One trade and all the juice that came with it

How Darryl Sutter took a team of nobodies, made them great for one spring, and killed the franchise again in five years flat.

Darryl Sutter’s largely unfortunate reign as Flames general manager started with the bang that allowed him to choke a decent and up-and-coming franchise back down to the position to which we’d all become rather accustomed.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Sutter’s acquisition of Miikka Kiprusoff was the first move he made as general manager. It wasn’t (that honor goes to trading a vocally unhappy Chris Drury to Buffalo), but it will go down as the most significant and best he ever made.

At the time, of course, we all had our doubts. Trading a early-second-round pick in a decent but not great draft year for a third-string goalie who couldn’t buy ice time at his local rink, let alone with the Sharks, seemed a bit of a fool’s errand. And after what he got for Drury (Rhett Warrener and Steve Reinprecht), no one was sure that this wasn’t a similarly disappointing return. But hey, Roman Turek was gonna be out awhile and you don’t wanna lean on Jamie McLennan and a call-up for more than a couple of days, no matter how bad your team is. And the Flames at the time were pretty bad. Kiprusoff was acquired on Nov. 16, and Calgary was 6-8-0-2 at the time. Fourteen points from 16 games. Second to last in the conference with Columbus hot on their tails. This Kiprusoff trade looked like a shuffling of deck chairs at the price of a pick in the top 40. He was, many believed, 0 fer 2 on trades.

And then something funny happened. Calgary caught fire, winning 11 of their next 15 and losing just once in regulation and climbing all the way to fourth. Kiprusoff was the reason, and coach/GM Darryl Sutter the mastermind behind it all.

I don’t have to tell you what came next. The first playoff appearance since 1997, thrilling postseason victories over Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose, each a wild, back-and-forth slugfest punctuated by series-clinching daggers from one little-used veteran. Then the ultimate disappointment: a controversial Game 7 loss in Tampa in the Stanley Cup Final.

But still, Sutter was now DARRYL SUTTER, unequivocal King of Calgary who took a ragtag group of relative nobodies and Jarome Iginla all the way to the brink — some would say past it if you count that Gelinas non-goal in Game 6. It was a team littered with thugs, agitators, career underachievers and grinders as high up as the first line (Craig Conroy was the only forward behind Iginla in TOI). But they played Sutter-brand hockey and, backed by a nigh-invincible goaltender, they were about to be the darlings of the Western Conference.

Perhaps the second-worst thing to ever happen to Darryl Sutter, besides him buying into the In Sutter We Trust hype, was the lockout, and the league’s insistence that high-scoring games rather than defensive trench warfare was the way back into a bemused and disenfranchised fanbase’s heart.

If you go back and watch that Cup run by the Flames, you’ll see about 300 penalties a night by Flames forwards and defensemen go completely uncalled. Most infamous was a play in which some Red Wings forward or another broke into the zone and literally had a Calgary defenseman jump on his back to produce a turnover. Stick infractions, holds, you name it and the Flames did it under Sutter’s ruthless iron fist. People say Mike Keenan is a domineering coach, but Darryl ran that team like a military regiment. All the antics of guys like Ville Nieminen and Chris Simon were almost certainly his call. Why else would he look at a team with almost nothing but grinders and trade for those two meatheads at the deadline? Mind games. Wearing teams down physically and mentally over an arduous seven-game series. This was Sutter Hockey.

And the lockout meant he couldn’t play it any more. Not that he didn’t try. Calgary still won a boatload of games and their division in 2005-06, and took the sixth-most penalty minutes in the league doing it. Sutter was still bulletproof after bolstering the Flames’ roster further with serviceable veteran Daymond Langkow and a midseason trade for Kristian Huselius. But he also made the puzzling decisions to sign rickety old Tony Amonte and Darren McCarty for no readily apparent reason. Worse, he traded Reinprecht to Phoenix for Mike Leclerc and Brian Boucher (remember THAT?).

