Calgary Flames management has been consistent and up front about the club’s current goals: no rebuild and no retool. The roster is built to compete and win now, dammit! Here at FN, we have analyzed the team and its various components and prospects to death during this extended off-season.
So with the benefit of all that research and knowledge, I humbly present the five main ways I think the Flames could win the cup in 2012-13…
#1 Find a time machine
This is actually a solution with multiple avenues of success. The first, and easiest, would be to go back to 1989 and simply re-live the season when Calgary placed first in the league and then beat Canadiens in the playoffs to win it all. Gilmour, Loob, Nieuwendyk, Fleury, MacInnis, Suter, Otto, Roberts, Pepper, Lanny, Mullen, MaCoun…actually this one might be too painful to return from. Scratch that.
If it’s a second championship you’re looking for, then there’s the option of going back to prevent the Flames multiple early-90’s first round choke jobs. Knee-cap Pavel Bure so he can’t score the decisive game-7 OT winner in ’94, for instance. Or maybe kidnap Ray Whitney so he can’t beat Trevor Kidd in ’95. For that matter…return, become the head of Flames scouting and convince the team to take Martin Brodeur instead of Kidd in the 1990 entry draft (maybe also warn them about Daniel Tkaczuk and Rico Fata while you’re at it).
Of course, if you want to see THIS version of the Flames win it all, you’ll need to find a way to rewind things about five-to-seven years, but keep the same roster. Kipper, Iginla, Tanguay and Cammalleri in their prime. See if you can get Lanks back too. F’ yea! Also, upstart punks like Toews, Crosby, Kane, Malkin wouldn’t be mega stars yet.
As an added bonus, it would be nice to see a 21-23 year old Jay Bouwmeester as well – so full of hope and promise before the weight of the world crushed his spirit. Matt Stajan would probably still suck though.
#2 Simulate a bunch of seasons with NHL 13
The bad thing about each NHL season is you only have one shot to try to get things right. Thankfully, modern home gaming machines have made it possible to run an endless number of iterations for each season so that one doesn’t have to settle for harsh, stupid, boring reality.
The other option is play the game in GM mode, acquire every star possible, adjust all the sliders to favor yourself over the computer and set the difficulty to "rookie". Then just let the awards and cups roll in.
#3 Trade for Sidney Crosby
As Darryl Katz and the Gary Bettman have ably shown us over and over again recently, convincing others to do what we want even if it isn’t even remotely in their interest is all about FRAMING. Or, in marketer speak SELLING THE VISION. Or in con man speak DRAGGING IN THE MARK.
Anyhoo, it may seem like acquiring Crosby in a trade is impossible, but it’s really all about how Jay Feaster could frame the potential swap with Ray Shero:
"Hi Ray. It’s Jay. Jay Feaster. That’s right, Calgary Flames.
Listen Ray, I’m calling about that concussion prone kid you have over there. What’s his name again? Cosby? Oh right, Crosby. I hear he’s always hurt. And didn’t you guys get worse when he finally got back into game action last year? And he costs what? $9 million per year. And he’s signed forever? Yeesh. Albatross there Ray. Just a boat anchor.
Listen, the fans in town keep yelling about us needing to get younger for some reason. He’s, what, 25 or something right? You know NHL forwards peak at 25 and then it’s all downhill, right? Anyways, I figure I can take Crosby off your hands and do both of us a favor.
Here’s what I got – a couple of first rounders, and that’s just to start. Yup, first round picks…uh-huh…Nemisz and Irving. Listen, we’ve poured a lot of time and money into these guys and we feel they’re big, big parts of the future, but I know you gotta give to get. Listen, you’re trying to win now too, I get that, so I can probably throw in Matt Stajan as well. Established NHLer. He was the KEY PIECE of our Phaneuf trade a few years back. He’s damn near essential, but I gotta make room at center if I’m adding Crosby right?
To seal the deal, I’ll throw in this Anton Babchuk fellow. He’s a defender and he’s huge. Six foot five or something. A strapping young lad, so I hate to do it. He can splinter the boards from center with his shot too. Yeah, that’s right, an absolute cannon. PK guys will throw their wives and mistresses in front of the puck rather than block it themselves. Uh-huh. No, no he’s great in his own end, it’s just that I have too many defensemen anyways.
You’re robbing me blind if you take this one Ray. Just one of those moves I gotta make to shut up the hoi polloi, you understand. Yeah. Listen, before calling you I tried this on one of those video games and it went through right away so you know it’s gold…"
#4 Hide under some coats. Hope somehow everything will work out.
Also called "the Homer Simpson Solution to Project Management"
#5 End the lock-out
In the end, the Flames will have to actually play hockey in order to even have a chance at the cup.
This one seems the least likely, unfortunately.