The 2010-11 campaign marked the end of the Darryl Sutter Era for the Calgary Flames. And as many things often do, it ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Sutter left the Flames around Christmas after a few uneven seasons of managerial decisions, handing the reins to Jay Feaster.
On the ice, the Flames continued to plod along, a team with some definite promise but failing to really live up to what many felt was its potential due to those aforementioned uneven managerial decisions.
The 2010-11 campaign was a strange one.
The Flames missed the playoffs by three points. Looking back, it was probably because they were tremendously streaky. They had six different three-plus game winning streaks, including a six-game streak in late January that pushed Calgary from the fringes into the playoff picture. Sadly, they also had six three-plus game losing streaks, and their inability to stave off that streakiness is why they missed the post-season.
Calgary was hovering just below the .500 mark when Darryl Sutter resigned as general manager in late December. Jay Feaster received a battlefield promotion to interim GM after being hired in mid-July as Sutter’s assistant GM. He was fine and didn’t make too many crazy moves, and the team finished 12 games over .500 for the year, so Feaster got the gig full-time.
Of note: Jarome Iginla had an excellent season, Craig Conroy retired in February into a front office job, and the Flames repeatedly waived Ales Kotalik and Niklas Hagman with the hopes that somebody, anybody, would take their (bad) contracts off their hands.
Miikka Kiprusoff started his standard 70+ games, though with the Flames leaning on Henrik Karlsson as their new back-up, it meant Kiprusoff “only” made 71 starts – Karlsson suited up for 11 games. Kiprusoff’s graduate decline continued, as he posted a .916 even-strength save percentage; he ranked 42nd of the 63 goalies that played 500+ even-strength minutes.
That’s not good.
The 2010-11 season was wonderfully lean on trades. Darryl Sutter traded away his own son with his last swap as Flames general manager, while Jay Feaster’s first move involved acquiring Frederik Modin, who barely played due to injuries and then retired. A strong start, indeed.
- November 17, 2010: traded Ian White and Brett Sutter to Carolina for Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos.
- February 28, 2011: traded a seventh round pick to Atlanta for Frederik Modin.
- June 1, 2011: traded Tim Erixon and a fifth round pick to the NY Rangers for Roman Horak and two second round picks.
- June 25, 2011: traded Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a second round pick to to Buffalo for Chris Butler and Paul Byron.
We can cringe all we want about the Regehr/Kotalik move, but man, that Erixon deal turned out to be a steal in retrospect. Erixon was going to go back into the draft without signing and Calgary would’ve gotten a single second round pick in compensation; the deal amounts to Erixon for two picks and a fifth rounder for Roman Horak, which are both very good value swaps.
The final free agency additions in the summer of 2010 from Darryl Sutter: Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen (after trading him away the year before), Brendan Morrison, Stefan Meyer, Raitis Ivanans, Tim Jackman and minor leaguer Ryan Stone. A mixed bag, I’d say, but fairly heavy on name players.
The 2011 Draft was borderline excellent.
Gaudreau is a good NHLer already. Granlund is well on his way, and Wotherspoon is knocking on the door. Brossoit and Baertschi became assets that the Flames used to acquire other things – notably Ladislav Smid and Dougie Hamilton.
RETHINKING THE 2010-11 FLAMES
The Flames were one of the better possession teams in the NHL, with a 51.7% Corsi For mark. They also boasted the NHL’s third-best shooting percentage. So what was the deal? Why did they miss the playoffs?
Despite being in the NHL’s top third in possession and offense, their goaltending squandered many of their opportunities to win games. Their even-strength save percentage was in the league’s bottom-third, which spelled the end of their playoff hopes. An extra save here or there probably would’ve meant another win or two, which would’ve made the difference between them and the playoff teams.