Five things: Some things worth considering

1. Happy for Darryl

Perhaps the rarest sight in hockey these days isn’t something a player does by himself or with the help of his teammates. I think it might be Darryl Sutter’s smile.

Not-so-affectionately nicknamed the Jolly Rancher, Sutter doesn’t seem like one for sentimentality and if there’s a quality he has to spare for anyone, it seems to be sternness. All that melted away, though, as the Kings routed the Devils. The lasting image for me of the Kings’ Cup run won’t be Jonathan Quick making red-light save after red-light save, Drew Doughty playing some of the most dynamic two-way defensive hockey I’ve seen in a long time, or Dustin Brown picking up his performance after playing like garbage in the previous five Stanley Cup Final games. It’s going to be Darryl Sutter smiling and laughing on the ice with his players.

I know the way he left Calgary wasn’t on the best terms and he sure did his best to unsettle what had been a terribly successful franchise, and there’s something to be said for letting coaches coach and getting management types to go about the business of managing. But nonetheless, Darryl Sutter raising the Cup above his head — 20 years to the day from when he took his first NHL coaching gig — with a big old smile on his face, brought one to mine as well. He got robbed in Game 6 in 2004 (shoulda used that timeout) but no matter how he left things with the Flames, it’s tough to say there’s been a more singularly deserving coach in the last few years. The only argument I can really see being made is in favor of Dan Bylsma, who won the Cup with Pittsburgh after just 25 regular-season games as an NHL head coach. And it’s not like Sutter had the two best players on the planet playing for him.

To be quite honest, I couldn’t be happier for him.

2. Kings follow reasonable blueprint for success

There’s a lot of talk every year about teams following the "blueprint" of the previous year’s Stanley Cup winners on their quest to replicate the champions’ feat, and certainly, the Kings were successful in their attempts to both copy and improve upon the Bruins, who did much the same with the Blackhawks before them.

Consider this:

To win the Stanley Cup, teams need a young top-five two-way forward who plays in all situations (Toews/Bergeron/Kopitar) playing in front of Norris-quality blueliner (Keith/Chara/Doughty) who is paired with a minutes-eating workhorse defensive stalwart (Seabrook/Seidenberg/Scuderi). They also need a strong, relatively high-scoring second-line center (Sharp/Krejci/Richards), and received good scoring from the top-six wings (Kane, Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Hossa/Horton, Ryder, Marchand and Lucic/Brown, Penner, Williams, and Carter). All three teams also had strong defensive gameplans complemented by relentless forechecks, carried out across all four lines with ferocity.

The only difference, really, is in net. Antti Niemi was a good but ultimately replaceable goaltender who got hot at the exact right time behind an excellent team. Tim Thomas had a season and playoff for the ages. Jonathan Quick did him one better on both fronts, and is a less-expensive, decades-younger version of Thomas.

However, Chicago found it impossible to replicate their success because of their poor cap management and because their goaltending was therefore not very reliable. Boston had to sell off pieces and were plagued by injuries and the natural regression that perhaps comes with relying heavily on a 37-year-old selfish kook between the pipes. But the Kings seem set up to succeed for a while. They’re swimming in cap space and have almost no hard decisions to make this summer with respect to re-signing anyone.

Winning the Cup or even being in competition for it isn’t easy to replicate from one year to the next, but it sure looks like no one’s been in a better position over the last few years than the Kings.

3. How do you feel about Radulov?

The rumors have circulated for a while about what will happen with Alex Radulov. The Predators won’t be having him back after the whole alleged glug-glug incident against Phoenix, and though the Rangers reportedly expressed an interest earlier this summer they have also reportedly backed off from it because he seems like a real jerk.

I guess the question is, do you think he fits in Calgary? Or, more accurately, do the positives of signing him (namely: He’ll score a lot and be a legitimate top-six winger if he really does want to stay in the NHL, and likely wouldn’t take much of a time commitment given the lack of interest in North America) outweigh the negatives (namely: He might be a pain in the ass to deal with and maybe his teammates don’t like him).

Obviously the primary competition to sign him would be from the KHL, rather than the NHL. If he’s motivated by more than the desire to stay in the NHL (namely: Money, and lots of it, tax-free), then there was never a chance he would come to Calgary anyway. 

I just think there are going to be a lot worse options on the market than Radulov, and if the Flames can have him for relatively little, I figure it’s worth it. He’d certainly help buoy whatever illusions of "Going For It" is still lingering in Feaster’s brain better than just about anyone else the Flames might reasonably approach.

