the way Brent wants things done doesn’t necessarily mesh correctly with the group assembled right now.

My opinion? Doesn’t really matter. I don’t blame the coach, not one bit. I don’t think his system has anything to do with the woes being suffered by this Flames team. To me, it still goes back to the core group inside that locker room. Consistency has been the biggest issue for this team all year long. To me, that’s not a coaching thing; it’s a players thing.

Brent has sent every message to the team he can possibly send. It’s just not happening. The group assembled right now has yet to show they can put it all together on the ice on a consistent basis> That’s fact. They’re five games below .500 since December 1st; they’re five games below .500 in 2010. It’s not good enough…and no one is going to argue with that.

Follow Pat Steinberg on Twitter.

    • When you think of how St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Anaheim, Minnesota and Nashville are playing, you have to expect that at least 2 maybe 3 or 4 will get pretty hot down the stretch here. If that happens, Calgary is going to have to keep pace…realistically, it might take .600 or .700 hockey for the Flames to make the playoffs.

  • A18

    I sat and watched the Flames growing up through all those terrible years of not making the playoffs. I thought as a kid we just needed some proper leadership. Then D Sutter came in town helped shape the team into something respectable. I had faith he would continue down the path of making the team better. With all that has transpired recently, I have lost faith in his decision making capability. Now there is a significant probability my team doesn't even make the playoffs.

    I've lost faith in D Sutter. Perhaps San Jose's decision to remove him from a position of leadership has some merit to it. It's my personal opinion that he has ruined this team. Changes were needed but the return he got is questionable.

    Hopefully I'm wrong and the moves made the Flames tear it up.


    • There's no question this GM has made some very odd moves. Right now, there is not a whole lot to be excited about in the future. The cupboard is pretty bare and there are some contract that could handcuff the Flames down the road.


    When ever I decide to punish my brain by listening to overtime (no offence to you Pat, I feel sorry for you) I am completely amazed by some of the callers who, as you point out, make ignorant comments regarding Brent Sutter like

    "He's not letting them enjoy the game"

    how on earth do any one of these people know that? If you read the script of an OT show most people would probably assume that it is a show where children are encouraged to call in and talk to the radio guy. Sadly, it's a bunch of drunk grown men whose jobs clearly involve very little mental dexterity. These are the same people who call in to drum up support for a boycott of the flames.

    anyway, Sutter's moves lately have been mistifying to say the least. this guy has been a strong GM for 6 years (?) now. It's not like he just forgot over night how to be a damn good GM. Even if the flames miss the playoffs, I'm of the mind give the Sutter's sometime to turn it around. Look at teams that were in similar situations as the flames appear to be headed in. Colorado and Philadelphia just to name two. Both appeared to be heading into a big rebuild, and both look like strong teams right now. Canning the Sutter's after missing the playoffs once in the last 6 years is a complete knee jerk reaction. Daryll's a pretty damn good GM, Brent is a great coach.

    the downfall of this organization has not been the coach. it has been there abysmal drafting and developing (which Daryll is a part of). they had to trade the organizations best player under 25 to get some 'depth' if the organization had been able to produce 2 or 3 players that could play a top six or top four spot, chances are this team would be in a much, much different place

    • I'll come to the defence of the callers…they're very rarely drunk (good call screening), and they're very rarely as off the wall as that.

      Problem is, nothing is knee jerk. This is a Flames team that has gone out in the first round of the playoffs in 4 straight seasons. It's also a team that spends right to the cap and has raised ticket prices in subsequent offseasons.

      Eventually, the people paying the money want to see the results.

  • Problem is, nothing is knee jerk. This is a Flames team that has gone out in the first round of the playoffs in 4 straight seasons. It's also a team that spends right to the cap and has raised ticket prices in subsequent offseasons.

    Eventually, the people paying the money want to see the results.

    Well said.

  • I still have complete faith in D Sutter's ability to execute. I don't think anyone in the league, save maybe Burke and Lucky Lou, is better at getting-things-done. If he goes, mark my words, we'll miss that skill.

    But I certainly have lost faith in D Sutter's decision making abilities. For 5 years now it's been an incredible mix of brilliant and brutal. The cumulative effect is starting to speak for itself.

    Sometimes I think he simply needs to be made to get approval before pulling any triggers. If that could filter out the brutal moves and still let the brilliant ones through, we'd be in a much better place. Like maybe even 8th.