Game No. 31: That’s it

Flames: terrible! Blue Jackets: also terrible! Excitement: palpable!


Well the knives are finally out for the wider world to see.



In this insular little blogging culture of ours, we sometimes forget that while our opinions are always correct, almost every hockey fan (statistically speaking) doesn’t know what goes on here on the internet.


They may have Twitter, they may even read TSN and other major sports sites, but don’t read up on CORSI and qualcomp stats and they sure as hell don’t obsess over them.


So when we were all calling for Darryl Sutter’s job last year, this summer, and then after pretty much every game right up until this very second, most people were blissfully ignorant that we had everything from scoring chance spreadsheets to even strength head to head pie charts proving exactly what this team needed (namely, a rebuild run by a competent general manager).


Until yesterday.




Yesterday was the day George Johnson wrote a brutally punishing takedown of Darryl Sutter’s management not just of the Calgary Flames, but the organization in general. The big club ineffective, the AHL team littered with has-beens and won’t-bes, the junior and college cupboards appallingly bare, with a conga line of coaching casualties left in his hack-and-slash, it’s-not-on-me wake. So the real question is: How did it take so long?


Was it not painfully evident after, just picking a date arbitrarily, the Phaneuf trade? Or, I don’t know, the Jokinen signing? Or, let’s say, the White trade? The asset management has been remarkably, almost impossibly bad, and his management of the big club, well, the record the last two years speaks for itself.



Johnson hinted at a hell of a good point in that article, saying six years ago, the city was at Daz’s feet, and now it’s at his throat. A hell of a goddamn lot has changed in those six years, but the biggest change has been to Sutter’s ego, or at least our perception of it. When the Flames made the Cup Finals — let’s just admit it at this point — it wasn’t a team that deserved to be there.


A series of past-their-prime second line guys, more brainless thugs than you could shake a stick at, a good but not great young defense, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. That’s all that team was, and that it pretty much got screwed out of a Cup win in Game 6 was, honestly, far better than it deserved. But it just gave Sutter all the resolve he needed to pick apart what was, at the time, a burgeoning if underwhelming system and using it to improve the big club for the purposes of making it back to where he thought they should be.

He simply bulldozed his way through big- and medium-name acquisitions for what, in the end, amounted to zero series wins and a playoff DNQ last season, and probably another this year.


That he’s been able to keep his job this long proves the city’s been at his feet much more recently than six years ago. Hell, in his mind, it’s still there.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Someone else made this point yesterday on here: who of significance, other than Langkow, has missed any significant amount of time? Ivanans – no loss there. Kotalik – ditto. Pardy – not even better than Staios or he wouldn’t have been on “IR” for so long. Moss and Stajan both missed some games but have been back for a while and have also been healthy scratches since.

      Of all the guys who have or will come back from injury, Langkow is the only one who might make a difference in the W column. He isn’t coming back, therefore this team is clearly NOT EVEN a middle-of-the-pack team. It is ACTUALLY the WORST team in the west.

      This is fact. Undisputable, undelusional, unwelcome fact.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        Regardless of how you like, dislike or value each player isn’t necessarily wrong but there are 51 games left pal. The underlying reality you fail to see is the team game. With the way this roster is bulit the strategy is to get a group contribution. Without the body of the group being intact, there are players slotted in unrealistic roles for far too long without anyone giving them a push. Truthfully its great to see guys like Moss and Stajan get scratched because it motivates them to bring their true potential to the table and also automatically drops them in the depth chart to further motivate them to move up the ladder.

        Frankly I don’t mind Stajan returning in a second or fourth line role because he has a chance to outplay the opposition where he could never really do on the first line. Moss is now skating like a banshee and hopefully Stajan does as well upon his return. Regarding Kotalik, he’s been steady, makes good passes, finishes cheques and even backchecks.

        Fact is this team could have had 6pts in the last 3 games and is really showing charachter amidst the public backlash. They should be applauded.

        To link my statement of better than middle of the pack, if you have Iginla, Tanguay, Geo, & Kiprusoff playing to their potential, why can’t the rest follow playing to theirs?

        Clearly if they do play to their potentjal, they are better than the median. It’s not a reach to think we’d be over 500 if we had half the man games lost, and quite possibly in the middle of the pack.

        Hardly delusional.

        • Matty Franchise Jr

          Only Chicago in 9th and Anahiem in 6th have played more games than the Flames. Everyone except the Oilers has more points than the Flames.

          Being “middle of the pack” means being 7th or 8th. The Kings in 7th have 3 games and 6 points in hand over the Flames. The Sharks in 8th have 1 game and 6 points.

          Ivanans and his 30 games missed are not a factor in the standings.

          Kotalik has missed 26 games. The 5 he has played in, he has no points, no blocked shots, 8 hits, and 6 SOG. He’s played 31 games as a Flame and has 5 points and 8 blocks – or almost exactly the same stats as Jackman has had in his 31 games this season. I like Jackman, he tries hard, but he is not a true difference maker in W/L.

          Stajan is looked upon as our #1 Centre, and he’s been scratched for 2 straight games. Jokinen is the other #1 C candidate, and that experiment has clearly failed.

          The Flames could have had 6 points in the last 3 games. THEY DIDN’T. So it seems to me that the problem with this team, and with your argument, is that the Flames ARE playing to their potential.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        amen brother, ivanas’ games lost are not truly representative. he would have been a healthy scratch the majority of the time, and his contribution to hockey would have been minimal to say the least.

  • D_mac15

    …George Johnson has been writing hit pieces on Sutter for the past couple of years minimum. Journalists like him are why Jay Feaster was hired as Darryl’s Press Secretary.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    boring hockey,awful,i have a hard time wrapping my head around all the crap that is associated with this calgary flames hockey.Look it’s not the fault of one G M or coach as to the state of the game,it is flat out an awful game and if you can believe what that little midget in NEW YORK is telling you about our game your a clown.The game is absolutely awful and I for one cannot blame coaching or management.Do your best at whatever you do and it will take care of itself.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Take ‘boomer’ the yapping mutt off the air. Please. He’s not a journalist. Get off the air fanboy you’re losing AD dollars.

    Does our listening audience really interpret your sarcasm as a joke or are you really the voice of the people in that we are all whiny hypocrytes.

    Apparently the majority of the listening audience are rednecks as per your words. Are we all repeatedly sour grapes with no redeeming qualities too?

    Is rogers media playing a joke on us western folk?

    Thank god we have Pat leading the new generation. Move over you whiney mutt. Make way for a journalist that is deemed to be a collegue to Marr, Kerr, Rogers, and Richards.

    You call out the Sutters for failing their fans, you’re probably lucky most don’t get as annoyed with you as I do and choose tune out.