What is wrong with the Calgary Flames? Living in the city, being a fan,... being surrounded by fans, I think I am pretty well versed on this team, and I suppose I am the only CBS blogger that covers the Flames. And although many in the league, or on this website really could care less,...it is a mystery to the fans of the Flames, how these guys have gone from a Cup appearance in 2004, to currently riding the bottom of the Western conference as of December 7th. So, I sit down to write about the trials and tribulations of the Calgary team known as the Flames,...for those that in fact do care.
Is there any one single thing wrong with this team? I would say not. Trying to be biased as possible, I believe on paper they are one of the most talented teams that have worn the jersey. Seriously,...no kidding. Not since the late 80's have we had a more prolific group of guys to play the game. We have one of the best defensive cores in the league, (although the GA's don't support that statement), combined with a world class goaltender in Kiprusoff, we in theory should be the best in keeping the puck out of our own net. Plus, I have too say, they are giving an effort night in and out.
Up front, however, is a different story. Scoring has always been a bane to Calgary teams, even in the past. We have never had a collection of goal scorers that put fear into the opponents goal tenders. (Exception,..maybe '88 with Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Macinnis, and Fleury to name a few). And with last years effort coming up second last in overall goal scoring in the entire league, there is an obvious hole. With Iginla getting older, how is he expected to carry this team into the future?
This brings me to another point of contention. This team has, and perhaps always will, be in the eternal hunt for the power forward to play with #12. I can't count how many good solid players, and draft picks have gone the way side in an attempt to bring someone in to help Iggy put more points on the board, and become one of the top scorers in the league. Oh,...the draft picks. The Flames have had 3 first rounders in the past 4 drafts, and 2 second rounders in the past 8 years. Now, I am not a NHL GM, but it doesn't take an expert to realize, if you don't get high draft picks, you don't have much of future. Albeit, many drafted players never make it to the NHL, but you have to get some youth in your lineup from somewhere, because your not going to get that young goal scorer from another team, they seem to tend to want to keep them.
So, the Flames, and generally Daryll Sutter's philosophy is too cough up draft picks, to get players in to play with Iginla, which seems to me just as much a gamble as taking your draft picks, and selecting some good young prospects, and trying and develop them. Both Tanguay, and Jokinen cost us 2 draft picks each, plus players. That's four players they mortgaged their future on, for winning now, and matching up with Iggy. Seems like a lot to sacrifice considering the Flames went to the Finals in 2004 with bit players like Conroy, Nilson, Nieminen, Donovan, and especially Martin Gelinas. This was a team put together with chemistry in mind, by a GM who is no longer with the franchise.
So, I guess through all this, I have pointed the finger directly at Daryll Sutter. After all, it's not all entirely his fault. He did get and sign Kiprusoff. But with his inability to look into the future, and disregard draft picks as something that can't help the team, and his inability to find a coach that can show some originality, and work within the confines of the new NHL. Case in point,...Mike Keenan to me was embarrassment for the franchise, as he was a successful coach, but was a dinosaur in the new game, and had a habit of alienated the players on his teams. Add on the fact he hadn't worked in four years previous, that hiring set the franchise back.
Bottom line, this team, and it's management have a created a great team,....for 10 years ago. There is no one who is terribly fast, and that is a buzz word in the NHL with it's new rules. Speed kills, and no Flame is a real speedster. Defense is still key, but they also must be moblie in this game, and have the ability to get the puck up the ice fast. I have to give this one to Daryll, and one of the reasons he brought Jay Bouwmeester into the fold, and yet another semi-bust. As he has never really looked comfortable in the Flaming C jersey. Plus, we have only a handful of prospects for the future, so the rebuild that is coming and inevitable, will be a long painful road to recovery. So, unfortunately, I don't think a GM change will do this team any good immediately, it is necessary before Daryll does some more damage.
And I believe to expedite this new era after the new GM is in place, is to shop Iginla. Yes, I said it. While he still has some value in the league, and we can get a couple of good players or picks. I loved the rumour of a couple of weeks ago, that Iggy was going to LA Kings for Brayden Schenn for example. Don't get me wrong, I think Iginla is a great player,...but how about give him a cup, as I think if there was ever a guy that deserved one, it would be Jarome. So send him somewhere he is likely to get one.
But what do I know?