1. The R-Word
The exact quote of what Jay Feaster said the other day in his post-deadline presser doesn’t really matter, but what does is how nimbly he moved around use of the word "Rebuild" in describing what it means when Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester and Blake Comeau are traded and it seems for all the world that Miikka Kiprusoff will shuffle off into retirement at the end of this season.
I think he used "retool," and I think he used "getting younger," and I know for sure he used "intellectual honesty" when describing what he lacked in thinking this team was ever going to be any good at all. Darcy Regier also apparently said he didn’t want to say "rebuild" to describe the dismantling of his pathetic roster, which by the way was and is still better than Calgary’s.
I wonder about the aversion to using the word rebuild, because again, if intellectual honesty is something Feaster is so suddenly all in favor of leaning on, then call it what it is. This is a rebuild, and any rational person watching this team knows it was a long-ass time coming.
And so now everything, from the roster to the entire organizational philosophy, is different.
2. Bouwmeester gone
I was surprised they actually did this so far out from the deadline, but then they were very intent on keeping his ironman streak intact for some reason. This was, to me, the real sign that they were serious about the rebuild. Stockpiling picks over the last two seasons is one thing, and so too is moving the face of the franchise, but offloading a minutes-eating defenseman who’s below 30 and has more time on his deal actually made me say, "Ah yes, this is all really happening now."
Of course, the return they got for him was underwhelming. Moreso than the Iginla trade. Which was itself legendarily underwhelming. The simple fact is that getting two middling prospects with minimal chance of making an impact in the NHL isn’t a great return, but I think even Calgary acknowledged that. The real thing that mattered here — and Feaster said as much in the presser — is the first-round pick. So why on earth have it be conditional?
The thing Feaster said was how good the Flames would feel entering this draft, deep as it is, with three first-round picks, but hey buddy, if the Blues don’t make the playoffs, you gotta wait until next year. And then you gotta hope they tank hard. Which they probably won’t.
So I don’t know what the approach is. Assuredly this is the best offer they got for Bouwmeester, and rumors of the Red Wings’ interest seemed to be predicated upon not giving up the first, so I suppose you’d rather they got one with the goofy conditions than not at all. But at the same time, you trade your best forward and best defenseman and get two mid-to-late first-round picks and four marginal prospects.
3. Kiprusoff not
Which I guess brings us to Miikka Kiprusoff, who is still a Calgary Flame mostly because he didn’t want to go anywhere what with his new baby and all. I get his reasoning. But when guys are literally being traded while their wife was in labor today, and given that the organization actually realizes it’s rebuilding, that excuse doesn’t really hold water.
I guess it boils down to the old "This is a business" vs. "These players are people too" argument, and I get that. But Feaster’s reasoning — that Kiprusoff did a lot for this organization in the past, and the team would have finished less-than-30th without him the past few years — doesn’t hold water. Iginla did a lot for the organization. Theo Fleury did a lot for the organization. They both got moved (though obviously for reasons other than "they’re old and bad now," which would have been the motivation for dumping Kiprusoff on the Leafs).
This, I think, lends support to the Mike Keenan espousal of the standing agreement that Kiprusoff will retire at the end of the season, and that might even have been something Feaster hinted at if you wanna read way into some of the comments he made. But with that in mind, don’t you just trade him and see what happens? Maybe he doesn’t report, ah well. You tried.
But to not do it at all, and then lose him to retirement for the sake of nostalgia seems antithetical to committing to the not-a-rebuild rebuild.
4. Going For It, Part 2
Which brings us to the most insane-o crazy awful development from that Jay Feaster presser. The quote goes like this and is, I swear to god, 1 trillion percent real:
"Murray Edwards told me to have this team in the playoffs next year…that’s my marching order."
Good heavens. I can’t even begin to imagine what the effort to do that, which assuredly will either allow him to keep his job or, y’know, not do so. Maybe that’s why he keeps talking so vehemently about retooling and not rebuilding. Maybe that’s why he keeps bringing up cap space as though anyone cares about that beyond him since he’s trying not to get fired. It’s all so terrible. this team is doomed until Edwards smartens up (not happening) or sells the team (also unlikely). Great stuff outta ownership.
So okay, cap space. Guys who are on the right side of 30 — since Feaster has stated he’d like to get players who are not yet past their prime — whom the Flames might be able to pursue in unrestricted free agency include: Nathan Horton, Clarke MacArthur, Valtteri Filppula, Ian White, David Clarkson, Mason Raymond, Tyler Bozak, and a few other guys you’ve heard of but probably couldn’t tell anyone a thing about their games (Mike Santorelli, Mark Fistric, etc.). Who of those players is a difference-maker that Calgary would want in an effort to make the playoffs? It’s a real short list.
We can all agree, I think, that this team is absolutely not making the playoffs next year, even if they sign, say, half of those players. Which they won’t because UFA’s don’t often pick bottom feeders.
5. A gross miscalculation
So maybe we’ve made a terrible mistake. Not that anyone should have ever trusted Jay Feaster with an NHL team in any way, but believing in him with respect to being able to pursue a rebuild while that garbage is coming down from the top seems unfair. No one could do that job. Not one general manager alive could turn whatever mess this is, sans Iginla, sans Bouwmeester, and get it into the playoffs.