Don’t Panic



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Darren Dreger has an article up today at TSN saying the Flames ownership is committed to "staying the course" despite the unfortunate position the team currently finds itself in (as well as the resultant public outcry to do something). The comments at the bottom are…predictable.

There might be some wisdom in holding steady, however. Darryl Sutter’s actions last season in response to the club underachieving are an object lesson in how acting in desperation can in fact have detrimental consequences. In his spate of irrationality, Sutter dealt his shiniest bobble for a mediocre return, swapped headaches with the Rangers to ill-effect and then dealt actual assets to the Oilers for the privilege of accepting their Staiosian salary dump.

The Flames, as they are currently built, aren’t in a position to make a drastic change of course. Not without taking a flame-thrower to the roster and management, which is probably a poor strategy in the middle of the season. Calgary has bad money all over it’s roster, an untenable cap position and even it’s most valuable assets have lost some of their luster with the club groping around in the dark. To deal away the anchors, the Flames would have to accept toxic contracts themselves, or at least package draft picks in the deals to sweeten the pot. They’d likely get bent over a barrel in trades involving the big guns; selling low on your best assets means getting pennies on the dollar in return. Or middling Leafs parts, as it were. 

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At this point in time, the Calgary Flames are what they are – a mediocre team with nominal prospects to improve – and there isn’t a single knee-jerk reaction that is going to materially change their fortunes this season. This isn’t a call to stick with the status quo ad inifinitum of course. Just a word of caution against the raging impulse to "do something…do anything".

The long view is likely to become the proper perspective in short order. The ownership should shut out the sound and fury of the current, on-going struggles of the team and calmly assess what the hell they’re going to do with this mess next off-season.

  • T&A4Flames

    Trying to stay level headed- I can’t complain with the effort Sutter put in over his tenur- he did make some good moves (Kipper, Bourque). The fact is, though, we are reaching a point where a rebuild is inevitable. My biggest fear, as it seems to be with many on this forum, is Sutter trying to salvage the season by trading for “leadership” ie: washed up vets and using our youth and(remaining) picks to do it.

    Move Sutter up the chain and out of the GM roll. I don’t know what Feaster’s ability is re: drafting but if it’s not rock solid, find someone else because that is where we are heading.

    If Igi, Kipper and Reg decide they want to stay here, so be it. They have earned the right (and a contract to say so) to do it. There could be worse vets. At the very least, somehow, someway, dump some salary so we at least have an opportunity to sign a good FA or gain picks by taking on (limited to 1 yr) bad contracts. Heck, if we create space, we maybe have a shot at Richards- there is history with Feaster after all.

  • everton fc

    “IMO, the main reason for getting rid of management mid-season is to minimize the further damage they can do at the deadline and on/after july.” –BOOM – there it is right there!”

    Spot-on. Walkinvisible’s comparisons to JFJ and the T.O. saga… Also spot-on, in my opinion.

    I actually think another coach (like Playfair) could get this particular roster in a more competitive place. One could argue that Brent is the problem here – unable to inspire. One could counter and say it’s not the coaches job to babysit – players need to perform for their pay. Agreed. But everytime I hear Brent interviewed… he seems a beaten man.

    Throw up the white flag. Now. Rebuild. We are not in the same abyss the Oilers were. Or are. We are simply in a rut. Flat. Have been for a few years. Regardless of making the playofffs.

  • T&A4Flames

    I agree with you Dave- somewhat. Igi’s true value is his leadership. But having Igi as a mentor only matters if we draft a player that is NHL ready. Otherwise we would have to wait at least 2 years anyway. By then Igi’s contract is over and he probably moves on.

    What if Igi was given the chance to win with a true contender right now. In 3 seasons, when his contract is up, hopefully he would love to come back here (hopefully with a SC ring) to mentor our kids and perhaps, push for another cup to close out his career and retire-like he was meant to- as a Flame.

  • RCN

    pierre is right on the button, a gm has a 5 year blueprint for success. in junior the time line is usually 3. the successful, stable franchises never rebuild they reload.sauve gms fill the 3 and 4th units through cap management skills.the awarding of nmc to such a high number of flames is mindboggling. darryl unwittingly painted himself into a corner.this wont be such a bad thing, unless the players are the likes of ollie,sarich etc.

