Kipper Won’t Go and The Flames Heart

Amidst the on-going Iginla melodrama, Nick Kypreos reported last night that Miikka Kiprusoff has told Flames management he won’t report to any other team if he’s traded at the deadline. Kipper’s NTC ran out last summer, but with only one season remaining on his current deal (at $1.5 million in real dollars) Kiprusoff can now play the "I’ll just retire if you force me to do anything " card.

Personally, I didn’t think the time was right for dealing Kipper anyways. Although there’s a non-trivial chance he might take his ball and go home in the summer anyways, the truth is his value has never been lower on the trade market. Kipper’s numbers are league and career worst this year, he’s almost 37 years old and probably the only residual value he has for a team going into the playoffs is his reputation as a great goalie. 

To be clear, I don’t think Kipper is *this bad* in reality, but recent results always count for a lot when you’re trying to move somebody. The age thing is just an added layer of risk for a trade partner, to say nothing of another year with a $5.83M cap hit if he chooses to play.

Meaning the return for Kipper right now is likely to be nominal anyways. Pragmatically it would serve the team to try to leverage one of their key pieces from th last decade before he walks into the sunset, of course, but then the club should have tried shopping him a few years ago. For now, Kipper holds all the cards – the final year of his deal in trivial in real dollars relative to his career earnings and he’s willing to stick a knife in his final season if circumstances don’t suit him.

I’m not sure if I can blame Kiprusoff for this maneuver. On one hand, he’s a pro athlete who is compensated millions of dollars and being traded is one of the risks of the job. On the other hand, his priorities at 37 years old have clearly shifted towards other things in life (read: family), so he’s using what leverage he has left to ensure those priorities are served.

It’s possible Kipper returns for his last year and then accepts a trade at the next deadline (or declines a trade for a second time), but if anyone pushed me, I’d bet on him retiring to Finland in the summer.

Flames Have No Heart!

This is a comment lament in Flamesland these days. Actually, if you tour around other team’s messageboards, it’s common with pretty much every losing team’s fanbase.

Calgary has been legitimately bad recently, to be sure. Very good teams like Chicago and St. Louis have drastically outplayed them. Even Nashville and Phoenix have proven to be overbearing in the last few weeks. It’s galling and frustrating and there’s a chance the players have indeed accepted the inevitable in the dressing room and are simply playing out the string. 

That said, I almost always reject this line of thinking: specifically that if the team cared more (or had more leadership, will to win, etc) they’d be meaningfully better. First, because we can’t possibly know what the true motivations or passion level is of the players in the dressing room. Secondly, because this is a common psychological bias called the error of attribution, which causes people to assume failure in others is due to personal faults rather than situational or circumstantial issues. Thirdly, because if caring a lot predicted success, it would negate the importance of skill (which is clearly doesn’t).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly in my view, psychologizing losses and and making it about some kind of character failure (be it acute or chronic) means you stop looking for answers. Let’s put it another way: mistakes can be as vital as successes in that they contain information about how to do things right, assuming one can tease apart cause and effect. The problem with thinking that "the Flames could be better if they wanted to be" is that it stops the player and team evaluation process in its tracks. Calgary is good – would be good – if the players wanted to be.

Which is fine, I guess, if it’s true and the roster has a congenital case of not giving a crap. I would argue, however, that the collected players just aren’t good enough to contend in the league as assembled and that fans and management are better served trying to understand where things have gone wrong.

Other Stuff

– Prospect buff and Bruins writer Kirk Luedeke argues that the Bruins should acquire the Iginla.

– New sponsor WebSim Hockey offered us 12 free subscriptions for Nations Readers. When he revealed that on Monday, they promptly received almost 40 emails looking to claim them. Instead of turning people away, they simply handed out free subscriptions to everyone. Nice!

– Apparently former Flames head coach Mike Keenan was on TV today and said that Kipper and the team "had an understanding" that he would retire for the final season of his contract when it was signed way back when. Matt Fenwick noted this in response on twitter today:

 Meaning, of course, the league could conceivably punish the organization if Kipper actually retires this off-season, assuming they believe Keenan and would be motivated to pursue the issue. Ugh.

– Finally, as noted in the FGD post from yesterday, FN will be at Tilted Kilt on Monday, April 1 to watch the Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers. Of course, if Iginla is still on the team at that point, it could be his final game in Flames colors.

