The big news is that there’s no news.
After meeting with Flames president and CEO Ken King, George Johnson reports in the Calgary Herald that after the club’s self-imposed period of evaluation and contemplation, neither Darryl Sutter nor Jarome Iginla is going anywhere.
This always seemed like the most likely turn of events and it grew increasingly predictable as the Calgary-free National Hockey League playoffs progressed and the date for the June draft drew nearer and nearer.
Based on the growing volume of the grumbling as the Flames shuffled from Coach Sutter to Coach Playfair to Coach Keenan to Coach Sutter 2.0 while failing to win a playoff round over the past five seasons, this is not the outcome some disgruntled Calgary fans wanted. For those malcontents, King has thrown the following bone — the Flames are going to get Sutter a little help. Said assistance will come in the form or one or perhaps two assistants, which lends a little credence to reports out of Brandon last week that Calgary Hitmen boss Kelly Kisio was going to be invited to move from one Saddledome office to another.
You are of course free to debate the merits of retaining Herr Sutter (and many of you have already gotten a head start on this exercise) but the decision having been made, s smart Flames fan should be hoping that the Jolly Rancher’s employment hasn’t been extended on a conditional basis, at least nothing more conditional than being asked to field second opinions from a second-in-command. You see, perhaps the only thing worse than keeping a man prone to bad decisions (as Sutter bashers would argue) is to keep him under "or else" conditions. All that does is ensure the bad decisions will come more quickly as the on-the-spot GM takes frantic and drastic measures to save his job, long-term consequences be damned.
Some will see the timing of this vote of confidence and Steve Yzerman’s hiring by the Tampa Bay Lightning as something other than coincidental, but there is no indication that the Flames ever seriously explored the possibility of hiring the former Detroit Red Wings captain and highly unproven hockey executive (the Olympics, in so many ways, do no count as Yzerman himself will quickly realize when his fourth line has gone from Marleau-Thronton-Heatley to Konopka-Fedoruk-Purcell).
As for keeping Iginla, that too is in keeping with the script. Let’s start with the fact that Iginla’s fate wasn’t entirely the Flames decision. In light of Iginla’s no-movement protection and the economic difficulties in finding a home for a contract that has $21M remaining on it, not to mention the heartstring complications of trading one of the two or three most important players in the history of the franchise, the deck was always stacked against the jettisoning of No. 12, regardless of how many sound hockey arguments could be made in favour of such a move.
So in short, we’re left with the reality that two of the largest components that make the contemporary Calgary Flames who they are will still be here come September training camp and that the only change in the offing is that someone other than Michael Holditch will be sitting next to Sutter in the pressbox when TV networks use those cutaway reaction shots.
The Herald article also mentions King’s vow for the team to be more open with the local media but the relative importance of that revelation to the Flames’ quest to get back on the beam is reflected by its placement in the story (i.e. at the bottom).
Now that that has been cleared up, go ahead and resume your debate about how the Flames should spend the 64th overall pick in the 2010 draft or how much money Eric Nystrom is worth.