Thursday, September 24, 2015

Calgary Flames Decisions

Going into the season, the Flames have some major choices to make. The biggest being in goal, crowded with three incumbents: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, and of course Joni Ortio. Ortio having a one-way contract makes it that more interesting. This is the one choice I want to discuss tonight.

Karri Ramo

The ability of Karri to make the big save came in handy in the playoffs. But at the same time, his unfortunate ability to give up a bad goal was almost predictable. He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Flames need a more consistent goalie this season. Whether Karri can deliver is anyone guess.

Jonas Hiller

Jonas would be the first to tell you he can be better this season. I love his ability to cover his net. He has quick reflexes for rebounds for the second start. He is usually in position for the next opportunity. But he has the tendency to lose focus and let in bad goals. If he can return to his days in Disneyland, he is capable of being a consistent number one goalie.

Joni Ortio

Here is the wild card. Joni has been outstanding at AHL level. He really had no more to prove. He is a big, lanky goalie who covers the net. He is a very good positional goalie who needs to work to continue his progress. The negative is that I am not sure he will get enough action to do that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top Ten Favourite Flames

I am trying to put together my Top 10 Flames list. Putting together my favorite Flames players is a daunting task. There are a quite a few!

I mean, I could have players like defenceman Kari Eloranta, a Flames defender who was with the Flames in the eighties. He never scored more than five goals a season. Okay, bad example. Why would I want him?

I could have put Kent Nilsson, AKA the Magic Man. He has the Flames' record  for most points in a season: 131. In an era when defensive hockey was not invented. But of course, he was an Oiler, so I really could not have him on my list.

Well, of course I am being a little facetious, but you see my point. There could be a whole bunch of players to chose from. It is a task which I do not take lightly. There is no set criteria. Just a totally subjective list of my favourite players. I am sure my list won't be the same as yours, but it will be interesting to see who are the most-liked Flames of all time.


10.  Doug Gilmour

Doug was one of the best second line Centres in the league. He did so many things and played with a edge. Although he never was the best at anything, he was very good at everything. He played with a chip on his shoulder and never let anyone push him around. He never stepped down from anyone. He was a true leader on the best team in the NHL. 

9.  Al Macinnis

A Powerplay specialist who was a very good offensive defenceman. Alan was the Conn Smythe winner in the 89 playoffs.  Alan had six 20-goal seasons with the Flames. Think of that for a defenceman. 

8. Lanny MacDonald.

Lanny was pretty much the heart and soul of the Flames, scoring that huge second goal in game six. He also gets the award for the best moustache  in the NHL. He holds the record for most goals scored in a season (sixty-six,) which will probably never be broken. Lanny was a fantastic power forward with a terrific snapshot and ten times the heart of a normal man. He played on both the Leafs and the Flames, a bonus for me, being a huge Leafs fan as well.

7. Joe Mullen 

Joe was is a pure sniper, one of the best American players. He played the Flames for five season, where he had a career year, scoring 51 goals and 59 assists for 110 points in 1989. He was part of the 89 Stanley Cup team. He was the perfect all-around player. The Flames turned their season around after acquiring Mullen. I loved the way Joe could always be counted on to score the big goal or big play just when the team needed it.

6.  Sean Monahan

I truly believe that Sean is going to be an all-star Flame for many years to come. He is a number one Centre. He was a the best player on the first line last season. He was the best player on the team many nights. He has the ability to play a full game in the defensive zone. He was used in all aspects of the Flames' game.

5. Theoren Fleury 

Theo was told he could never play in the NHL because of his size. Not only did he play, he got a Stanley Cup ring and was a 60-goal scorer. Theo had the heart of a lion and was a sniper. He was the man for the Flames throughout most of his career.

4. Mark Giordano 

Mark would have won the Norris if it was not for his injury. He was basically the first real number one defenceman the Flames have had since the 80s.   The last two years, Mark has been the leader and one of the best Captains the Flames has ever had, both for his play and his leadership in the locker room.

3. Mikka Kiprusoff

This one is personal. I have met him several times. Mikka singlehandedly took the Flames to the 04 Stanley Cup final, making the ‘scorpion' save against the Sharks. Then there was the save off of Martin Havlat as Kipper dove back from behind the net. I will never forget Martin's face when found out he never scored.

2. Jarome Iginla

Iggy was probably the greatest captain in Flames history. He did everything he could to get us the Stanley Cup, but unfortunately we let him down by never giving him a true Centre. Even without a  bona fide centre, he scored two 50-goal seasons, and how many Flames can say that?