    • RCN

      Interesting column indeed, but I shudder at the thought of a top line of kotalik and jokinen, that and picking up 3 more prospect/draft pick defensemen, this team doesn’t need more defensemen!

      I would love to see another forward in the LA deal, and TBL forward instead of defenseman.

  • PrairieStew

    Agree with WI’s assesment – no reason to fire him now, because the new guy can’t do anything anyway. Sutter himself can’t do anything to make them worse- except maybe trade Glencross for an older, poorer, more expensive and longer term contract. I guess he could downgrade Babchuk again – is Wade Belak avaialble ?

  • RCN

    They need to make the the type of deal the Rangers made last year – trade piece of crap player at 3M with another season left for a piece of crap player at 5M that is impending UFA. But first they need cap space in order to do this.

    Off the top of my head, an example of such a player would be Alexei Kovlev in Ottawa for Jokinen/Kotalik.

    Also known as the exact opposite of what Darryl did last season.

    So now we just need to find somebody dumb enough to make that type of deal.

  • RCN

    We’ll see what this team is made up of now. It’s time for the Moss’, Bourque’s, Hagman’s and Glencross’s of the world to pick it up. (See how I didnt include Jokinen, that’s because he’s hopeless). It’s time to to win some games starting NOW! DO OR DIE!

  • RCN

    If Darryl Sutter’s mandate from ownership is to make the playoffs, then I fear what he might do. If ownership is willing to let him steer the ship in a rebuild, then I’m (sort of) fine that… let’s get started.

    But if ownership isn’t willing to let him rebuild, and this team isn’t good enough to make the playoffs, then why bother letting Darryl stick around passed today? He’d be a lame duck… what’s the point?

    If the plan is to “promote” Darryl and give the GM gig to Feaster, lets get this party started.

    Bottom line: Unless ownership feels Darryl is the man to lead the rebuild (and that’s a whole other debate), he may as well be removed as GM now.

    • RCN

      …if the Flames miss the playoffs and Darryl Sutter is promotoed it would be a big middle finger to all the Flames fans. A fresh vision isn’t possible for the new GM when your new boss is rewarded for failure. What a corrupt blueprint for an organization to flirt with!

      …I think it will take until the final 5-10 games of the season before we as Flames fans know for sure whether to order the guillotines or not. I think we can expect some fireworks on the player transaction board before the end of the season. A few players will be asked to waive their NTC/NMC.

  • Watching how bad Tampa’s goaltending situation is leads me to believe that they would be open to trading for Kipper.

    Kipper & Sarich for Ellis, a guy with an expiring contract to make the cap difference more even, a prospect & 1st round pick?

    • RCN

      …the only “guy with an expiring contract” that has an impactful salary is Gagne. I’m with you that the Lightning might be in the market for Kipper though (or possibly Iggy).

      …not sure what prospects they have. Stamkos, Hedman, Connolley are their past 3 first rounders.

      …Gagne, Connolley, 1st rounder? I’m not sure Steve Y likes Kipper that much. But who knows, maybe he pulls the trigger. Maybe we throw a second or 3rd rounder in the mix to make it more equitable?

  • RCN

    Panic? No. No need to throw away assets in a blind hail marry pass like he did last season. Make intelligent moves with the intent of rebuilding? Yes. Absolutely.

    Iginla is worth something. He is worth something now. He is worth something at the deadline. And he will be worth something in the off season.

    If you find a deal that is worthwhile, do it. Better then waiting until the off season and putting him up against Richards, Semin, Spezza, and other’s and being desperate to make a deal before the start of the season.

    If you don’t find a deal. Wait. But keep looking. Its time to start evaluating trade value and option.

    You can put similar situations up for players like Kipper and Regher. This team isn’t going to be a contender in the window of time these players have left. Start getting players this club can build on.

  • RCN

    kipper to tbay,rags to the east as well perhaps atlanta needs a shutdown dman. ellis and a pick for kipper sounds do able. philly always needs a goalie as well. oilers and flames now tied for the bottom position.

  • maggotbrain

    Hi there nation
    long time listener first time caller.
    Wasn’t it time to at least start thinking about rebuilding two years ago?
    It has been clear since then that this is an inconsistent team without the top end to actually compete for a cup. I say start looking for good deals to get younger now because I don’t want to think what this team will look like next year if management decides to “keep staying the course”

  • All Darryl needs is a list of Do’s & Don’ts to guide him through transactions.

