Flames End of Season Thoughts

 

 

It’s still not time for a full and proper eulogy of the Flames season since there remains a couple more games on the schedule. It’s going to take more than a single article to truly get ahold of what went wrong and, more importantly, where the club is headed as well. But here’s some things that are rattling around my head as the Flames prep for the golf course for a third straight April.

The Old Grey Mare

I’m entirely blase about his coaching, but one has to somewhat feel for Brent Sutter after reading this interview today. He sounds like a man who desperately wanted to win and tried for all the world to get his club over the hump. Unfortunately, it still sounds to me like he’s still coming to the wrong conclusions. 

"For three seasons, Sutter has tried to instill an up-tempo style of game. He still believes in that system — noting it’s the same used by the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings — but couldn’t seem to be consistently executed by the Flames.

The easy response is the Flames are too old, too slow, not talented enough and not built for a punishing forechecking game.

Sutter says the winning streaks over the years proved this club had the players to win with the gameplan. They just didn’t do it on a consistent basis.

"It’s re-assured me when this team has done it right how good we can be. And it’s reassured me when we’re not doing it right, we’re not at the level we need to be," he said. "The game isn’t played like it was six, seven years ago. It’s not played like it was before the lockout (which wiped out the 2004-05 season) and even the first year after the lockout. When all the rules changed, it took a year or two for everyone to get acclimatized to that environment, and the teams that had success with it, are the teams that really took it and went with it.

"You look at all the teams that have had consistent success the last three or four years, the players have adjusted to how the game is played, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re the top guy or the guy down here, everybody has to play a certain way, but we fight with that."

(emphasis added)

With apologies to Sutter, the Flames winning streaks proved nothing of the sort. Every team in the NHL goes through spurts of success, even the very worst in the league. Remember when the Oilers were leading the NW division in November? Remember, also, the Wild’s climb to the top of the WC heap for the first 30 games of the season? The natural ebb and flow of chance plus the parity in the league means everyone gets to feel like a winner in the NHL now and then. The true test of excellence is consistency.

The answer that the Flames aren’t talented enough is the easy response because it’s the correct one. You can whip an old mare all you want but she’s never going to run as fast as a thoroughbred.

Let’s put it another way – if the teams who have consistent success play "that certain way" (I can assume he means strong, two-way type hockey) then even if you match that level of commitment or energy level or whatever, that means the determining factor is going to be talent. Trying to out-Red Wings the Red Wings is a tough gig because they have Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Lidstrom and you don’t. Particularly if you’re the Calgary Flames.

It’s seems self-evident and glib, but elite teams play that way consistently because they can.

The Secret

Related – the organization seems to have this idea (going back to the Darryl Sutter era in fact) that the Flames are an elite club that is simply held back by some enduring character flaw. I think that’s probably a popular sentiment in many fan circles as well…if the big guys had bigger hearts, more will, better leadership, then the untapped potential would be released and the club would finally affix itself atop the Western division. Heck, they even hired an in-house sports psychologist a year or two back.

The decision makers need to disabuse themselves of this notion if the club is to meaningfully move forward. The Calgary Flames don’t have the horses up front to be anything more than a middle of the road team in the league. Full stop. The assembled crew isn’t good enough to hang with the best and many of them are on the wrong side of the development curve. It’s not that Jarome Iginla is a terrible cancer or Jay Bouwmeester has somehow infected the lockerroom with a loser mentality. The team needs better players if they want to take a step away from the ledge and start competing with the big boys again. It’s a simple, but daunting, fix.

For the sake of a thought experiment, let’s pretend the issue is, in fact, entirely mental. That a championship skill level is being suppressed by a problem of will or emotion. At this point, after three seasons outside the playoff picture, one has to admit the issue is intractable, not transient. Fixed and unalterable. It’s not a bout of depression that can be talked or medicated away – it’s a persistent personality disorder.

I don’t subscribe to this notion, personally. But either way, the idea that the Flames as constructed would suddenly rocket up the standings if a magical, psychological button were pressed should be abandoned with prejudice.

King of the Hill

For those who think Ken King is part of the problem, the recent news that the Flames bought a majority stake in the Stampeders is probably bad news. The Flames were already the gorilla in the room when it came to sports entertainment in Calgary, but after acquiring the Hitmen, the Roughnecks and now the Stamps, they are pretty much the only game in town.

And King sits at the top of all of it.

Say what you will about KK, but the Flames sales have been consistently strong with him and he’s managed to increase and consolidate the organization’s power (and, therefore, his own) in a sort of impressive, Machiavellian manner over the last few years. Even as the club’s fortunes have flagged on the ice and various other figureheads have been sacrificed to answer for those failings (various coaches, Darryl Sutter, scouts, etc), King’s position on the throne has only grown more and more secure.

