Five things: Off and running

1. It’s starting 

I swear to you that I wanted to enter this season with some amount of positivity until I got a list of inquiries from Kent on Monday night. That FlamesNation roundtable, which was published yesterday morning, asked a lot of tough question to which I found myself more than aggrieved by most of the answers.

I don’t know if it was the lockout helped me to forget that the team’s big free agent signings were Dennis Wideman, Jiri Hudler and a guy who has never played in the NHL, or if it was a mental block my subconcious gave me, not unlike Zaphod Beeblebrox, to prevent me from crying myself to sleep every night that this is how an NHL team with actual playoff aspirations spends its money. The roster reads like a list of guys you’d trade for in NHL08, and the problem with that is that it is currently 2013. It’s embarrassing.

Perhaps worst of these is, of course, that Calgary is shallow as hell down the middle. How do they fix it? By having Alex Tanguay move to center. Allegedly. This is a flatly bad idea. A guy who hasn’t played much in the middle during the length of his 12-year NHL career. A guy who, when tried there at numerous times during those 12 years, wasn’t very good at it. A guy who served as an impediment to Jarome Iginla when he did.

I just.. I don’t know. Like, okay, you knew you’d have trouble down the middle. And okay there weren’t many top-six centers on the market this summer, at least not at reasonable prices. So your answer was to sign wingers and hope one of them just magically happens to be good at playing 19 minutes a night in a position to which he is not native? Hoo boy.

2. Oh lord

Jarome Iginla’s contract status was something you figured would come up at some point in 2013. February maybe, with the trade deadline looming. But it was unlikely they’d ever trade him, really, so maybe even wait until the season begins to wind down in late April.

Well if you had "Jan. 8" in the "first time Iginla’s contract status is brought up in a negative way" pool, well then you win the big prize. The big prize is months and months of annoyance. Unfortunately, we all win.

Let’s put it this way: There is no way the Flames let Jarome Iginla walk under any circumstances at all. Zero percent chance. They will not be outbid for his services. The sad truth that they should probably allow themselves to be outbid, or even put a nice for-sale tag on him at the trade deadline, has never entered the minds of the team’s brass, and will never do so. For better or worse, Iginla is a Flame until he more or less decides that he doesn’t want to be. It seems unlikely he’ll ever arrive at that decision.

But there are column inches to fill and, while you’d think that "Holy crap there’s actually gonna be a season this year," would be a pretty good topic, you’re naïve if you do. Get ready to hear about this pretty much on a semi-daily basis until the greatest Flame of all time re-ups. It will be A Thing.

3. Thanks Bob

As if we didn’t know it all already, the last thing Calgary needed was no less an authority than Bob McKenzie declared the Flames’ intentions this season to be "playoffs or bust." Of course, your mileage will vary as to what "bust" means, because if Jay Feaster guaranteeing an appearance last year, not getting there, and not in any way appreciably changing the team in the offseason qualifies as "bust," well then, that’s not a very good baseline. At least he axed the coach, I guess.

Obviously this team’s hilarious, delusional goal is to make the playoffs, and as I said in the roundtable, I wouldn’t be super-surprised to see the team get hot for a week or two and sneak on in, particularly if the unbalanced divisional schedule gives them one fewer game against the Canucks (I’m not betting on it!!!). If the endgame is to make the playoffs, then that’s fine, but what’s even the point of doing so if you have just about zero legitimate chance of, you know, doing anything once you get there.

And please for the love of Lanny don’t give me that "anything can happen" line of talk. This isn’t a team like the Kings last year, where they have about six NHL All-Stars on the roster who are all capable of playing a comprehensive game at both ends of the ice. How many forwards on the Flames can play the kind of defense Anze Kopitar or Dustin Brown bring while still shooting the lights out? How many defensemen can dominate like Drew Doughty and also play lockdown defense? And as much as I still like Kiprusoff, he’s no Jon Quick, because there’s maybe one other goalie on earth (Henrik Lundqvist) who’s on his level.

Maybe Roman Cervenka will do for an aging Iginla what he did for an aging Jaromir Jagr. Maybe Kiprusoff turns in one last Vezina-worthy season. Maybe pigs fly.

4. Nonzero chance this happens

Pusuant to the item above: Compacted schedule be damned, there’s no way in hell Miikka Kiprusoff plays fewer than 40 games this season, right? Meanwhile, I’m pretty much convinced he doesn’t play fewer than 40, and I can see them going as high as 44.

That, obviously, means a decent amount of back-to-back nights in which Kiprusoff gets run out for the double-header, and I guess how you feel about that is going to dictate your thoughts on where the Flames end up. I don’t know the exact numbers and I would be super-interested to see them, but I can’t imagine the guy’s played both ends of too many back-to-backs in the last several years. Further, I know for sure the Flames are awful the second night of them. I don’t even have to look that up.

Haha, what a funny joke, "Kiprusoff won’t play 70 again this season." But I also wouldn’t be surprised if, in terms of percentage of the season, he plays more than that.

5. Cram it with walnuts

The Flames were the first team to publicly apologize for putting the hockey world through yet another dismal lockout. And while I touched on it for my column for Puck Daddy on Monday, I would like to reiterate, with feeling, that this organization, which helped to drive the lockout along with Boston, Minnesota, Washington and a few others, can kindly [expletive] right off as a result.

  • McRib

    The teams core is getting older and slower everytime the sun sets. Puck posession will be awful. Get ready to say “the puck is in our end a lot”, a lot.

    Chase, Chase, Chase, oh, nice save Kipper! Chase, Chase, Chase, darn, what was Wideman thinking on that play! Were down 2! Well, time to switch up the lines again.

    Everyone knows we need a rebuild. But there is a “win now” broken record with this management.

    We have advanced past the first round only once in 24 years. We might have the worst playoff appearance record in professional sports. If not now, we will after a few more seasons of the same old. Add 2013 and likely 2014 to the list.

    If we did not advance to the Finals in 2004, what would this organization have to hang it’s hat on since 89? Zero.

  • BurningSensation

    @mcculb:”Everyone knows we need a rebuild”

    This has become the most tiresome cliche in Flames fandom. Roster turnover and prospect aquisition since Feaster has taken over has been enormous, yet fans still clamour for the Oiler’s style ‘burn it to the ground’ followed by ‘keep digging a huge hole and then burn that too’.

