The Calgary Flames were pummeled 9-0 in Boston last night, their fifth consecutive loss and one of the worst in franchise history, dropping them to 18-19-5 on the year.
It was the kind of defeat that shakes a team to its core, infuriates the coach, embarrasses the players and forces management into major action.
Or minor action, it seems.
Today, Flames GM Jay Feaster announced minor-league forward Brenden Mikkelson has been traded to Tampa for forward Blair Jones.
Things, you just got shook up!
To be fair, the issue here isn’t the actual deal — Jones played for Brent Sutter in Red Deer and was drafted by Feaster in Tampa, so he’s a familiar face — the issue is the timing. Pundits were standing in line to make the requisite “Jones will fix everything” and “Mikkelson was the problem” jokes, mostly because the Flames are 1) playing awful and 2) already at the center of so much major trade speculation.
Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff have all been bandied about for months…yet the first guy to get traded was Mikkelson, a waiver-wire pickup.
Let’s put this in perspective. While watching Brad Pitt furiously trade players in Moneyball looked cool (and fun), most real-life deals don’t work that way. Steve Yzerman’s bird dogs have been looking for defensive help for a while and the Mikkelson-Jones deal seemed easy enough to make, as Jones had been in and out of the Lightning lineup. Unfortunately, the deal was consummated the day after the Flames got wiped 9-0 .
So yeah, bad optics.
That said, you do have to wonder if a serious shakeup is looming. After the Boston blowout, every Flames player was sitting in his stall, waiting for the media onslaught. Making every player available is a pretty strong message — Darryl Sutter used to do it when he was the Flames coach — suggesting that management is near its breaking point with the current group of players.