4. Davidson rumors won’t go away

I’ve found it curious that despite denials from all sides, there are still persistent rumors that John Davidson might jump from the St. Louis Blues to the Calgary Flames. These latest whispers came first from Columbus, where Davidson was said to have spoken with team officials — and it was wondered aloud, albeit laughably, whether this might prompt Rick Nash to stay on with the organization that drafted him — and in turn kicked back to St. Louis, from whence the Calgary rumors originated.

Strange indeed.

5. MacTavish back could be bad news

With respect to the above item on John Davidson, it seems Craig MacTavish has been brought back to the Oilers organization in much the same role Davidson is said to have sought with the Flames: One above the general manager, where he will have a hand in pretty much all aspects of the NHL club. Shrewd hire by Edmonton, in my estimation.

Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe are running the club like they’re in search of a Moe Howard to tell them what to do, and MacTavish isn’t that guy, he’s probably going to approach things wisely, starting with hand-picking the next coach. I thought he was a bit hard-done-by when he was behind the bench — after all, they took away all the toys from his near-Cup run and replaced them with the palest imitations they could find — and didn’t deserve to be run out of town. The league’s most legendary coaches couldn’t have made the Oilers win.

And now that MacTavish, a smart, thoughtful guy if ever the Oilers had one, is actually calling the shots? I think a lot of the clowning around up north, unintentional though it may be, is more or less over. Probably bad news for the Flames going forward, no?

  • Graham

    1. It’s good to see a guy rewarded for all the hard work he puts in. Coaching, not managing is what Darryl does best.

    2. The Flames lack many of the listed pieces; no top two way forward, no Norris blueliner, we do have a minute eating d man (Bouwmeester) – unless we trade him for cap reasons, no strong 2nd line center (nor a strong 1st line center either), we have decent not good top six wingers. Hardly surprising that we miss the playoffs year in, year out.

    3. If Radulov was a center, I might look at him a little harder, but his negatives probably outway the positives. We are ok at wing, doubtful at center.

    4. Davidson, I still think he would be a great fit in Calgary. Its the type of hiring that would benefit the organization, and help settle the fans. A quality hiring…

    5. Mactavish, good long term hiring for our friends up North. Likely to develop an effective long term plan.

  • What the?

    Still don’t understand why people are cheering for Daryl. If he was in Vancouver or Edmonton would we be happy? I’ve always hated the Kings and still will. Do not go for Radulov. Davidson would restore faith in Org. I heard something that the kings have 3 conn Smythe winners in the organization including 2 in the front office. They are built to win. The Flames? Well cup winners in the office includes, um, well there’s, hmm none.

  • RexLibris

    One thing in the article jumped out at me. RL labelled the Flames as a “terribly successful franchise.” That must be tongue in cheek. I agree with the terrible part.
    Since the Flames one the cup in 89, they have only made it past the first round once. They have only won three series in that time. They missed the playoffs for seven straight years. In fact, in the 23 years since the cup win, they have missed the playoffs 11 times. That’s a terrible record. You would think that all those years of futility would have left them with a stockpile of talent acquired through the draft. Did that happen?
    Conversely, in that same time period, Edmonton won a cup, won 13 playoff series, made it past the first round 6 times, and no one can claim they have been a “terribly successful franchise” (since 1990). They’ve certainly been crap lately. But, they are stockpiling prospects, something the Flames failed to do.
    It just proves that Flames supporters are terrible judges of talent and success.

  • Graham

    1/ Yeah good for Daryl. As bitter as I am how he left & what he left us with, his heart was in the right place & he gave me my hockey thrill of my lifetime in that 2004 run.

    2/ I am truly convinced that good drafting, good trading and that magical stars in allignment of breaks & elusive chemistry all equate to a Stanley Cup championship. Probably similar to what it would take to win the World Series of Poker. You never know when the players we have break out, elevate their game and win against the odds. As quick as all that happens, just know that all glory is fleeting.

    3/Radulov- if he wants to come to Calgary, knows Hartley is a no nonsense coach, cap hit is reasonable, why wouldnt we want to put him, Cerevenka & Baerchste on a line. Cant be any worse than what we have seen the last 3 years.