    If you think the Flames need to be rebuilding, you haven’t been paying attention because it is already happening.

    • BurningSensation

      How easy it is to mistake activity with progress. And it isn’t Flames fandom. It is the odds makers, analysists, media personalities, etc. Pretty much everyone outside of a few naive and completely non-objective fans, that recognize that more substantial change is required to right this ship. They also recognize that any light at the end of the tunnel is probably lava rather then sun light with our two franchise players leaving their prime and possibly the franchise.

      Crap, supposed to be optimistic. Stupid facts.

    • BurningSensation

      Agree. I think Feaster is doing a very slow transition & I dont think King will let him do it any other way. I am also confident in Feaster/Weisbrod & Conroy drafting based on the last 2 years. I am not as negative out of the gate for this year but I am very prepared for the worst(something deep inside is excited about them coming out flat). I have said all along, trading Iggy & JBO is not a tear down Oiler style rebuild. They would be moves a very prudent Owner/Manager would do to properly manage player & Cap assets. They are also only the few moveable assets Flames have to get key pieces to move along our rebuild. Iggy isnt stupid, he knows what a rebuild is. I think Feaster has him sold to playing this season out & see if they are truly a team he has a chance with. Neither side is playing any cards right now. If Flames look good by March, Hartley has the team feeling good & they are winning & in playoff contention, I think he will be reupped. If we suck & Iggy knows whats coming, especially if JBO gets shipped out, a trade to a contender & away from home for a month or two with a playoff bound team in April would not be a bad thing & get him out of the Calgary Media hype while he soul searches. Even if we trade him as a rental, Calgary will definitely be a consideration for resigning come July anyway.

      I guess I’m just tired of fans dead set against trading Iggy because of the Catholic guilt of we owe him something. We dont, its been a helleva ride for both sides.

    • supra steve

      I am hopefull that Feaster’s dealings will work out (I’m not on the fire Feaster wagon, yet), but some of his moves have been puzzling. Bringing Sarich and Babs back at the money and term he did, not real smart. On the plus side the Flames seem to have drafted well the last few years, though time will tell if Janko was a wise or foolish pick. But to say that they ARE currently rebuilding may be a bit of a stretch.

      Since the cup win in ’89, the Flames as a whole have been….not real good. They have drafted in the top 10 in that span, but more often then not they drafted poorly and had horrible luck. All of this amounted to them being a less then competative club (with a few years exception from 2004-about 2008). So in that entire span they never tanked and got a top 3 draft choice, and the result…3 playoff rounds won in 22 seasons played. Now, the 3 they won were spectacular, but I want more!

      Does every rebuild result in a cup? No sir. But the current strategy has been followed (more or less) by multiple managers over the last 20 plus years, and no cups there either. Why not at least try the complete tear down rebuild? Inject some more highly skilled young players and see where it leads. There is an opportunity to kick start this rebuild with some high profile player trades and potentially take years off of the bottoming out period. But there is just a short period of time in which to get that done. So, the reason you hear so many fans on this site espousing this idea, is that it is a plan that has not been tried HERE, and it just might work.

  • McRib

    Nobody is going to accuse me of being overly positive. I think the Flames have run with a self-induced delusion supported by the big dollars that names like Iginla and Kipper bring in. I agree that a strategy of spending 15-million on high risk long term free agents and completing exactly zero trades isn’t the right strategy for an aging team 3-seasons removed from the playoffs (and who, according to their GM, wasn’t even close last season) isn’t a good one.

    The Flames have exactly zero top 6 Cs going into the season, their entire strategy revolves around a 36-year old goalie that hasn’t been particularly consistent season to season, and they are banking on coach number four in six seasons will be the right coach ‘this time’.

    Most people see it. 50 to 1 according to Bodog, third worst. Out of the playoffs according to every hockey magazine or analyst on the planet. Trashed by fans around the world. Many of those fans in Calgary. Even with the lockout giving us a little more time to get over the travesty that was last season.

    So yes, I am jaded and pessimistic. But that said, I don’t think it is impossible the Flames are competitive this team. Cervenka could prove to be a legitimate top 6 C. Between Backlund, Hudler, Cammalleri, Tanguay, and Stajan it isn’t a leap that they can find one more. I actually like their D-core. Bouwmeester, Giordano, and Wideman as a top 3 isn’t half bad. Especially if Bouwmeester responds to a new defensive partner and coach. Having Butler, a healthy Sarich, and Brodie as options as well doesn’t hurt.

    It will shock no one if Kipper is lights out again this season. The Flames have injected speed and skill in the line-up. I like that they have good 5v5 options like Glencross, Hudler, Backlund, and Tanguay up front. The PP and shoot out should be improved.

    Really, the Flames roster is Wideman for Hannan, Cervenaka for Jokinen, and Hudler for Moss. That is an upgrade in 2 of 3, with the potential for 3 of 3.

    Granted, a lot of things have to go right without much going wrong for the Flames to be successful. The realist in me admits the chances of that happening are incredibly remote. The sadist in me actually hopes that the bottom does fall out to force management’s hand in actually righting this ship. But hey, its still the off season. There is a chance. Might as well enjoy a period of (probably) naïve optimism for a month or two while we can.

    • BurningSensation

      Agree with this post. Add into that the fact we may be playing the first top prospect we have drafted in years(since Phaneuf) that has an actual chance of being in the running of the Calder. I dont think Cerevenka would be eligible because then that would be 2 players that could have Calder mention. When was the last time would could have said that during training camp?

    • T&A4Flames

      Yep. I think it is imperative that Feaster trades at least 2 of Iggy, Cammi, Tangs, Glenx or JBo and gets at least 2 1st rounders and 2 very good to great prospects that are pretty much NHL ready (we can include other assets to accomodate such trades- Byron or other mid-prospects) this year. If such trades can be made then we are not that far off from an OTT or PHI style rebuild; 1 year of complete misery (or in our case 3 past years) and then a quick turn around.

      With Baertschi and TJ very likely to make the team out of camp and probably have an impact, this shouldn’t be an issue. Moving 2 of those guys, preferably 2 wingers, still leaves us with solid veteran players like Gio, Wideman and whatever players from my list that aren’t traded.

