Relive the 2009-10 Calgary Flames Season

Brent Sutter took over as head coach of the Calgary Flames in the 2009-10 season. He inherited largely the same veteran-laden roster that Mike Keenan led to a pair of impressive regular seasons (and disappointing playoffs).

Unfortunately two things happened in 2009-10. The Flames missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, and general manager Darryl Sutter went into full-blown panic mode as the Flames sputtered down the stretch.


Northwest Division GP W L OTL Pts GD Sh% Sv% PDO Conf.
y-Vancouver 82 49 28 5 103 +50 9.5% 92.4% 101.9 3rd
x-Colorado 82 43 30 9 95 +11 8.9% 92.7% 101.5 8th
Calgary 82 40 32 10 90 -6 7.5% 92.3% 99.8 10th
Minnesota 82 38 36 8 84 -27 8.2% 91.7% 99.8 13th
Edmonton 82 27 47 8 62 -70 8.0% 91.1% 99.1 15th


The season began with a four-game winning streak, signalling the arrival of Brent Sutter to the Calgary Flames organization. Good news, right? And the team strung together a few three and four-game streaks throughout the rest of the season. Overall, the Flames had seven different three-plus game winning streaks, and just five comparable losing skids.

So how come they missed the playoffs by five points?

Well, one of their losing streaks was nine games long. From January 11-28, the Calgary Flames went 0-6-3. Following the end of that streak, Darryl Sutter went nuclear and blew up the team. Granted, he didn’t move Iginla, Regehr, Bouwmeester or Kiprusoff – the big pieces whose trade would constitute waving the white flag and beginning a rebuild. But he jettisoned Dion Phaneuf on January 31 and Olli Jokinen on February 1. The returns were considered mediocre to awful. The team never really recovered.

The Flames finished the season with a four-game losing streak, just in case anybody had a flicker of hope left that they could go on a late-season run and make the playoffs despite the adversity.


Player GP G A Pts +/-
Jarome Iginla 82 32 37 69 -2
Rene Bourque 73 27 31 58 +7
Daymond Langkow 72 14 23 37 +2
Olli Jokinen 56 11 24 35 +2
Curtis Glencross 67 15 18 33 +11
Nigel Dawes 66 14 18 32 +1
Mark Giordano 82 11 19 30 +17
Jay Bouwmeester 82 3 26 29 -4
Dion Phaneuf 55 10 12 22 +3
Eric Nystrom 82 11 8 19 E

Miikka Kiprusoff “only” started 72 games in 2009-10, winning 35 of his starts. His back-up Curtis McElhinney won three of his seven starts and was replaced at the trade deadline by Vesa Toskala, who won two of his three starts after joining the Flames – basically justifying the effort of trading for him. Playing slightly less than in previous years helped out Kiprusoff’s numbers, though: his even-strength save percentage rebounded to .928, putting him back among the league’s best netminders in that category.


In retrospect, this is when Darryl Sutter’s managerial madness set in. Look at how damn busy he was, including two mid-season panic moves – goodbye Phaneuf and Jokinen – and the ultimate taboo, making a trade with the Edmonton Oilers (the first time the two teams made a move together).

  • July 17, 2009: traded a seventh round pick to Washington for Keith Seabrook.
  • July 27, 2009: traded Wayne Primeau and a second round pick to Toronto for Colin Stuart, Anton Stralman and a seventh round pick.
  • September 28, 2009: traded Anton Stralman to Columbus for a third round pick.
  • October 7, 2010: traded Kyle Greentree to Chicago for Aaron Johnson.
  • January 31, 2010: traded Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie to Toronto for Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Ian White and Jamal Mayers.
  • February 1, 2010: traded Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the NY Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins.
  • March 3, 2010: traded Aaron Johnson and a third round pick to Edmonton for Steve Staios.
  • March 3, 2010: traded Curtis McElhinney to Anaheim for Vesa Toskala.
  • March 3, 2010: traded Riley Armstrong to Detroit for Andy Delmore.
  • March 3, 2010: traded Dustin Boyd to Nashville for a fourth round pick.
  • June 29, 2010: traded a sixth round pick to San Jose for Henrik Karlsson.
  • June 30, 2010: traded Jason Jaffray and a conditional pick to Anaheim for Logan MacMillan and a conditional pick.

Almost immediately, to be frank, the Phaneuf and Jokinen trades were seen as knee-jerk reactions and bad, bad trades. The Flames ended up having to pay half of Hagman’s contract after losing him on re-entry waivers, while they had to throw a second round pick into a deal with Buffalo to get Ales Kotalik out of town. The Primeau/Stralman moves were also awful, as the team effectively sent a useful bottom-six body and a second round pick to Toronto for a minor leaguer, a third and a seventh by the time the season had began.

    Sutter’s free agency additions in the summer of 2009 were quiet and understated, but also reasonably useful: Fredrik Sjostrom, Staffan Kronwall and Brian McGrattan.

    The 2010 Draft was one of Calgary’s better ones, despite the team not having a first or second round selection: Ferland may be an NHLer, Arnold is a useful pro, Reinhart was an asset, and Holland was used as an asset in a future big trade.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.17.05 AM


      Why did the Flames miss the playoffs?