It will be interesting to see what happens if/when the Flames Sports and Entertainment conglomerate approaches the city about a new arena. Given their growing stature, they may not even arrive with hat in hand.

Silver Linings

Even in the  gloom, there are bright spots to be excited about. Some of the Flames kids, including Baertschi, Ferland, Granlund and Gaudreau, had unexpectedly good seasons and the Flames will likely be choosing 11th overall again this June. Perhaps the organization will be able to really start building a strong base of prospects going forward. We’ll explore Calgary’s prospects and the upcoming draft in much greater detail in the off-season.

In addition, the Flames aren’t starting from a place of zero big leagues assets as well. There are some decent middle-tier players here and the blueline is fairly strong as well. While the team’s needs are big and difficult to obtain (excellent-to-elite ES forwards), at least this ship doesn’t have multiple big leaks across it’s hull.

  • icedawg_42

    Some interesting points. The Flames ownership of all professional sports franchises in Calgary is concerning on a number of levels. As a fan, I think it enables a degree of price fixing and manipulation that should not be allowed in a single market. Quite frankly I am surprised the NHL allows this (the NFL does not).

    I don’t agree that there are no major leaks in the Flames. The 2 cornerstone players are in their mid thirties and we are thin on the prospect side. We also have a number of over priced assets with no or limited movement clauses.

    This combined with poor management and fat, comfortable owners means we could be in for a long draught as Flames fans.

  • jeremywilhelm

    After last season, management and players were tainted and made decisions with their heart. Let’s hope that decisions made this off season are made with their heads. Objectively!

  • icedawg_42

    Anyone with more than a speck of “intellectual honesty” could have seen this coming waaaayyy back in October. Same roster, same result. Yes – I know i’m a broken record.

    • everton fc

      Exactly.

      And Feaster stood by this group. Fundamentally.

      Can anyone tell me if Brent wanted to move players, or wanted to make moves at the deadline to acquire the pieces he thought he may have needed to be a more up-tempo team? Is there any evidence at all that Brent wanted to make moves and Feaster either didn’t, or couldn’t??

      Not saying I don’t think Brent’s time has come. It has, and he’ll probably be greatful for it, once it’s all over. But I still believe Feaster has to take a fair amount of blame here. Defending Feaster for last year’s draft – none of the players mentioned have played a professional game outside Sven, and Ferland was drafted in the 5th round by Darryl.

      Feaster and Sutter both need to go. I know King is cemented in. For the long haul.

      Rex – Excellent post.

      • RexLibris

        Thanks everton, and good luck against Norwich Saturday.

        King and Feaster likely seem to be, as you say, cemented in (and not perhaps in the way some Flames fans would have in mind) for awhile.

        If Sutter is replaced, has anyone thought of Craig MacTavish as his replacement? Or Cory Clouston?

        Feaster shouldn’t get all of the credit for last year’s draft, but he does deserve some. It would all depend on the instructions and degree of autonomy that he has given to the scouting staff as well as whether the Flames can deliver another year of decent prospects this June.

        As for Baertschi’s games here in the NHL, take a look at Robert Vollman’s Black Box for the week. He plots out each player and Baertschi is off in a corner all by himself. Small sample sizes and all, true, but at least it would appear that Sutter recognized the limitations of the young man.

        I think Sutter probably wanted to do Stajan for Joe Thornton at the deadline but Feaster wouldn’t budge.

  • icedawg_42

    In the summer of 2009 the Oilers had finished out of the playoffs for 3 consecutive years…essentially in the same position as the Flames are right now. I have to say the Flames did a lot more to sustain the competitiveness that started with their run to the Cup Final in 2004 than the Oilers, however at this point, I see them in the same position as the Oilers in the summer of 2009.

    Sure the Flames have drafted Baertschi (sp? – I’ll just call him Sven from now on), but by that point the Oilers had already drafted Eberle, and he’d already scored that magical goal vs. Russia. The Flames will draft 11th overall this summer (barring a miracle that they move up a few spots thanks to the lottery), that same summer the Oilers draft Paajarvi. While Paajarvi hasn’t arrived yet as a legit top 6, he’s definitely a hell of a prospect, and he had a good rookie year last year followed by a drought of epic proportions to genuinely define the term “sophomore slump”.

    The year after that – it was ugly up north. Real ugly. Khabibulin was signed as the goalie to replace Rollie – and was injured after 16 games…meanwhile Souray was injured and asked for a trade, and Hemsky only played a handful of games. While the top forward, top dman, and starting goalie are 3 devasting things to lose…it was obvious that there was absolutely ZERO depth of talent.

    This summer the Flames can offload a ton of contracts by letting them expire…the Oilers didn’t have that luxury, so that means the Flames could potentially rebuild one year quicker. That’s if the Flames face facts and start rebuilding…it seems as though the fans in Calgary are smarter than Feaster, but the fans don’t make the decisions.

