As we find ourselves only two days away from Christmas, we at Flames Nation decided to make a few last minute requests to jolly St. Nick to see if there is a chance at some last minute gift ideas that he might be able to sneak under the Calgary Flames Christmas tree.
Feel free to throw in your own Christmas wishes for the Flames in the comments section; after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!
Kent Wilson: All I want is a top-10 pick for the club, whether by trade or by finish. I’m aware this is sort of blasphemy amongst fans, but the club’s true deficit is young, elite talent and it’s nearly impossible to rise above the tide without it in the league these days. A top-10 pick is by no means guaranteed to yield an elite player, but it’s the best the Flames have at this point.
Ryan Lambert: Since it’s become obvious that the team is neither willing to blow it up and is unlikely to do very well this season, I hope they get some really great amateur scouting reports compiled. That way, they’ll be able to pick a guy at like the No.12 pick or wherever they end up in the middle of the pack and he won’t be bad. Lots of good players go around then. In 2008, Buffalo got Tyler Myers at 12! You’d take that for sure.
Robert Cleave: There are any number of things the Flames could use from the jolly one, and the short answers for the team might be "better players" or "the Canucks falling into the ocean" or "another 40 games against the Oilers". Beyond the needs of the club in the collective, though, there are a few individuals that might need a special treat this holiday season. Here are some suggestions:
Brent Sutter – More games with performances like last night’s first two periods against the Wings would do just fine. Moss and Giordano getting healthy might be nice as well.
Jay Feaster – A sucker GM to take a contract or two off of his hands. Wonder if Santa could install Mike Milbury somewhere for a few days?
Matt Stajan – Given his penchant for falling down on nearly every shift before he was injured, how about a nice pair of these babies?
Rene Bourque – Daymond Langkow.
T.J. Brodie – The all-clear to buy a house in Calgary.
Anton Babchuk – A plane ticket. Anywhere.
Mikael Backlund – Some puck luck.
Olli Jokinen – Well, there are a fewOLLI SEZ SHUT UP STUPID MAN OLLI NEEDS NOTHING OLLI HAS EVERYTHING NOW INCLUDING HAIR.
Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff – A time machine to take them back to the spring of ’04. That might solve a few other problems as well, I suppose.
I’m not sure even Santa can pull that last one off, but it never hurts to ask, does it?
Robert Vollman: My first thought was to wish for goaltending. After all, the lack of a decent back-up has cost the Calgary Flames a play-off appearance two years in a row now. And if Miikka Kiprusoff weren’t a highly paid former Vezina winner, would his recent performance really earn him 70 games a season? Then again, Leland Irving’s first start looked promising, and a back-up goalie alone won’t do it for the Flames this year, so I kept thinking.
My next thought was a young top-six forward who could get one of the league’s worst power plays going and generate the even-strength offense that the Flames desperately need. Unfortunately young, top-six forwards don’t exactly grow on trees, and Calgary’s constant quest for anyone anywhere near top-six forward level is what got them players like Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Rene Bourque, and the risky long-term contracts that came with them. Pass!
I finally settled on wishing for good, solid two-way forwards and defensemen, the kind that can play big minutes and make it easier to continue cycling older, higher-paid players out of the system in return for young talent, prospects and cap space. Then again, players like these, like Lee Stempniak and Blake Comeau, are essentially stocking stuffers to hang over the fireplace, not gifts to wrap and leave under the tree.
In the end I wished for the only real difference between the Calgary Flames and the Minnesota Wild, the one single thing that has kept that comparable team in top spot, and the only thing with even a remote chance of getting the Flames a post-season position of their own: luck.
My wish is for the Flames to ride spikes in the percentages that last from December 25 to season’s end, driving them up the Western Conference standings just like Colorado in 2009-10, Anaheim in 2010-11 and Minnesota in 2011-12. The kind of spike that gets above average goalies into Vezina discussions and gives fairly average talent the only 20-goal or 30-goal seasons of their careers. Ridiculous, odds-defying luck. Someone’s got to have it, they once had it for a couple months in 2004, so let it be Calgary’s again in 2012.
Vintage Flame: I want this team to somehow receive a miracle. Does this team have it in them to somehow replicate what they did last year, with a better result? Yes I believe they do, why not. I don’t believe in the law of averages, whereby, they did it last year so it’s not going to happen again. In the end this team is going to make its own luck and in many ways they will determine their own fate.
Get into the playoffs, do whatever it takes to get there and somehow find a way to win at least one round. Now here comes the miracle part. Whatever success this team can muster, however far they can drag themselves with the fan-base on their backs, they have to find a way to keep the future in sight. Feaster and Sutter have to find a way that this team can succeed at the expense of the current roster. Make some of these players and their contracts more palatable to a team out there that can make the direction this team needs to go a little easier to navigate.
We can call it whatever we want, a rebuild, a re-tooling, or just outright change, but this team cannot go into next season with the same look they have had over the last few years. The upcoming draft has to be one that leaves other teams and analysts around the league saying, “Wow, can you believe the Calgary Flames actually pulled that off?” And it can’t be something that was said once or as a joke.
I know this is a complete ‘have your cake and eat it to’ attitude, but let’s face it, that’s the sort of gift from Santa, that they really need. To somehow appease the masses but quell the critics with something that is going to rattle the foundation of the organization, while the fans say, “yeah, but look what they did in spite of everything.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want Santa to bring Feaster vindication for his comments made to the fan-base and to the public during the Flames town hall meeting. Is there a miracle that big out there? Maybe not, but if the Flames can play enough kids onto Santa’s nice list, then maybe, just maybe, hockey people across the NHL will be writing, “Yes Jay Feaster, there is a Santa Claus.”
Merry Christmas everyone…