FN Weekend Open Thread – Looking on the Bright Side


The open thread is something I used during the cursed lock-out to keep the discussion rolling here on FN. I figured it’s time to resurrect it as we approach the off-season.

I may expand on this on Monday, but today let’s focus on the bright side of things. For many this likely seems as the darkest days of their fanship, but TJ Brodie’s incredible emergence this season as a legitimate top-4 defender (whose ceiling may be beyond what even I considered possible before the season started) proves there are always silver linings to dark clouds.

Calgary Flames fans have every reason to be skeptical, frustrated and pessimistic. The organization hasn’t tasted much success in the past two decades and the previous pillars of the franchise are all crumbling. The great thing about pro sports is there is always tomorrow. The next great star might be just around the corner. Maybe the Flames will pick their Jonathan Toews or Anze Kopitar in this draft. Maybe Johnny Gaudreau is the next Martin St. Louis. Perhaps Jon Gillies is destined to be the org’s next great puck stopper. 

Despite the record this year (in what is essentially only half a season, remember), there’s hope on the horizon, however dim it may seem.


One thing I’d like to avoid in this space is endless flame wars about what it is to be a true fan. One of the reasons I don’t tend to spend much time at fan messageboards is the discussion always seems to inevitablity devolve into useless arguments and social signaling about how and what "real" fans of the team should act, feel and think.

Let’s be very clear: there is no right way to be a Flames fan. If you’re reading here, contributing here and care enough to follow along, then you’re a fan. I don’t care if you are endlessly skeptical or relentlessly optimistic, as long as you can put forth your arguments and defend them without descending into ad hominem, then you’re welcome to share. There is no moral high ground in cheering for a sports team. You may be more or less rational in how you do it or what you believe, but that’s what the discussion is for. 

As always, we invite worthwhile comments and even (good) smack talk at FN. But what I want to avoid at all costs in the coming dark times is comment strings breaking down into fruitless No True Scotsman debates. 

Thanks everyone.

  • supra steve

    Just my two cents as to Flames drafting seeing as thats going to be a big issue with 3 first rounders this year.

    Phanuef – Brodie.
    Erixon – Giordano.
    Aulie – O’Byrne.

    Those are all guys that we drafted or signed as Free Agents coming out of junior, is that a Great defensive Corps, no, but is it bad, I don’t think so. Through drafting and Free Agents out of Junior we could manage a half decent D. The point is, lets look at the Forwards……

    Moss – Lombardi – Backlund.
    Moen – Stoll – Nystrom.
    Begin – Cracknell(YEAH! for helping STL make the playoffs!).

    But seriously, out of the last 20 years, those are the only forwards of any note I can see in the Flames drafting list for the Forward position. And I use the term “of note” losely, those players might form a half decent bottom 6, but they can hardly be called reliable top 6 forwards(Backlund might get there if he stops getting injured). But how the hell is this organization going to get anywhere if we can’t draft a single forward who will ever play significant top 6 minutes for us.

    Also does anyone else have that sinking feeling that our 3 first rounders(unless we end up with the first or second over all) are going to traded on Draft Day? With Murray Edwards apparent marching orders, doesn’t parting with first round picks seem the most likely way that Feaster will accumulate players that can win now? How scary is that?

    • Big Ell

      “Also does anyone else have that sinking feeling that our 3 first rounders(unless we end up with the first or second over all) are going to traded on Draft Day? With Murray Edwards apparent marching orders, doesn’t parting with first round picks seem the most likely way that Feaster will accumulate players that can win now? How scary is that?”

      Feaster seems to have backed down from this in an interview yesterday. I believe it was in the Sun. I really hope so.

      • supra steve

        What we need, is to win that lotto. Then we get Brian Burke to play a little shell game for us and we end up with the 3rd and 4th overall selections having given up our 3 firsts. We then get Drouin and Barkov. How he does that, I have no idea, but he did something similar in ’99 to get the Sedin sisters.

        Worth dreaming about.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I think they keep their own, but I get the sense we may see either the St. Louis Or Pittsburgh pick being in a discussion for Bernier at the draft. Just a gut feeling.

      • BurningSensation

        One of the lower firsts for Bernier? I think I’m ok with that. He’s the right age, and as somebody once said, goaltending is 80% of success in the NHL – unless you don’t have any goaltending in which case it is 100%

    • Double Dion

      You’re forgetting a lot of guys Colin.

      Kobasew, Prust, Betts, Clark, Titov and Stillman to name a few. We never drafted O’Byrne either. Are you maybe thinking of Wilson who we signed as a free agent, then traded to Colorado?

      • Double Dion

        Yeah I missed a few, Stillman is on the cusp of the last 20 years or so, I thought I’d put the cutoff just after he was drafted, even then, thats 1, read that again, ONE top 6 forward in the last 20 or so years the flames have drafted. The other guys you mentioned would just make the bottom 6 I listed a little bit of a better bottom 6. Titov maybe can join Stillman in a top 6 role.

