Which Flame Had The Worst 2013 Season?



Now that the 2013 campaign is done and over with for the Calgary Flames, it’s time to pick at the corpse a bit. The season was disappointing overall for the Flames and it begs the question regarding which player had the most disappointing season overall.

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We have a few contenders.


Despite the ever-changing pronunciation of his last name, Giordano remains the heart and soul of the Calgary Flames and will probably be the next captain. That siad, he didn’t have the best year.

Paired primarily with Jay Bouwmeester and Dennis Wideman this season, Giordano faced the top six of every Western Conference team. While he didn’t spontaneously combust like other blueliners, he did have the worst goals-against per 60 minutes of any regular Flames skater. His offense and ability to move the puck forward wasn’t as prevalent this season either, which made his occassional blow-ups in the defensive zone all the more obvious.


Touted as the best player outside of the NHL when signed, Roman Cervenka came to North America with a lot of expectations. However, between a blood clot that sidelined him for several weeks, frequently being a healthy scratch and rumblings about his conditioning, he never really took off the way everyone hoped he would. The Flames sold him to the fanbase as a potential top-6 center to replace Olli Jokinen, but he isn’t really a center and probably not an everyday top-6 guy either.

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Overall, he had the worst plus/minus per 60 minutes of any regular Flames skater and a nominal possession rate, despite facing middling competition all year.


It must’ve been a tough year for Alex Tanguay. Brought back to Calgary with the hope of reigniting his chemistry with Jarome Iginla, he saw the team flounder and then Iginla get traded to Pittsburgh. Oddly, both before and after the move, Tanguay’s WOWY numbers reveal something odd.

Generally-speaking, he made just about everyone worse. Of the five guys he played with the most, only Dennis Wideman had a better Corsi percentage with Tanguay than without him. Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Giordano and Jay Bouwmeester were all worse.

Mikka Kiprusoff

Kent warned us back in the off-season that Kipper was a bad bet to repeat his excellent 2011-2012 performance again, noting he’d likely fall back down to earth somewhat. Well he did that, pierced the mantle and ended up a few miles beneath the crust. Kiprusoff played 24 games and amanaged an .882 SV%, one of the very worst in the league. The only other time he has struggled to that degree was back in 2002 with the San Jose Sharks, when he managed an .879 save rate in 22 games.

Ironically, that previous poor performance was beneficial for the Flames because it convinced San Jose Kipper wasn’t worth keeping around. This time, at age 37 and with one year left on his deal, it’s probable the Flames have come to the same conclusion.

Leland Irving

Not really a “Flame” per se, but Irving’s season was a nightmare for the former first rounder. Inked to a one-year “prove your worth” kind of contract by the organization last summer, Irving was instead usurped by AHL free agentes Danny Taylor and Barry Brust. When Kiprusoff went down with an injury the Flames gave Irving another chance to up his rehabilitate his stock, but instead the kid fell on his face: in six games, he managed two wins and an .883 SV%. He finished the year in the AHL with an entirely medicore .902 save rate as well.

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With a swath of new ‘tenders set to join the orgs pro ranks this coming season, it’s good bet that Irving won’t be retained moving forward.


Finally, we have Chris Butler. After spending the majority of 2011-12 on the top pairing with Jay Bouwmeester, he was dropped down to the bottom pairing this year and finally got shielded. Not that it helped.

He still had terrible underlying numbers, with the worst corsi on and relative corsi of any regular player not named Brian McGrattan. And WOWY analysis shows that Butler made just about every player he played with worse in terms of Corsi percentage (more on this soon).


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  • jeremywilhelm

    The only one I’d give a little leniency to is Cervenka. When the NHL season started he hadn’t played hockey in over 2 months. Not just a couple weeks. He wasn’t even able to work out because of his medication.

    That and the transition to NHL hockey would lead to most players struggling mightily.

    I’m not saying he’s a world beater, but he most definitely filled in offensively for Jokinen. Did you see how terrible he was for Winnipeg??!

  • NHL93

    I’ll give Cervenka a pass too.. he showed flashes of brilliance around the net and that’s about it. Kind of reminded me of Patrick O’Sullivan, but with blood clots.

  • Parallex

    Kipper, easily and without doubt the worst Flame was Kipper. I didn’t expect him to be what he was last year but it was almost unthinkable that he’d be as terrible as he was. What’s worse on top of having a terrible year performance wise he torpedo’d the teams effort to salvage what value they could by declaring that he’d refuse to fulfill his contractual obligations if he were traded.

    Kipper by a country mile.

  • Parallex

    Kipper by a landslide. He has alternated between a Vezina like performance to a barely replacement level goaltending year in, year out the ever since we got him.

    The only reason he had two good years in a row (03/04 cup run and 05/06 Vezina is because his off year was spent in lockout.

    It can’t be blamed on coaching either, he looked both amazing and horrid in different years under Brent Sutter.

    Also resign Cervenka for 1yr, we didn’t get a true taste of what he is….

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Worst Flame of 2013? This is easy. Mikka Kiprusoff was far and away in a league of his own. Unfortunately you really can’t even compare his results this year to his best hockey in a Flames jersey. This year was just bad in general, when you compare Kiprusoff’s results to any other starter in the league. He was just bad.