    Oh, and there is a supposed “generational” talent in the Q who will be eligible and is already a favorite to go #1 overall – John MacKinnon…he’s big, he’s a centre, and he puts the puck in the net often. But if you’re going to get him, you have to prepare this summer by burning the house down.

    Who will finish higher next year…Flames or Oilers? What do you think Feaster would say to that question?

  • RexLibris

    @ Kent

    “Baertschi, Ferland, Granlund and Gaudreau, had unexpectedly good seasons”

    You didn’t expect a highly skilled 1st round pick to have a good season?

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I totally agree with all of that.

    The idea that the Flames ‘apparently’ try to play the same system as the elite teams mentioned by Brent seems ridiculous to me. Playing the same system but with a far less talented group of players is a recipe for disaster.

    If that’s his coaching philosophy, he ought to be fired for it. I’m not a coach, and I have no idea what better system might have been put in place, but designing a surefire failure system should not be acceptable.

    You coach the team you have, not the team you wish you had.

    I guess the caveat to the above is, is there a system that could have been successful, given the players on the team?

  • RexLibris

    A great read, Kent. I imagine it might have been a tricky affair to manage one’s emotions when analyzing the season that has been.

    I apologize for the length, but I suspect most have come to expect it of me…

    At the beginning of the season I predicted that the Flames would back themselves into a rebuild, if only on account of the number of expiring contracts, and certainly not because of any decisive action taken by management or ownership. After watching the season unfold I still believe this to be true, but with a new caveat. Any rebuilding process for the Flames is one that I believe management is likely to downplay. My guess is that Feaster will work furiously to try and make any dip in the standings appear as only a momentary lapse rather than a symptom of a larger issue.

    I suspect that, if the Flames do suffer further in the standings next season, Feaster and King will use the examples of Philadelphia and Ottawa to deflect blame and accountability (and delay action), and suggest that they can follow the same pattern as those two franchises (as though it were only a matter of following the footsteps on the dancefloor). They may suggest that after a brief dip in the standings and the compensatory draft position that provides, the Flames will inevitably return to glory and competitiveness without delay.

    This example has been mentioned here at FN as well, and I feel that it is a product of biased memory. Philadelphia and Ottawa had abnormally poor years and both rebounded remarkably. However, the players that were the catalyst for that rebound were not the rewards of that windfall draft year but rather were existing prospects and players as well as a few key free agents and trades. Those are extenuating factors that do not exist in the Flames situation. In addition, both teams had existing strength at positions generally considered to be crucial to success (Spezza, Richards, Carter, Karlsson).

    The Flames could be said to have a strong candidate at one of those positions, perhaps two. But they lack in the most critical area, and one that has become a cliche for this organization for well over twenty years: centre.

    I also still hold that the Flames’ needs are more than any current crop of free agents will be able to remedy in and of themselves.

    If Feaster attempts to deflect blame or suggest that any setback the Flames suffer is merely temporary by invoking either of these examples (Philadelphia and Ottawa) then I feel sorry for the Flames fans that I have come to know and respect by virtue of this forum. While I dislike the Flames, I enjoy my dialogue with some of their fans and observers and feel that the fans in most NHL cities deserve better (Toronto might be an exception).

    Kent, I agree that the Flames appear to be lacking more than some ethereal spark that will help unleash their potential (and my own disgust at much of “the secret”-style pseudo-scientific quackery probably feeds into that), but I wouldn’t discount the idea that this roster, and specifically the core, have a deep malaise that seems to prevent them from “actualizing” Sutter’s game plan.

    The Flames are devoid of top-end talent, there is no debate there. Even Iginla is a waning power in the NHL and his value, in my opinion, tends to be inflated by nostalgia rather than rational observation. That being said, this core group has burned (no pun intended) through coaches and GMs now and there would appear to be an “inmates running the asylum” trend at work here. The Coyotes had the same issues with players putting in half-efforts and such for years before turning it around.

    When it comes to Iginla and the emotional issue of trading him, I began wondering about Iginla’s return at the beginning of the year and everything I have read here and seen in his play has only reinforced my original belief. I don’t think he can bring back the oft-cited return of a first-round pick, top-tier forward prospect, and a roster player. I don’t believe that he is worth that much at this time (trade deadline 2013 may be a different story) to a GM.

    Does anybody here think that professional scouts haven’t also seen the lackadaisical defensive zone play, lack of leadership, and general ennui that fans here have so often decried? If the biased observer on television can spot this what might the unbiased professional scout or GM see? I understand the fond memories that many Flames fans harbour for him and his past glories. That has no impact on his value today. The suggestion that while Nieuwendyk begat Iginla that thus should Iginla bring in a similar franchise cornerstone for the next twenty years is an anachronism.

