The past year has arguably one of the most tumultuous in the history of the Calgary Flames franchise. It was every bit as fascinating off the ice as it was, at times, on the ice. For those of you who’d like a quick reminder, here’s a brief rundown on the last 12 months.
The four-month long NHL lockout ends! The 2012-13 season begins (three and a half months late) and the Flames go 1-3-1 after a short training camp. The only notable camp happenings were Leland Irving finally winning the back-up job and Steve Begin winning a job as a walk-on. Henrik Karlsson is traded to Chicago.
Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Sieloff and Jon Gillies – and especially Johnny Gaudreau – win gold with Team USA at the World Juniors in Ufa, Russia.
Kent suggests that the Flames try to offer-sheet Ryan O’Reilly.
The Flames go 6-5-3. Despite having a good record, they flat-out hit the panic button when Miikka Kiprusoff goes down and a goalie revolving door begins – the tandems go: Kiprusoff & Irving, Irving & Danny Taylor, Irving & Joey MacDonald, and finally Joey MacDonald & Taylor. The club also cuts ties with 2008 pick Mitch Wahl and brings in Brian McGrattan from Nashville for AHL defenseman Joe Piskula.
Kent demands that the Flames offer-sheet Ryan O’Reilly.
On the last day of the month, the Flames offer-sheet Ryan O’Reilly in an effort to improve the team long-term (and get Kent to stop camping out in front of the Flames offices). Colorado matches the offer sheet, and then it turns out that due to quirks in the new CBA (that wasn’t finished yet), the Flames would’ve lost O’Reilly to waivers (and two picks to the Avs) anyway.
The Flames go 6-8-0, flirting with actualy being pretty decent other than being bad on the road. The California Road Trip serves as the beginning of the end for Jarome Iginla in Calgary, with the team going 0-3-0 after heading on the road on the cusp of a playoff spot.
Jarome Iginla’s Trade Saga dominates the month. He’s traded to Boston, er, Pittsburgh at the end of the month.
The bottom falls out. Flames go 6-9-0, but trade (and "rebuild" talk dominates the month. The Flames jettison Jay Bouwmeester and Blake Comeau, but give Joey MacDonald a contract extension for another year. If you were a prospect that the Flames had any plans for, you got called up in the month of April. Miikka Kiprusoff starts the final home game of the year and wins in Classic Kipper fashion, leading to a standing ovation amidst rumours it’s his last game in his career.
Roman Cervenka, the best player outside of the NHL prior to 2012-13, returns to the KHL.
The Flames sign Karri Ramo, the best goalie outside the NHL prior to 2013-14. By pure coincidence, Miikka Kiprusoff tells the Finnish national team he’s retired, but doesn’t say much to the Flames (who are giving him time to relax before asking about his 2013-14 status). They do, however, snag NCAA standout Corban Knight.
The club begins kicking tires on candidates for a position that’s called "President of Hockey Operations". (Brendan Shanahan says no.)
Calgary has its worst flooding in history, with the Saddledome flooding to the ninth row of the lower bowl.
The Flames draft eight players at the 2013 NHL Draft: Sean Monahan, Emile Poirier, Morgan Klimchuk, Keegan Kanzig, Eric Roy, John Gilmour, Tim Harrison and Rushan Rafikov. The day before the draft, they trade Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich to Colorado for Shane O’Brien and David Jones.
Restricted free agent Mikael Backlund signs a two-year deal. The Flames acquire T.J. Galiardi from San Jose, but make no major free agent splashes. Other than re-signing Brian McGrattan (and eventually acquiring Kris Russell).
Development camp is the highlight of a low-key month. Many interviews are here (the links are at the end). Johnny Gaudreau is asked many times if he’ll come to Calgary. He repeatedly says he will, but doesn’t sign a contract on the spot, so it was a bit of a mixed message.
The Flames sign T.J. Brodie to a bridge deal.
The prospective Canadian Olympic hockey club plays ball hockey (for insurance reasons).
The Saddledome is ready for pre-season hockey because many contractors spent many hours fixing it. The event level looks basically the same, except strangely much cleaner.
Ryan Howse quits hockey. So does Miikka Kiprusoff, although one of them won a Vezina before they hung their skates up.
The Flames acquire Joe Colborne.
Training camp opens. Many Flames bristle at the notion that they’ll be bad and should just give up trying during training camp.
An NHL season begins on-time for once. The Flames play perfectly well, despite injuries, and go 5-5-2.
Sean Monahan makes the team and scores all the goals.
The league starts to catch up to the Flames, as they go 4-8-2 despite not playing that much worse than in October.
The team also makes a slew of roster moves: Joey MacDonald is jettisoned to the minors in favour of Reto Berra (the best goalie outside of the NHL), Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit are sent to Edmonton for Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy, and Tim Jackman turns into a draft pick, while a slightly better draft pick becomes Lane MacDermid.
Jarome Iginla returned to Calgary as a member of the Boston Bruins!
Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod were relieved of their duties. Brian Burke begins a GM search.
The Flames send Sven Baertschi back to Abbotsford.
Amidst all this hooplah, the Flames went 5-7-2.
ODDS AND ENDS
In 2013, the Flames went 33-45-10. Goalie wins were: Joey MacDonald (11), Miikka Kiprusoff (8), Karri Ramo (6), Reto Berra (5), Leland Irving (2) and Danny Taylor (1).
Jiri Hudler was the team’s leading scorer, with 60 points. Mike Cammalleri had 52, Lee Stempniak had 45, Matt Stajan had 39 and Curtis Glencross had 38. On the blueline, the leaders were Dennis Wideman (34), Mark Giordano (32) and T.J. Brodie (26).
The Abbotsford Heat went 40-32-2-3 in 2013. Tyler Ruegsegger, who’s not even with the Heat anymore, had 5 game-winning goals to lead the team.
Among the prospects, production varied. Let’s attempt to compare apples and apples (players that were at the same level all year).
- In the CHL: Emile Poirier had 85 points, Brett Kulak had 64, Morgan Klimchuk had 59, Coda Gordon had 57, Ryan Culkin had 49, Eric Roy had 44….and Keegan Kanzig had 6.
- In the NCAA: Johnny Gaudreau had 61 points, Bill Arnold had 38, Kenny Agostino had 35, Mark Jankowski had 21, and John Gilmour had 16. Jon Gillies went 20-7-7. Yes, a college goalie won more than any Flames goalie did. In a 40-game season.