        And yeah I’m thinking of Wilson, no idea how I confused him with O’Byrne though, but yeah, so the bottom pairing I listed would be Aulie – Wilson instead, good catch.

        Either way, the point still stands, we’ve managed to draft or sign guys out of junior to put together at the least a capable NHL defensive unit, one that you wouldn’t be to ashmed to Ice. I don’t think you can say that about our forwards. Even dumb luck would have us drafting at least one 1 top 6 forward out of the last twenty years, but if you put the cut off at Stillman looking through the list I don’t know if you can make that arguement. Could you make 4 lines out of the players we’ve drafted and call them “NHLers”, sure you could, do I want a top line of Prust – Lombardi – Moss, probably not. And thats the Flames biggest failing, we have no owned drafted or signed as FA out of junior/college to fill the top 6 spots, so we are out there signing bad UFA deals, making bad RFA offer sheets and bad trades to try and get these guys, or now wasting more first rounders on other long shots that will be “Best player of the draft”. The forward draft/signings need to be fixed, if it doesn’t we are not going to fix our biggest problem.

  • BurningSensation

    This season turned out to be A LOT worse than expected, but I think another positive is that it will force decisions to be made whether they be right or wrong, popular or not so much.

    I’ve mentioned it in another thread, but with the Flames most likely drafting in the top three, they will have a handful of prospects that we got to see at this years WJC semi-finals between Canada and the US, that’s a little reassuring.

    Also, it will be nice to see a few bad contracts come off the books this year.. another positive.

    Looking forward to seeing a different look to this team next year. I’m just as choked as anyone else at how things unfolded this year, but its not like the last four seasons have been much better with this team.

  • Big Ell

    I’am optimistic that the Flames will be able to rebuild and become competitive by 2015-16.

    They have put themselves in a position to go after FA this summer,and should be able to pick-up some young talent.

    Our goalie situation is promising,with Ramo,Broissant, and Gillies in the system.In fact all three may be NHL material.

    Can,t wait for Gaudreau to turn pro.

    Can,t wait to see who we draft in 2 month’s

    • flamesburn89

      Good point with the goalie situation. The Flames have some depth in goal (at least at the prospect position). If Ramo comes over and Macdonald/Taylor can be a decent backup and give the younger guys some time to play in minors, learn the pro ropes, and continue to develop, the Flames could very well boast an impressive stable of young, up and coming goaltenders in Ortio, Brossoit, and Gillies. With that much depth at the NHL level, the Flames could parlay one of those goaltenders and pick up a quality young forward, much like the Sens did with Ben Bishop. Having a surplus of young, promising goaltenders can only be seen as a positive thing.

  • Bikeit

    Thanks Kent

    I am going to go the optimistic route on a Saturday morning with a second cup of coffee in my hand.

    I am bullish on the trade route the flames took, sure there is lots of debate about what they got back. The flames were not going to get blue chip prospects. They potentially filled in depth positions for the 2nd to 4th lines and now have more cards in play that prospects will pan out. This is sure allot better than where it was at last month.

    Top end talent comes from high draft picks which is what we have now. At some point you have to let scouts do their job, and it looks like feaster has improved the scouting department to at least debate and think about a wide range of skilled players under six feet. After looking last night i think we should get Drouin.

    Cap space: Hopefully feaster has the sense to look for value. This has lots of potential if done right and could help fill gaps with players that have good possession rates. Teams are going to have issues meeting cap and resigning players next year. This could result in the flames being more fun to watch next year and at least be competitive.

    Kiprusoff: I think kipper is just playing the i want more money next year game and really does not want to retire. Maybe the flames up him for a 2 years then retire contract and he can share duties with Ramo who really wants to play with kipper. I am not sure he is done and i think he has game left just not at a heavy workload.

    The Heat: Contemplating going to see the Heat play cause this might be their swan song. Aqulini is snaking around Abbotsford trying to figure out how to displace them. Sort of like how he gained control of the canucks through not so honourable angles.

    NCAA Final four Basketball: There are four Canadian kids playing in the final 4 basketball this weekend. Thats positive

  • BitGeek

    I think one of the hidden benefits this season has provided, is a few more games for Sven with the Heat. It was becoming apparent that he wasn’t going to get quality mins this year and so I think his development has been bolstered by sending him back down to Abby. I bet he comes out hungry then next time he’s brought up.

  • BurningSensation

    Given our cap-space, and just looking at guys who will be FA’s coming up, there were some names who I thought might be solid fits;

    David Clarkson
    Nathan Horton
    Steven Weiss
    Val Filpulla
    Mike Lundin

    None are ancient (ala Jagr), and all are likely to be in tough for their teams to sign (though both Clarkson and Weiss are sure to be targets for retention by their respective GMs)

    Clarkson and Horton are both goal scoring RWs with size and ‘truculence’

    Weiss and Filpulla are natural centers who wouldn’t be terrible taking on hard minutes

    Mike Lundin has always been underrated for his defensive abilities.

