A GM’s Carol: The Ghost of Aging Veterans

On a sweatstained duvet cover, Jay Feaster tosses and turns fitfully. Suddenly, his window blows open and in drifts a ghostly spectre.

"What do you want from me?! Why are you haunting me?! Why do you look like Jarome Iginla?"

"I’m here to show you what your star player is dealing with. You’ll accompany me as we see that he shares your restless slumber."

The apparition and Feaster, after a lot of effort on behalf of the ghost, begin to float out to Jarome Iginla’s homestead.

"Take a good look at the stress that you’ve caused this great Canadian hero Jay"

“The jersey! The sweater! It won’t come off!”


Jarome woke up to find himself thrashing around inside of his bed sheets, momentarily unable to free himself. Sweaty, cold, and disoriented, it took a moment for his startled wife, Kara, to calm him down.

“Jarome! It’s OK! It’s OK! Look at me! It’s OK! It was just a bad dream!”

“It was that same dream again! I was 38, missing the playoffs, and wearing a Sundin jersey that I couldn’t take off! But this time, a… this… mysterious, spectral figure told me a prophesy!”

Kara looked at her husband with a mix of concern and pity, muttered “You’ll win that Cup eventually”, and rolled over.

"By no means would even I, this all-knowing spectral figure, attempt to dictate the future to a man that has control over his own destiny, but a chilling scene it would be, the day “Iggy” left the rink for good, without a Stanley Cup ring in his possession. A Stanley Cup, he can win, but not with this Calgary Flames team, thinks I. You see, I am the Ghost of Aging Veterans, and I come with alarming news. Unless the Calgary Flames change their ways, and perhaps more to the point, their players, they shall not win a Cup."

"Huh?" *Eats a turducken in three bites*

"Certainly, there are teams that have won the Cup with many veterans in the lineup – why, just last year, a man in his forties, Mark Recchi took home the big trophy with the B’s. And what of the average age of the rosters? Here are the Cup winning rosters’ average ages, and the average age of Calgary on June 15th, 2012 (the date that the Bruins won last year)"


Average Age

















"Hmmm… they are older, these Flames. It rather reminds me of another aging group of vets that I saw shortly after the lockout: the 2005-08 Toronto Maple Leafs. Sundin always did deserve better, but his loyalty to the team, while admirable, kept him in Toronto for too long. You see, the Flames have a lot of important members that are already on the wrong side of 26 (the peak age for production by most measures), and Iggy, like Sundin won’t carry a whole team on his back much longer. Here’s a look at the core of the team and their ages"




Babchuk, Anton



Bourque, Rene


Modified NMC

Bouwmeester, Jay



Giordano, Mark



Glencross, Curtis



Hagman, Niklas



Hannan, Scott



Iginla, Jerome



Ivanans, Ratis



Jackman, Tim



Jokinen, Olli



Karlssen, Henrik



Kiprusoff, Mikka



Kostopolous, Tom



Morrison, Brendan



Moss, David



Sarich, Cory



Stajan, Matt


Modified NMC

Stempniak, Lee



Tanguay, Alex


Modified NMC

"That’s the team that is going to finish above the Oilers for at least one more year bud."

"That’s an old core, Jay. The above-listed group includes 12 out of the Flames’ top 15 skaters, as sorted by TOI/60. Oh, and don’t forget that Scott Hannan has been brought in to replace Regehr, so they’ve replaced one old boy with another. Given the number of NMC’s and NMC’s, this group isn’t keen on being shipped out for younger players, prospects, or picks, either. It does happen, of course, but… really? Lee Stempniak?"

"He scored 14 goals in 14 games once Mr. Ghost so stick that in your…errr…bony something or other and smoke it. Plus, Iggy had 86 points last year. He still has more gas in the tank than that Sundin character."

"Now, Iginla had 86 points last year. It’s not as though his goal-scoring abilities are going to dry up overnight, and that’s great news for the Flames. But it’s tough to say how much longer he can keep it up. Here’s a graph showing the number of 30-goal seasons by an individual player from 1967 through last season"

"That’s right. Not a pretty picture. Let me leave you with one last thought: how many goalkeepers put up better than a .910 save percentage and played more than 30 games in one season since the ’67 expansion? Well, the sample size is smaller, but basically, we’re looking at a grim outlook for a goalie turning 35."

"Please, heed the warnings of math, good sense, and the Ghost of Aging Veterans. Re-build this team Jay"

"What was that? Sorry, I was thinking about that turducken…"

  • The ghost of capgeek.com tells me the team has 11 contracts (12 counting Backs as RFA) coming off the books by the end of the year. I think it’s pretty clear the team is clearing space for next year, which seems prudent because the CBA is expiring. And with 11 contracts expiring, the team is probably going to change significantly.