      If we are fortunate enough to have Rammo’s KHL season end early and he comes over for a look see before the end of our season and he looks solid, we can explore a Kipper trade prior to the draft. We could end up with as many as 4 1st rnd’s and 3 solid prospects.

      With some luck, one of those 1st rnd’s wins the draft lottery (preferably not our own as we would likely finish in the top 7-8 anyway) and we get 1st overall. We either trade down to 2nd or 3rd (not prefered) and get another 1st, or we trade 2 of our other 1st’s for another top 5 pick. How nice would it be to draft, say maybe, Seth Jones and Jonathon Drouin.

  • I’m not saying the answer to, “Can the Flames be competitive this season?” is no, I’m saying the better one is, “To what end?” We all agree, I think, that this team isn’t a Stanley Cup contender.

    So what good does it do to make the playoffs, get creamed in the first round, and cost themselves a high pick? Do you really care that much about the team’s gate receipts from the extra two or three home dates?

    • In my opinion the issue with the Calgary Flames is that they are no longer competitive. If Kipper doesn’t stand on his head last season we are a bottom 5 team. I don’t think you can fix this mess overnight with the tools the Flames have at their disposal (unwilling to trade futures, unwilling to trade core players, unable to trade anything else, limited free agent pool, lack of impact NHL ready prospects with NHL experience). Because of that I am pro-rebuild.

      However, if my assumption that the Flames are not competitive and that they don’t have the tools to become immediately competitive proves to be wrong then I don’t think a rebuild is the option.

      Why would a competitive Flames team give up functional assets for potential future assets? If you only have a couple of holes to fill then the Flames can and should look at supplementing the roster via trade, free agency, and the farm system rather than giving up functional assets for potential future assets.

      But I don’t believe the Flames are competitive. Even if they squeak into 8-place in a shortened season I don’t believe they are competitive. However, if that proves wrong and the Flames strike gold with coaching, Cervenka, and the other free agents and they look like a team that belongs in the playoffs then I don’t think you tear it down just because Kipper/Iggy are getting older.

      • I know I have flip flopped on Kipper but right now I am thinking how awesome would it be if we had Ramo being backed up by Kipper next year & seeing if we can Kipper to give us a couple more years to tutor Ramo. Then in 2-3 years one of Gilles or Broissoit will be ready to back up Ramo. On any kind of rebuild getting the net pieces sorted would be huge. Unless we get such a mindboggling offer for Kipper, I say we keep him & resign/extend him this summer.

        Perfect world, Iggy goes to Pitt who offered us the best rental package (1st & Morrow)& he wins a cup with Sid & company & then says OK, I scratched that itch now I will play what ever role you want & finish here in Calgary.

        • Captain Ron

          Hard to imagine Iggy wanting to come back after a stint with Crosby as his center. Also don’t think Pittsburg would burn a first rounder for a couple months of Iggy but they might. If these two guys could have been together when they were both in their prime and playing on the same line they would have been almost unstoppable.

          That said I remain doubtful that Jarome goes anywhere.

      • seve927

        The other issue to consider is the cap. If the Flames are competitive this year, a lot of things have to go right. Those include good seasons from all of their projects. If Cervenka proves to be a 1st line center, how much will you have to pay to retain him? If Backlund begins to produce and remains the best option for heavy minutes, how much will he be worth. If Brodie proves capable of top 4 minutes, his value goes way up. If Kipper has a good season, and you want to keep him, how much can you pay Ramo to be your backup? Jarome’s getting resigned for at least 5.

        I’m not going to do the math based on guesses but that looks like a lot to try to fit under the 65M cap next year, even with a Stajan buyout. You could buy out Bouwmeester, but then you’re taking a real step back on the ice.

        I think regardless of how the season goes, you can’t go through next years draft without at MINIMUM finding a way to replace the traded 2nd and acquire another 1st rounder.

    • RexLibris


      Nobody will confuse me with someone who lights a candle for the Flames (see what I did there?) but at the same time I have tried to be a respectful observer on the team.

      If we want to pick at some old wounds, let’s look at the Flames and Oilers and contrast.

      Both had cinderella runs to the Cup in consecutive seasons (minus a brief hiatus for labour disruption). Both organizations believed they had a team that could compete for a Cup with only a few minor alterations.

      One was buoyed by the fact that their core were all essentially signed and in their prime.

      The other was torpedoed by the fallout of much of their supposed core demanding trades or signing new contracts off of career outlier stats.

      The former has spun their wheels trying to get back and has, perennially, slowly slid further and further down the hill.

      The other hit the ditch hard and after getting the car back on the road, hit it again. Harder. Lesson learned.

      Neither team was well-served by their Cup runs. It bred delusion and mismanagement in both organizations. One was fortunate enough to experience a level of trauma that woke it up to its self-destructive ways and seek a longer-term solution.

      The other is on the cusp of experiencing its own traumatic event.

      I don’t write any of this to boast of an Oilers team. They haven’t done anything yet. But in the same way that Burke eschewed the “traditional” rebuild, the Flames have wasted a significant amount of time and a considerable assets tilting at windmills.

  • I am excited about the drafting job of late. We need more of that to offset the awful draft record we have had until recently. The scouting department seems better, so I would like to see them rewarded with more picks and the trend continue.

    I agree that many of Feaster’s moves have indeed been puzzling. Sarich, Babs and Wideman $ and term, not real smart. Management is probably influncing this. I think Feaster is a decent GM. The fence sitting by mamagement is the real problem.

    I love the player that Iggy was/is and would love to see him, more than any other Flame ever lift the cup. I wish he could do it here. It would be an awesome photo to have. It would be on the cover of all the major magazines. “Iggy Finally Gets His Cup!” I think we have all held onto that dream, but the Iggy era has to end to try to win the cup in the future. Part of his legacy could be that we traded him for a prospect who does in fact lift the cup down the road.

  • McRib


    You do realize that Bodog is about as Hack of a betting service as you are going to find….. I have been banned from the site because I made to much off them. Hahah. They are based in the UK and know absolutely nothing about Hockey!!! They along with all the Idiots at The Hockey News and TSN had Ottawa to finish dead last season as well and they made the playoffs!!!!

