Don’t Panic



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. 

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.

  • According to wikipedia (I love sentences that start that way), the Flames have a first rounder in the 2011 draft. However, the Flames 2nd round pick is owned by Chicago, and the 3rd round pick is owned by Edmonton (Staios!)

    As for staying the course… why not? They’re up against the cap until the end of next season. The only reason I’d be OK with seeing Iginla or Kiprusoff moved is because I’m a sentimentalist who believes they deserve a shot at the cup … and they ain’t going to get that wearing the Flaming C.

  • icedawg_42

    “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!

  • With all due respect, Mr. Wilson, I implore the fans to indeed panic.

    The fans can do what they will. I’m talking about movements by decision makers in this org. The last thing this team needs is Sutter going off another bender. His actions last Feb onward did a lot of damage to this club. I don’t want to imagine him going on another “save the season” mission.

    • jmpgray

      I wonder if Darryl did indeed go on a “bender” sat down with Burke, they both got very drunk and drunkenly dared the other as to who could destroy their team the fastest and the most detrimental!

  • 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.

    if darryl sutter had been relieved of his duties back when he SHOULD have been (following the cap debacle and short-bench incidents in april 2008), we would have presumeably:

    – shopped phaneuf for a better deal, not simply given brian burke a single bid (this based on darcy regier’s insistance that he was unaware of phaneuf’s market availability)

    – let jokinen’s contract run its’ course and saved ourselves the following two years of facepalms at 3mil per (per year, not per facepalm). we would, in turn, have saved ourselves being anchored with kotalik and the 967K he’s earned watching telly this season and the 5,053,000 he’ll earn before leaving this team.

    – never have signed vesa toskala (*snicker)

    i like to compary daz’s tenure here to jfj: not bad to start but allowed to continue FAR too long, thereby burying the team for the forseeable future. in jfj’s last year at the helm of the leafs, he made the following moves:

    -claimed travis green off of waivers
    -signed darcy tucker to a contract extension (later bought out)
    -signed boyd deveraux to a contract extension
    -signed kris newbury to a contract extension
    -signed ponikarovsky to a contract extension
    -signed nik antopov to a contract extension
    -signed colaicovo to a contract extension
    -signed staffan kronwall to a contract extension
    -traded brendan bell for yanic perrault

    (also: signed strålman, kulemin & ian white to a contract extension —being good signings)


  • Matty Franchise Jr

    A couple of points K’ent:

    1-the Flames aren’t “mediocre”, they are worse than mediocre. They are almost worst in the conference. Mediocre would be 6-10 spot in the conference. They are 14th out of 15. That is “bad”.

    2-Most of the outcry isn’t “do something…do anything”, it is an outcry for the head of Daryl Sutter. Getting rid of him now sends the right message to the coaches, players, and fans that the organization wants to be better and is smart enough to know what the problem is. It also gives the org time to find a new GM (hopefully not Feaster) and gives that person time to settle into the role before the trade deadline and the 2011 free agency.

    And @ Bob: Just because a new GM wouldn’t be able to do much to improve the team over the next couple of years doesn’t mean that the old GM that put the team in that position should be allowed to keep his job. He screwed up, so he should go.
    Now that I’m thinking about it, Feaster is probably here because he’s not good enough to get a GM job anywhere else, and the Flames are too screwed up for the next couple of years for an actual capable GM to want to take the job here. Feaster probably IS our next GM. Damn.

  • jmpgray

    I agree with the sentiment of no panic. We have seen what taking the first available deal for a prime asset (Phaneuf) gets you (though the Leafs got the over-hyped and over-paid player).

    The team as it stands is not going to get it done; they simply can’t handle the elite teams (Penguins and I hate to say Canucks). They don’t have the cap space or flexibility (NTC/NMC) to raise the level significantly. Hold out for a no-brainer deal this year or stand pat (anybody who thinks Iggy is gone before the Heritage Classic is nuts).

    Management has to take the fall for the situation the Flames are in. Giordano and Bourque aside, Darryl has failed to build a team around the core that obviously peaked in 2004. His time is simply up and I believe this is the year that ownership makes the change. The next group inherits a tough situation and we may have years of average teams to look forward to. Not what I would like to say but reality bites.

  • Danny Lawson

    I think we need to view the “blow-up” of the roster as a minimum 3 year process, as in, it will take an minimum three years to turnover some of these contracts(that we want to eliminate).