But hey, winning is winning no matter who’s on the roster, so Sutter felt confident going upstairs and letting associate head coach Jim Playfair take over. There was also the ill-fated but well-intentioned trade for Alex Tanguay in the offseason. But the Flames despite winning 43 games, crashed out of the playoffs in the first round again.

Winning 40-plus games every year is a decent way to ensure routine trips to the playoffs and a good way to keep your job as a general manager. Putting asses in the seats is easy after an improbable Cup run, and winning the division the season after that will likely keep them there awhile. Owners like winning teams not because they win, but because they make money.

So there can be a few things said at this point. For one, Calgary was winning rather a lot. Not a ton, never enough to even be top-4 in the conference, but enough to draw fans and make the playoffs and drive revenues, which gave Sutter license to sign guys right up to the salary cap.

You and I can argue about the inherent fairness of the North American sports playoff system, which bases ultimate success not on the achievements over 82 games against teams league-wide, but rather on a gimmick tournament that lasts just 28 games at most. But the point is that apart from one fluke of a postseason, which we’ve seen happen dozens of times in league history (take for example the 2002 Hurricanes and 2003 Ducks and 2004 Flames and 2006 Oilers and 2007 Senators), Darryl Sutter’s teams just didn’t pass postseason muster.

And still fans soldiered on, supporting Darryl under the belief that the team was really just one No. 1 center (a mythical creature of which there are just 10 in the whole world, and about 10 more that look like one until you put them under a microscope) or top-notch defenseman away from really being there. Mike Cammalleri, it turned out, was neither of those.

In his pursuit of these things, and that mythical Cup that we all naïvely believed was fairly likely, Darryl defied convention. Where most Cup-winning teams were anchored by young superstars and cheapish goaltending (Carolina and Pittsburgh and Chicago) or a host of players with generational talent (Detroit) or both (Anaheim), Sutter stuck by the Old NHL belief that older was better, experience trumped youth, and no movement clauses ensured top talent would come to the club.

The latter was true to an extent. He was able to retain his vaunted "core," which now included second-line revelation Rene Bourque, while attracting good to great free agent names (how the played was a different story). But around the time he brought in Olli Jokinen, things went completely off the rails.

This, Sutter said, was what he had always wanted: a No. 1 center to run the pivot for Jarome Iginla and run up the score on any who dared oppose them. Except that Jokinen, who had been linked to the Flames for several years for no readily apparent reason, was no longer a No. 1 center. "Good," Darryl surely thought, "All that underachieving in Florida and Phoenix the last few years drove down the price." To the point where he only cost the tidy sum of a first-round pick, Matt Lombardi and Brandon Prust. A sizeable price to pay, but one that most agreed had to be paid because, well, everyone in Calgary just been saying it for so long.

Things went bad right around the time people figured out that Jokinen wasn’t very good. The countdown to Keenan’s firing was a much-celebrated event. The senseless and fruitless Dion Phaneuf trade less so. The Jokinen trade (for oft-scratched Ales Kotalik of all goddamn people) made the lamentation over the loss of Lombardi and the wasted that much worse.

Things went absolutely bonkers when he brought Jokinen back, for TWO years, and gave him the team’s seventh no movement clause. It was on that day that Flames fans said enough was enough. Seemed like the team did too. Even at their worst last year, they didn’t look as bad as they have in spurts this year, and the highs, what few there have been, were not very lofty either. Darryl is gone now, asked to step down by the team president way too late to save the season. Meanwhile, it seems like his replacement is intent on maintaining the status quo at least until the end of the year. Probably beyond.

Can’t lean too heavily on those veterans. After all, they have the huge contracts to live up to.

 

  • I’m glad that Sutter is gone, but to his credit:

    How many people here would not have done the 2009 Jokinen trade at the time? Not many.

    How many people here would have signed Cammaleri to a $6M deal two summers ago? Not many.