    A quick note about the Oilers: Jonathan Willis has an article up on ON (http://oilersnation.com/2012/3/29/the-brilliance-of-the-rebuild) and don’t let the title fool you. It goes into detail about the events that eventually led the Oilers to the process of the rebuild. It isn’t necessarily in defense of Steve Tambellini and does at times suggest that Tambellini has taken full professional advantage of the inaction that a rebuilding process can provide.

    However, for critics of the Oilers rebuild (and I noticed there were a few on chat the other night) and for Flames fans who feel that a similar experience is in their not-too-distant future, it would make a good read. It helps to understand a franchise by understanding from whence that franchise, and by extension fan base, came.

    As for Baertschi, there is no doubt that he is a great young prospect. And I fully expect that Flames management will exploit him as their next bankable asset in 2012-13. He looks good, but he is young and it would behoove the management in Calgary, and the fans as well, to give him some time and patience to learn.

    Finally, Baertschi has had a good playoff season thus far. But I wanted to offer up some other numbers to provide context so that Flames fans aren’t limited to seeing their prospects through the (Kevin) Prendergast Prism.

    Baertschi was selected 13th overall in 2011, plays left wing and averaged 2.0 ppg during the WHL season. He is listed as 5’11” and 187 lbs. He currently sits at 2-9-11 pts in 4gp and 4 PIMs playing on a stacked Winterhawks team with another top prospect in Ty Rattie. He has 6pts in 12 gp with the Swiss Under-18 team in international play.

    Tobias Reider was a 4th round selection, 114th overall, of the Oilers in 2011. He averaged 1.4 ppg playing right wing with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL this season. He is listed as 5’11” 190lbs. He currently sits with 7-6-13 pts in 5gp and 4 PIMs playing on a good Kitchener Rangers squad alongside undrafted, undersized dynamo Michael Catenacci. He has 14 pts in 14 gp with the German Under-18 team in international play.

    The numbers would suggest that Reider is a comparable player, or slightly even better in the playoffs, at this stage (and I believe that Baertschi will become an NHLer, Reider I am unsure of). I only mention this because I have been burned repeatedly by flashy, highly-touted prospects and I can’t help but urge caution to others when I see it happen.

    And yes, the irony of an Oilers fan warning Flames fans not to get too caught up in the hypp surrounding your young player’s future is not lost on me.

    Thanks for the opporunity to share all this, Nation. And I look forward to the post-season autopsy for both the Oilers and Flames as well as the draft preview.

    • Truculence

      Rex, if one were to only look at stats, then, yes, it’s good to urge caution about rookie point totals in the minors. However, excepting Corey Pronman or whatever the hell his name is, WHL scouts will tell you that Baertchi is actually pivotal in driving possession and play, in addition to putting up outrageous points. Stats freaks will tell you that the Winterhawks actually score even more points when he is in the lineup.

      Furthermore, having watched Baertchi play, I would have to say he is one of those prospects that is actually driven to win and compete ferociusly every shift. He actually loves the sport and is continually working on improving in all aspects. In short, the kid wants to be one of the best, and it tells from the way he plays.

      He may be smallish accrding to NHL standards, but the kid plays more like Parise than Brule, with or without the puck. Points really do tell only part of the story.

      In the same vein, Reinhart may not have put up huge numbers this season, but he still led the Ice in the points category despite being on the ice against the best the other team had to offer consistently (he also played the least amount of games amongst top-6 forwards). The kid thinks the game at an elite level and drives possession. Once again, numbers only tell part of the story.

      • RexLibris

        I’ve had a long look at Baertschi’s stats and I never use the numbers alone to form an opinion on a prospect.

        My point was in that while what a player can accomplish in junior has some impact on his NHL career, it isn’t a direct and unassailable predictor.

        I’m not trying to dump on Baertschi, but I’m trying to implore Flames fans to temper their expectations and allow the young man some room for failure.

        My point in bringing up Reider in comparison is to try and provide contrast. It has been a long time since Flames fans have had a prospect show this much promise, but that needs to be held in check and contrasting that with the prospects in other organizations is one way of doing that.

        Some teams have several players who have the kind of buzz around them that Baertschi has, though perhaps not the eye-popping point totals, but because the Flames have essentially one player in that role all of the hopes and aspirations may get loaded onto his back and he is too young to have to carry that.

        His on-ice behaviour is encouraging, and I hope it is a sign of his temperament. His possession numbers are all good and his involvement in driving the play is important. I think he’ll become a major part of the Flames offense in the next few years. But he doesn’t need to become that today.

        As for his size, I am never one to criticize a player for his stature. Only his effort and ability. Last season I was adamant that the Oilers needed to draft Nugent-Hopkins regardless of his size at the time.