    But I agree, the anger is gone, the realization that we need to change the roster, but that it will take years to do( too many NTC & NMC’s) So prepare for some small tweaking for the next two-three years before the real action will occur.

    It just isnt feasible or realistic to expect drastic change, with the roster designed this way.

  • icedawg_42

    — I think what Kent was getting at with the title of this article was “Dont panic, because there’s no use – we are where we are”
    Not to put words in your mouth of course – and I could be way off base!

  • icedawg_42

    Im probably wrong here, but I *Think* we have 1 1st rounder, no second or third rounders in 2011 draft. I agree that there is no single move here that will salvage this season (or really the short term). I think where we are, given the huge number of NTC’s and ugly contracts, is where Toronto was 3 years ago – waiting for some ugly contracts to expire, and making moves where we can.
    The cycle of packaging all the draft picks and trades of diminishing returns has to stop though..aka a philosophy change in the front office. No matter what, we are several years away at least.
    So – no, no blow-up… theres really no way to do that but new management who has a long term plan. (and along with that, understanding fans)
    COiler fans are pretty high on their horses right now, but remember 2 years ago, and even last season, where their team was being booed off the ice every game (although if you ask a cOiler fan, they remember that NEVER happened)

    • The Oilers might be a little easier to watch some nights this year, but it’s not that much different than last year – they still lose more nights than not, and they are still a bottom-5 team. Lots of bad giveaways, poor defensive play, I could go on.

      That team has a long way to go still. If Oilers fans are telling you this isn’t the case, look at the standings.

      • icedawg_42

        Sorry – I wasnt too clear – Im not saying the Oilers are any good – what I meant was, Oiler fans would like you to think that their ‘rebuild’ has been all sunshine and roses. It’s going to be tough, and strain fan loyalty and ticket sales – that’s what ownership is afraid of.
        I remember Pierre McGuire once said “A GM should have a 5 year window to make it work” – I dont often agree with him, but this seems right to me.

        • icedawg_42

          Not that I disagree with Pierre McGuire’s comments, but…

          Josef Stalin had 5 year plans too, and boy did that work out great!

          I agree that the GM needs a limited life, unlike Ken Kings assessment of”Darryl has a special contract, its not set in terms of number of years”

          GM’s, Coach’s and Players all need that extra motivation, thats why players always play better in a contact year. Your GM also needs to know that he could be replaced. Whether its 3 years, 5 years or whatever, you need that structure to succeed. Although Lindy Ruff is an exception to almost every rule in sport 🙂

  • Graham

    The Flames have reached this point through poor asset management, poor drafting, and poor long term planing. To be honest, it is going to take years to work ourselves out of this mess…
    The trades late last year are a prime example of desperation, we need a new long term plan, not more desperation!

    Let the season run its course, and make the necessary management changes at the end of the year. Put in a President with a new long term vision, decide if GM Sutter fits the plan and move on down the line…

    At this point, the Flames may actually benefit from a couple of poor seasons, get some decent draft picks, and allow time for some of the anchor contracts run their course, freeing up cap space over the next two to three years…

  • With all due respect, Mr. Wilson, I implore the fans to indeed panic.

    If the loud voice of an angry fanbase is what it takes to wake the organization up from its slumber, I am all for it.

    Quibble if you like, but it is unconscionable that Darryl was allowed to keep his job last season. He probably was, in hindsight, because the owners couldnt get anyone who was serious to come in and clean up the mess. It was obvious at the end of last season this team needed more talent, and it was also obvious Darryl had jacked the cap up so bad that we had only $5 million dollars to spend to bring in said help. And it doesnt help when you burn $3 million of that on Olli. And have you seen the cap situation next year? There is no space to bring in help next year, either.

    This season and next season they have no chance at a Cup, and who knows if they even have a chance at the playoffs. Squint hard, I guess. It would be okay considering they are getting a good draft pick if they werent also spending $65 million dollars and charging $200 a ticket for this mess. And lets say they draft number one overall. Can they even afford to put the kid in the roster next year?

    It’s way, way past time to panic.

