Darryl Sutter and the Mayor of Casterbridge

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks


An eery silence has settled on the Flames fanship today. In the immediate aftermath of the gut punch loss to the Detroit, there was the expected wailing and gnashing of teeth. Our own Pat Steinberg no doubt fielded angry calls deep into the night. Today, however, in the cold light of a late winter morning, a sort of bland resignation seems to have taken hold of the faithful at large. Perhaps it’s because, with 13 games left on the schedule, it’s far too early to begin the Flames eulogy. While many may be planning the post-mortem, the truth is the patient isn’t quite dead yet.

Like the malingering peasant in a Monty Python movie, no one really expects the Flames playoff hopes to survive, however. Calgary’s chances of making the dance dipped to 20% after last night’s loss. I think the floundering hopes of the fanbase runs deeper than just the single 2009-10 longshot, however. After 5 consecutive seasons of high expectations, heavy payrolls, late year collapses and first round ousters, Flames fans are taking on the sallow helplessness of a the perpetually disappointed. The endless rotation of support staff and coaches, without a marked improvement in results, has made this season’s fall from grace seem somehow fatalistic and inexorable to the followers of this franchise. Would any Flames fan, for example, put money on the club to win their first round matchup should they somehow manage to sneak into the play-off picture? 

The continued fidelity to the tragic script of spend high-play well-lose out-fail miserably has an almost Shakespearian quality to it, right down to the hubiristic fatal flaw of the primary protagonist in question. Were this a Thomas Hardy novel, one would likely find Darryl Sutter alone in an isolated farm, a single drink clutched in his hand, penning a final missive demanding no funeral and no one to mourn his passing.

It’s not over, yet, of course. An unlikely reversal of fortune, a sudden 9 game winning streak, and an upset in the first round isn’t impossible yet. But it remains really, really unlikely. And the fact that the prospect of failure seems familiar and in no way foreign is perhaps the most distasteful part for the long suffering fans of this organization. In addition, the immediate future holds no promise of succor; no real avenues for advancement or improvement given the club’s lack of prospects, picks and cap flexibility means further disappointment on the horizon.

The silence in town is rather deafening today. While a portion of the fanbase is busy dressing up effigies to burn, another portion may have ceased to care altogether.

  • stilldrinkingthekoolaid

    Kent wrote;
    Flames fans are taking on the sallow helplessness of a the perpetually disappointed.

    Welcome to the province of Champions

    For all of the Flames Fans who laughed at us barely scaping by and into 8th

    Hoist by one's own petard

  • Rob in Toronto

    I was curious as to the last time that both the Flames and Oilers missed the playoffs. It was the 2001-2002 season. I had thought that it would have been longer ago than that.

  • I'd guess that "all is quiet" because although we all know that there is still a chance, it's not a good one, and too much optimism will make it all the more depressing and crushing when the inevitable occurs. We're in a strange place where we are just preparing ourselves for the mathematical elimination, while not completely giving up hope. It sucks, but I'm not sure this is much worse than backing into the playoffs like in recent history.

    So, when will Iggy get his "Ray Bourque" reprieve and go to a contender? I'm starting to lose any faith in an Iggy-led Flames Cup win.

    • stilldrinkingthekoolaid

      If it doesn't happen in the next couple of years (which, I agree, seems like the most likely scenario), when his contract is up things might be different. By 2012 there will likely be a very different team/different potential team, so saying he will have to go Ray Bourque in order to get a cup is not necessarily the case. After all, maybe the reason the Mayan calendar ends that year is because it's the year the Flames finally win their second cup. =D

    • Interesting point. I would qualify that IF iggy has reached the point of diminishing returns, why not have Sutter unload him for picks/prospects etc . to refill the coffers BEFORE the figurehead Ken King lops of said Darryls head.
      Thankfully for the Flames the seat renewals have been strong as until Sunday night, the pulse seemed strong and the chance of survival was excellent.
      What a difference a day or two makes.

      In defence of this lot, they are better than the 04 team but the game has changed significantly and their is no sneak up factor involved in current Flames rosters. They may get in and actually get their proverbial crap together but it sure seems unlikely. A 60 minute performance would be a good place to start.

