I have not always been the voice of logic and reason here in FlamesNation, but have tried to remain the voice of optimism. That’s becoming pretty hard to do given the recent history of this club, even for me. The idea when we started ‘Voice of the Nation’ was to bring a forum that reflected the views and the sentiment of the fanbase. While Kent and others have been able to present scientific explanations as to why we have or have not seen what your Calgary Flames are or are not capable of, sometimes logic is clouded by just what we see on the ice. It’s the heart deceiving the eye and ignoring the mind. It’s illogical but at the same time, compelling; and sometimes it’s the dominating factor that forms our opinions.
Yes, “our” opinions. In the end we are all fans of this team, it’s what brings us here every day and engages us in the multitude of conversations, debates or flat out arguments that brings the Nations together.
It has been anything but good times for Flames fans these days. We have seen the departure of fan favourites and been forced to remain watching some pieces that everyone wants to see shipped out. All while we sit and wait for a collection of “magic beans” to develop into something that will bring this team to the next level. That shouldn’t be too difficult since, from what we saw in the last installment of the Battle of Alberta, the only place to go now… is up.
Some may differ in that opinion though. Some think that the Flames hitting rock bottom has no upside, yet. Instead the fans are due to wallow in less than mediocrity, dejected by the years to come of what is in store for this organization.
I’m not fully on either side, yet. But here are some of my concerns.
We all knew it was only a matter of time before the Flames made the impossible choice of trading off their most valued assets. Many were of the opinion that the likes of Iginla, Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff would fetch a small fortune; something that would be pivotal for a team entering a rebuild. Others, felt that the fans over valued these assets and that the fanbase was due for a major disappointment when they saw what the reality of the return turned out to be.
I wasn’t crazy about the “prospects” that came back in either of the Iginla or Bouwmeester deals, but then again I am not familiar with US College hockey, so me saying “I’ve never heard of these slugs”, doesn’t hold much water. In the end, we are all going to have to wait and see what or even if they ever develop into anything.
It’s easy to jump to conclusions, and it’s even easier to point the finger at Jay Feaster and say that he has absolutely no idea what he is doing. That may be true to some degree, but probably not entirely.
Regardless of what our opinions are of Jay, or even Weisbrod for that matter, they are pretty smart guys. They haven’t gotten to where they are because they are idiots. That’s just my opinion, trying to stay objective and keep my emotional outlook at bay.
It’s understandable that seeing the face of the franchise and a fan icon like Iginla go for what has been deemed “magic beans” is not just frustrating, but infuriating. What is ironic is that the Bouwmeester deal garnered the same response, when many fans couldn’t wait to ship him out of town.
I think the deals are what they are. A return that wasn’t going to really please anyone involved but was probably as good as they were going to get… given “circumstances”. The main focuses of both deals were the Flames priority in getting the first round picks for the upcoming draft. That’s where I believe management wants to make there statement that they are committed to the fans in going through this process as effectively, and hopefully as soon as possible.
I can’t say that I have a problem with that being the priority either. It’s focusing on the long term repair, rather than a short tem Band-Aid that was inevitably going to leave us right back where we started; and still without the face of the franchise.
What I do have a problem with were the “given circumstances”.
The Given Circumstances
I have no problem not criticizing management because of my own ignorance, like when it comes to not knowing anything about the prospects we got in return. What I do have a problem with though is how management came to those decisions.
I understand the hypocrisy I am about to indulge in, but bear with me.
If the idea behind a trade is to get the best return possible, then I have a problem, specifically with the Iginla deal, as to how the Flames management conducted business prior to April 3rd. If we are going with the premise that the alleged deal with Boston was better than the one they ultimately made with Pittsburgh, then why didn’t Jay make the deal with Boston?
There are many factors that go into answering this question. There was the belief that the first round pick offered by the Bruins was conditional. It was also later reported that, no, the pick wasn’t conditional. At this point we don’t really know for certain whether it was or not, but all things being equal, let’s go with that it was not a conditional pick.
There are also the reports that the prospect return was going to be Alex Kockhlachev and Matt Bartkowski. Now Bartkowski was described as being a “Chris Butler” in the making, but the prize here as far as a prospect was definitely Kockhlachev, a big center with skilled hands.
Now I understand that Iginla had a full No-Movement Clause and I respect the decisions he makes, but I also fail to understand the methodology that went into completing this deal. If Iginla supplied a list of four or five teams, and Boston was on that list, then why was the deal done with Pittsburgh? Some have pointed out that both the Pens and the Bruins were on the list so Iginla’s choice was the deciding factor and ultimate destination.
I can’t stress enough what a disastrous decision this was by management. It is one thing to give the player the power that goes along with a NMC. It is another to let him be the GM in his own deal. Does Iginla deserve all the respect that the Flames afforded him when conceding to waive his NMC? Yes, absolutely, but that should never inhibit the GM from doing his job once that decision has been made.
Once the list was given to management, the only thing left for Iggy to do was wait and hear where he was going. That’s it, that’s all. I’m not sure how it all came about but what was Feaster… King… or even Edwards thinking when they had offers from both Pitt and Boston, and then they ask Iggy what his preference was? The team gave Iggy his due respect by approaching the teams on his preferred list. Once that was done, they should have been focused on the interests of the team and the organization. If the Boston deal was in fact the better deal, then they should have made it clear to Iginla that they honoured his wishes to the full extent. Despite Jarome having a preference of going to play with Crosby, the deal with Boston would have better served the needs of the team and it was managements responsibility to stand their ground.
The Inmates in the Asylum
The Calgary Flames as an organization are getting far too comfortable in affording their employees the luxury of full autonomy. They seem more than content in appeasing the future alumni than building a competitive team and strengthening the crrreunt organization.
I can understand the delicate line that they have to paint when separating organizational business from the PR game they play with the fans, but it also makes me think back to a different time. A time under Cliff Fletcher, who took less financial resources than this installment has had to deal with, and turned them into Stanley Cup Champions. Fletcher wasn’t always fair, he may not have even been liked by some, but he was diligent and he knew what his job was; and damn anyone who stood in his way.
I wish I could believe that this trade was a one off, a fluke or a bad decision, but it appears to be the norm. Maybe not on the same scale, but it happened with Bouwmeester and the non-deal with Kiprusoff was just the other side of the same coin.
The Flames had a deal in place with the Maple Leafs to actually get a return for a player, without a NTC, that was gone at the end of the season, and they let him make the call. That baffles me. The reasoning was even more baffling.
To say that they felt it necessary to respect the wishes of Kiprusoff after all that he has done for the organization was perhaps the single most idiotic thing they could have ever told the public. Look, I feel for the guy as a father and as a husband, but players all know the deal when they sign up for the life as a professional athlete. Not to mention, you can’t discount the $35 Million they have paid Kipper over the term of just this contract alone.
In the end, I’m getting tired of the upper echelon of this organization justifying decisions by saying it’s all part of the business. If that’s true Jay… Ken… Murray… then get serious about running this team as a business. Make some decisions that might anger some people, fans, or even players, but that will make this team better. Stop being so empathetic to the needs of your employees because the fans are growing less and less sympathetic.
You have now jumped into whatever your future holds for you, feet first. Be smart, diligent and in need be, ruthless. You are a professional organization in the National Hockey League, not a club med. It’s time you start behaving that way.
Govern yourselves accordingly.