What's next for the Calgary Flames?

Kipper.jpgWhat an incredibly disappointing season for the Calgary Flames. What
has to be most frustrating is how the team completely sold out for this
one season, making several big moves in an attempt to spark any sort of
secondary scoring, is that nothing seemed to work. Nearly every move
made has handcuffed the team for the future, and bringing back the same
roster next season has to be unfathomable for fans and ownership alike.

So what’s next for the Flames?

For one, it’s like that Darryl Sutter is on his way as the team’s
general manager. After a season of such catastrophic decisions not
paying off, starting at the very top is the first step to recovery.
Yet as Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail puts it,
changing the
general manager will not instantly make things better.

Sutter’s team-building philosophies kept shifting over
the past half-dozen seasons as he made the move to permanent GM. In that
time, he loaded up on high-end blue-line talent (Robyn Regehr, Dion
Phaneuf, Bouwmeester) only to discover that the way of the new NHL is to
score more goals. So he changed gears in midseason, dumped Phaneuf,
dumped Olli Jokinen, and was probably the only man in town genuinely
surprised when the newcomers failed to right the ship. Collectively, the
quartet of forwards brought in to save the day (or at least provide
secondary scoring) failed miserably. Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Matt
Stajan and Chris Higgins managed 11 goals collectively in a total of 86
games, not nearly enough considering the premium ice time they received.

we stated yesterday, the Flames currently have $53 million locked up
among 17 players for next season. Not much room to make needed changes,
without at least making some major changes in the process. One
suggestion that may be getting whispered in corners around the NHL is to
trade Jarome Iginla. Not a smart idea, says
Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun:

Dealing Jarome Iginla after this disappointing season would be the
biggest folly of them all. It’s the type of move which could backfire in
the same manner as the infamous Doug Gilmour deal, which eventually
crippled the organization for
several years.

Iginla, who has a no-trade clause, said Wednesday he doesn’t want to
go. “I want to be part of the solution, and I don’t think we’re that far
(off),” he said.

Sutter’s constantly changing philosophy for the type of team he wants
to build put the Flames in difficult situations, as it seemed they
never could figure out the type of team they wanted to be. Tough to
maintain consistency when your own general manager fails to make up his
mind. Shifting the philosophy in the middle of your season — and
looking to the Toronto Maple Leafs to fix your scoring woes — is an
even faster way to head straight to mediocrity and disappointment.

Whatever happens, trading Jarome Iginla is not the answer. There are
many issues with the team but Iginla is not one of them. He had a bad
season and didn’t step up when it mattered, but not even he could have
pulled this team away from a season collapse.

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    Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

    Mike Modano
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    There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

    On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

    The full rosters:

    North Stars/Wild

    Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


    Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

    The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

    Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

    David Moss
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    Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

    David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

    After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


    Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

    Zdeno Chara
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    The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

    Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

    “We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

    A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

    Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

    They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

    The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

    Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    John Tortorella

    Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

    Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

    “You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

    Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

    In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with NHL.com, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

    “I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

    “It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

    So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    It’s hard to say.

    Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

    But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

    And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.