Now that the season is officially over for the Calgary Flames, it’s time for the real finger-pointing and question-asking to begin. And, as such, the top of Flames management have made their public appearances and some of those questions have been asked. Monday afternoon, President Ken King and General Manager Darryl Sutter addressed the media. It came just a couple days after Darryl also spoke with Peter Maher during Saturday’s Flames-Canucks broadcast.
If you happened to listen to the news conference live on The FAN 960, I can’t help but think you might have come away disappointed. And I can’t say I really blame you, because in a lot of ways, I came away frustrated as well. Were the questions asked? Yes, I think in most areas they were. However, I would imagine most were not satisfied with the answers given. But then again, when I really removed myself from it, it was exactly what I thought it was going to be. We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought anything really concrete was going to come from it.
I have a few bones of contention. Sutter was asked where things went wrong, he was asked about the lack of scoring, he was asked about the downfall of the season. His answer consistently was the discrepancy between the home and road record. Now, that’s not to say Calgary’s home record was part of the problem this season, but it’s far too simplistic to boil this entire season down to 41 games here and 41 games there.
What about the powerplay? Once again, it was paltry — at home AND on the road, Calgary’s play on the man advantage was an issue. It ranked in the bottom half of the league both at the Saddledome and elsewhere.
What about a lack of a consistent identity? Calgary struggled with this wherever they played; stifling efforts against New Jersey, Ottawa and Anaheim followed a stinker against Minnesota, all at home. On the road? Complete tank jobs on the Island and in Boston was followed by a triumph over the NHL’s top team in Washington. To say that things were rosy on the road and it was JUST their play at home that needed to be addressed is wrong. Fact of the matter is, every single thing that plagued this team this year plagued them regardless of where they played.
Sutter and King both addressed "locker room issues," as Darryl alluded to them before he was asked about them. When both were asked, it was passed off as "23 athletes in a locker room have different personalities." That’s not false, but to me, there had to be more to the story.
There are 29 other teams with 23 athletes in the locker room, yet not all of them struggled with consistency efforts as the Flames did this season. Head Coach Brent Sutter alluded to "a casual atmosphere" inside the Flames room I can’t help but wonder if that plagued them all season long. When Darryl was asked if the trades to send Dion Phaneuf to Toronto and Olli Jokinen to New York played into some of the "room issues," he said it was probably part of it.
Ken King was right when he said a lot of the criticism coming from Flames fans comes from passion and love for the team. I also think Mr. King realizes that even after a 55 minute long Q&A session at the ‘Dome today, there were still be a lot of frustration from that same passionate group of fans.
Next up, we hear from the players later this week as they’ll do their exit interviews and clean out their lockers.