    Honestly if someone can explain to me how a team that finished five points out of eight behind the Stanley Cup Winner. Who in the offseason greatly improved picking up two 40-50 point guys, a Top 10 Offensive Defenseman in the league, getting a healthily Cammy back and someone who could easily compete for the Rookie of the year? Go from a 9 to 13 place team when everyone else above them took a step back or minor steps forward outside of Minnesota… Not to mention Kipper only has to play 48 games this season.

    To me the Flames are lock to make the playoffs and we are well on our way to injecting young talent into the roster. But I guess you guys need to debate something.

    • MC Hockey

      A lock to make the playoffs??? They haven’t made it in three years and Iginla/Kipper are another year older. I know they aquired Wideman and Hudler and maybe that improves them a little bit but other teams improved as well.

      Let’s look at it this way: last year the top 8 in the West were Vancouver, St. Louis, Phoenix, Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, San Jose and LA. I believe that Vancouver, St. Louis, Chicage, LA and (likely) Detroit and San Jose are locks to make it. That leaves 2 spots open for 9 teams. Phoenix, Nashville, Minnesota, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Anaheim, Edmonton and Columbus. Now maybe they can sneak into the 8th seed but I would argue that overall Minnesota, Colorado are better, which leaves Calgary on the same level as Phoenix, Nashville and Dallas (sorry Rex, no Oilers this year). I just don’t see how you can make a great case where Calgary is definately better than 8 other teams.

      I would love to see the Flames make the playoffs, and in a 48 game season they can definately catch a few breaks and sneak in. But they are by no means a lock.

      (Sorry for the rant.)

      • RexLibris

        Hiya Schevvy!

        I am truly horrified (snicker), nay disgusted (heh heh), that you would dare suggest (haha) that the Oilers won’t make the play-* oh, heck, I couldn’t get through it without cracking up!

        This is for all the Flames fans reading this thread: the hype surrounding the Oilers this season is not, repeat NOT, coming from the average Oiler fan or informed media person.

        Don’t get me wrong, it is certainly nice. But it is kind of insulting as well. Oilers fans know this team, they know the warts that still exist. For others in the media to suddenly swoop in and act like this is the Penguins of 2007, is irritating.

        This team still has such a long way to go, and very little depth at key positions.

        What happens if Nugent-Hopkins gets a long-term injury? Gagner is not a 1st line center.

        And what would happen if Dubnyk had season-ending knee surgery? Khabibulin as the regular starter? That’d be another 1st overall pick, thank you very much.

        No, there are holes that need to be filled. What they won’t be is filled with rash trades that subtract from the core in order to add to the margins.

        Personally, I’ve predicted the Oilers finish behind the Flames by perhaps 4 points, maybe a few more. Let’s say 11th in the West, in the range of 23rd overall. All things considered, that is significant improvement, and it is in the year following (2013-2014) that I predict a dramatic reversal of our two teams’ fortunes.

    • Captain Ron

      This is where my head is at a little bit too. I’m trying hard not to be a koolaid drinker or full of blind optimism but I can’t help but think they can be better than last season if they stay healthy and Kipper holds up. If the Flames were .500 last year or better in OT they very well may have finished in 8th ahead of the Kings and history would not have unfolded as it did. Kind of weird when you think about it. Lots of ifs I know.

      Having Hartley on board may help out some. At least he is energetic and positive. He is demanding but also a good communicator. Adding Wideman allows for more desireable defensive pairings too. There are some positives but I can’t say I’m optimistic about there chances in a seven game series against some of the league heavies though.

      I think I’ll be happy if the games are more exciting than what we have been watching the last couple of years. Some of the Sutter coached games were dreadful to watch.

      Thanks for the tip on Bodog. As for the all of the expert predictors I don’t think they are much better than the rest of us at guessing the outcome in sporting events. I used to make good cash on the Sport Select over/under before they changed a few of the rules.

  • McRib

    Everyone is talking about Blind Flames Fandom but lets talk about these people with Blind Oilers Fandom for a moment.

    In the offseason the Oilers improved a team that was manhandled by other teams all season long, because of an absolute lack of size up front and on the point by bringing in more inexperienced undersized offensive players… Haha. Not to mention they completely lacked any veteran leadership as evident the past three seasons.

    The fact that the Oilers were without Hall, RHN and Eberle for decent chunks of last season should tell you something.

    The Oilers have been unable to sign any decent Free Agent the past three years, this building/ownership issue is clearly limiting their potential. I would be very suprised to see Edmonton finish higher than tenth. THe grind is just going to get to their young skilled forwards again.

    • AF

      I wonder if any hockey people around the league would consider Justin Schultz a decent free agent signing.
      I’m not going to say that Oiler fans are not optimistic about the team, but believe me, the enthusiasm is tempered. The various publications and people in the media who are predicting big things for the team this season are being met with a fair amount of cynicism from a good portion of the Oiler fan base. If you want to talk about blind Oiler fandom then sure, Oiler fans have stuck by the team through an ugly stretch of hockey that has produced a nucleus of high end talent that would appear to be promising. In fact, if I was in your position, a fan of an old team with a bleak immediate future, I would also likely be envious of the Oilers and their fans and post silly comments such as Justin Schultz not being a decent free agent signing, or adding another first overall somehow being a bad thing, or the building debate affecting the teams performance on the ice. It is understandable that you are jealous, much like the poster beneath you who is wishing bad luck on Schultz because Tim Erixon spurned your beloved Flames. Face reality. The Flames are the Oilers 4-5 years ago. It is easy to understand your bitterness, you recognize what is coming. Again. Enjoy.

      • Kevin R

        Decent post by an Oiler fan. There are a few of you out there to perhaps give out hope. Schultz was a great signing, dont let anyone convince you it wasnt. I think the gist of some of the Flames faithful is no one wants to be that bad for as long as the Oilers have been. Thats like guzzling down a bottle of Buckley’s extra strength & extra yuck. Many here think the Flames can rebuild & still have a good team, with a little luck, not too many key injuries, the right players having great seasons we can make the playoffs. Why not, we can deal with next year accordingly. There does seem to be a window of opportunity for the Flames to get young, acquire high end talent and be a contender without having to suck for that long. We find Oil fans now after chugging their Buckleys & they are starting to feel better because their team is starting to look better, seem to feel chugging Buckleys is the only blueprint for success in this league. We say “Hell NO”!