1. Hakan Loob

The other number 12 in a Flames sweater. Hakan was my favourite Flame in the 80s. Hakan had a 50-goal year and a Stanley Cup ring. I loved his breakaway speed and agility to get away from opposing defencemen.  


Yes, I know my number one was a odd choice, I have no sound reason, except that he was my favourite Flames player. He might not have been the best of all time, but he is my most-liked Flame. Who would be on your list?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tribute to Dad

First blogged on Flamestr's Thoughts

I wrote this story a little while ago but I was missing dad so I thought I would do this tribute again.

I remember the Canada Cup in 1976. One of my favorite players was Daryl Sittler, who was the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Daryl went on to score the winning goal for team Canada in the9 championship game against the Czechs. At the time, I wrote for the school newspaper. Of course, I wrote in the sports department. The story on the Canada Cup was my first story for the paper. I remember bringing it home so that my father could read it, so he would be proud of me.

Hockey always brought us together. I remember how disappointed we were when we could not watch the last half of 1972 Canada Russia series, known as the “super series”. We missed it because I was at school and Dad was at work. I remember going home after game eight. which was the last game of the series. When Dad came home, I did the play-by-play of the game winning goal by Paul Henderson, which gave Canada the series. I really could not do Foster Hewit justice, but my father did not care.

I remember listening to Danny Gallivan, even though he was the Montréal Canadiens play-by-play man. I used to love mimicking his play-by-play style. My father used to get mad at this, because he was a huge Maple Leafs fan. According to him, it was against the Constitution to like anything about the Montréal Canadiens. One of my favourite hockey sayings - or should I say hockey calls - was the call of Danny's Gullivan's of “Savard's spinarama”. That was for us old farts, who used to watch hockey on the radio. Ha ha.

My dad loves the old Leafs players, for example Dave Keon, George Armstrong, and Johnny Bower. An interesting fact about Johnny Bower that my father told me is that nobody ever really knew how old he was, and he liked it that way. I remember the last time (I was 35 back then) that the Maple Leafs won the Cup back in 1967. It was especially gratifying to us, because the Maple Leafs beat their rivals, the Montréal Canadiens in six games. The supposed experts picked the Canadians to win the Cup in five games.

In the golden years of hockey, my dad used to tell me men were men. The fighters would fight face-to-face. Granted, there were incidents of players trying to injure other players; but that would normally be a mutual thing -- there would be none of these hits from behind to cause injury. If players wanted to get even, they would do the old-fashioned way: by duking it out. Yes, there was violence, but it was a different kind of violence. The players actually respected each other. No, it was not a perfect world, but most of these players went home with a clear conscience, unlike some of the players today

The goalies were the bravest ones -- or maybe the craziest. My dad often wondered how they would stop shots without the mask, leaving their delicate features unprotected. One of our most favourite goalies was the ageless wonder, Johnny Bower, who I did not know had started out with the New York Rangers. We had a lot of mixed feelings when the Maple Leafs acquired the ex Montréal Canadien Jacques Plante. Again, with the Canadien issues. We did not want to break protocol by liking anything involving the Montréal Canadiens. It was harder for Dad than for me, because I never really saw him in a Montréal Canadiens sweater.

I will always treasure my time with my dad, and be very thankful for the sport of hockey that brought us so much closer together. 

Before I sign off, I thought I would give you a peek into part of my personal life that I don't usually let people in on. I wanted to show you this to try help people understand me better. This little segue is the introduction to a book that I would someday like to write. 

Have you ever heard of the saying “simple minds, simple pleasures”. That saying means something to me. You see, when I was young, I never heard a word, or said a word for the first 4 to 6 years of my life. Basically, I was born deaf, and the doctors never expected me to hear. 

As a result, I never did well in school. My math, English, and yes especially my grammar, suffered hugely. I turned to hockey, so I could find something that I was good at. An escape from the world, you might say. I actually found something that I was good at, where nobody pointed their fingers at me. Hockey is my simple pleasure.

The game of hockey taught me that there is more to life than being accepted, and that with hard work, even a person with a learning disability can be successful and live a normal life. That is the reason I am opening myself up now -- for the benefit of others like me. This is for the people who were told they would never amount to anything. That is total nonsense. You can. That is why this game of hockey became so much more than a game to me; it's my life. 

Until next time -

Love Ya Dad.
Flames Jambalaya is in no way, shape or form associated with the Calgary Flames Hockey Club or the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. This is a fans blog for fans. We just happen to love the Flames, so we write about it.