      Well, despite being a good possession team, they had a few flaws. First, as usual, their goaltending was mediocre (and occasionally putrid) behind Miikka Kiprusoff. Their even-strength save percentage was 14th in the NHL, right at the midpoint. A decent back-up would’ve (a) bumped them up into the top third on his own and (b) given Kiprusoff some much-needed nights off down the stretch, probably bumping them up further.

      The worst thing about Calgary? In terms of recent history, think of them as the exact opposite of the 2014-15 team – nothing ever went in for them. They had the fifth-worst shooting percentage in the entire NHL, so despite frequently out-shooting other teams, they often lost by a goal because (a) their goaltending wasn’t amazing and (b) they could never score the “next goal” they needed to win key games. They were also the third-worst overtime/shootout team in the league, putting up a 5-10 record in games that went to extra time. That’s a lot of points to leave on the table, and it cost them.

      Good possession team. What gives? Was it their shooting percentage? (Yes.)

      • redhot1

        I know these articles probably took a fair bit of research to write up, but to be honest, I have no interest in reliving any of these seasons.

        And, Ryan, I really like your pieces, and I know its the middle of summer, but this series is terribly boring.

        Just my two cents.

        • mk

          I’m with you that some of these seasons aren’t fun to look back at, but they do give some interesting context for those who haven’t followed in detail before.

          Besides, imagine what this series looks like over at ON. 🙂 Our seasons all suddenly look much better by comparison, eh?

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I am not going to trash your comment at all. I can see those of us who await training camp 2015 with a great deal of anticipation don’t want to re-live those darker days back to the turn of this century, one can only be reminded that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. . .

          So, for fans of the Flames circa 2015, lets not forget that history, but look forward as this team makes some new, incredibly exciting history that no one will ever forget!

      • KACaribou

        I agree that this looking back to an over-priced, lazy, under-achieving lot is very depressing.

        How did we get here today? Easy Feaster gutted the team of Sutter’s screwups and left cap space.

        I would rather read about every minute detail of last season than these depressing teams which detail the decline of Darryl Sutter’s abilities as a GM. Last year was by far the most entertaining since the 1980s and that includes 04/05.

        What?! A good possession team and they still sucked?! Thought that stat was bullet-proof?

      • FeyWest

        I think it’s good especially for those starting out as flames fans not necessarily the history and it gives historical context and a way to see how the team trended. Thanks Ryan!

        • KACaribou

          With all due respect FeyWest, we failed to “trend” most of the time. There isn’t much to be learned from our recent history at all except what not to do.

          Goodness if we want to teach young people the history of the Flames let us not dwell on horrible seasons like most were from 1990 to 2013 (2004 the exception of course).

          Hey kids here’s a history lesson: From the early 90s the Flames had talented players who happened to lose every playoff overtime game they played going from season to season until they could no longer make the playoffs. The odds they beat were like 250/1, they lost so many sudden death contests. Yeah baby!, right?

          After that, the team – partially due to finances and the low Canadian dollar – sucked for years until the magical run in 2004.

          After that we collected a series of players who were somewhat talented but lazy, cowardly, with no heart to play with good team guys like Iggy and Conroy. This was the Sutter GM era.

          Jay Feaster gutted the retched Sutter regime, and our new management made some good solid choices… and here we are with some talent, heart, and a whole lot of hope.

          Young people, I implore you to study the 1980s. The wars with the Oilers were utterly historical. We will never see hockey like that again, and any of us old enough to have seen it are very fortunate indeed. Those were the greatest Flames teams ever and we can only hope the team we are presently building will emulate the greatness of the 1980s.

      • The Last Big Bear

        That defense is still the best defense “on paper” I’ve seen in the NHL since the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.

        Regehr, Phaneuf, Bouwmeester, Giordano, that’s 4 guys who were or would soon be #1 defencemen.

        Too bad it didn’t work out.

        At all.

        For anyone.

      • ngthagg

        I’m surprised at the amount of . . . maybe not hate, but dislike for these articles. Considering that there’s not much going on, it’s nice that someone is still producing content. And it’s good to remember the team’s history, good and bad.

        The big eye-opener for me has been the solid corsi results we got when we first assembled the team of veterans. My memories of the post-lockout stretch are of a descent into failure, but we actually had some competitive teams, both by traditional and advanced stats.

        I’ve acquired a powerful distaste for acquiring veterans, but it’s good for me to remember that you CAN bring in experienced players to improve the team. Building from within is not the only option.

      • MattyFranchise

        Hindsight being 20/20 I think I would rather have Stajan instead of Phaneuf. Which is what the whole trade ultimately boiled down to.

        McElhinney for Toskala was a clear upgrade at the time.

        Jokinen and Prust for Higgins and Kotalik is a clear loss.

        I’ll look into what those picks turned into later.

        09-10 was a lateral move year imo.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        2009/10 was the last year the Flames would dominate teams by hemming them in their own zone most of the game, only to lose the puck on a broken play and get scored on. Deeply deflating to watch. 2015 was about returning the karmic favour and man that was fun.