      • Captain Ron

        Excellent post by an Oiler fan. Where the hell are the rest of the guys like you hiding? Every time I go to the Oilers site and read the meaningless banter and fisting BS in the comments section I feel like I fell back in time to a prepubescent wind up party of some sort. It’s challenging reading if you have more than one brain cell left that’s still functioning.

        There’s no question that you have good reason to be optimistic for the future but a 3rd overall predicted finish in the NHL this year by some is highly unlikely. Your team finished second last in the league last year. This would mean the Oil could possibly finish ahead of teams like Boston, Pitt, St Louis, San Jose, Vancouver, Philly, Rangers, Washington and others. Talk about optimism. Unless Dubnyk has a .940 or better save percentage I just don’t see it happening. There will be some improvement but not second last to third best.

        Until you make the playoffs and see if these kids can perform in that ramped up environment you won’t know what you have. I think Eberle is a winner for sure but the rest of them have a lot to show me before I become a believer. For a reality check how well do you think your team would do (or should I say survive) against the Kings in the playoffs? Ryan Smyth who was invisible in the 2nd half last season must have nightmares about his decision to leave there after watching them win it all.

        Even with all the hype about the points Hall, Nuge, Eberle, and Shultz got in the AHL the Barons were still behind teams like the Heat in the standings.

        I think it is fair to say that Iginla, Cammalleri, Hudler, JBO, Wideman, Tanguay, Glencross, or Giordano could have some pretty impressive stats in the AHL too even though a few of them are apparently past their best before dates. At least three of them are proven NHL playoff performers. Put any four of those guys on the Heat and I think they would be the top AHL team and lead the league in scoring no problem. Point being I still think our top players are all around better than the Oilers top players as of right now. I’ll take Kipper in goal over Dubnyk too.

        The next 48 games will be interesting that’s for sure.

  • MC Hockey

    My alter ego Chandler from TV’s “Friends” is chiming in with his patented type of comment:

    Can we BE any more negative?

    (Time will tell who’s right)

  • MC Hockey

    My alter ego Chandler from TV’s “Friends” is chiming in with his patented type of comment:

    Can we BE any more negative?

    (Time will tell who’s right)

  • AF

    The moves the Flames made are lateral. For example, Jokinen was their best shutdown guy, and can play physical and was 2nd in scoring.

    Moss was one of the better possession guys.

    So you add something, but you lose something.

    In order to call it a serious upgrade, however, you would need to bring in a player who can produce like Hudler and have possession like Moss and do it against other teams’ first lines.

    The only real difference this year is that Iginla, Kipper, Tanguay and Cammi are another year older.

    Hartley will bring a different style, but it will be interesting to see how long the ‘offensive experiment’ lasts if they start losing.

    That said, even I have to admit that Calgary could squeak into 8th off a Kipper hot streak due to the shortened season.

    Though I doubt it.

  • BurningSensation

    Potlicker:” Many here think the Flames can rebuild & still have a good team, with a little luck, not too many key injuries, the right players having great seasons we can make the playoffs. Why not, we can deal with next year accordingly.”

    This. Here’s the thing, there are ways to do a ‘rebuild’ that don’t involve reaching an Oilers level of failure for a prolonged period of time. Detroit doesn’t rebuild. The Flyers don’t rebuild. They build an exceptional scouting department and use the assets they bring in to retool on the fly.

    And this is where the Flames are heading. Weisbrod and Feaster have clearly ‘blown up’ and ‘rebuilt’ the scouting department – to obvious benefit. Now we have genuine talent coming on-line, talent that can be developed to fill holes on the roster, or used to acquire more developed talent via trade.

    In the meantime as the pipeline ripens the team can still be competitive and entertaining by keeping the key vets necessary.

    In contrast a team like the Oilers is going to eat their young alive. Hall is already showing battle fatigue, the Nuge has shoulders that swim freely in their sockets and it’s guaranteed that Oiler brass will dump both Scultz and Yakupov into the deep end.

    Baertschi, Gaudreau, etc will be brought along slowly after they have seasoned in the minors and after developing physically enough to play against men. Sure until the pipeline is churning out players at a high pace the Flames will be white knuckle to make the playoffs, but that sure beats having your head kicked in every night as your prized prospects are consistently overwhelmed.

    Burning a team to the ground is for losers. building it from the ground up, staying as competitive as possible and rewarding your best players by keeping them for their careers (ala Yzerman, Lidstrom, Alfredsson, Lemieux, etc), is how winning teams roll.

    • RexLibris

      Neither Philadelphia nor Detroit are necessarily reasonable models upon which to base the Flames immediate next moves.

      Both were (are) high-spending teams that bought their way out of a myriad of troubles prior to the ’05 CBA. Afterwards, they were able to capitalize on a combination of excellent and fortuitous drafting as well as playing in weakened divisions for a time in order to achieve their level of dominance.

      Detroit actually did do a tear-it-to-the-ground rebuild many, many years ago, when Ilitch bought the team. They drafted very high for a number of years, expanded their search to include the nascent Eastern European talent market, and eventually added perhaps the best amateur scout in the European region in NHL history in Hakan Andersson.

      What they have today cannot simply be copied. If it could, there would be at least 20 Detroit Red Wings in the NHL today.

      The Detroit method is to hire the right people for the right positions and surround oneself with smart people.

      I believe that approach is merely being paid lip-service in the Flames right now. Perhaps they will prove me wrong.

      Do you have anything to support your claims of Hall’s fatigue, Nugent-Hopkins’ chronic shoulder issues, or that Yakupov or Schultz are to be put immediately into high-pressure situations?

      For the record, Yakupov is being penciled in as either the 2nd line LW (unlikely) or as a 3rd line RW to play alongside veterans Smyth and Horcoff, where he can be tutored in defensive responsibility. Schultz, meanwhile, is likely only to become a marquee player on the powerplay this season while Smid, Whitney, Petry and Nick Schultz take the harder minutes until proven otherwise.

      Baertschi would have likely started the season on the 1st or 2nd line LW had the lockout not occurred. This is perhaps even more likely if Tanguay is actually moved to center. I fully suspect that is where he will play once the season begins. Has he been brought along slowly?

      But I understand the assumption.

