A man of many opinions, yours truly, dr.joeyonly
First things first, the biggest news this week in Canadian Hockey isn’t that Henrik Sedin actually stole the Art Ross Trophy from the usual suspects. It’s a lesson against panicking when things aren’t as bad as they might actually seem.
I mean to say…The biggest surprise for most hockey fans in Canada is the disappearance of the Calgary Flames officially from the list of contending teams. The Flames have slowly disintegrated over the past five years and GM Daryl Sutter has almost certainly ended his last season in Calgary on a disastrous note. They haven’t just disintegrated, they’ve shot themselves in the foot and have all but fallen completely off the charts and the blame must be pinned on Daryl Sutter and his reign of terror. Sutter is a general manager so crusty that his brother, who unfortunately coaches the team, can’t communicate with him.
People say he didn’t listen to anybody, but I think he listened to Calgary Sports Talk radio because his disastrous moves as a GM sound like most of the drunken gibberish the over-confident Cup hungry Calgarians spout on the post-game call in shows. When the teams winning everyone calls in saying how great this team is, except for so and so and such and such (who has to go). When the team loses every one has to go, everyone sucks and nobody knows what they are doing on the team. If only the collective consceince of those callers were the GM, he might look something like Daryl Sutter.
The Calgary Flames have the long term prospect now of being the sort of team the Maple Leafs were during the John Ferguson Jr. era, a team that can’t lose enough to get a high draft pick and can’t win enough to ever make a playoff bonus. They have become a perenial mediocre team who with each season becomes less and less entertaining to pay $100 a seat for.
One of the problems with Calgary is that the fanbase was too rabid with its expectations, over the past five years Calgary has had some excellent teams which for one reason of another Daryl Sutter tore apart each time the team stumbled and faltered. Every year the team would be shaken up, new coaches employed and a new system thrown at the players. Immediate solutions meant trading away top prospects and draft choices for failed experiments like Olli Jokinen down the stretch. In those years a number of excellent players slipped off the team in the off-season like Mike Cammeleri and to some degree Alex Tanguay and replaced with cheaper players like hisoric figures Owen Nolan and Todd Bertuzzi exhausting their resources in the process. $26 million dollars in cap space was spent on defencemen, Jay Bouwmeester could not score enough to make up for their weakening offence.
When the Flames went on a 9 game losing streak the panic button was pushed again. Sutter pulled the trigger on a trade that I think has damaged the long term prospects of the Calgary Flames to be a contending team, they shipped Dion Phanuef to Toronto in exchange for a slate of Leafs players who had long forgotten how to win a hockey game. The whole city and the Flames management panicked and blew the team apart in a desperate move driven by delusional hopes that they could fix the team on the fly and win the Stanley Cup in 2010. They finished with 90 points, they weren’t doing so bad that the team needed to be exploded in return for second string Maple Leafs.
With Phanuef gone the Flames suddenly lack young talent, even their farm team in Abbotsford missed the playoffs. A bad sign when you compare them to the presidents trophy winning Washington Capitals whose farm team also finished in first place. The Flames became one of the oldest teams in the league with an abundance of guys who could score 20 goals but could never compete for a Cup. They all looked to Jerome Iginla to score and fight all the problems away even though, like Mats Sundin once had, his top line centre became mediocre Matt Stajan. Stajans a great person and a quality hockey player, but throwing him on your top line will only produce a hockey team comparable to the 2006 Toronto Maple Leafs which was in the 86 point neighbourhood.
I think that the Phanuef trade is symptomatic of the bigger mental illness in Calgary. People should have looked at the bright side more often, Calgary was an entertaining team for many years to watch and could have re-mained so with some patience. Iginla’s off year of 32 goals was still the15th best scorer in the league, it wasn’t Iginla who failed to score goals. It was the Calgary Flames entire dried up roster who finished 29th in goals for. Poor Jerome Iginla, doesn’t matter how perfect he is it’s never been good enough for Calgary. That’s what playing hockey in Canada is all about.
Now speculation is that Jerome Iginla should be traded at the age of 33, the way Joe Neiwendyk was once upon a time to Dallas (which is how Iginla came to Calgary in the first place). I think Calgary better learn from Toronto’s example and act now while there is still time. If Phanuef hadn’t been shipped out I wouldn’t say that Iginla should be traded, but honestly Sutter has destroyed the long term prospects of the Calgary Flames. They got no one on the farm ready to come be a superstar and take that team to a Cup. Iginla should be traded because people in Calgary don’t appreciate what it is they actually have in their captain, the closest thing to Rocket Richard who ever skated for a Canadian team.
If they trade Iginla they ought to trade him to Toronto so he can be the next Doug Gilmour in the big smoke. Hell Toronto can send them two more draft picks like they did to Boston for Kessel…but then again I might be the only person who thinks that was a smart trade even though Toronto still finished 29th and gave the dying Bruins a new prospect. There are no gaurantees in hockey, so you have to take what you can get when it is there. Clearly it’s time for the Calgary Flames to look to the future and start taking anything they can get cause at this point even the Edmonton Oilers have a brighter one.
(A brighter future in Edmonton…Just ask the cougar pictured above who was the mascot for the Calgary Cougars teenage hockey team but now lives in the Auditorium Hotel in Nanton Alberta. Bartender Chad put the hat on its head and was the ridicule of the bar as Edmonton lost and lost and lost and the arrogant Flames thought they had a Cup contender).