    • Yeah, 11/12 contracts and only $19M so it’s not like the Flames will have accumulated that much more flexibility.

      Plus they’ll have wasted another year of Iginla and Kiprusoff. The new CBA might provide some opportunity to make the more wholesale, necessary changes that they can’t (or won’t) make right now but I don’t think Feaster’s shown much as Calgary’s GM to suggest he’d be ready to take advantage.

    • Yes, but to what end?

      Every year more and more teams are locking up their best players before they become unrestricted. Every year the UFA pool is shallower.

      Even if they do manage 1 coup while competing against 2 dozen other teams trying to do the same thing, is that enough?

      Cap space alone won’t save this team.

      However, what Feaster and co. are really afraid of is the Young Guns era. Now there’s a ghost that needs to visit them.

      In other words, the reason the flames don’t want to do a rebuild until forced into one is because they have no faith in their drafting and development.

  • Michael

    @ Domebeers.com

    And with 11 contracts expiring, the team is probably going to change significantly.

    Agreed, but with Feaster in charge I’m not sure that it will change for the better.

  • Here’s the list of expiring contracts:

    Nik Hagman, Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Brendan Morrison, Tom Kostopoulos, Raitis Ivanans, Tim Jackman, Pierre L.Leblond, Cory Sarich, and Scott Hannan

    Other than maybe Hannan, Jokinen, or Hagman there’s not much there that you’d want to move that could even be moved in order to start stockpiling some picks.

  • Section205

    Iginla and the Flames are the exact mirror images of Sundin and the Leafs.

    Two players that were elite level, treated like gods by fans, and unable to win a championship.

    My prediction is that the Flames will be so scared to trade Iginla, and he will feel so comfortable and loyal that he will never leave. In doing so he will be like Sundin without a cup, and will leave the Flames in a similar position as the Leafs at the bottom of the barrel having to rebuild with no assets to help.

    • Exactly. Part of the reason JFJ got into trouble was because he kept keeping future cap space open in the hopes of landing a big ticket UFA.

      The only problem is, as you noted, that these big ticket UFAs almost never hit the open market. And if they do, Calgary isn’t exactly at the top of their wishlist.

  • Section205

    Seems to me Detroit gets the older team label as well & they always seem to defy the laws of nature. They always seem to get a young prospect from their organization rising & exceeding potential to keep things going & their veteran leadership is always considered a good thing.
    Why is it there seems to be a lot of people who really seem to think they know the future so well? I wonder why they arent laying counting their money on some beach in the Bahamas?
    Define lighting the match approach to managing that Feaster refuses to do versus making an incredible blockbuster future changing trade with an expectation to compete for the playoffs. Well JP, if you are such a big Leafs fan, how in the world can you throw an opiniating blog like this out without looking in your own backyard? Theres an old saying that before you point fingers about stench at others you better check your own shorts first. I think the Leafs still have a few ghosts themselves.

    • Detroit’s old guys are Hall of Famers. How many of the Flames’ grizzled vets can say the same?

      I think the Leafs still have a few ghosts themselves.

      I think you may be missing the point: We’re looking precisely at the Leafs’ situation and saying that to us it looks pretty damned similar to the Leafs’ during the end of the Sundin Era.

      • Like a snowflake I dont think 2 ghosts are the same. Iginla has said already that if the organization didnt feel he was not part of the future to winning a Stanley Cup he would absolutely accept a trade. I think there is a big difference between Sundin & Iggy & I think what Feaster does will not only depend on how the club performs this year and also what the return is for Iggy. There is much debate even between us hardcore Flames fans as to what we could expect on the market, based on last year & assuming his numbers dont skew off too much this year. Unless we get nothing short of an amazing return, it would be in our best interests to keep him until he retires. I think it also goes the other way in that if Jerome doesnt think the Flames can be in the playoffs with a shot at the cup (favorite or not, doesnt matter) and he requested silently to be traded, the Flames organization is classy enough to accomodate him. When I say Toronto ghosts, I meant look at what Sundin did & to the same extent what Kaberle did. Refusing trades when it benefited the team more. Not the case with Jerome.
        Iggy grandfathering a transition to youth is as valuable as what he brings in return if the trade route is explored. We all know its more fun to sensationalize trade rumours and what management should do with a future hall of famer that could be the missing piece to the right team.

        • If Iggy is saying he would go then it really is on Feaster to move him. ‘Veteran leadership’ can be found cheaper and the assets Iginla could bring in would possibly help rebuild the team after he retires.