      I’ve been proposing a slow-rebuild similar to the one you suggest in the recent series of articles. That a parachute of sorts can be deployed to negate any catastrophic crash to the bottom of the standings and ensure that if the team isn’t necessarily competitive it can at least be hard-working and entertaining. Meanwhile prospects are gathered and left to mature in the development leagues. So don’t think that I’m entirely inimical to the Flames trying something other than the supposed “Oiler-style rebuild”. However, just as Flames fans want to do things their way (entirely worthwhile), so the Oilers have done things this way and it would appear to have some merit.

      Also, the Flyers haven’t won squat, and decided it was a good idea to sign Bryzgalov to that ridiculous contract. I strongly recommend, to all Flames fans, that that organization not be mimicked.

      • BurningSensation

        @Rex Libris

        Rex:”Both were (are) high-spending teams that bought their way out of a myriad of troubles prior to the ’05 CBA. Afterwards, they were able to capitalize on a combination of excellent and fortuitous drafting as well as playing in weakened divisions for a time in order to achieve their level of dominance.”

        All fair points, but my point is that it is the process the Flyers and Red Wings use that is to be modeled – not every contngent event that lead to their being succesful. Teams that are solid year in and year out don’t rebuild. Why? Because nobody rebuilds if they absolutely don’t have to.

        Talent is a scarce resource, so the best and most cost effective way to aquire talent is to draft it, so having a strong scouting department and minor league network is the very first step. Detroit and Philly are built around the pieces they drafted (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall, Giroux, Read,), or on players they draft and then flip for other talent (Richards, Carter). A Briere can fill a role (at a stupid price tag) but the base was built from within.

        Detroit’s ‘rebuild’ was close to 25 years ago. How many have the Islanders had in that time?

        As for copying the Detroit model, of course that isn’t easy. They hit a homerun in taking Yzerman in his draft year (they got him 3rd overall, I believe Lawton and Lafontaine went ahead of him, and Neely, shortly after), they hit another homerun with the Fedorov pick nearly a decade later, and then finally hit the game winning run by drafting Lidstrom – and it isn’t until Lidstrom arrives that the Red Wing puzzle is solved. However, from Yzerman’s draft until Lidstrom arrives, the Red Wings were not looked at as a model organization because they hadn’t won anything.

        But what they didn’t do was tear it down just because they were having trouble getting anywhere in the playoffs. They were patient, they horded their assets, they expanded their scouting, and they made their organization as strong as they could (Scotty Bowman as advisor).

        Where I think the Flames are ahead of the Oilers is in two places; the veteran talent on the Flames is simply superior (especially in net) and presents a cushion for the upcoming talent to rely on, and the Flames mgt cleaned house rather than promote Sutter into a postiion where he could continue to harm the direction of the team (I’m looking at you Kevin Lowe).

        Hall has already had two conciussions since reaching the Oilers has he not? Has the Nuge not undergone two different shoulder operations already? Both guys were rushed into the game against men, and while both are exceptional talent, it is taking a toll on them.

        Is their any doubt in your mind that both Yakupov and Schultz will be fed ice-time in fistfulls? I see zero chance that either spends time in the AHL.

        Baertschi could indeed land a top six role, but I am a lot more comfortable with him doing so at 20 than 19, or 18. Would Detroit have let Hall, or the Nuge play at 18?

        • RexLibris

          Hall has had one recorded concussion (Sarich hit last season), and Nugent-Hopkins had a moderate shoulder sprain after falling awkwardly into the boards against Chicago last year. Hall has shown no signs of ill-effects or lasting problems from the concussion and Nugent-Hopkins has survived and thrived in the raucous AHL for half a season without any injury issues to speak of.

          I suspect that both Yakupov and Justin Schultz will be fed considerable minutes, but in sheltered roles. That is an important detail.

          I absolutely agree that prospects need to be brought along slowly and allowed time to develop. Hall was brought into the NHL because sending him back to junior after consecutive Memorial Cups would have been counterproductive. Nugent-Hopkins was a last-minute decision, according to some, but was retained in the NHL because his play showed no signs of significant struggle against NHL talent.

          If you read the rebuilding series I’ve got going, I argue that Baertschi shouldn’t see the Flames roster for at least one more season. And he has had at least two concussions thus far in his career, that is a very concerning development for the organization.

          What are we arguing about here? That the two teams are taking different approaches? That both (or neither) have merit? The Oilers needed a new core of players. They weren’t going to trade for them and they hadn’t any to develop, so the draft was all that was left. As you say, it needs to be a priority. The Flames technically have a core, but it is well past prime and the contracts expire imminently. So a new core will need to be acquired. Perhaps Gaudreau, Baertschi, and Jankowski are it. But that is a lot to expect of an untested group of players.

          Both teams have veteran talent to guide youth. The issue is that the Flames do not have young players at the necessary key positions. The Oilers do.

          As I’ve said before, I’m just not convinced that the Flames have the right people in place to effect the kind of restructuring they appear to want.

  • BurningSensation

    Rex Libris:”I’ve been proposing a slow-rebuild similar to the one you suggest in the recent series of articles. That a parachute of sorts can be deployed to negate any catastrophic crash to the bottom of the standings and ensure that if the team isn’t necessarily competitive it can at least be hard-working and entertaining. Meanwhile prospects are gathered and left to mature in the development leagues. So don’t think that I’m entirely inimical to the Flames trying something other than the supposed “Oiler-style rebuild”. However, just as Flames fans want to do things their way (entirely worthwhile), so the Oilers have done things this way and it would appear to have some merit.

    Also, the Flyers haven’t won squat, and decided it was a good idea to sign Bryzgalov to that ridiculous contract. I strongly recommend, to all Flames fans, that that organization not be mimicked.”

    I think the slow rebuild is already underway.

    – High end talent scout/advisor? Weisbrod
    – Rebuild scouting department? Check
    – Recalibrate how talent is evaluated? Check
    – A strong AHL team so talent can ripen in a winning environment? Check
    – Strong ties to AHL team so style of play and expectations are consistent with parent club? Check
    – Trade away unnecessary core pieces (Regehr), Check

    And so forth. They’ve been creative in trades (Erixon to NY, Bourque to Mtl), and at the draft (Jankowski, some Swiss kid whose name I can’t recall, Gaudreau, etc.), and still kept the team competitive for a playoff spot.

    In the meantime Edm collects 1st overall picks, and fires them into the fray like they were shot from canons. I know which direction I prefer.