    How many people here would have not signed Bouwmeester last summer? Not many.

    Sutter did a lot of crazy stuff (e.g. trading Phaneuf mid season), but it is pretty easy to criticize his overall record in hindsight.

    If we’re going to criticize, Sutter’s lasting legacy is going to be the inability to draft and develop talented forwards.

    • Thats very true. Sutter traded away draft picks(2nd rounders were his favorite bargaining chip, and then later traded down in the first round to pick up an extra third or fourth rounder to make up for the loss. The best PLAYER(not forward) he ever drafted, he traded away for a handful of second tier players.Also his first round draft choices from past years look very puzzling, to say the least.

      2003- Dion Phaneuf(9th). Decent pick, but a ton of players were left on the board. Think yourselves lucky it wasnt Hugh Jessiman.
      2004- Kris Chucko(24th) WTH! Nuff said
      2005- Matt Pelech(25th) Big hulking defencemen hasnt played in the NHL except for a brief cup of coffee
      2006- Leland Irving(26th) Kippers heir apparent has had a bounce back season so far, but another late bloomer, or another wasted pick?
      2007-Mikael Backlund(24th)Said to be a game breaker when he was drafted. Hes shown signs, but isnt close to being a number one centre.
      2008-Greg Nemisz(25th) Big, pretty skilled, but not fast. Not by a long shot.
      2009- Tim Erixon(23rd) Looks good so far, but only time will tell.
      2010- oh yeah, right…

    • everton fc

      Most GM’s would have recognized the cap situation they would be put in with the Jokinen trade. Cammi is on record saying he would have taken at least 500 k less then he did in MTL because of Alberta’s tax structure.

      I said this over at M&G-thanks to Darryl, the Flames stayed in Calgary. He tried to do what he thought was best for the team, but we should have cut ties with him last summer. No question.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Casey. Just can’t understand his man-crush on Jokinen. Take away the two Jokinen deals, and one would have to conclude his tenure was pretty successful in terms of acquisitions.

      I also don’t think it’s entirely his fault that the Flames drafted poorly. While a GM has the final say, he relies heavily on his scouts, and our scouts have been bad to mediocre for the last two decades.

      What he should be condemned for is his stuborness and refusal to admit mistakes. He simply refused to adapt to circumstances, and thus, like the dodo bird, is a thing of the past. If there’s one insight we can take away from his tenure in Calgary it is that we refuse to evolve at our own peril.

    • SmellOfVictory

      As to Jokinen: I wasn’t that deeply involved in players other than Flames at the time, so I don’t know.

      Cammalleri would’ve been around 5 to stay in Calgary (sources both him and Conroy), and I would’ve signed the crap out of him. Who the hell wouldn’t? The guy played really well with Iginla.

      JBo: not for 6.8 million, that’s for sure. I thought he was overpaid from the start.

      I can see defending Sutter on the 1st Jokinen trade, since most people were in agreement with it. Most of his screwups in the past couple of years, however, were things that I thought were screwups at the time.

      • The team was in cap hell that summer. Even at $5m Cammalleri would have been seriously pushing it. The writing was clearly on the wall for Cammalleri when they acquired Jokinen. Clearly a bad call on Sutter’s part. However, many in Calgary (including the media) felt that anything approaching $5m was too much for Mike.

        In hindsight we obviously should have kept him. But that feeling was anything from unanimous among the fan base and media at the time.

        • Resolute

          In hindsight, keeping Cammalleri instead of Jokinen would have been a good call. At the time, we watched Cammalleri virtually disappear late in that season, and then do nothing much in the playoffs. Can’t fault Sutter for looking at that and not wanting to spend $5-6 mil a year at the time.

          Such is life. It is always easier to judge in hindsight.

          Overall, I echo Lawrence’s first post in this thread. I would like to add that, though it is not official, I consider the Ference trade in 2002-03 to be Sutter’s first move as GM. The addition of Donovan would be his second trade. Button held the title, but from the moment Sutter was hired, this organization began to remake itself in his style.

