The Calgary Flames thought that they could parlay some Sutter family magic into sibling revelry. Unfortunately, the pairing seems to be as dysfunctional as anything the Kardashians or Hiltons could muster.
To be fair to Brent, he’s only failed to generate success for a single season. Most of the blunders fall at the feet of his brother (and the Flames’ GM) Darryl. Things simply have been ugly for the Flames coach-turned-general manager ever since he started making personnel decisions. Of course, however you focus the blame, the fact of the matter is that they are clearly a package deal and many – including Brian Costello of The Hockey News – are calling for their heads.
Though still mathematically alive to make the playoffs, the fact of the matter is the Flames have regressed in giant steps this season and have no business competing for the Stanley Cup. And for that reason, GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter must pay the price with their jobs.
Unfortunately, the firing of the Sutters won’t soothe the burns left by the general manager’s poor decisions. Let’s take a look at his many failed dealings.
Last year, the Flames moved a first rounder for the struggling former member of the Panthers and Coyotes. The funny looking Finn proceeded to become the scourge of many a Flames blogger and proved that maybe – just maybe – he never lead the Panthers to the playoffs because he wasn’t particularly good.
Sadly, GM Sutter missed the one positive thing about having Jokinen on the roster: allowing his contract to expire would mean that his $5.25 million cap hit would come off the books. Instead, Sutter moved Jokinen for two disappointing New York Rangers (Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik). Kotalik is, essentially, a poor man’s Jokinen except that he will make his team $3 million poorer through the 2011-12 season. Ugh.
It seemed like Phaneuf’s future came into doubt just about the moment the Flames signed overrated defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. Still, there’s no doubt that it was a little shocking how far the “sure thing” fell in the last few years.
The Flames ultimately moved his hefty $6.5 million for a grab bag of outcast Maple Leafs highlighted by on-and-off winger Niklas Hagman. Perhaps Phaneuf’s stock dropped, but that is a pretty weak return for a guy who (at one time) seemed like the next Chris Pronger.
Let me say this: however you feel about Stajan, there is no way he justified his 4 year, $14 million contract.
Look, Bouwmeester isn’t a bad player but any means. I put together a custom list of defensemen on Dobber Hockey taking into account various categories (from points to time on ice to takeaways) and he came out 14th. Still, when you throw a $6.68 million per year contract at a defenseman, 27 points is still a pretty disappointing result.
No room for comfort
The team simply doesn’t have room to add complimentary players. While Cap Geek shows that the team has about $3.8 million with few spots to fill, at least $15 million is wasted on Steve Staois, Cory Sarich, Stajan, Kotalik and Hagman. When you consider that about $28 million is wrapped up in their marquee guys (Iginla, Kipper, Bouwmeester, Langkow, Regehr) it’s clear that the Flames are what they are.
Thanks to the Sutter brothers, they should expect nothing more than an annual playoff bubble struggle. It’s time for the Flames to make a change.