        Patience, moderation and time is all I advise. Better to be surprised with extraordinary success than disappointed with perceived failure.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    The thing I don’t really understand is vehement opposition to a proper rebuild. I get it from an emotional fan perspective because it sucks. The thought of it pains me to consider…. Penguins got 30th-30th-29th or something like that before they became an elite team. But how else do you get Crosby, Fleury and Malkin? Not by trading 35 year old Iggy thats for sure….

    This city is loyal, and I see no reason why ownership wouldn’t be able to admit its time to reboot. Top to bottom, sell off every moving part (Iggy, Jbo, Kipper, Gio) and start building towards Baertschi’s team in 2016 or 2017. It would be ugly for a few years… But the dome will be sold out 100% of the games, so the bottom line won’t be impacted. And if anything they’d sell more jersey’s if they brought in some exciting kids that we could get behind and dream about instead of being upset with Iggy for not being able to become 25 again.

    Take for example the last 3 years. We’ve sold out every game, never made the playoffs, and have nothing to show for it except frustration and a lucky pick (and still not proven) on Baertchi.

    The Oilers have also missed the playoffs the past 3 years, but have completely reorganized and now have Taylor Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Eberle AND another top 3 pick this year….

    Both teams have sold out 100% of their games, neither have 1 single playoff game to show.

    Of course hindsight is 20-20 but wouldn’t we have been better off to reboot as well? Ownership would likely make more money by being well under the cap for a few years, but still selling out. The fans COULD be sold on it if it was communicated properly as a real plan for the future. And in 3-4 years we might not be perpetually fighting for 8th with no hope of becoming an elite playoff team.

    I’ve been advocating since Sept to blow it up and face reality. Now we are just 1 year older but no further ahead.

    The Leafs tried to do a “mini” rebuild, or a rapid rebuild or whatever you want to call it. And look where they are now… Starting back at ground zero after 7 years out of the playoffs. If this team doesn’t face reality we’ll be the Leafs just starting our rebuild in 2016.

    I really hoped my kids could see a proud Flames team one day, and they just might, I just might not be alive to enjoy it with them at this rate.

    • RexLibris

      I have been very hesitant in too often contrasting the situation of the Leafs with the potential future of the Flames and have been accused here of using every opportunity to compare the two franchises.

      That aside, I’m glad you brought this up as it has been argued again and again that the Flames don’t need a total rebuild and can simply swap out some parts on the side of the road and get back in the race right away. The Flames need more than an oil-change (sorry, no pun intended) and a paint job.

      I disagree with Kent about his assessment of the team and there being glaring holes. I believe that there are serious, deep issues within the roster and that while the number of expiring contracts does allow for a great deal of turnover this summer, the pieces that are perhaps most in need of being shown the door (as an exercise in accountability and character) are almost guaranteed to remain.

      Brian Burke believed (believes?) he was smarter than everyone else and that he could fast track the team to the top of the standings. Has Jay Feaster said or done anything differently, in spirit, than what Burke communicated? Both have argued that things aren’t that bad with the team and essentially told fans “just quiet down and let me handle this and you’ll see”.

      Not a good situation, in my opinion, and depending on Feaster’s decisions this summer Flames fans could be sitting here next season after missing the playoffs reading another post-season eulogy under the heading “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic”.

      • Derzie

        I have a question for you Rex. What do you think classifies a ‘rebuild’? Would you recommend whole sale changes, such as trading major assets and bringing in boatloads of picks and prospects, or simply integrating their prospects into the lineup??

        • Reidja

          I think with this team, trading Kipper & Iggy would constitute a majow blow up. Yeah its only 2 players, but how long have those two players been basically the only 2 pistons that drive this hockey team. I think we have the players that will step up & we have players that we will have to move along as well.

          I think we know if Kipper & Iggy are moved , we have a few years of wandering but it sure would be nice to see some young players suprise us & we have success when we arent expecting it. It just kills when we have all this expectation & always fall short.

          I think the first step is for ownership & Ken King(he aint going anywhere, face facts) to agree if it is time for a rebuild. If so, then everyone from Iggy to Feaster need to decide if they are with the program. Feaster will get his chance( like it or not) & if he still stands at this team is still good enough, then part ways due to irreconcilable differences. Same as Iggy. His call, if he stays, he will probably retire with no cup & he will be playing a reduced role starting next year which will be reflected in his next contract.

        • RexLibris

          To my mind a rebuild is any deliberate move to establish a new core of players with the intention of changing the franchise.

          Examples of “traditional” rebuilds that have focused on the draft in the last ten years would be the Islanders, Penguins, Blackhawks, Kings (to start), Oilers, Panthers, Blues, Avs and Washington.

          Other rebuilds that may not be considered traditional by focusing on the draft but have tried to sign and trade for the pieces necessary to alter their core group of players while retaining aspects of their internally-developed key players would include the Blue Jackets, Leafs, Kings (lately), Flyers, Flames, and Buffalo.

