Well, there’s that…

                                               I'm baaaaaaaaaack. Did you miss me? I missed you.

Look, I’m not going to try to put any lipstick on this pig. Olli Jokinen’s tenure in Calgary was a complete failure, full stop. His acquisition and subsequent trade bookended a period that one might hope had cured Darryl Sutter from making any rash moves.

With that in mind, his relatively inexpensive acquisition of Alex Tanguay earlier this afternoon made a bit of sense, especially since his initial move away from Calgary was driven by factors other than his actual performance.

This move, however, really defies description. So, is there any reason to hope? After the jump, I’ll try to make some sense of it all.

I’d be the first person to say that I was pretty uncomfortable with Mikael Backlund as a stand-alone 3C, since he needed some very sheltered minutes to compete at the NHL level last year. Matt Stajan seems like a tweener 2/3C, and Daymond Langkow is still very useful, but he’s no kid and is coming off a fairly major neck injury.

So I do understand that the team might have felt that their center ice position was looked a bit thin. I don’t worship the cult of the "first-line center" as ardently as some, but the better teams in the conference (DET and CHI in particular) are three deep in the middle with some nice players. 

My question would be, "Is there any evidence that Olli Jokinen any kind of solution to that problem?" The answer is a very slight chance of "maybe", but with a ton of qualifiers, none of which I’d expect the Flames to adhere to. First, Olli Jokinen has exactly zero historical evidence in his favour suggesting he can play against good players.

That means that if the club expects success from the return of the Wild Card, he has to play against soft competition, with a nice heaping of PP work. If the Flames have the wit to give him Hagman/GlenX and Moss for linemates versus third liners, he might manage to out-shoot and out-score. Olli Jokinen did have some poor shooting luck in terms of percentages, but his possession numbers were shabby enough versus top players to convince me that he wasn’t merely unlucky. 

Second, for the love of (insert the deity of your choice), keep him away from Jarome Iginla. Those two were the Toxic Twins last year, and I don’t see how a brief interregnum will have solved their utter inability to make a go of matters.

I don’t doubt that Alex Tanguay, if healthy, would be the kind of nice passer that might help both of them, but if that line runs PvP next year, their shifts will replace staged fights as my cue to head for the fridge or the can, because I won’t want to watch that crap. I’m not the type to rubber-neck at car crashes, y’know? My concern is that Sutter and Sutter won’t be able to resist.

I’m not going to belabor this much more. Olli Jokinen isn’t the anti-christ, and as a small point in his favour, I do remember his surprisingly poignant presser the night he was traded where he took responsibility for the disappointing turn of events.

It was actually difficult to listen to, especially given that he and Brandon Prust clearly played that game under duress, since they were obviously headed to New York before the game started. So I try not to be too harsh toward a player that was a poor fit under the circumstances. 

The guy who pulled the trigger? Well, I’ll have a few words to say about him soon enough, if the authorities don’t detain him for his own safety first. I think the mood might be a bit foul around Calgary for the near term, at least.

  • Sherw88d

    Well, I can’t believe that I’m doing this, but if you look at the comparables – and what they signed for – Sutter did find good value getting Jokinen at 3per.

    Matt Cullen – 3.5 per over 3 years – 2009 – 81GP 48 points -7
    Ray Whitney – 3 per over 2 years – 2009 – 80GP 58 Points -6
    Armstrong – 3 per over 3 years – 2009 – 79GP 29 Points +6
    Jokinen – 3 per over 2 years – 2009 – 82GP 50 Points +3

    Ray Whitney is a cap-hit-retirement risk, but it will remain to be seen which player does better over the next 2 years.

    Now, admittedly Jokinen had a horrible season, but isn’t there value in that contract?

    I mean, Cullen has NEVER crested 50 points, and got a much sweeter deal. Armstrong has only hit 40 twice, and once was playing with Sidney Crosby. Whitney’s had some amazing seasons, but do we think he’s really going to hit 60 points in Phoenix?

    I actually think we did well getting Jokinen for that price.

  • dustin642

    The whole situation is messed and getting messy-er (I almost wrote messier) all the time. The whole Jokinen trade, then re-trade, wave one player we traded for and don’t sign the other only to re-sign Jokinen… Little sticky, but going back in time to when Sutter made the deal, his team had little to no offensive depth and couldn’t put the puck in the net during practice on McIlhenney. So he made a gamble, bring in 2 former 20-goal scorers and hope that a change of scenery makes them good again. Didn’t work out, but at least he took that gamble when most GM’s would have sat on their hands.