    4/I think there are legs to it, it makes sense but with the pending CBA battle, there is no urgency to do it unless JD has another offer he is seriously considering or a deadline set by the Blues as to when he can leave. General rule, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Lets hope the flames are burning on this one (forgive the pun)

    5/Mactavish I have to agree got a raw deal up in Edmonton. Wouldnt have had a problem with him as coach here in Calgary, I think he is unproven in his new capacity where I think JD has a proven track record. But he certainly wont hurt the Oilers.

  • RexLibris

    1. I just pictured someone approaching Sutter as he won the Cup looking for the “I’m going to Disneyland” moment only to have him mutter something about maybe splurging on a weekend in Wetaskiwin.

    2. We’ll have to wait and see. L.A. is a notoriously distracting town, and success can create a lot of hangers-on. If L.A. can get to the Conference Finals next year that will, in my opinion, be a significant achievement.

    3. If the Flames sign Radulov I expect that the local media will speak glowingly of his offensive abilities, while most outside media people will cringe and wait for the off-ice drama to being.

    4. This would be a good move for the organization, but I will have to see it to believe it. From where are these rumours originating? Are they local or is this coming from someone connected but outside Calgary?

    5. I like the MacTavish signing. I have disagreed with Kent about the level of incompetence in the Oilers head office, though I’ll not be buying a Tambellini jersey anytime soon. While Tambellini certainly isn’t one of the best GMs in the league, there are far worse options around the league currently employed in that position.

    If MacTavish’s presence can only go so far as to eliminate the mistakes that became the Khabibulin and Cam Barker signings then his contributions will be well-earned.

  • loudogYYC

    1. I was actually happy for the guy too. One of the greatest coaches in Flames history, followed by being one of their worst GM’s. Winning the cup as a coach in LA just made King and Edwards look a little more dumb.

    2. Good point on the similarities between these teams. Let’s not forget the 3rd/4th line centres that get under your skin and make room for the big boys: (Bolland, Madden), (Kelly, Marchand), (Stoll, King/Nolan). In the end, everyone needs to play a big role, but it all starts with Centremen.

    3. Radulov is a princess. It doesn’t matter that he’s Russian, there are Canadian athletes who are princess’ too. He’ll want big money, big minutes and big lifestyle. If NYR doesn’t sign him, he’s off to Moskow.

    4. These rumors are sticking like the Hartley rumors did from day 1. I hope it pans out, Davidson would be great here. Andy Strickland says he makes $2M/year? Holy crap.

    5. MacT is probably a fit with the Oilers. They’re still out of whack though. I doubt he’ll be enough to fix them.

    Good article Lambert.

  • RexLibris

    1) couldn’t be happier for Darryl. Did an amazing job with the Kings. well deserved

    2) The Flames are so far away from a cup it’s a joke. Unless all of a sudden we get some unreal chemistry and huge breakout seasons from guys, we don’t have a chance for a long long time

    3) I would sign Radulov. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like we are gonna compete without him. Might as well add some talent, even if it comes with some disfunction. Shoot, might as well make a pitch to Semin too. If the Flames are gonna go for it, they might as well actually go for it.

    4) I’m open to having JD come in. Did a really good job in St.Louis, and would be interested to see what he does here. I feel if he does come in, it could be the end of the Iggy/Kipper era.

    5) I’m not 100% sold on MacT. The Oilers have so many issues it’s hilarious. They do have prospects, but it won’t suprise me what so ever if they finish last in the league again.

  • everton fc

    1. I’m glad Darryl won. Regardless of the team. I’d be happy if Brent won, as well. For the same reasons – decent, hard working Alberta boys.

    2. No need to respond to #2. We have no blue chips. Phoenix went deep with no blue chips. The Devils have Henrique… No others…

    3. Radulov plays RW. We are thin on the right-side. Put him w/Cervenka, let Cervenka centre. Glencross on LW. Why not? What do we truly have to lose? If he’s a wingnut, punt him. Simple as that. See #2, above.

    4. I’d like to see JD here. Good guy. Did well in St. Louis. Has Calgary connections, which I think important.

    5. MacT belongs in the Oiler organization. He may be surrounded by bordeline “oafs”, but he’ll right the ship. Hold people accountable. He’ll make recommendations to sure up their defence, as well. And I think they’ll work. Brent might be the right kind of coach under MacTavish.

  • everton fc

    forgive me, but isn’t Radulov an RFA? how are the Flames supposed to be acquiring him in this scenario? My response would vary greatly on the answer to that question.