  • everton fc

    This regime gave us Kotalik, Staois, Stajan as a first line centre… Jokinen twice (at the expense of Cammy,Lombardi and Prust, whose turned into a pretty balanced player, not to mention being decent on the PK in New York)… We have not had an adequate backup for Kipper since Noodles… And now Babchuk to replace White. And who have we drafted outside Phaneuf who is even close to “elite” (trust me, I have always found Phaneuf grossly over-rated. My opinion, of course)

    We let a decent, young coach go, one with a huge upside defencively who also won 40 games in his first season running and NHL club… for old-dog Keenan. Keenan’s like Joker. Kotalik. Staois. And so forth.

    Our front office seems out of touch with reality. May I site once again the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bringing in someone liek Yzerman, taking the gamble on Boucher…

    They didn’t blow up the team. And they are winning…

    This direction we need to pursue. Sooner, than later. As one post said on another thread, last evening’s game was the watershed moment, though one could argue the fiasco against the Caps here might have been that moment, missed. We have been thumped 7-2 at home twice this season. Once in front of the whole nation.

    We are not very good on our home ice. Never a good sign.

    I have always liked the Sutter’s, but enough is enough. Time to pass the torch. King goes, too. That’s how I feel, though I would be okay with Darryl moving up and staying with the organization (Brent, too) if King is gone.

    We need change. Now.

    Not on the ice. That comes later… at the expense of some frustrating hockey. Who knows, perhaps these changes I propose get us in the 8th spot, in the playoffs?

    But does that really solve anything, long-term?

  • Gange

    That’s exactly the point Kent.

    We can talk about trading Sarich or Kotalik or some other bag of pucks but what is the reality of that? Not good.

    My biggest fear is that Someone like Sarich or Kotalik gets traded for an equally mediocre player with a LONGER term.

    Take your lumps, work through it, get better in the end.

  • CA Flames Fan

    I’ll throw this out to the more stat savy and information heavy posters here.

    What do the Flames have in terms of actual picks and for what rounds for the 2011 draft?

    If things really went southm the Flames have a lottery pick for next year, but my gut tells me that any 2011 1st round pick has been traded away long ago. If so, what team has the Flames round one 2011 selection?

  • Not sure now with the addition of Sturm that Iginla to LA is even feasable unless we take back significant salary.

    @Icedawg I agree Darryl hasn’t done great on draft day, I think with a top 5 pick though it’s almost a sure thing you’re going to get a decent player.

  • icedawg_42

    That is the million dollar question. Something has to be done…but what?

    As you pointed out Kent, the Flames are not in any position to make a trade that will help more than hurt…at least I can’t see any GM’s (right now) out there willing to go for it (though I recall Montreal gave up Halak for peanuts).

    I am at the Dome for every Flames (and Hitmen) game and I have yet to run into someone willing to wait to see if the club can gain some consistent effort for each game. I tell them what you just pointed out…but everyone has an easy answer but the reality is that their solution is not based in reality! Sure we could say good-bye to Darryl. But what do you expect a new Gm to do…anyone new coming in will have there hands tied for most of this season and with the number of contracts containing NTC’s or NMC’s they might struggle to rebuild this team to there blueprint beyond this season. And what do you really think other teams would be willing to give up for Iggy, Kipper or Reg? Maybe they or others might have more value closer to the trade deadline…but are we, the majority of the fan base, really wanting to see this happen?

    Does anyone recall last year? The calls for Phaneuf to go got louder as the season progressed. When it did happen the first reaction was shock and then most people I talked to claimed to be happy the move finally happened. This season all they can talk about was what a stupid move it was to trade away our “future” for basically Hagman & Stajan. Lets face…we can be a wishy-washy bunch sometimes!

  • The talent is what the talent is. We are middle of the pack in terms of talent.

    The mystifying part of this equation is inconsistency in effort from game to game (and within each game).

    Everybody knew that this team wasn’t going to win on talent alone. Nobody thought that they were going to go 82-0. That much has been clear for a long time.

    If the Flames aren’t going to win on talent, then they need to play smart and work harder than the other team every night. This isn’t even close to happening.

    How long is it going to take for this team to figure this out? They are not a talented team that can get by on 30 minutes of effort per game.