      Ales Kotalik extension anyone??????? Huh, huh, huh?? FFS….. I suggest the Wanye treatment for all….. oblivion via alcoholic over indulgence.

      In other news….. the Hitmen are pretty good!!!

  • I was never once concerned about missing the playoffs this year… until I heard Rita McNeil signing song after song last night.

    As a staunch Darryl Sutter supporter dating back to his days coaching in Chicago & San Jose, I simply cannot fathom why he thought bringing in Ales Kotalik's $3mil @ 2 more years was a good idea. For the life of me. I made fun of Oiler fans that wanted to resign him last summer. I made fun of the Rangers for giving him an absurd contract. Darryl Sutter… today, I make fun of you! Now redeem yourself and make him & Sarich disappear a la Wayne Primeau & Jim Vandermeer. Good luck with that. I'm waiting…

    • Further to that, having heard Ken King wax eloquently about Darryls role as a leader in the organization and a person that the players go to for advice etc. etc. I too would be stunned if Kinger had the bullocks, Darryl goes in a mercy killing style ala Craig MacTavish.
      Bow out; but heres the money we owe you, go quietly and we still love you to bits but you know,,,, we need these peoples money and they fn hate your guts.

      It occurs to me that they probably will make it and go deep… it kind of fits the wee against the world mentality that Sutter (b + d) can sell so well.

      And one last boot to the Ales Kotalik thing,,,,, seen with my own eyes…. Dustin Penner passing him on a backcheck. LAST YEAR. True story!

  • It'll be interesting to see how the Flames players respond when the nation is no longer behind them and expects failure once again.
    Here's hoping they do the right thing and get Backlund in the lineup.
    I would love to say i'm looking forward to the draft, but when's the Flames first pick, 8th round???

  • I'm ready to stick a fork in it. Nothing short of winning at least the next 3 straight will cause me to get my hopes up again… a little piece of me died last night and it's too painful to try to keep that hope alive any longer.

    Looking forward to the "what to do in the off season" debates cause, honestly, I'm scratching my head over here.

  • Three other creative plans Sutter may have for Staios:

    1) Maybe the "conditional" 3rd pick has some Vandermeer magic attached to it: i.e. Trade him back to Edmonton? I'm not sure if this is possible in the current CBA.

    2) Bury him in the minors a la Bubba Ericksson or Chris Chelios as a Reg Dunlop mentor/playing coach.

    3) Convince him to join coaching staff (as the shot blocking expert) of the big club, a la Steve Smith.

  • maimster

    It's times like this I'm glad I'm not in Calgary. I'm frustrated with the Flames, but am still eagerly awaiting the Colorado game. And that's because, as bad as it seems, this is NOTHING like the dead years between '97 and '03. Personally, I sit back today and realize I could take 5 more years just like this one to not have to live through those years again.

  • I am really disappointed in the teams performance this season with exception of the defensive issues we had in the first 6 games of the season; the only reason i exempt those games is because were scoring like the Washington capitals (at will) and everything was looking bright in cow town and here in my city in Windsor where the red wings fans were quiet and unnoticeable. Clearly i am not a good write and my English skills are lacking, sadly this year as proven to be worse than the above mentioned skill i do not possess. With that being said, it is clear in my mind that my favourite team in the universe will have to go .800 the remainder of the season to have any chance of making my dreams become reality. I truly believe this is the year the flames can do damage in the first round because no team wants to play them; i understand that can't be said for any team right now, because everyone wants a piece of the flames because of their struggles during the regular season and late season collapses in recent memory.
    I do not want to look ahead to the next season because the current season is still in process but it will take more than just kipper's highlight reel saves to get my flames into the post season. I just do not know what i will do here in this city where red wings fans are left, right and centre and canuck fans rape my cells text message memory capacity with annoying and cocky messages about how the canuck-nation is alive and well.

    Please Coach Sutter, for the love of all men and women of the great flames fanbase and their emotional ties to this team, say something of great importance and value that will turn those players in that dressing room, into playoff contenders instead of golf-loving maniacs earlier than expected.

    I am not throwing in the towel yet but there is only so much i can do as one fan to pump this team up to finish the season strong and with desperation.

    GO flames GO.

    nurf from windsor, ontario