  • BobB

    1. This article is fan myth with little fact.

    One example of this is:

    “Where most Cup-winning teams were anchored by … cheapish goaltending (Carolina and Pittsburgh and Chicago).”

    Cheapish goaltending? Hmmm… check again.

    Ward, Fleury and Huet were/are anything but cheap.

    2. I’m also not sure about trying to spin these acquisitions into a bad light:

    A.Daymond Langkow for Gauthier and Saprykin (one of Sutter’s best moves)

    B.Kristian Huselius for Steve Montador and Dustin Johner

    C.Alex Tanguay for Jordan Leopold, Codey Burki and Trevor Cann

    D.Signing both Tanguay and Jokinen as UFA’s for a combined 4.7 million this year, when they have a combined 48 points on the season. Considering that Tanguay is the 10th highest scoring LW in the league and is 56th highest paid. Jokinen is the 48th highest scoring C and is the 66th highest paid.

    E.The Dion Phaneuf trade when EVERY.LAST.PERSON. I heard from was BEGGING for Dion’s move, cause he was crap. What did we expect to get in return for what Flames fans called an overrated, overpaid, soon-to-be-Jovo defender?

    3. If that’s your take on Darryl’s flaws leading to “killing a franchise in five years flat”… I can’t agree.

    I’d take a Flames team with Boumeester, Langkow, Kiprusoff, Bourque, Tanguay, Jokinen, Stajan, Hagman, Kostopoulos, Babchuk,

    vs

    Phaneuf, Lombardi, Vlasic, Gauthier, Saprykin, Leopold (x2), White, Prust, Sjostrom, Burki, Cann, Pirri, Birkholz,

      • BobB

        That’s only a matter of timing. If the GM’s and ownership truly “believed” in cheap goaltending, those ELC’s would have expired and Ward and Fleury would have been gone when their contract was up and replaced with further cheap goaltending.

        But they are still in the franchise and signed for more or similar to Kipper, and have been far worse.

        Niemi is the only one that fits the bill and he was already cheap, but they still had a huge hit in Huet when they won.

        However, how is Chicago doing with their cheap goaltending today????

  • Ottawa 2007? They were 3rd in the East in points and tied for the best goal differential in the league plus coming off of the 2005-2006 season where they led the Eastern conference and the entire league in goal differential – how they hell do they fit into that paragraph?

    And as for the Cammalleri thing, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Sutter didn’t think he was. We can argue on the pay scale, but I am pretty sure that Cammy is a first line centre on most teams in this league.

  • Off the wall prediction…?

    If Jay Feaster wins the job permanently, I’d expect Michel Goulet (hired as a pro scout last summer when Feaster came in, coincidentally enough) to become his right-hand-man as Assistant GM. Goulet worked with Feaster in the Colorado organization earlier in their careers, and he is also a former teammate of Head Coach (and soon-to-be Director of Player Personnel) Brent Sutter. Current Director of Player Personnel, Duane Sutter… he takes over for (soon-to-be fired) Tod Button as Director of Amateur Scouting (Duane has held virtually every other title in hockey, why not this one too). That leaves Kelly Kisio to move up into the Flames organization and ‘learn the ropes’ as Director of Hockey Operations & GM in Abby.

    Together Brent, Feaster, Goulet & Kisio will make up day-to-day management team, while Duane scouts the CHL & Scandanavia.

    Crazy insane, or inasane crazy?

    EDIT to add: Oh yeah… and this time next year, Darryl is coaching in LA.

  • Its no shock we are here where we are today; but I don’t think that we can sit here and say Darryl did an oturight awful job over the long term. In terms of Defense we always had a good group, Goal has been fine with Kipper there. Its just coaching and Forwards that were the issue. 3 Must have been his lucky number since we are packed with 3rd line fowards.