    At this point the fans just want to see a solid and consistent effort. Time to start watching tape from 2003-2004…

  • marty

    Ya I agree with you kent but and this is speculation on my part. With la’s struggles and need of a pure sniper and another top 6 or top 3 forward. Should the flames not look to get a package for iggy? They are in a unique situation of having schenn and bernier which would be good return for iggy and to be frank I don’t want iggy to be the next sundin. Also it is my opinion then the team could look to move kipper and reg and take the best package available because bernier would be kip’s replacement and with gio and jbo a defensive core could be built around the two of them. Do not get me wrong I don’t wanna see these players go but would be best for the players and the club. I know these are all hypothetical but if the iggy trade could be done it would be easy. Then all the bad contracts on the club can just be a stop gap to fill roster positions until they run out and players like hagman and hagman could probably fetch a draft pick. I will always support the club but I think change is needed. I have been a ds supporter I don’t agree with all his moves but a change is needed. So there is my thoughts that don’t mean much.

  • I think Darryl needs to start stocking up on draft picks. We have extra bodies, moveable guys that we might not be able to retain for more than this year.

    If the Flames keep up this routine we are almost guaranteed to have a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. There’s a start.

    • Danny Lawson

      “We have extra bodies, moveable guys that we might not be able to retain for more than this year”
      Not so quick with the moveable bodies part. The Flames have more “No movement clause’ players than anyone else in the league.

      • We have Glencross & Moss. I see those two guys as very similar, we aren’t going to be able to afford both much longer, one of those guys is worth something.

        Hagman I would say has more value now than he did playing with the Leafs.

        1 pick in the top 100. It’s going to be inside the top 10 guaranteed, but we need to find some more picks.

        I’m not saying we blow up the team & tank, I’m just wondering if we’d be any worse to cut a few guys lose in return for some picks.

    • icedawg_42

      This isn’t meant to be serious, but with Darryl it wouldn’t surprise me if it did happen.

      Darryl is planning to trade our 2011 1st round pick and Cory Sarich to L.A. for Ryan Smyth and Brayden Schenn!

    • Unless their cap position changes to a startling degree, the Flames won’t be able to add pieces at the deadline.

      EDIT to add – and unless they go on one mother of a run soon, they won’t be in a position to win anything by the trade deadline either.

      • OilFan

        Hey Kent,

        All this discussion regarding how middling this team actually is in regards to the stats, I decided to sit down and compare the salaries from the flames vs the last 5 teams, on a line by line comparision, first line vs first line to see if I could spot a pattern. But as per expected results, this time is very middling, and there is no correlation between the price of our top line vs the other teams, resulting in a win for example. It was a neat experiment.

        I used Pat’s line ups for the past 5 games using the flames roster from yesterday, as the preferred one (ie, no staios and before kotalik gets into the lineup). I used capgeeks cap numbers as well. I am planning to continue this for a while and see if a trend does result.

        Its also interesting to compare what we pay our 4th line forwards/ 3rd line defense compared to other teams.

        Would be interested to see a full analysis against everyteam in the league. As such I’ comparing the flames vs the rosters that the flames compete against, vs each teams ideal lineups( without injuries, etc).

        Heres what I found

        Calgary vs Vancouver:
        they pay their forward lines more than ours for each of the top 3 lines,, our 4th line has a higher salary. for Defense:(Pat had edler and ehrhoff as top D pairing)Calgary has higher 1st line D salary, while Vancouver has way higher salaries for D lines 2 and 3

        Vs Minnesota:

        Calgary has higher salaries for line 1&3, while Minni has higher for 2&4
        For Defense: Our top D pairing is higher while Minni’s 2&3 lines are higher.

        vs Pitts:

        Pitt has higher salary for lines 1&2 (no surprise), while we have higher salary for 3&4th
        Defense: Same as Minni Calgary top D line higher, while Pitt has higher salary paid to lines 2&3

        Vs Phili
        Forwwards: Calgarys Top line is higher, while all other forward lines for Phili get paid more
        Defense: Same as Minni and Pittsburgh.

        The only real trend is that Reggie and Bouw appear to by one of the highest paid D pairings, for what that is worth.

        Interesting find: Pittsburgh lines 3&4 total salary is less then 4 mil combined. Of course, no J Staal though.

        Anyway, if you want I can send you what i’ve got over the course of the season, might be interesting to addto the slew of stats that can be analyzed.

      • Hmm…very good point.

        Trade draft picks away for prospects that won’t amount to anything perhaps? I’m sure Sutter has a few tricks up his sleeve.

        In all seriousness – with watching what Edmonton has gone through the last four years, do you think it will be easier for the Flames to get to that point where they realize they need to tear down first, then build back up?