So come out, maybe win a free jersey or a free beer, and hope Iginla can help Calgary beat Edmonton one last time.

  • supra steve

    Kipper, you have my endorsement, do whatever works best for you and your family. You have earned it. Thanks for the best years of your professional life, you were spectacular. If you choose to return next year I will be happy to have you. Hope all is well with your family.

    Those with differing opinions, please reassess your priorities.

  • Avalain

    You are right. Kipper can retire whenever, so in that sense he’s breaking no rules, I admit. But it’s still a jerk move in the sense that he he intends to finish the season, doesn’t have a NTC, but will take his ball and go home if he is traded.

    Kipper wanting to finish out the string here doesn’t really bug me. It’s this idea that it’s owed to him or any other athlete that sticks in my craw.

    But yeah, it is his right to retire whenever.

    Just all the more reason though that players have to be handled like cold, hard assets.

    • Avalain

      Just all the more reason though that players have to be handled like cold, hard assets.

      Truer words were never said. You give guys everything and they tell you screw you…

    • icedawg_42

      I have to echo the-wolf’s sentiments here – I don’t like being told I owe a millionaire anything. Again – to clarify my stance, if his intent is to retire at the end of the season (and I’m fully convinced it is) – then he’s made the right move and I’m fine with it. If he’s “threatening to take his ball and go home”, then that’s completely backwards. When you become a professional athlete, the fact you may be traded becomes a fact of life, just like when you become a famous rock star, paparazzi and garbage ‘newspapers’ become a fact of life.

      As to the character of Murray Edwards – I have no idea how deep into the decision making he is..but if he is, he needs to stop right now. If he isn’t he needs to assess whether the people making the decisions are doing a good job. The Fanbase is getting angry, and worse, in some cases apathetic.

  • Avalain

    It seems like the only people in life that have to adhere to contracts are suckers that are either poor or middle class… If I cancel my contract with Bell I have to pay them out money. And that is a TINY CONTRACT. I have people calling me all the time until I pay. If I am a big athlete its all good I say F&*( you and I am not doing what you tell me…. What you give me 50 million I don’t care screw you…

    Then you shouldn’t have signed up for it, LEGALLY he has to ITS A CONTRACT.

    Its just like how people like O.J. Simpson gets away with murder because hes a rich bastard.


    and btw we don’t owe Kipper $#!T

    • Avalain

      If you cancel your contract with Bell and you didn’t get a subsidized phone in the beginning, you would be able to get out of the contract without having to pay anything (or perhaps there is a nominal fee for $50 or something). If you cancel your contract in the middle you will have to pay back the difference between how much you have since paid back and how much was “given” to you in the form of a subsidy in the first place.

      If Kipper had received his entire pay over the life of the contract in one lump sum when he first signed, I guarantee that he would have to pay back that 1.5 million if he retired in the last year. But that’s not how it works. Kipper may be rich, but he can’t really get out of his contract. He can’t decide that he just doesn’t want to play for 1.5 million and go to Edmonton and sign a contract for 3 million or something.

      Oh, and isn’t OJ Simpson in jail now?

    • Colin.S

      Being traded is NOT is his contract, it’s in the CBA, as is the option to retire from the sport if he no longer wants to play. And if he doesn’t feel motivated to play in an entirely new city while have a young family that’s his choice. Also he’s not entitled to any of the remaining money owed in his contract if he retires. You don’t just sign a contract and retire the next day and get all the money(unless you got a signing bonus or something). The Flames gave Kipper money, he gave them some of the best goaltending the Flames have ever seen, now he wants to retire, that’s his choice.

      And no, no one owe’s Kipper anything, much in the same sense, Kipper owe’s you or anyone else in the fanbase or anyone in management anything either. You all act like he somehow owes us the draft picks from trading him, no, he really doesn’t

      • icedawg_42

        Well…I’d say I 90% agree with you here – IF and that’s a HUGE IF IMO he intends to continue playing after this season, then he DOES indeed owe the team whatever they decide to move him for..because of that contract, they own his rights.

        If he retires, then I agree 100% with this post.

        • Colin.S

          If his decision is to retire rather than get traded he can’t unretire I believe, at least for more than season or something. There is a lot of rules involving official retirements that prevent players from trying to abuse the retirement system.