    • Captain Ron

      Totally agree with you.

      My biggest issue with the whole ‘scorched earth rebuild’ idea is essentially that there seems to be this underlying belief that teams actually CHOOSE to go that route… They don’t. Edmonton didn’t choose to be the worst team in the league 3-4years in a row they went into a free fall much worse than anything the Flames have gone through to this point and it was only when they realized they had no other choice they began to embrace it.

      I’m of a firm belief that the problems the flames have can be solved in a rational and thoughtful way without the need of a full scale rebuild. I see a front office that is trying to avoid falling off the cliff and taking another 6-7years to just get back to even this level of ‘middling’ competition.

      The first step the organization has begun to adress is scouting and I think it’s fair to say that the past 2 drafts have been among the strongest the flames have ever had. The organization is coming off a truly remarkable WJC that saw 5 of our prospects do extremely well. We have a prospect in Baertschi who looks like the steal of his draft. We have a forward in Gaudreau who looks to be the best player in the NCAA. Granlund, Wotherspoon, Broissoit, Horak,… and slowly the cupboards are being stocked.

      Frankly, and I say this with all due respect, but this blog really pissed me off. I’d understand it if it were at least a handful of games into the season and were struggling but for Christ sake we haven’t even played a single game! We’re a better team than we were last year with the players we’ve brought in And i realize that other teams have gotten better too but I’m at least willing to wait and hope for the best. If that makes me a ‘rube’ for buying in then I’ll take that over the pissing and moaning going on here. Is this what we’ve become as a fan base? I mean, seriously, Flames fans spit more venom at the flames than any other fan base does. I’m not saying we should tow the party line on all things and not hold these guys to account but that’s not what’s going on here anymore… This is just whiny, tired, regurgated, unoriginal filler.

      • Captain Ron

        I’m with you Bro. Life is much more enjoyable glass half full. All we can do to escape the filler is keep the positive vibe going to drown it out. Whats the point of sobbing before the movie even starts.

        But that’s Lambert for you. He could describe a Disney movie and make it sound like a slasher flick.

        Better hide the shaving equipment if one has just read his post before a bath.

        • Captain Ron

          🙂 Reading you & CalgaryJames makes me think of that song “What The World Needs Now” 🙂 🙂 Especially in Flames land.

          You know what, nothing wrong with going into this optimistically. Who knows, this thing may unfold nicely for us. I too am dead set against any kind of discussion of buying out or trading guys like Gio, Tanguay & I laugh at buyout talks of Wideman & Hudler. Its like OK, whose writing those cheques, can they adopt me?

          But we do have to deal with realities & our captain is under that scrutiny. If he walks come July 1 & we get nothing for him, to me that will be grounds for Feaster losing his job. I happen to agree, we need players like Tanguay, Cammi, Hudler, Wideman, Gio, recently I feel Kipper should be kept. These are guys that will not only help the success of kids like Sven, Gaudreau, Cerevenka but these guys will be complimented by the kids & we just may find a winning formula. I keep saying, trading JBO, Glenx may get us a 1st at the trade deadline & if Iggy really wants to go to a contender, the rest of this lineup isnt that bad that we would be freefalling to 3 1st rounders in a row. I do not consider that a tear it down event. In fact acquiring a few extra 1st rounders this year & jettisoning unproductive $$$ off of our cap is in my view brilliant.

          • Captain Ron

            There have been enough changes/additions made to have some reason for optimism though I’m not completely blind to reality. I do think they could make the playoffs but certainly don’t think they are cup contenders.

            I’ll share something I was told about Iggy in a future more current comment section.

          • BurningSensation

            You & I see this addition of the Flames pretty similar & depending on the mood, life is either good & then sometimes I’d like to cut the whole lot of them loose :). Would love to hear any scoop!!:) 🙂

  • Captain Ron

    I’ll admit, I’m about as delusional as a fan can get about this Flames team… and as blind Faith and Catholic guilt is concerned… I have a picture of Iginla right next to Jesus and the Pope on my Fireplace mantle…

    But I would just like to say as far as “rebuild” is concerned… I think at this point its more about the Flames getting the right people in the organization right now then dealing with this roster… quite frankly.. I don’t trust King or Feaster to make the right deal for Iggy, or Kipper, or anyone else. Their drafting has been improved recently (Gaudreau, Baertchi) but first things first, to win a Stanley Cup you need smart people, and a shit load of Luck..

    If you really want to see how a rebuild should be done.. don’t look to the Oilers, Islanders, or Columbus, who year after year draft in the top 10 but don’t go anywhere… rather, look at Boston, Tampa, Philly, Rangers, LA, St. Louis, Chicago… who have built through the draft, but also make the right trades, and hire the right people to stay on top.

  • Captain Ron

    Is there really such thing as a model? Draft well, trade well… is that a model, or common sense?

    The point is that Detroit and Philadelphia have not had top draft picks, but have remained competitive. Philadelphia has made some crazy signings, which isn’t part of any ‘model’, it’s just been stupid. That has kept them from ultimately succeeding. Any talk of how the Red Wings conducted their business twenty years ago is completely irrelevant.

    The Flames are financially capable of spending to the cap, so that’s not an issue. I’m not saying they should sign huge contracts, but the cap system allows them to compete with all other teams financially.

    The Flames could easily have been a strong contender even having ‘gone for it’ the past decade, they just made bad trades and drafted poorly. I can’t believe they are in as good a position as they are (or maybe more believably, not any worse off than they are) given their drafting over the past, god, as long as I can remember. Weber or Bergeron instead of Ramholt, Richards, Getzlaf, Perry or a host of others instead of Phaneuf (not a terrible pick at the time, but just another thing that didn’t work out for them), Milan Lucic instead of Leland Irving, James Neal instead of Matt Pelech, David Krejci instead of Kris Chucko. Those are just examples, there were plenty of other players available, and that’s just first rounders. They have stayed reasonably competitive while sucking at the most important component in building a team.

    I maintain the same approach I would always use. Always put the best team on the ice you can (requires a definition of what team you ‘can’ put on the ice, but that’s a larger discussion), always consider the draft your greatest asset.