    I’d want to look at the adcanced stats for them all before definitively endorsing any of them, but they pass my ‘eye’ test.

  • RKD

    Well you build a brand new core around Sven Baertschi, Michael Backlund, and TJ Brodie. Then you surround each player with their complement. Sven is a LW but is more of a playmaker so you give him a #1 center whom he can set up for goals, Backlund should slot in as your #2 center, give Backs some strong wingers. Keep Hudler and Wideman for PP usage. You have to keep a few older players as role models such as Curtis Glencross and Mark Giordano who will both be in their early 30s once the Flames start getting good again. I think its time to part with Cammy and/or Tangs.

    Feaster and co. target teams near the cap now who need to shed salary. Go after Courtier in Philly, look at Chicago as Stan Bowman had to trade a number of players on his team after Hawks won the Stanley Cup.

    If Kipper retires bring in Rammo but instead of Joey MacDonald as your starter try to pry Bernier from LA. The Flames might have to use a 1A/1B system until one guy proves he is a legit #1 starter.

  • Derzie

    Here’s a bright side that I encountered today. My son’s Bantam team played against a team of kids from Hockey Heroes in Calgary. It is an organization sponsored by the Flames and Telus that allows ‘at risk’ youth to have access to hockey equipment and ice time. The game was gentlemanly and fantastic for all. The team spoke of Flames participating with them through their season. Their favourite is ‘Jay’. One Jay Boumeester. He, on his own and without Flames involvement, spends time with the team on the bench, on the ice, before and after the game. He shows up just out of the blue. One of the goalie is over the moon that he stopped a shot from Jay (as well as Tanguay and Nigel Dawes). Even now that he has been traded to St. Louis, he still plans to see the team as he cares about their future and their struggle to rise up from lousy life circumstances. I was honoured to witness and hear such stories. No matter what the Flames got for Boumeester, it’s not enough. Making a difference.

  • beloch

    The Flames are still near the very bottom of the league in terms of PDO, primarily due to goal-tending. This season’s disappointing results make the team look worse than it really is. Add league-average goal-tending back into the mix and the Flames could have been a bubble team again next season, provided nothing was done.

    Fortunately, for those of us who dislike mediocrity, Feaster’s hand was forced and the rebuild has commenced. Feaster’s moves have poised the team to “compete” for a high pick, provided Kipper doesn’t decide to steal a few games so he can retire with some pride. Unlike most teams “forced” into a rebuild, the Flames’ remaining assets are still substantial. The Flames have several players well below 30 who will still be a good supporting cast when the coming wave of rookies start to take off. Players like Backlund, Brodie and Horak will still be good when the rookies are, hopefully, offering great ELC performance/price ratios.

    The Flames also have a few players 30 or older who will have good trade value for a few years yet. Spending these wisely could net the team more key assets, although hanging onto them is probably unwise since they will be far past their prime by the time the rookies are ready. There are also some tricky calls for players just barely 30 or slightly below 30. For example, Glencross, Hudler, Wideman, and Giordano *might* still be productive veterans in 5 years, or they might be crap. Honestly, these guys should not be considered untouchable. Just expensive! Trade them high if the offer arrives. (Please Feaster, don’t sell these guys cheap like Iggy and Bo!)

    If the Flames GM plays his cards right, the team could have a star-rookie core almost as good as the Oilers do now in a few years, but with the key difference of a competent supporting cast surrounding them. That’s the difference between a team that will peak at the bubble and a team that might go much deeper.

    Above all, the Flames management should be on the lookout for a star GM. There are worse guys than Feaster out there, but someone better is probably needed if the Flames are truly going to get past the bubble.

  • Derzie

    Let’s be very clear: there is no right way to be a Flames fan. If you’re reading here, contributing here and care enough to follow along, then you’re a fan.


  • jrh

    On the bright side

    – according to capgeek we have 24 players going RFA or UFA after this season which allows us to get out from under this 50 contract limit – a bunch of these failed prospects and other minor league signings to fill out abbotsford roster can be jettisoned

  • jrh

    bright side: Brodie, Backlund, Stempniak, Stajan.

    Also, for the first time in a while, they are actually trusting some young players this year to play significant minutes (Backlund, Brodie).

  • flamesburn89

    Kent…a suggestion regarding future articles from you regarding some background on the top 5 guys in the upcoming draft and the basis this year for the lottery? What factors or criteria are used within the formula to determine final selection order?


  • stretch14

    I think Gaudreau could definitely be the next St. Louis. A small guy the flames give up on too early who goes on to have excellent career after escaping the doldrums of cowtown.