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.

  • MWflames

    I agree with backburner. If Kipper is done and going home in a month, where is the gain in playing him anymore? It is like giving 2 weeks notice. Once you have given notice, all you do is have coffee with everyone before you move on. Make sense to have him mentor Taylor (or prospects) while still here. But of course our GM won’t do that. Kipper should have been moved 3 years ago or at last years deadline at the very least. Brutal management. Absolutely unacceptable. Going nowhere until the root of the problem is fixed. Iggy trade better be good, or the paying fan base will attempt to siege the castle.

    • T&A4Flames

      Normally, a player doing what Kipper has done would drive me over the edge, not sure why I don’t care in this case.

      Maybe because of his contributions over the years, maybe because of those contributions the team can’t/won’t embarass him (bench) until he retires regardless, so why get upset?

      • Avalain

        Not blaming Kipper at all. More power to him. Just shows how broken this team is for the story to end this way. Would be alright if he was about to take us on another run and it ended on an upswing. It just feels sour this way. Not his fault at all.

  • Colin.S

    The only way this situation with Kipper makes any sense is if he plans on retiring in the summer..

    I have my doubts though that he would turn down the chance at a Stanley Cup run with another team at this stage in his career.. If Kipper did say that, I would play Taylor for the rest of the year to get some experience and bench Kipper for the rest of the year..

  • icedawg_42

    The biggest issue is that he Flames have allowed it to come to this. We are near last place, about to lose our two franchise players for very little, and get to deal with drama all season long (O’Reilly, Kipper, Iginla, Cap Circumvention, etc)

    I don’t like what Kipper is doing. It is clearly manipulation of the system to avoid being moved. He has earned millions from that contract. Time to honor the rest. Why ruin your legacy now?

    Season has been a nightmare. Way to avoid becoming the Oiler’s Feaster et all.

    As we have all (mostly) said. The path to becoming the Oilers wasn’t to rebuild. It was to wait until the bottom fell out.

    Where there goes the bottom. And here comes a half decade or more of misery. Hooray us.

    • Colin.S

      So when teams buy out players, or when they moved to the minors or whatever why aren’t teams HONOURING contracts, or is that only for players. Retirement is an option for him that is more than allowed, if he doesn’t want to play somewhere else that is more than his choice. In fact I give him props for saying something so that there isn’t an ugly mess after he is traded.

        • Colin.S

          Retirements are also part of the CBA, there is no limits on when a player is allowed or not allowed to retire. There is no circumvention of ANY rules, all he is done is given the Flames an ultimatum. Either let him play the last few games of this season as a Flame or he’ll retire early. NOTHING wrong with that, especially given who he is and the position he’s in.

          • Colin.S

            He isn’t retiring. He is threatening to not report to ensure he isn’t be traded.

            You can spin it and spin it and spin it again. The bottom line is Kipper doesn’t want to retire. He wants to prevent being traded so he manipulated the system to ensure he isn’t traded.

            Players manipulating the system to, in affect, create their own NMC isn’t good for the game. That is EXACTLY what he has done. Spin it however you want that remains EXACTLY what he has done.

            It is a piss poor thing to do to his team and his fans. This noble crap about him choosing to focus on family is just that. Crap. He is a multi millionaire. Why would anyone feel sorry for a guy that has to spend a month on the road while making millions. Aren’t there bigger hardships to worry about?

            He is preventing the Flames from employing their contractual RIGHT to trade him. In doing so they are depriving his team, team mates, and the fans from getting a return that would help people in the future.

            Take your harp somewhere else. His approach is unethical and this supposed family commitment is BS.

            If the Flames had the balls they would demote him to the AHL to make a point. When he doesn’t report they should suspend him.

            The worst thing about this is how he is tainting he legacy. Our last memories of Kipper are how he manipulated the system to screw the team over to avoid a minor inconvenience.

          • RKD

            Front loaded contract,s are also unethical.Family commitement,s are not BS.

            I find it hard to believe that management is surprised by Kipper,s decision.It has been reported for a year that he would most likely retire before going elsewhere.If in fact management is upset with him,they should say so.I doubt that happens because Kipper has been honest with them throughout his career

          • Colin.S

            It is a piss poor thing to do to his team and his fans. This noble crap about him choosing to focus on family is just that. Crap. He is a multi millionaire. Why would anyone feel sorry for a guy that has to spend a month on the road while making millions. Aren’t there bigger hardships to worry about?

            uhhh yeah stuff like family which is what he is doing. making millions doesn’t justify people treating you like crap because you want to take care of your family. They are probably lucky he isn’t just taking the rest of the season off. What does money honestly have to do with how one treats their family? you have me confused with this. He doesn’t owe anybody anything he’s in his mid thirties and has given this team his all and then some. He doesn’t owe us draft picks or prospects or anything. He can walk away at any given time and the fact that he wants to at least finish this season with us is something we should be thankful for.

          • Colin.S

            Seriously people need perspective. We aren’t talking about him sending his family to the docks to work while he plays hockey. We are talking about him spending a short time away. Like dozens of other hockey players and billions of other people.

            Some people will buy anything. ” But it’s for his family… ” Give me a break.

            People are way to quick to worry about the little inconveniences of a millionaire. Those millions he has to support his contract came from this contract he is refusing to honor.

            Serious lack of perspective.

          • Colin.S

            so would you be fine with this if he was just a regular joe? It almost seems like you have something against these guys for making lots of money.

            All I’m saying is these guys are people just like you and me and making millions of dollars has nothing to do with how a person will react to issues with their families.

            The company my uncle works for just promoted him and is letting him work from home because my aunt is dying from cancer. He makes a lot of money should he have to go to work at the office because he makes a lot of money? It’s just a little inconvenience for a guy that makes a lot of money right?

            Now I’m not saying kippers wife or kid is dying but really family is more important than the dollars. If the flames gave him the choice of either being traded or breaking his contract he would likely forego the rest of his pay this year and next and go be with his family.

  • Colin.S

    If they punish the Flames, they have to punish EVERY other team that has one of those stupid back diving contracts. Regardless of what Keenan says it’s still just speculation on his part because he’s not Sutter of Kipper and didn’t negotiate the deal.

    Also with regards to Kipper refusing to be dealt, good for him, I appreciate all he’s done for Calgary, but if this city and his family is more important to him than trying to win the cup in who knows what city, I have no problems with that. And for people going on about how it’s bad on Kipper for not helping the Flames get prospects/picks, that’s not Kippers job, he’s the goalie, not the GM, he can’t help it if we have bad GMs.

  • icedawg_42

    Keenan’s full of sh!t. Everyone can surmise that Kipper will retire just because of the circumstances – final year of his contract, already made all his money, numbers are down, getting injured. The writing’s on the wall. Keenan’s acting like smut reporter from the Enquirer and sensationalizing a story to further whatever motives are swimming around his little mind. Anywhoo – the NHL is still left with the burden of proof I would imagine.

    As far as “heart” on the team – I believe there’s a difference between wanting and trying to win a game, and putting EVERYTHING out there and not accepting defeat. Of course they want to win, and of course they try to win every game, but there’s another level when you’re truly invested. HOWEVER – I DO definitely question the ‘heart’ of anyone who repeatedly watches their goalie get run. That’s code. You protect your goalie. Maybe those days are in the past.