  • dustin642

    Well i guess I will start off by saying that I have been a Darryl Sutter supporter for the majority of his tenure as Flames general manager. However, with that being said, it is impossible to endorse or condone the way in which he has conducted his business over the past six months. This franchise has gone from being an underachieving team with potential to the laughing stock of the national hockey league. Darryl has traded away Phaneuf (who I was happy to see leave) for far less compensation than was deserved. As much as I disliked Dion’s efforts and contributions on a a night in night out basis he still had and has an enormous upside. But all we got in return was a pretty good second line player in Hagman. A maybe potential second line center who was overpaid to stay in Stajon. A respectable 3 or 4 defenseman who will soon be overpaid in White. As well as a throw in in Jamal Mayers. Plus to top things off we throw in a prospect, albeit marginal, in Aulie, and a nobody in sjostrom. Then Darryl decides to trade his prized number one ceneter Olli for a pretty damn good player Higgins and a bag of pucks making 3 million per named Ales Kotalik. Then Higgins walks as a UFA. he is still trying to figure out how to make Kotaliks 3 mil disappear. And to top it off resigns the traded player on the first day of free agency. i thought Jokinens first stint in a Flames uni was a failure, however had he played out his contract and been resigned i probably wouldn’t have an issue. But to trade him for an untradeable “asset” in Kotalik and then resign him shows that Mr. sutter has no (what do u call it) common sense. The Tanguay aquisition is not terrible. but you bought out one of your best dollar for dollar producers to make all of this happen. As a one time staunch Darryl booster i find this somewhat difficult but how does this man still hold a job. There are armchair gm’s all over who have more foresight, thoughtfullness and intuition than this man has shown. Now is the time to sever ties with the man who has brought this franchise back to relevance and respectability before he takes us right back to where we were when he joined the organization. Goodbye Darryl, you had a good run for awhile but i dont see any circumstances in which u hold onto your current or get another of similar stature in this league.

  • Sherw88d

    Ok so we can safely say that most of the Flames Nation has jumped out the window, and I was one of the first to go through.

    After hitting the ground, I guess the fact of the matter is that there wasnt much else Sutter could do. What other Center could we add who would of had a scoring touch of some sort in this free agency pool?

    I think the reason Sutter made this deal is because what if he cant trade for a viable center? Then what?

    I’m sure Sutter wasn’t sitting in his office all giddy for 10 AM to roll by so he could start negotiating with the Jokinen Camp. It is what it is folks; reality.

  • dustin642

    I wrote this [below] on Jan 26/2010
    …………………………

    OK lets assume that someone was smart enough to make me the GM of the Calgary Flames. I would admit that my team is not in the elite category and I would purge now to become elite in 18 months. This has nothing to do with the current losing streak.

    Purge! Purge! Purge!

    Assuming I am the GM that means Sutter is gone. [I think his lack of the ability to smile hurts the organization]… anyway. Traded right now are Iginla, Phaneuf, Jokinen and Reghear. Also bit parts such as Langkow, Conroy and Sarich are gone. It takes stones but it needs to be done. The Flames have traded away all of their youth trying to get elite this past decade. This team is built for now and it is not good enough. Imagine what you could get back for these 7 guys. Change the culture of that room and remove the stale attitude that permiates. This is a young mans league and the Flames are an ‘old’ team. Look down there roster… there is no youth. Their 1st rounder is headed to Phoenix this summer as part of the Jokinen trade.

    Keep your goalie. He is good. J-Bo is an excellent defenceman. This is your foundation. Go out and get Coach Sutter players and get them young and mouldable. Years ago Nieuwendyk [in his prime] was traded for a puppy named Iginla. That trade needs to happen again. You need to go out an find a young stud to build around again. Hanging on to Iginla is only going to decrease his value is you every want to move him. Phaneuf is going to bring you something really good as long as you don’t trade him for ‘depth’ [see: Joe Thornton 2005]. Jokinen and Reghear can get you back picks and prospects from a team desperate for a big centre or a big D-man for the playoff run. Package a couple of these guys up. Think outside the box.

    You are probably going to suck next season but you have that first round pick.

    Purge! Purge! Purge

  • You know what scares me the most is that ownership knew how Sutter botched things up this season. Their support of Sutter at the Olympic break means they OK’ed the Kotalik trade. Then at season’s end they somehow got duped by Sutter to not only keep his job but gave him the authority to go after the Joker again. I don’t mind Jokinen really, I have more of an issue at how stupid everyone from ownership to management look like for the way they’ve treated the guy. My real questions are, is ownership that stupid? Does Darryl secretly own the team? Or does Darryl have the owners in a mind hex?

    • I dunno, the Flames ownership seems pretty hands off to me. I imagine that so long as revenue continues to not egregiously fall below expenses they’ll just put their faith in Ken King to run things and Ken King (for reason unknown to me) seems to have some sort of preternatural attachment to Mr. Milksy/Daz/The Jolly Rancher/Insert nickname here.

  • Gange

    One more piece of perspective from an Oiler fan up here in the sticks…

    If, someday, your team finds itself needing to trade Jarome Iginla, and finds itself still under the “general management” of Darryl Sutter, would you be comfortable with the latter trading the former?

    I wouldn’t be.

    Courage, Calgary. Courage.

  • Gange

    I think Darryl has completely lost it.

    Or, he must have receieved the OK from management to go after the first pick next year because that seems to be where he is taking the Flames

    I sure feel sorry for Jerome. He must be wondering what is going on. I would love to see him hoist the cup, but his chances are getting smaller and smaller here each year,