          As well, with Ramo coming over next year as well and if Kipper forced the Flames hand, I’d figure in the off season they give him the Retire or get traded option again and he will retire. There is no scenario now where he’s not retired next year.

          And for people thinking he’d take the Backup role, anyone remember the last Olympics? He wanted started or he wasn’t going, I’d imagine he’d probably be in a similar boat here.

          • Colin.S

            Just throwing this out there, here’s a little whatif, what if Feaster & Kipper talked & Kipper said, “My wife didnt fair too well from the child birth & she needs me around as she heals. I was thinking of retiring the end of this year, I would like to finish my career in Calgary but in different circumstances I would be open to a trade for one last playoff hurrah. But given my wife’s health & young family, that is no longer an option.If I’m traded, I will expedite my decision to retire, its not about the 2.0mill remaining left for this season & 1.5mill next season. But I feel bad, that this situation isnt fair to the Flames who have been so good to me. Dont trade me & I will come back & play whatever role you have for me next year.” All the assumptions & conclusions that have posted here is no more accurate than the potential dialogue I put out here. We’ll just have to see how this plays out.

  • Colin.S

    I trade Kiprusoff right now just on the principal of the matter. I send him to Toronto for a conditional return. If Kiprusoff reports than I get Joe Colborne. If he plays in the playoffs I get a 4th round pick added. If the Leafs make the second round than I get a 2nd round pick added to Colborne.

    Toronto loses nothing by making the deal. Maybe they can convince Kiprusoff to come over for a couple of months. If he does not show up than they suspend him and it costs them nothing. For Calgary it is playing hardball which should help to fix the country club atmosphere in the dressing room, and not having Kiprusoff gives us a better chance at getting a higher draft pick.

  • Colin.S

    I am just so frustrated with this piece of garbage we call the flames. Its all about money, none about the fans and barely about winning. We spend to the cap and some how are beat by teams with half the payroll.

    The players don’t really seem to care much, despite their millions and even worse all the fans are defending them.

    Management has had their hands in since day one, and have kept the team down and profits up.

    If they don’t send a bunch of pieces packing in the next 7 days you can be sure of two things,

    We are going to absolutely suck horse balls and be a bigger joke then we are now (don’t know how its possible but it is)

    And that next year many fans will stop following the flames. (Its an opinion but I formed that based on talking to flames fans around here)

    I won’t both reply right now to the other post I made because I think I am just not in the right place to be logical :-(.

  • Colin.S

    Not sure if its been mentioned already but Pierre LeBrun was on the Team 1040 in Vancouver this afternoon and said that the Kipper situation is “even more complicated than what’s being reported”

    Take that for what it’s worth.

  • RKD

    Kipper just had another baby and there are stories circulating there were birth complications which would explain why he would want to remain near his wife and child.

    Even if they tried to move Kipper last year or a few years ago he still could have rejected a trade. Maybe Kipper planned to have a baby around this time and knew he would be able to use an out if the team was doing poorly and that he would be used as trade bait.

    Never say never, even if he is traded eventually he could report to the team. Would be terrible for a playoff team. Eventually, Nabokov and Visnovsky despite their refusals, both end up reporting to the Isles.

  • Betsy

    It was apparently always understood, as in right from the beginning, that Kipper would likely or possibly NOT play out that last year. They are accepting it because it comes as no surprise. They knew this was the case, he isn’t messing anyone about. They knew this is probably what would happen. If he chooses to go it will not surprise them as unofficially it was agreed that this was a possibility or even a likelihood.

  • Betsy

    Bad mouthing a guy who has done for the Calgary Flames what Kipper has done is just bad behaviour. Shall we say if there was a behind the scenes agreement that he might not play out the last year, it is hardly something unheard of and I would think that Keenan said that to point out that Kipper wasn’t doing something his team didn’t want him to do. He wasn’t really refusing to go because they likely didn’t expect him to as supported by the fact that they easily accepted his not choosing to go. It was all worded as he asked their permission not to go and they gave it to him. He’s older now and like all athletes, his skills and abilities aren’t what they used to be. It happens to the best of them. It’s really unfair not to mention mean spirited behaviour to turn on the guy because he isn’t the goalie he was when he was younger. Kipper was our hero and as far as I’m concerned he always will be.