          It’s not about what’s more fun, it’s about what makes more sense. This Flames team is not a good team. It is in no way a Stanley Cup contender and it’ll be even less of one next year.

          Hanging on to him is a mistake.

          Kaberle left, won a Cup, got the Leafs some strong assets, and the fans loved him for it.

          Sundin didn’t accept a trade, the Leafs didn’t force the issue, he left for nothing, fans have had their memories of him tarnished by that, and retired in another team’s jersey.

          Which would you rather see Iggy go through?

      • SmellOfVictory

        If Calgary had held onto St Louis, two of them!

        On topic though, I was really liking what Feaster was doing overall until his stupid presser where he brought up a #1 centre again. Then, from the ashes, the Phoenix of Lecavalier rumours began to spread and I quite nearly broke down in tears.

        I don’t know what the stats gods think of Lecav, but from what I’ve seen and researched, he looks like he’s a marginal 1st line C on a good day for the past three years.

        Also, I’d love it if Feaster could trade Kipper for anything. I’m praying that (assuming the Flames don’t go on to win the cup, which they almost certainly won’t), come deadline day, some team on a cup run needs a goaltender and pays through the nose based on Kipper’s history.

        • Lecavalier is definitely trending downwards and that salary is an anchor no team needs let alone one that will at least be looking to retool soon.

          If the Flames could just avoid running Kipper into the ground he’d be a great option at the next trade deadline. Not sure about this one but they need a backup to step up and play 25 games.

  • Flames may have about 24M in cap space coming at the end of 2012, but that’s because they are shedding so many players. Right now, they only have 12 guys under contract (plus RFA Backlund), meaning they’ll have to re-sign or replace nine forwards and two defenders.

    24M split split between 11 players is just 2.18M per guy. If the Flames wanted to land a big ticket player like Parise for, say, $7M that would leave them with 17M for 10 players, or 1.7M per. That’s not a terrible predicament, but it shows you how tight things can get pretty quickly.

    • Danny Gray

      I think you’ll find that when you have all those players on expiring deals you’ll want to move them for something. When they all have NMCs that becomes an issue.

  • MC Hockey

    All you silly Torontonians don’t give Jolly Jay any credit. Evidence shows that he is reducing the age quotient on the team (such as unexpected Langkwow trade) as well as freeing up some cap space just in case a Parise or Weber or someone similar are available via trade or FA. Recent articles in the Calgary Herald suggest Calgary IS a preferred or at least well-liked NHL destination as we have a rabid but not dangerously-psychopathic fan base like in Toronto and Montreal. I am 80% sure that the trade to get Iginla a Cup would happen in a Ray-Bourque-to-Colorado like fashion. We learn from our mistakes here in Calgary! LOL.

  • MC Hockey

    And clearly NTCs and Modified NTCs are not mattering much because a player can waive them and often will with a convincing GM asking him to do so. See Langkow, Daymond and Regehr, Robyn and even Kotalik, Ales.

  • MC Hockey

    The Flames clearly have some issues to work through and I echo the concerns some people have expressed about Feaster. My biggest concern is not that Feaster is going to bugger it up, as many of the moves in terms of the new coaching/scouting stuff is encouraging. My biggest fear is that Feaster is not going to be given free reign and the higher up oversight will step in to avoid making too many overly dramatic moves.

    It should also be noted that Kipper’s NMC expires at the end of this season and while his cap hit will stay at $5.83 the fact that his actual salary over the two last years of his contract are $5 million and $1 million he becomes much more palatable to the budget teams in the NHL that don’t care about cap hit.

    Plus, the average age of those guys coming off of contract (except P3L) is 31.4.

    I see no way the Flames don’t get younger next year.

    • They’ll definitely get younger…because they’ll have to. As Kent mentioned, there’s not a lot of dough available for a lot of spots. Which is why it would have made even more sense for Calgary to start rebuilding this year.

      Next year they are going to have to fill at least some of the open roster spots with kids so why not give the most ready a shot this year?

      Good point about Kipper. The last year at $1M is huge.

      • RKD

        “Next year they are going to have to fill at least some of the open roster spots with kids so why not give the most ready a shot this year?”

        Could not agree more with this point. It was one of the biggest gripes I (and many other Flames fans) had with the Darryl Sutter regime and I truly hope we see more young guys given a real legitimate shot in camp and during the season.