          All teams will make trades to augment and add pieces on their way to an attempted championship, but those pieces are almost always complementary pieces, not the major cogs required in a top-line centre or starting goaltender.

          Of course the ’06 Oilers did that by trading for Pronger, Spacek, Samsonov, Peca, Roloson and so on, but that was an anomaly both in those acquisitions and their post-season success.

          As to what I would recommend: The Flames could inject some youth into their lineup, but from the perspective of an outsider with no emotional connection to any of the roster players, the Flames don’t have any young players who are dynamic enough to make enough of a difference. Adding Baertschi to the lineup will make the Flames better, but they have so far to climb that it isn’t the answer.

          What needs to happen, in my opinion, and I’ll try to keep this as short as possible, is for the Flames ownership to have an epiphany and be honest with the fans. Tell them they are going to tear it down, start over, and build it properly. Correct the philosophy and attitude surrounding the team, and then find a GM who is willing and capable of doing it. Feaster may have decried the act, but if it means his job he’ll go through with it.

          They need to find a new coach, trade Kiprusoff, Iginla, Glencross, Cammalleri, and either Bouwmeester or Giordano. Not because I’m an Oiler fan who loves tearing it all down, but because all of these players have become a part of the culture problem that I think is crippling this organization.

          If the Flames inject some youth into the lineup and finish 7th in the West and lose in the second round of the playoffs before facing a summer where Iginla turns 36 or 37, is that success? Does that help the franchise in the long run in any way?

          I guess I would ask: what are the goals of the organization? Are they to try everything to have Iginla win a cup in Calgary? If so then it will take a Herculean effort and an semi-trailer full of horseshoes. At this point the chances of Iginla winning a cup are slim to none, and of him winning one in Calgary, even less. So, if thats the goal then trade Baertschi, try to sing Parise to a $9 million dollar deal, offer sheet Weber and lose four first round picks.

          It has been said here on FN that this team is dominated by the personage of Iginla and I think that the trauma of his leaving will have to happen sooner or later. How the team approaches and recovers from it will go a long way to determining their future.

          If, however, the goal is for the team to win a cup, regardless of who plays on it, then they need to trade Iginla and Kiprusoff and start over.

          No players on the Oilers roster were sacrosanct when the rebuild began. This helped them in the long run.

          Anyway, I hope the answer you were looking for is in there somewhere.

  • I wanted to say one thing re:King and his roles.

    He was on SNET, I wanna say last week, but it was after the announce they purchased the Flames. Bobcat asked him if he was President of the Flames (Hockey team) and President of ‘Flames Corp’ (roughnecks, hitmen, stamps, sales, marketing, etc). Ken King answered that he was, that he was President of ‘necks, Hitmen, Stamps, Flames AS WELL AS President of Flames Corp.

    I bring this up to highlight the fact that he doesn’t seem to think there is a problem with this arrangement.

    Too many hats, IMO.

  • Derzie

    By the way Kent – I completely disagree with this:

    “In addition, the Flames aren’t starting from a place of zero big leagues assets as well. There are some decent middle-tier players here and the blueline is fairly strong as well. While the team’s needs are big and difficult to obtain (excellent-to-elite ES forwards), at least this ship doesn’t have multiple big leaks across it’s hull.”

    Well, let me rephrase, I don’t disagree, you are correct we have middle to bottom assets. But as you point out, we have massive holes or elite talent. We could have 20 more “middle-tier players” and it won’t make up for the fact we don’t have elite talent coming. So we may not have multiple big leaks across it’s hull, but we have completely broken in half and are missing the entire front 80% of the ship.

    Middling talent isn’t hard to get, and you can trade, steal, waiver them. We could move 35 year old Iggy next trade deadline for some “middle-tier” talent.

    But there is exactly 1 way to fill the need for elite talent. Draft them. How else do you propose we get some elite young talent? Who is the next Iggy and where will we get him??!?

    I suppose we can pray to the gods in heaven that we get a steal at 11th this year, and pray that Baertschi pans out. But thats a lot of praying….

    • everton fc

      I wouldn’t use the word “strong” in any description of our blueline. We have an average blue line most nights, when healthy. That’s how I see it – no more better than the other teams we are comparible to.

  • Derzie

    Rhett made a good point this am on 960. Everyone has been focusing on the top guys and their lack of leadership and drive in times of struggle. Rhett challenged this. He used the ’04 team as an example of the role players being the leaders that pulled the stars of the team along. With moxie, leadership and grit. His point was that ‘character’ is worth a huge amount to a team’s drive. Given all of the bad contracts and the lack of available top guns, maybe it’s best if we focus on role players and draft picks until we get a new core at each position. Guys who rise up to pressure, not cave in. There must be stats that measure drive and playoff contribution that can help illustrate the point.