    Coaching was just a fail. Keenan for two years? Dion was going great, then Keenan came into the picture and he has blown ever since. Keenan also got Huselius to leave town too; he’s no top line player but on the second line he was awesome.

    Darryl traded away too many picks; but the guy wanted to win today and did what he knew to. His later round picks haven’t been terrible either so i’m not overly worried about the state of “despair” that the minor system is in. its not great, but its not a total write off either.

    Frankly I think Darryl’s downfall was stepping away from the bench, because once Darryl was up in the pressbox this team never did as good as it could have…

    Then he sealed his fate by chasing Olli Jokinen. If there is one thing I hope Darryl learns from this is to stop poaching garbage teams of their top players because that trash still stinks when you move it!

  • To clarify what I mean by “success” in regards to play acquisitions, my line of thinking goes thus:

    The good: Tanguay (1st and 2nd time), Kipper, Cammalleri, Borque, Huselius, and Langkow.

    The Bad: Jokinenx2 (don’t blame him the first time around; seemed like a good idea), Amonte,Kotalik, and pretty much everybody in the Phaneuf deal.

    When everything is said and done, it appears he just got desperate and made rash decisions this past year that pretty much sealed his fate.

    I thought he was doing pretty good until 2010 came around.

    Of course, his commitment to a defensive system and therefore on drafting d-men is an entirely different topic.

  • dustin642

    Sutter has been criticized a ton, mind you, deservingly for his poor work on draft day, but after reviewing Tampa’s draft classes during Feasters tenure with them, it does not look much better. If anything it looks worse.
    Aside from Stamkos, which was a shoe-in pick @ first overall, the next best 1st rounder would have been Vladimir Mihalik (or Riku Helenius). Pretty much all of Feasters draft success has been in the late rounds (Paul Ranger, Karri Ramo, Nick Tarnasky are most notable).
    Now, obviously the scouting department in Tampa can take its fair share of the blame for this, but if a rebuild is indeed on it’s way, building from within the organization, I would feel a bit better about it if the guy making the decisions had a better track record of doing such a task. I wish Feaster all the luck in the world but mostly because I have no other choice.

  • Looking forward to something fresh in Calgary, whatever it may be.

    Darryl stepping down makes me wonder if he was told to fire his brother & couldn’t do it.

    Wonder if Brent finishes the season with the Flames.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Sutter deserved to go. Drafting and development were horrific. You want a #1 or #2 center, you have to draft one. His free agent signings were awful, he consistently overpaid on contracts, he was driven by ego, he despised the fans and media unless they worshiped at his feet, he threw out NTCs like candy, made us older and slower, couldn’t figure out the new NHL and he made more poor trades than good ones.

    Good riddance. I hope the rest of the clan goes too.

    Agree that Feaster was largely handed that team, I hope we find someone else. I find the suggestion of Ron Hextall (currently with LA)to be intriguing.

    What I can’t figure out is why we let rebuild specialists like Tallon and Waddell slip through our fingers by not canning Sutter in the summer. Yzerman too. But then this is the same organization that didn’t even interview Tippett when Dallas canned him and then tried to lead us to believe that there was no “fix” with Brent coming here.

    Watch the team go on a bit of a run and ruin their draft position while still failing to make the playoffs.

    How I yearn for the days when this team was run by class people like Cliff Fletcher, Al Coates and Al MacNeil (not to mention captains like Lanny and Joe rather than Jarome “I’ll show up when I feel it like it” Iginla)instead of a bunch of farm hicks and a jerk newspaper man who doesn’t know a thing about the game of hockey.

    It’s King who needs to go next, along with the rest of the Sutters, Feaster and about 29 players. Scorched earth doesn’t go far enough with this club. I can’t believe Feaster is talking about the playoffs. This team needs a dose of reality. You went on one Cinderella, lightning-in-a-bottle run on the back of a hot goalie. The team is nowhere close to being a real contender.