        As for the dough, if you do the math as Kent has it looks bleak, but I look at it this way:

        Nik Hagman – Role: Waiver bait. Cap Hit: $3 million. Replacement cost: $550K. Savings: $2.45 million

        Olli Jokinen – Role: 2nd Line Centre. Cap Hit: $3 million. Replacement cost: $3.4-$4.5 million (31st highest paid centre to 60th) Saving: -$1 million

        Lee Stempniak – Role: 3rd line winger. Cap Hit $1.9 million. Replacement cost: ~$1.5 million. Savings: $400k

        David Moss – Role: 3rd line winger or 3rd line centre. Cap Hit: $1.3 million. Replacement Cost $1.5 million. Savings -$200K

        Brendan Morrison – Role: Injury reserve centre. Cap Hit: $1.25 (w bonus) Replacement cost: $1 million. Savings $250K

        Tom Kostopoulos – Role: 4th line winger. Cap Hit: $916,667. Replacement cost: $693,000 (Lance Bouma’s ELC) Savings: ~$200K

        Raitis Ivanans – Role: Dancing Bear. Cap Hit: $600,000. Replacement Cost: Hopefully Not. Savings: $600,000K

        Tim Jackman – Role: Really good 4th line winger. Cap Hit: $550K. Replacement Cost: $900,000 (Cameron, Howse, Wahl ELCs) Savings: -$400K

        Pierre L.Leblond – (Hoping he plays in Abbotsford)

        Cory Sarich – Role: 5-6 defence. Cap Hit: $3.6 million. Replacement Cost: $1.25 million (Chris Butler’s deal) Savings: $2.35 million

        Scott Hannan – Role: Top 4 defence. Cap Hit: $1 million. Replacement Cost: $3.5 million (Brent Burns, Willie Mitchell, Nick Hjalmarsson) Savings: -$2.5 million

        Total Money you could have to upgrade: ~$3 million. That’s the difference from having Olli Jokinen at $3 million to Zach Parise at $6 million with everything else relatively status quo.

        Plus how much the cap goes up by. Plus any more salary you dump (please god Kiprusoff at deadline for prospect plus a 2nd rounder).

        • It was a huge problem with JFJ too because instead of blooding some kids he kept bringing in one year vets in an attempt to save space to swing for the fences come July 1st.

          Your math isn’t bad. The cap will go up so you could add anywhere from $3-5M giving you a total of $6-7M. But if you could move Iggy and Kipper would give a much bigger financial base plus bringing in some prospects and picks.

  • Section205

    The problem with Toronto was not the aging captain.

    What a cop-out for Toronto to blame Sundin-love for their miserable existence today. Sundin would have been succeeded by the same type of mediocre talent that Leafs fans already know and love.

    Sundin was their one bright spot in an otherwise pathetic decade.

    And in the end, Sundin could have won a cup somewhere if he was seriously interested in it. He chose to toy with GMs for months while he played with himself in Sweden, and eventually signed a silly Canucks deal at the 11th hour.

    • Where’s it say that we’re blaming Sundin for all of the team’s current existence?

      The post simply notes one comparable which was an aging core which is precisely what the Leafs have. Also, the team’s refusal to try to move their most valuable assets in order to begin the rebuilding process.

      Sundin would have been succeeded by the same type of mediocre talent that Leafs fans already know and love.

      See, you agree that the Leafs and Flames are pretty similar!

      At the end of the day Sundin went to a pretty good club who lost out to the eventual champs. In terms of trying to win a cup he made a good choice but it just didn’t work out. Hopefully Iggy does better.

  • RexLibris

    I’m not trying to troll here, but, you know that your team is in a bad place when Leafs bloggers are telling you there is something wrong.

    The Flames problems seem to be illustrated well in that while they have a tonne of contracts coming off the books in the next two years, there are no internal options for players to come in and take those now-vacant spots, and any player that is brought in by way of free agency is likely to be at best a break even, if not a downgrade.

      • RexLibris

        Sorry. You tell it so much better than I.

        On another note, Vintage Flame, the most recent FN blogger, chose as his first post a piece comparing the Oilers to Hepatitis, in part because what better way to christen a new Flames blog than with a bit of Blood of the Oil, and I have to wonder if, like VF, you woke up today and thought “you know what, I’m going to compare the Flames to the Leafs and see if I can’t totally tick off about 500,000 Flamers”. But, as George W. used to say: “irregardless”, I anxiously await your next chapter. Personally this is the one I am most excited to see.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Calgarians historically have never paid much attention to the opinions of people claiming to be looking out for our interests, especially people from Edmonton and Toronto. The city and the Flames will carve their own path, and not one that looks like either the that of Toronto or Edmonton. Thank you for your interest and opinions, but you know what they say about people in glass houses.

