CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 11: Lee Stempniak #22 of the Calgary Flames skates against the New Jersey Devils during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 11, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Stempniak: Flames need to be honest with themselves after blowout


The story surrounding the Calgary Flames a month ago was one of optimism. They were considered one of the worst teams in the NHL going into the 2013-14 campaign, but managed to get off to a 3-0-2 start.

Was it possible for Calgary to actually be competitive in their first full season without Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff?

Since then the Flames have gone 3-10-1 and have suffered five straight defeats. Their rapid descent was punctuated last night by an ugly 7-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. If nothing else, perhaps the blowout will serve as an eye opener for the team.

“I guess, if anyone was sort of kidding themselves and thought, ‘Hey we didn’t play that bad, we were in it until the end,’ you just need to look in the mirror now. We got completely outplayed in every facet of the game,” Flames forward Lee Stempniak told the Calgary Sun.

“If you’re being honest with yourself, you know we haven’t played well and we need to be better.

“That’s the start of it. And if it takes hitting rock-bottom like tonight for it to click in, then maybe that’s a positive out of it.”

Coming to terms with their recent shortcomings might not transform this team overnight or push them in the direction of the playoffs. However, this is a franchise that’s trying to rebuild and the lessons their younger players learn today might help them down the road.

In the short-term though, Calgary will be looking to rebound on Saturday when they take on one of the few teams that have looked worse than them lately: the Edmonton Oilers.


Video: Seguin scores four, Benn’s six-point night helps Stars rout Flames 7-3

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.