  • Malikai76

    1. An Alberta boy won the biggest prize in our game. So he made some stupid moves while he was GMing. Was it him, or the ownership that forced his hand?

    2. Well…..we’re screwed.

    3. Remember Dion Phaneuf? We all have at least heard the “rumor” of why he was traded. Let’s not get the asshats back into the dressing room.

    4. I know nothing.

    5. I would far rather see him here than there….but only in the same way I want to see my brother’s girlfriend’s boobs. Not very appropriate…given his history. A good hire for Edmonton. Maybe we’ll get a team in Alberta that actually inspires some cheers this year.

  • Sorry, what role would John Davidson fill here? Is her replacing Ken King? If not replacing Ken King right away, it would seem like he is being brought in to replace Ken King within a 2 year window.

    If that’s the case, I would have to imagine that JD would look at wanting to bring in his own people (GM, Coach, staff etc).

    I don’t think salary for an exec is an issue at all for the ownership, so that won’t be a barrier.

    And DS was always a better coach than GM and had he been coach just one more year here, well, we’d be in an alternate reality. I’m happy for him, I think he deserves it.

  • please do not bring Rady into calgary. one thing that i think that the flames have is really good team that get along together very well. Also i think that Radulov was one of the reason that nashvile didn’t make it past the secong round of the palyoffs: bad work ethic, obviously doesn’t give a crap, and acts like a Spanish soccer player. oh the king of hockey Don Cherry agrees with me.

  • Greg

    I’m all for radulov. if you’re looking at who could possibly inject some life into an otherwise hopeless next season, there aren’t many options. Does a prayer or parise or Nash even make sense when you’ve already got tanguay, cammy, and glenx on the left side?

    I can’t say I’m a fan, but he does have talent, and if he can be had for ~$4M/year, I’d say it’s worth a shot. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t our new coach have a fair bit of success with the last problematic but first-line offensive talent to get traded for a bag of beans? (Savard?)

  • RKD

    I’m happy Darryl Sutter won, he’s a great coach. He’s the only coach to take the Flames past the 1st round in the past 20 years.

    Darryl gets the most out of his players, which is why and how he got the Flames to within one win of the Stanley Cup.

    I don’t know if the the Kings can repeat, no one has repeated since the Red Wings won back to back Cups in 97 and 98.

    The Flames appear to be set for a Florida retool. Iggy and Kipper probably won’t be moved. From Feaster’s comments, he could be hinting no UFAs or less one would be coming back.

    Radulov is a gamble, if he tuned out a hard nosed guy like Trotz whose to say Hartley could set him straight. However, if he is cheap he would be an upgrade over a lot of other forwards.

    I hope JD lands here and not CBJ, he’s got a lot of connections here in Calgary. He could take care of hockey ops and leave Ken King out. However, he might more interested in rebuilding CBJ like Stl. instead of working with a team stuck in 9th-10th place purgatory.

  • RKD

    1) Good on Darryl.

    2) Hopefully Calgary will look at LA and figure out that their Conn Smythe goalie, top scorer who can play a 200′ game, Norris-caliber D-man and Captain were all drafted and developed by the Kings. And then copy that.

    Imagine that.

    But they won’t.

    3) Amazes me to no end how many fans on here have resigned themselves to mediocrity. “Radulov is better, maybe, possibly, who knows or cares anymore, than what we had before.” Pathetic what this franchise has come to.

    Signing Radulov is just another band-aid. So yeah, it’s possible. But I would hate it.

    4) Would love it to happen, don’t think it will, hope I’m wrong.

    5) Maybe someone can elaborate for me? Why did they re-sign Tambellini and then hire MacT. Whatever, good or bad, at least Edmonton has some sense of loyalty to and reverance for it’s past glory bearers.

    While in Calgary, Peplinski, MacDonald, etc. are seemingly despised by the Flames’ ownership group.

  • RKD

    I congratulate darryl for his significant coaching contribution to the Kings CUp win.

    I don’t quite understand your reference to how he affected what you refer to as a “terrbly successful franchise”

    Prior to his arrival the Flames had missed the playoffs 8 straight years. Upon his arrival the Flames made the playoffs the next 5 years straight.

    I would also break his GM tenure into 2 parts with the first 2/3 (when he had free reign)being what I would consider successful. The last 1/3 I would fully admit was pretty bad and but it appeared from the outside he was starting to feel a lot of pressure and recive “help” in his decision making.