(Vintage Flame debuts a new, weekly link column which takes a look at interesting material across Flameland, from blog posts to MSM articles)
As the Flames approach the half way point of the pre-season, many fans are asking many questions about the team’s performance or what the team will look like. But the question that is on the forefront of everyone’s mind is "how is the Captain?" Jarome Iginla has not been on the ice since leaving early only 20 minutes into the team’s first training camp practice. Should we be worried?
Arik James, over at M&G discusses whether the Flames or their fans should be worried about the lack of participation from Iginla in the pre-season. No one is really too sure what to make of the Captain’s absence. the team and Iginla maintain that it is nothing to be concerned about, and it makes sense if you really think about it. The pre-season is to evaluate the rookies and get the veterans in game shape. Iggy has never had to worry about being in shape, and he doesn’t exactly require evaluation. I have to think that this is all just precautionary measures, but as Arik talks about, there are some other factors to consider.
With the Flames moving out two veterans and major leaders for the club in Daymond Langkow and Robyn Regehr, questions have been asked whether the loss of leadership will fall onto the shoulders of Iginla, once he comes back. As if the Captain doesn’t have enough burdens to carry, some on the team are going to have to step up in place of the departed. Eyes for the obvious look to Mark Giordano to fill one of these slots and seeing him with the ‘A’ on his jersey in the Canucks game seemed quite fitting. However, as Scott Cruickshank writes, the Flames might be able to look to a not-so-obvious choice as a leader, especially for the young kids coming into camp. Mikael Backlund faces a year that could be a turning point in his career. Increased ice time, tougher competition and a possibility, if not probability, of play on the top line with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla (once he comes back).
Speaking of new blood coming into the mix… A couple of new Flames have been warranting conversation as to having a legitimate shot of making the big club, despite very restricted space on the roster. Paul Byron looked very impressive in his debut against the Canucks. Granted he was playing against a very pedestrian Vancouver line up, and was playing with Tanguay, but looked very poised and comfortable in his role. Byron has impressive speed and if his play continues, it will make it very difficult for the Flames to send him down to Abbotsford.
The other rookie making an impression is Jordan Henry. The Flames blueline seems all but complete, but there has been lingering questions as to who will be the 7th defenseman. We have already seen John Negrin demoted to Abbotsford, and so far, Breen, Brodie and Mikkelson have fallen short as the incumbent front runners. Although it is a slim possibility that Henry sticks with the Flames, he most likely will continue to get closer looks and might just earn some playing time in the first couple weeks of the regular season. With Cory Sarich still not in game shape, there is more leeway with Henry to see if he can show consistency, if not even more improvement in his play.
Moving up the depth chart on defense, it appears that Calgary is still looking at the proper pairings to go into the season with. The pairing of Giordano and Hannan remains a strong likliehood, and so the combination of Bouwmeester and Butler warranted another look. Coming over in the Regehr trade, all eyes are on Butler, to see if he is going to be able to contribute to this team in what was viewed as a huge gamble made by Feaster. In the same article, Cruickshank also makes mention of the play of Sven Baertschi. Looking very impressive in camp so far, many think the young Swiss born rookie,might just make this team. Feaster has said it will be player performance that dictates who plays on this team, and not contracts. There are definitely some rookies making a case that will put those words of Feaster’s to the test.
In regards to Baertschi, his play and excitement are definitely fun to watch and I made no secret about how thrilled I was to someday see him on the Flames roster. But are some fans maybe putting the cart before the horse with this kid, suggesting that he should make the team this year? I had the pleasure the other day of meeting the gentleman that runs the blog site The Book of Loob. I caught wind of his blog on twitter, ’cause well, it’s Hakan Loob!! Any reference to the original #12, is going to warrant a look… and inevitable praise.
Anyways, if you haven’t heard of it or checked him out. He actually wrote an interesting piece about Baertschi and how Flames fans that are desperate about who will be the new savior of this team should maybe put away the anointing oils and celebratory robes for awhile. Make sure to swing by. Oh, and in case I didn’t say it before… Hakan Loob was, and always will be, freaking awsome!
As a final note, for all you hockey pool junkies.. PAY ATTENTION. The fine people over at Puckaholics are offering a special discount to Nation readers. If you would like to take part in their pool, then there is a different process to follow.
DO NOT register for the pool directly on the site, by following the link. You WILL NOT receive the discount. Instead please send an email to the ADMIN at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate you are a Nations reader. they will register your team and then invoice you through paypal with the appropriate discount applied. The Puckaholics pool includes some impressive przies, includiing an iPad2 for the winner, so if you think you have the chops it’s worth th entry fee.
*PLEASE NOTE DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2011