Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Fanning the Failing Flames

Now that the suspense is over and the Calgary Flames are eliminated, the topic now turns to what's going to happen with the team. Who should go, who should stay, who should watch this teams after the high expectations that were given to the team because of their off-season moves. We'll start from the top down.

In terms of management, it's hard to say whether or not Darryl Sutter should/will be back on the team. He's made a lot of these deals that didn't pan out, starting first with Jay Bouwmeester coming to his home province and faltering as hard as he did. Then you have to wonder how the Dion Phaneuf trade for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White, and Jamal Mayers happened the way it did. While it seems White was the only one who did well enough to get the admonishment of the fans, it in no way replaces the potential that Phaneuf possessed. Added, Sutter going through coaches like nothing in his short tenure, and giving nepotism a new spin, odds are the moves he made this year will be the death of his GM position in Calgary. It's going to be hard to also think that team president Ken King will still be in his position if Sutter falls too. On the off chance they do say through the summer, both will be on a short-leash in the 2010-11 season and any slip will be the end of them at that point.

Should Darryl stay with the team, are the players going to be the ones who take the brunt of the bad showing?? Considering as we stand with a couple games left in the seasons and only Jarome Iginla and Rene Bourque have over 50 points for the year. The Flames have never been know as a score-happy team since the mid-90s, but you expect more players trying to chip in and maybe find a way to score. They had a lot of guys with sparks, like a Nigel Dawes or Curtis Glencross; but those little streaks soon faded. Defensively, the Flames weren't as solid as they should have been with their blue-line, though Miikka Kiprusoff had another solid season with a 2.27 GAA and .922 save percentage, though he only has four shutouts this year. The shutdown aspect of the Flames defense should have given Kipper more than four, but alas here we are.

What can you do about scoring, especially when the focus was on defense when it comes to coaching. With a lot of people throwing out trading Iginla, the primary source of offense and franchise player, it seems like the exact opposite of making things better. But these are Calgary fans and I've realized from leaving here that they do throw the baby out with the bathwater when a team doesn't live up to expectations that have completely out of whack since their miracle run back in 2004. But if you can get some prospects to grow on, do you try to attempt to move someone like Iginla?? Though Iggy has a "No-Movement Clause," you can imagine if the right deal came around and he'd accept it. It seems that he could be the only one of value, as a move for Kiprusoff (another No Movement case) shouldn't be considered as the goaltending depth isn't strong and would be needed in a defensive scheme.

That said defensive scheme is something many players are reportedly blaming on Brent Sutter and him not changing things around. While I'm not sure if Brent would be out, even if Darryl gets moved out, there has to be a shift in style for them to be competitive in the Western Conference. That will fall back on the GM to get those players in, as you can only do so much with a third-line guy who's immediately thrown onto the top-line because of lack of anything else going for them. If the players can't get in-- the GM goes and odds are the coach will be next so the new GM can get his coaching staff in place.

It's a tough pill to swallow for Calgary fans, mostly because of the atmosphere that comes with the Red Mile in Calgary during the playoffs. The bars are already complaining about losing money because the Flames are out, but you can only do so much with lofty expectations. This was a good team on paper, but at the same time-- the cogs may not fit into place. This is one of those times and trading away one of the main cogs mid-season could have shown that all the things aren't as they seem and everything is not as good as once thought. The future with the front office and players are going to be under the microscope more than ever in the YYC and there's going to be scrutiny at every turn. With all the trades, this has become Toronto West. The media will make that moniker truer than ever before this summer.

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