    I thought Giordano got better as the season went on with some improve.

    Butler was never good and he owes a good season last year to Brent Sutter off the ice, and Jay Bouwmeester on the ice.

    • Robear

      Totally agree. League average goaltending would have allowed us to capitalize on our good start, would have kept us on the bubble, and likely kept Iginla in the fold.

      Part of me is upset, but part of me knew this time had to come anyway. Now the opportunity is in the draft and re-making the team in Feaster’s image… I mean imagination.

  • Parallex

    Stats wise it was Kipper. Human wise, Kipper had the personal issues coupled with no training camp & not being at the peak of his conditioning when the lockout was settled. That led to the injury issues, which ultimately took the love of hockey out of him this year. His last games, where he was phenomenal & unfortunately won those games for us, the nearing end changed his mental approach to the game & he suddenly seemed to have that edge. Many games we were playing when we still were in it, he looked injured & had trouble getting up after his saves. I’m defending Kipper here because I truly believe there was more to this years performance than everyone here throwing the goat horns on him are admitting. Kipper truly was the man that led us out of darkness in 2004, not Iggy, & for that, he will never ever wear goat horns in my heart.

    • Parallex

      I don’t think whether there was “more” to this years performance is relevant… which flame had the worst season? is the question and regardless of the reasons the answer is Kiprusoff.

      The present reality doesn’t diminish his past accomplishments nor do his past accomplishments mitigate the present reality.

  • Graham

    Forget the players, Feaster clearly is the worst Flame. Hung by his own words…

    “Team’s Needs: size and grit, centers, physical presence on blueline, accelerating “physical development of younger players.”

    This is a complete 180 degree turn from what he actually did going into this season. He added small forwards with little heart and absent grit, he went into the season without a #1 or #2 center, and he traded the Regehr last season without replacing his physical blue line presence. His trades this year are highly suspect, the new coach was ineffective, his handling of the ROR situation brought huge discredit to the organization, and his pompous blustering……

  • Derzie

    I’d love to see an analysis that listed Feaster’s pre and post season statements and what he actually did in between. That stat would be the worst 2013 season.

  • SmellOfVictory

    In terms of how poorly they played, it’s probably pretty close between Kipper and Butler. However, Kipper kind of wins it by the sheer force of his presence; a crappy goaltender can single-handedly sink a team, while a crappy #6 dman is closer to an annoyance than a legitimate threat to victory in the long term.

  • Scary Gary

    Kipper was the worst flame, especially when you factor in what we’re used to see from him.

    I think Gio will bounce back next year. He like most of the veteran flames was not ready to play NHL hockey to start the season. I’m not in agreement with players going overseas and taking jobs away from other but those individuals that did definitely had an advantage over those that didn’t. The few flames (with the exception of Cervenka) that did play overseas or competitive hockey (AHL) had a relatively good season: Brodie, Backlund, Hudler.

  • There’s a highlight reel of Kipper saves on flames.com right now titled “Grand Larceny.” It should be footage of him cashing a paycheque. And while the unofficial NMC stuff he pulled at the trade deadline is defensible when you consider the years he carried the team, it really just ices the cake as far as his (scape)goat role this season. He’s one of my all-time favourite hockey players, but Kiprusoff was a huge obstacle for the Flames in 2013.

    And I’ll bet most of the saves on that highlight reel are from the streak at the end of the season when we SHOULD have been not-winnin’ for you-know-who.

  • Tommynotsohuge

    I hate to say it, but I go with Kipper too. I agree with signing Cervenka again though. I think him and Hudler can be a massive part of this rebuild. Add in Horak and that is a wicked third line

  • Tommynotsohuge

    Put me down for Feaster. And my second place vote goes to Ken King.

    As long as our upper management includes this personnel, worrying about a soon-to-be retired goalie and a number 7 dman (Butler) is the least of our worries.

  • Cowtown 1989

    As per Graham and Kent, Feasters main problem is the desire for attention grabbing headlines by using grandiose claims. Remember last years mid game proclamation of changes during a game. This past off season, it was that Ken King could find someone else to do this job if it involved a rebuild. I haven’t lost faith in Jay completely but he needs to keep his head down, mouth shut and soldier on.

  • Cowtown 1989

    Kipper could play another year as he showed at seasons end. I do believe he was injured form the start as he was having trouble getting down, pucks were going under him like never before nor in his last few games. My vote is for the Feaster / King duo as they have now built exactly the team Feaster says they don’t want. I won’t ever figure them out. I still think the Sutters are excellent hockey men, King WAS their boss.

  • Robear

    I don’t believe that Tanguay should even be part of the conversation for worst 2013 Flame.

    Despite my love for the logic of the advanced stats that we pay homage to on this site, Tanguay is the type of player that advanced stats lie about. His WOWY is bad, his Corsi is poor, but to say that he makes the players around him worse due to that is a fallacy.

    His gift and burden is his vision and playmaking ability, which he uses to the exception of his tremendous shot. That leads to lower shot volume (lower corsi and WOWY #s)but a general rise in the quality of scoring chances for him and those on his line. But quality of scoring opp is not something that gets quantified in the corrolary that is Corsi.

    There, I’m off my soap box now