      There was very little wiggle room for Feaster to work with this season. He has done a nice job with very little time keeping the team competitive, while planning for the future. While few changes have been made on the Flames this year, Feaster has been busy stockpiling assets in Abottsford, and made the Heat a little better with more options there for the Flames to consider. The critics have come out a full year too early, he needs to be judged at this time next year by people truly concerned for the well fair of the team and players.

      In the meantime this Flames fan is looking forward to dominating both the Leafs and Oilers this year.

      • hahaha I’m not sure if the concept flew completely over your head or if you just got your back up because we’re not from Calgary but the entire point is that we’re looking at where the Leafs failed and trying to find parallels to the Flames’ situation. We’ve looked at our glass house and thrown rocks at it.

        Last year’s standings:

        Calgary (putative Stanley Cup contender in no way interested in a rebuild) – 94 points

        Toronto (rebuilding team, one of the youngest in the league) – 85 points.

        That’s not much daylight and one team at least is trending downward.

  • RexLibris

    I think this is pure gold from a literary point of view. While I do support the idea that Triple chin Jay has more than a Turducken up his sleeve, you can’t help but notice the similarities between the two situations.

    I actually love the value of the narrative more than anything, probably the most creative thing I can recall in a very long time. Fun to read.

    As for my opinion, i’m in the camp that this teams does make a drastic change going into next season. I don’t think we even do anything in the UFA pool next summer, I think Jay will trade for somebody’s rights and get it done that way.

  • RexLibris

    If I had to guess what the script might be for the Flames management this season leading into free agency it would be that they might move one, maybe two if they’re lucky, expiring UFAs at the deadline with a questionable return, then Feaster tries to clear a little cap space and convinces the ownership that he is going to land the “big fish” this summer (at this point, presumably, that would be Parise). My guess is that that hunt will come home empty-handed and in the ensuing post-mortem Feaster will either keep his job by getting the next biggest forward FA, like Lombardi when he couldn’t land Kovalchuk, or be sent packing and that it will be at this point that the Flames ownership decides to put someone in place to rebuild the franchise. Then again, maybe Ken King has a psychotic episode and hires Pat Quinn to GM, just to complete the Flames/Leafs connection.

    The good news for Flames fans is that I think the team has committed to keeping their first round picks for the foreseeable future and that 2nd and 3rd rounders will be the legal tender of choice.

    The bad news is that until there is a new management team put in place I don’t see an improvement in the amateur scouts they hire.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      ” Then again, maybe Ken King has a psychotic episode and hires Pat Quinn to GM, just to complete the Flames/Leafs connection.”

      Weird, and I thought was a Oiler/Leaf connection?

  • I don’t know what the stats gods think of Lecav, but from what I’ve seen and researched, he looks like he’s a marginal 1st line C on a good day for the past three years.

    He’s worse than that. Lecavalier has been a soft minutes guy for years. He’s also a possession black hole. Back when Richards was on the club, he was the dude doing the heavy lifting. When he left, the team didn’t have a replacement and they stunk for a long while.

    Lecavalier used to be sort of worth his dollars when he was scoring a ton. But he doesn’t even do that anymore. His career average is about 69-points a year and it’s trending heavily downwards.

    His contract is a terrible albatross.

  • RexLibris

    Articles like this are useless. I don’t think any one is saying the Flames are a young team. It is no surprise they are one of the oldest and instead of slagging Feaster, he inherritted this Team from DS. He has freed up cap space and gotton younger players in return. What do you want? Rome was wasn’t built overnight……Could you imagine how things would look with him.

    You disrespect Iginla who has given everything to this organization and has never once come out and said trade me to a contender. He is a big boy if wanted to be moved he would of by now so why not embrace a guy who shows loyalty. This makes me sick. Have some respect and go write an article for another nation(Leafs).

  • Derzie

    Since when is age a factor in winning? Detroit anyone? I’d take Jarome Iginla any day of the week for my team. Sid is the only player I’d take before him. He has all of the attributes of a hockey captain. No exceptions.

    • Yeah, Calgary isn’t fit to shine Detroit’s shoes. As mentioned above, there are veterans (Detroit) and old players (Calgary).

      And I’d take Iginla on my team 7 days a week and twice on Sunday but in the best long term interests of the Flames they should move him because the window’s shut on this team.

  • RKD

    Ghost of Aging Veterans very cool take on A Christmas Carol. Flames ownership believes the window to win a Stanley Cup is still open but it may be very small.

    It sounds like they are expecting Kipper to pull a Tim Thomas and Iginla to will the Flames back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    I can’t see the Flames trading Iggy, it would be a shame to see a potential 600 goal scorer not raise the Stanley Cup.