    • Reidja

      I heard the same comments from Rhett as well. I like the fact that he pointed out that with the Flames are only as good as the support group of players. It was the support group in ’04 who really propelled the team. Look at a team like Chicago, last season they had to move high end contracts (support) and struggled to make the playoffs. This year the Rangers and St. Louis are 1 and 2 respectively in the standings because the core players are buying into the support players and are accountable to the team. Both teams understand that the coach is the law. In Calgary, I think the players think they are the law and do whatever conveniences them.

  • We’re all just a bunch of broken records, we can talk about all these hypothetical situations for the future all we want. End of the day, look at our franchise history, we were relevant over 25 years ago. It hurts admitting it, but man, lets just cop to it, there’s just something about here. It’s like Cleveland, passionate fans, but getting a winner that can deliver success is like finding a white rhino. Things just don’t come together for us

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I certainly do not blame Jay Feaster for what this team is. The Flames were doomed after the 2004 as the game changed but Calgary’s philosophy remained in the past. It is simply impossible to undue years of failed personnel decisions in 1-2 years.

    Calgary spent to the cap but were not a good overall team. I mean they weren’t overly offensive or hard hitting/ defensive. This year they were bad in both.

    Feaster embarked in process to upgrade the skill at all levels of the organization. I think he did a great job all things considered.

    My only hope is that he gets to continue the skill revolution. To that end, I hope he focuses he first round picks to draft the most skilled player on his board. I don’t want to see any Luke Schenn, Erik Gudbrannson, Colton Teubert or the likes of Eric Nystrom, Chris Chucko, Matt Pelech type picks. Draft guys with the highest offensive ceilings. Draft the grinders in rounds 5 onwards or pick them up FA (undrafted FA for the hungry chip on their shoulder types).

    Calgary, needs three lines that can put the puck in the net but most importantly a top line that does that by playing with urgency and energy (also 18-20 min a night). The fourth line has got to fight. You can’t have Stajan or Horak on the fourth line. You need punishers who create room and intimidate.

    The back end was too passive. You know, Bouwmeester in Florida scored a few goals from the doorstep. He was able to play more free. I’m not saying they put the shackles on him here but it relates the function that in his role to play against top opponents, they had the puck more.

    The fact is every successful team plays good defensively. That just means relentlessly.

    Calgary is not an attacking aggressive team in either zone. Even in games Calgary won, the Flames were very easy to play against.

    I’m still an Iggy and Kipper fan. However they have to change their workloads and that means they need help on the roster.

    It ain’t gonna be easy.

  • Truculence

    Does anyone actually know how much voice Ken King has when it comes to managing the team? Does Feaster have free reign or is Ken King’s hand actually in every move?

    • First Name Unidentified

      If it involves doing anything with Iginla and Kipper, I would be willing to bet money that Ken King has to be involved in that decision. I would even go on and say that King has strictly instructed Feaster to not even touch those 2 guys, especially after D Sutter’s fiasco with Phaneuf trade.

      Feaster may have been given a free hand with other non-core role players.

      Any trades involving 12 and 34 will come with KK’s approval for sure.

  • T&A4Flames

    “I think with this team, trading Kipper & Iggy would constitute a majow blow up. Yeah its only 2 players, but how long have those two players been basically the only 2 pistons that drive this hockey team. I think we have the players that will step up & we have players that we will have to move along as well.”

    I disagree. I think you would have to move more than Kipper and Iggy to constitute a “major blow up.”. There are still some decent pieces and to call it major I think you would have to include Bouw, Gio and probably 2 of Cammi, Tanguay or Glencross.

    If Iggy were to leave, it would leave a bit of offense but at this point in his career, he doesn’t really carry the team anymore. If would be harder but they would even more so on team scoring, much like Nashville.

    Kipper would hurt more but I still wouldn’t call it a total blow up. What we would miss with Iggy is a captain. The only obvious successor is Gio. If you move Iggy, Kipper and Gio, you’re starting to call it a blow up I think.

  • T&A4Flames

    I had a thought today. If the idea of Anaheim still wanting to move Ryan for more depth, would Gio, GlenX and Comeau get it done. I would hate to move 2 very contrracts like Gio’s and Glennies, but change is needed. Bobby Ryan would help ease the pain, I’m sure.

    With Ryan on board, would a 8.75mil/yr contract attract his buddy Parise? Over pays on both accounts I think. But I think that is what we are going to need do to get some stars to bring us back.

    Then, Cammi to COL for Statsny.

    Parise-Statsny-Ryan
    Tanguay-Backlund-Iggy
    Baertschi-Jones/Stajan-Stempniak
    Bouma-Jones/Stajan/Horak-Jackman

    Looooooooooooonnnnnnnnngggggg shot but sure sounds nice.

    Oh, and then we would have to sign 2 guys like Grossman, Carle, Wideman at around 10 mil.