    Do: Trade aging core players for prospects/picks.

    Do: Dump salary.

    Don’t: Trade with bottom feeder teams unless you are getting a high end prospect/pick.

    Don’t: Trade with Toronto cause they don’t have either.

    Don’t: Trade our 1st round pick for anyone close to or over 30.

    Pretty easy.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I’ve read a couple of posts here regarding Iggy’s leadership. I don’t see it.

    Prior to 2004 the Flames were crap.

    In 2004 they surged to near greatness with 15 playoff wins.

    Since 2004 they’ve been a steadily declining team and are now total crap again.

    What made 2004 different? Darryl behind the bench. Every other scenario for the last 20 years has lead to a crap team that can’t get into or out of the first round.

    What’s been the same over most of the last 20 years? Jarome. Having the most skill isn’t leadership; it’s genetics, hard work, and practice. Sure, hard work is a required element of leadership, but it’s certainly only a part and not the whole. I don’t see that Iggy’s leadership has ever helped this team to be anything better than mediocre, and sometimes not even that.

    Let the hate-fest begin!

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Iginla, Langkow, Stajan, Bourque, Kotalik, Jokinen, Tanguay, Bouwmeester, Regehr, Sarich, and Kiprusoff.

    These guys all have NTC or NMC contracts according to Cap Geek, so the chances of Darryl trading them are very low. He’d have to find a willing trade partner and get the player to agree to waive the clause.

    All of these guys will be back next year, with the possible exception of Tanguay because his contract is only for this year.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        I couldn’t disagree more. All those NTC are exactly why he should be fired now which is already too late, but as WI pointed out, do it now so he can’t eff things up any more.

        • PrairieStew

          I guess trading the picks could happen as a means to try and salvage this year, or a further downgrade of the assets acquired from Phaneuf ( did you miss my Babchuk for Belak crack ?)

          I guess my point is that the roster is pretty much fixed and might even be fixed tighter if you fire Sutter

          For example :

          Say you’re a loyal character Flame like Regehr, who was given a NTC by D Sutter. Ownership fires him and brings in new cocky young guy as GM, who as one of his first actions is to call you in to the room and ask to waive your no trade clause. What do you think the likelihood is that you pull your kids out of school in January to take them to Washington or Philadelphia ? I actually think the guys are pretty loyal to him and might be more likely to waive the NTC with him as a personal favour.

    • PrairieStew

      ntc/nmc just means the player has to okay the trade, it doesn’t mean they can’t be traded.

      who’s gonna wanna get the hell outta dodge in another month or so ? EVERYBODY…

  • CitizenFlame

    Iggy already said that if the team told him they were ready to go in another direction he would consider waiving his NTC. I don’t think that it would be that difficult to move these guys.

  • Backburner

    I’ll admit I am one of the many delusional fans trying to create a ‘what if’ senario during this time of hopeless frustration… but shouldn’t the Flames take a run at Stamkos or Tavares?

    I know they’re “untouchable”… but who wouldn’t give up Kipper, Gio, Backlund, Bourque.. or any of our top players for one of them??

  • CitizenFlame

    I don’t know if I would give up Stamkos for all of those players combined. That’s like trading a star player for spare parts from one of the worst teams in the league… wait, that sounds familiar?

  • Tavares is realistic. Stamkos never going to happen.

    The Islanders are a brutal team with no real future. They have also handed out some pretty interesting contracts.

    Pretty sure Alexi Yashin is their highest paid player.

    Tavares for Hagman, Regher & a prospect like Macmillan or Keith?

  • i agree the rebuild should have started two years ago, however darrylls primary focus was on securing lucrative positions for his kin. dewey has not developed any talent,yet is the man in charge of player development,i believe thats an oxymoron. player development lol well with the flames it is. brent is coach, the twins are scouts, who else, oh ya the golden brett. at best an echl talent. talk to hockey folks in cranbrook about his skill level. nmc have ruined this club. dynamite is needed. however any half way sensible hockey guy knows derl stutter is over a barrel.and its all self inflicted wounds through arraogance. i may have never played in the n darryl but i remeber a guy named scotty bowman, and another guy named jimmy dell that didnt and they have won a cup or two. trade trade trade. garbage in garbage out.