    Specifically to this team this year, if Iginla has the same kind of year he had last year (displays little interest in anything other than getting points), I would trade him for sure, regardless of what you can get for him. Anything is better than a captain who isn’t giving everything he’s got. That said, I think the whole discussion is moot unless he really doesn’t want to be here.

    I would trade any two players on the roster over the age of 30 for a first and second round pick next year. I would not trade Giordano, anyone under the age of 25, or Bouwmeester unless the trading partner were idiots or unless the development of TJ Brodie and Tyler Wotherspoon makes it a prudent move (ie Brodie looks to be capable of taking over Bouwmeester minutes, Wotherspoon can step in where Brodie was originally pencilled in this year on the bottom pairing). The defense is most critical to fostering a competitive atmosphere and there’s some good potential in the young forwards.

    Cervenka might be good trade bait if he can put up points but can’t play in his own end. I don’t know how the Flames can sign him if he does produce. If they sign plan to sign Brodie, Iginla and Backlund, they’ll be out of cap space.

    If there is no chance for playoffs, Kiprusoff might land a good return with the bonus that trading him probably moves you up the board more than any other player would (one situation where I would violate my ‘ice the best team you can’ rule: short term, have a reasonable replacement next year plus possibly an NHL ready player next year, and this is an * season anyway).

    That’s a lot of variables, but I think there are a number of ways they can be competitive next year: they keep their defense intact, Ramo lives up to billing and the B’s (Baertschi, Backlund and Brodie) just meet expectations, and perhaps a more expansive free agent market provides a good tough minute option at forward. If it so happens they get a top draft pick that can step in and play next year, and pick up a couple of more picks, talk of ‘blow-up’ stops and it gets back to what it should be – how do we improve this team and fill the holes from year to year.

  • Captain Ron

    Not to mereley echo Rex, but do people not remember what spot Yzerman was drafted at?

    It’s a different matter entirely to remain competitive once you’ve become that way. But you need that base first. Detroit sucked for years. Lets not pretend we can copy their high points without first suffering their low points.

    As for Calgary prospects, I will definitely say that the Flaems prospect pool is the best it has been for years. But that is all. I’ve seen this hype machine before and highly touted prospects go nowhere.

    And as much as I love the WJC, it is a poor indicator of success in the NHL. I remember seeing most of the games in Red Deer in ’95 and thinking “if this team could stay together they win Cup after Cup in the NHL (after soem seasoning).” Go ask Jamie Storr and Jamie RIvers and Todd Harvey and Jason Allison and Alex Daigle how their careers went.

    Our current prospects are still not talented enough or deep enough to simply take over in a year or 2 from now and be a contender. The age gap alone between our current best players and assuming even half our prospects make an impact at the NHL level is huge.

    Oh, how I sometimes miss my naive days of past, penciling in Hoglund on the 2nd line behind Iggy and Domenichelli as his center becuase they has such great magic together in Kamloops, ergo…., waiting for Tchazhuk to be the next Gilmour and Jesper Mattson to be the next Loob…..

    Then I met reality.

  • BurningSensation

    Rex Libris:”What are we arguing about here? That the two teams are taking different approaches? That both (or neither) have merit? The Oilers needed a new core of players. They weren’t going to trade for them and they hadn’t any to develop, so the draft was all that was left. As you say, it needs to be a priority. The Flames technically have a core, but it is well past prime and the contracts expire imminently. So a new core will need to be acquired. Perhaps Gaudreau, Baertschi, and Jankowski are it. But that is a lot to expect of an untested group of players.

    Both teams have veteran talent to guide youth. The issue is that the Flames do not have young players at the necessary key positions. The Oilers do.”

    I think there are a few areas of disagreement between us, but some of them may be issues of degree rather than direct opposition.

    For example, I agree that the Flames’ core is aging out of their prime and will need to be replaced, either by trade or from within. I’m convinced that Baertschi will be one of the long term building blocks, but I don’t think the rest of those blocks are necessarily evident yet. What is evident is that Feaster/Wisebrod have a plan in place to restock the pipeline and to accumulate assets that will eventually become the new core. It may be Jankowski (I certainly hope so), or Gaudreau, but it might be Wotherspoon, Seilof, or Kulak, or some as yet to be aquired player. I don’t expect that the new ‘core’ will be obvious at the present moment, and not all players develop in straight lines.

    One other area we clearly disagree is on the efficacy of the Oilers rebuild. I think the vets in place are weak, that Yhe kids are getting a trial by fire that isn’t smart for developing them properly, and that Oilers brass (other than Stu Macgregor) have no clue what they are doing from the owner on down.

    Of all the moves Feaster has made the only one that makes me go ‘WTF’ was the re-signing of Corey Sarich. Outside of that I’ve been impressed with how they have identified the teams’ weaknesses and affected solutions for them.

    It may indeed be a lot to hope that Baertschi, Gaudreau, etc., will form the new core, because as you say, they are as yet ‘untested’, but that is the nature of all prospects until they are actually tested! The right thing to do is to have as many quality prospects as possible coming down the pipe so that if a Baertschi or Gaudreau is derailed for whatever reason someone else is coming along to take their spot in the ‘core’.

    That said, what is clear that we do disagree on is whether the Flames have the ‘right people in place’ to make this work. I think Weisbrod (and the stats guy Chris Snow), have been key hires by Feaster, and have shown an almost instant impact for our drafting. We don’t have a lot of history to judge Weisbrod/Feaster on as far as this rebuild goes, but what I’ve seen so far has been outstanding.

    In contrast, the Oilers had a scorched earth rebuild forced upon them by their own incompetence, and then worse, the architect of that incompetence was promoted to be their President. Flames fans in contrast freaked out not because we finished dead last three years running, but merely because we missed the playoffs three years running, and the architects of that fate were subsequently let go.

    The Oilers have some pieces to show for their futility as a team, but those pieces were all rushed into the league, and have been asked to swim in the deep end awfully fast – something that betrays a lack of forseight by Oilers mgt. Nor are the vets on the team (other than Ryan Smyth, who is all class, if now painful to watch) of the caliber I would want to shelter the kids. So the final disagreement we would have is over the amount of optimism that should be present for the Oilers vs the Flames. I see the Flames as having righted the ship by jettisoning the Sutters and rebuilding the scouting department while keeping their vets around to remain competitive, and I see the Oilers as having learned exactly nothing from their errors, and mismanaging the talent they aquired from them.