    • T&A4Flames

      I really hope those trades go through for you guys. They closely resemble sound, logical and reasonable actions to prevent another season like this from happening again.

      Doubt you can move Cammalleri for much of anything, what with $14M still owing.

      But good luck with that.

  • Reidja

    @ Jeff Lebowski

    Then why put 4th liners in that role? When did playing on the fourth line become synonymous with having to be a fighter? To be honest, if Tim Jackman continued to play the way he does, and stopped fighting, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest. I would mind however if Jackman was simply a one dimensional goon who forgot how to play hockey. I disagree with the notion that fourth liners ” have to fight”. Why can’t they just play hockey? Wouldn’t it be more functional to have a fourth line that could generate offense and scoring chances and play more than 6 minutes a night than a fourth line that is a liability against anyone that’s better than a marginal NHLer??

    • SmellOfVictory

      I think you need to look at what role a 4th liner plays. They are an energy line, paid around or just over the league min. So if you spend 2.0 mill on that 4th line, you are paying bangers annd crashers & hope they have some hands and create & bury an offensive chance. These kind of players usually get into scraps & they usually police when some player on the other team starts to take liberties with your smaller, skilled players. So fighting has to be on their resume.

      I dont get it. Everyone wants their players to play with emotion, fast, with hard hitting but we dont want fighting? Fights are going to happen & you need players like Jackman & even Desbiens & hope they find some hands too. Then you get an Ott or Lucic & I would kill to have those 2 guys on our team.

  • Franko J

    Reading George Johnson’s article along with what Kent has cited in his blog, I think they have the pulse of what the fans want. At the heart of the matter this team is slowly spiraling towards ineptitude and after not making the post-season for the third straight season with basically the similar cast of players, change is necessary and much needed. Win or lose, I will still continue to cheer for the Flames. For the past three seasons, the players, coaches and upper management are to blame for another season lost without the opportunity at chasing the Holy Grail of Hockey.

    As this season once again comes to a quick end for the Flames, there is no shoulda, woulda, coulda . . excuses anymore. In order for the culture of this team to change, the organization has to as well. Change is not always going to be easy, but in order to progress a team has to endure their lumps and bruises.

    In mid-November, when this team was slumping out of the gate again, I asked myself the question: How does Nashville, Detroit, New Jersey, Pittsburgh (talent aside), and even the Coyotes achieve making the post-season party, while Flames struggle year after year?
    With this season coming to a close, I found the answer to my question:

    The 3 C’s.

    1. Consistency – Keeping an even keel. Loose and relaxed.
    2. Competitiveness Hungry to win. Not easily satisfied.
    3. Confidence – Have fun. Enjoy playing the game. Believe as a team, success is driven by hard work and the player next to you will have your back.

    And this year, after watching this team, I saw very few C’s. Too often this team ( as a whole- coaches and management alike) and not a just few individuals, forgot what it takes just to get into the playoffs.

    Give me the Gelinas, Yelle’s, Warrener, Donavan and Commidores of the past.
    While they may have not had all world talent they carried the 3 C’s with pride.
    When I look at the Flaming C, I think of character, and it is too bad many of the Flames player thought otherwise, leaving them with the moniker of chokers once again.

  • RKD

    Thanks Kent for the Old Grey Mare video, I haven’t seen that clip in ages. That old guy is a riot.

    Anyways onto the Flames, they simply do not have enough top level talent to win consistently. Year in and year out, this team looks great on paper yet inconsistent on the ice.

    They missed the playoffs 7 years in a row before going to the Cup finals, followed by 4 first round exits and another 3 straight seasons of missing the playoffs. That’s like another 7 seasons of missing the playoffs.

    The team is mediocre, they are average and play down to the level of their opponents. Again, they have lost their identity. They struggle offensively, defensively, on special teams-they were the last team in the NHL to score a short handed goal this season. They are not physical, so what are they?

    They didn’t win a Cup in 2004 when Iggy and Kipper were in their prime. Now both are 8 years older and consistently missing the playoffs. Management is trying to win without a #1 center and recycling players like Tanguay, Jokinen, and Cammalleri.

    Tangs and Cammy now seem to be more apt to injuries and Joker disappeared on us at the worst possible time. Probably like most fans in Calgary and outside have no idea if there is an appetite for change. You have a lot of contracts coming off the books and if you resign a couple guys you still have enough money for a top six forward and a top 4 d-man. Maybe re-tooling is killing this team like a reused band-aid.

    Sven Baertschi looked very promising albeit his short stint with Calgary. I am also hopeful that Brodie and Irving can be successful NHL contributors. Keep building through the draft. If you don’t trade Iggy or Kipper then allow them to be mentors to the youth. However, this also means they young players need to have an increased role moving forward or we can all look forward to another 10th place finish.