  • Wow those are strong words wolf. I agree with you on most of the post except for the part about Iggy. He has been a great player on this team and it’s amazing how he’s done so well with Tanguay and a bunch of 3rd liners with him.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Iggy is, or was at least, a great offensive player. That has nothing to do with being a team captain, which seems to be what the-wolf was talking about.

      I’ve spouted on here before, and so won’t bother you again, about how I think Iggy is not a good captain despite what Mensa Messier has to say.

  • Not really fair to say that the team was handed to Feaster. I don’t think we’re giving him enough credit. He was an assistant GM with TB from 1998 to 2002. He would have been intimately involved in building that team, even if he didn’t have final say in the early years. He had been the head GM for 2 years when they won the cup.

  • the forgotten man

    Strong words “wolf” but I couldn’t agree with you more…one of many agreed reasons Sutter should have been shown the door many moons ago:

    Reason #1. Poor drafting (this still lies with Sutter/King – they ultimately determine who scouts for this team and if they can not hire competent people that is reason alone both should have been gassed already…note to future Flames GMs – your Scout Staff will appreciate it if you do not habitually trade away all your legitimate draft picks

    Reason #2. Poor coaching – ditto above

    Reason #3. Poor development – so Sutter has been here since for around 7-8 years…someone please tell me (besides Giordano whom he originally told to go fly a kite to the USSR) who Sutter has groomed and cultivated from a Flames draft pick to either a top 4 defenceman or a top 6 forward on the current roster???
    Bonus marks – Backlund looks like he will be the latest casualty of the Flames development prowress…

    Reason #4A. Poor Cap Management – probably the most glaring weakness of Sutter (post lockout)…note to Flames ownership – either hire a GM who can add/subtract or invest in a good Junior High Math Tutor.

    Reason #4B. Poor Cap Allocation…For Sutter this falls under 2 categories-

    *Washed Up / Sutter Reclamation Projects – Amonte/McCarty/Simon/Friesen/Ivanans/Staios/ Kotalik to name a few that spring to mind.

    *3rd/4th line Forwards paid for 1st/2nd duty –
    Stajan and Hagman are the 2 most glaring current candidates in this category

    Reason #5. Hubris / Stubborness / Patronizing – probably the most overlooked and under appreciated of Sutter’s hitlist of weaknesses…it has always blown my mind that a guy who was at best a middle of the road NHLer and has never achieved the ultimate prize as a Coach or GM can be as Arrogant and Condescending in his tenure with the Flames…watch a Steve Yzerman/Ken Holland/Scotty Bowman etc in how they conduct themselves both at the rink but more importantly with the media and fans alike – that is the definition of true class and those gentleman at least have the CV and Stanley Cups to back it up! In this light and comparison, Sutter looks more and more like Bush League – he leaves an 8 year tenure with a 14th place team in the Western Conference…fittingly a “Loser leaves a loser”

    ~Amen & Pass the Ammo

  • WHY SUTTER NEVER STOOD A CHANCE – Everyone was mesmerized by the cup run and didn’t see the necessity of rebuilding. Darryl’s early success was his demise as we know it’s almost impossible to properly build a team without first stinking it up. See vancouver, colorado, chicago, pittsburgh, washington. Sutter eventually couldn’t squeeze any more blood out of the decomposed carcass that Craig Button left behind. Remember the young guns years? How about those drafts? Sutter basically took that legacy and made a pretty good patchwork effort considering.

    My final opinion is that Sutter’s biggest mistake was keeping the previous regimes director of scouting on board as Todd Button’s track record over ____yrs is nothing short of deplorable. I am thankful for Sutter’s time here most notably, 2004, Kiprusoff, Bourque, Giordano, Bouwmeester, Tanguay and way too many other things to mention.

