1. A new wrinkle
Boy am I ever obsessed with the ongoing Jarome Iginla/rebuild drama.
Reached for comment on his situation with the team vis a vis his future, Jarome Iginla said something to the effect of, "I don’t know if I want to be around for a rebuild."
I thought that was interesting. It’s perfectly understandable why a guy of his age and stature within the NHL would not want to suffer through a blowup. He has maybe two or three seasons left as an even remotely effective power forward in this league and he probably doesn’t want to waste them wiling away 30-win seasons. Fair enough. See that completely.
I’m sure there will be numerous conversations between Iginla and management over the next few months while the playoffs go on about just what the hopes — and very likely the contingency plans — will be for both sides depending on what the brass sees as the most effective way in which the club can go forward from this unmitigated disaster of a three-year run without playoffs. And my belief is that while Feaster started a partial rebuild to get younger with things like the Regehr trade and so forth, it seems very possible that this latest failure will be enough to kickstart things in earnest. He’s said all the right things in the past but now it’s time to start saying a whole new variety of right things for the future.
Things like, "We need to look at all our options and figure out what is best for both Jarome and the club." And I think we all know what that will mean in the end. It means the team’s long-time captain, leading goalscorer, leading point-getter, leading everything-reallyer, will be gone. Maybe by the time next season starts. Certainly by the time his contract expires next July 1. Tough to wrap one’s head around, really.
But this is the brave new world into which we have been thrust, uncomfortable though it may be, by years of roster mismanagement, belief in the wrong guys, and so forth. It’s kind of weird that we all knew this day would come, and yet…
2. Why I hate when guys clean out their lockers
Garbage bag day, cleanout day, or whatever you want to call it, really sucks. Not just because it means your team’s season ended unhappily (especially at this point in the calendar year), but because of all the excuse-making that inevitably comes with it.
Alex Tanguay, for example, played the back stretch of the season with some sort of wrist injury that did not allow him to lift the puck. Derek Smith’s "upper body" injury was, as we all suspected, a concussion. And TJ Brodie could have been back for the playoffs if only the Flames had made it! And so forth.
If you’re Alex Tanguay and you can’t lift the puck, you probably shouldn’t play. Maybe that’s just me. It’s just frustrating to hear things like, "My foot fell off in Game 54 but I stuck it back on with one of those purple glue sticks and well I guess that’s why I spent the back half of the season looking like I was skating in mud."
It’s all pretty annoying and at the end of the day, reads as the unsatisfying final few pages of a Sherlock Holmes short story: "Of course he wouldn’t go into the corners, Watson! His spine was mashed into a fine paste against the Avalanche a month ago!" Forgive me for not happily accepting these answers as good reasons why the team sucked.
I must, then, give the biggest of ups to Olli Jokinen, who has recently not only revealed that the only NHL team he wants to play for is the Flames (and hopefully at a reduced salary), but flatly refused to discuss any injuries he may or may not have had down the stretch.
3. Did you see that Gaudreau goal?
As you probably know by now, Flames prospects and Boston College players Billy Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau won the NCAA title with their team over the weekend, and Gaudreau in particular figured rather heavily into the final, a 4-1 win over Ferris State.
With just over under three minutes left in the third period of what was, at that point, a 2-1 game in favor of the heavily-favored BC Eagles, Gaudreau got the puck and then worked a bit of magic that brought the crowd to its feet and their jaws to the floor.
Just look at that. It’s beautiful.
Gaudreau finished the season with 44 points in as many games, finshing second on the team behind Chris Kreider. That includes 12-14-26 in his final 17 games, and his team won 19 straight during that time. It was a bananas finish for team and player alike, and one very few probably expected when Gaudreau arrived on campus in September.
Arnold, for his part, sixth on the team in scoring, posting a 17-19-36 line in 42 games, with 4-7-11 in his final 11. He’s only a sophomore.
4. Goaltending for next year
What with Henrik Karlsson having been, you know, awful this season, it pretty much looks like a safe bet that Leland Irving will be Calgary’s backup next year, and that will also likely be an audition for the starting job.
Given that the team now appears at least somewhat likely to enter a serious rebuild, a conversation will likely be had about Miikka Kiprusoff’s ongoing viability at some point, and one imagines that if Irving acquits himself particularly well at all next season, that might be enough incentive to move Kiprusoff either at the deadline or over the summer. I don’t know if I’m particularly in favor of such a move, mind you. Maybe you get a decent career backup or 1b on the free agent market as an insurance plan, and try to platoon them if nothing else? At any rate, I just don’t know how this team will keep Kiprusoff around that much longer than Iginla.
5. Looking for your opinion…
It recently occurred to me that over the summer, there may not be five Flames-related things worth talking about every single week, so I was thinking about branching out my purview here somewhat. Would you guys be in favor of me adding my two cents on hockey-related things other than the Flames throughout the playoffs and over the summer?