    FEASTER FOR GM? Phil Esposito built the lightning’s championship team. Not to take away from Feaster but if you want to compare him to Darryl, judge their records after 2004. The lightning puzzlingly floundered with a core of Lecavlier, Richards & St.Louis while Calgary won a division title & were mostly a playoff team with Iginla being the only first liner. If it’s arguable that Darryl wins the better GM contest is Feaster the right guy? I’m optimistic that Feaster can be successful because of Goulet being the knowledgable hockey mind behind the scenes. Let’s just hope he can bring the Colorado draft success with him.

    Don’t put down your pitchforks and torches yet. We need to keep up the momentum and Fire Todd Button.

  • This move is obviously about 6-8 months past due, but it allowed Feaster the time to see how people are working within the organization. Anyone near the Dome over the next few weeks should give Ken King a wide berth as I believe this was not a move he was happy to make, though the fanbase and ownership pushed him to do it!

    I know a lot of people will be watching the trade wire in January, but I think one of the first things Feaster should be doing is reviewing the Scouting Staff…starting with Todd Button. One of the biggest legacies Darryl is leaving behind is his abysmal draft record, and Button deserves some of the blame for that! I am hearing that some think the remaining Sutter brothers will have some of their duties shifted, but I can’t help but think that one of the best people for the job of Director of Scouting or Player of Personel is Ken Hitchcock!

  • Hey “the-wolf”, what’s wrong with being a farmer? I take your “farm-hick” comment as an insult. If you like to real food, hug a farmer. If you want to fart roses and crap hemp, then eat tofoo.

    I agree it was time for D. Sutter to go, probably should have went a year and a half ago. Would really like a G.M. that has alot of contacts in the CHL and Euro leagues. The Flames need speed. Not 3rd or 4th line guys, not 5th or 6th hulking defencemen. More Brodie’s and Howse’s.

    • No offence intended, it’s just having grown up with a lot of them I’ve found that it’s one of those professions that either falls into the “smart” category or the “dumb” category without a whole lot of middle ground.

  • the forgotten man

    “Choke a decent and up and coming franchise back down”? I was here in the year’s leading up to 2003 and don’t in any way remember it being up and coming. Here are some of the things I remember;
    -Flames had not made the playoffs in 8 or so years and were off to another terrible start.
    -There was a “Save the Flames” campaign going on (which I was part of) to try to prevent the team from re-locating as Winnipeg and Quebec City had.
    -There were typically 10-12000 seats filled and free tickets couldn’t be given away.
    -In spite of having high draft picks year after year which the Flames hadn’t had before or since, we had no prospects due to drafting the likes of Daniel Tkachuk and Rico Fata.
    -We had no minor league affiliate of our own and shared with another team. There were no legitimate prospects to look forward to such as Erixon, Brodie, Howse, Ortio, etc.
    -This was the era of Craig Button as GM. The same Craig Button who is still sought out by some of the local media to critique the Flames franchise.

    You can spin the Sutter era any way you want but don’t deprive the younger fans the benefit of accuracy in terms of history.

    The Flames are not where we want them to be but you cannot compare where we are now with where we were when Darryl Sutter took over the franchise. Those were truly the

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      Hockey in Calgary was at a low point, there is no denying that. The orginization was in questionable shape no doubt there. However, the nhl as a whole was experiencing tough times. no affiliate was an organization decision,ticket sales were low, and the economy was not the best. Also Calgary was approximately 25 percent smaller market than today. i agree button was terrible, but to place Sutter in the role of saviour is stretching things a tad.

      • the forgotten man

        The saviour role was never stated or implied. In the originating story it was implied he took over an organization on the rise and ran it into the ground. The organization at the time wa in terrrible shape from every perspective as compared to the one we see today.

        If we are going to look at the Sutter period in fairness we need to recognize he started with an organization that had nothing positive happening at the time.

  • Resolute

    …I’m still weirded out by this whole situation. Unless Feaster can pull of some great trades I don’t see how this makes the Flames a better hockey team.