Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sutter Out Jay in Makng Sense out of it.

The Calgary Flames have a new sheriff in town, as Daryl Sutter steps down as General Manager of the Flames. What cost Sutter his job? Most people think it was the trades; more specifically, the Dion deal. Let’s face facts: Stajan has not lived up to expectations, and Hagman has played well at times but has to improve.

Yet some more people seem to think his downfall was bringing Olli back again. It was an interesting move that reeked of desperation. One that really had every national media outlet questioning his motives.

Many people blame the system. The dump and chase system is not working, and most of the fans and media seem to think it was Daryl’s fault. Daryl is really old school. He had a hard time adjusting to the new NHL.

Some people seem to think that Daryl did not allow Brent to coach. That it was Daryl’s team and Brent was not given freedom on how to run the team. Daryl had his way running the team, and Brent was not on the same page as Daryl. So in other words, it was a power struggle, and Daryl lost.

Now comes the thing I feel was Sutter’s downfall. Jay hinted in an interview that was he is not a fan of NMC and NTC contracts. Sutter either did too many or acquired too many of them. When you have 11 NMC or NTC contracts, it really puts a cramp in trying to make a trade. Combine that with the Flames being right at the cap limit.

I am hoping people realize what Daryl did for the Flames. They were a non-playoff team going pretty much nowhere. Daryl took this team to the next level, and for that we should always be grateful. Like or dislike, never question his heart for this team. He should be respected for bringing a struggling team out of the ashes and back to life.

There is also a feeling that the Flames were looking for a scapegoat. There were no right answers; basically, the players were not playing up to par. There always has to be a place for the buck to stop at, and to save their own jobs, everyone laid it at Daryl’s feet.

So everyone is wondering what Mr. Jay Feaster has in mind as the new GM for the Flames. First of all, we really need to try to figure out his options.

Option 1

Trading Iggy

Feaster has said over and over again that he is not interested in trading Iggy. He either has a very good poker face, or he really he has no desire to trade him. I am betting on a poker face. As a General Manager. It is his job to explore his options. Like it or not, he has to explore this option.

Option 2

Trading Regehr

I think one of his best options might be trading Regehr. He is a solid defender and he has a cheap cap hit for a number 2 dman. Robin does so many things right in his own zone. He is a great leader who could bring tons of leadership into a locker room. Regehr would be a great asset to any team in the League.

Option 3

Trading Kipper

Trading Kipper may very well be a solid option. Irving is having a career year in Abbotsford. Meanwhile, the Calgary Tower is becoming a very good goalie in his own right, and might very well be ready for the next step. Kipper would get the Flames a pretty hardy return.

Other less drastic options would include trading Glencross and Bourque. There is also Gio and Jbo, but those two are cornerstones to build around. For some reason, Backlund has been benched, but again, that is not an option. Could the Flames get a return for Sarich? I suspect they would, but he has been outstanding this season. At times, he has been our best dman.

It will interesting to watch what Jay’s first move will be. All eyes will be on him.

Randy

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Darryl Steps Down


Darryl Sutter Steps Down


At around noon I got word that Flames executive VP and the GM has stepped down!


Shocked, surprised were my first feelings but it makes total sense; I just didn’t see it happening today.


Jay Feaster will step in as GM until the end of the season and then the organization will make a decision on whether he continues to retain that role. Early reactions state that the “rebuild” will begin now and the team will be blown up. My opinion is that Feaster will probably bring in a couple of guys in the office and evaluate the team on his terms. Then decide who the core players are, decide where the team is at and in what direction this organization must go.

Last thing I would like to thank Darryl Sutter for his time with the organization. When Darryl came in this team was a mess and couldn’t compete. Darryl was a major part in making this organization relevant again and being competitive every year. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind but he never stepped away from what he believed in and that is admirable!


This is the right move and probably should have happened in the past offseason! Now we move forward and hopefully we can re structure this team and get excited again!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Look at the Abbotsford Heat

A look at the Abbotsford Heat
Flames jambalaya With Dan Kinvig

With the way the last couple of weeks have gone with the Flames, and all the drinking and crying we continue to do as fans, I wanted to spend some time talking about something more positive. I also wanted to give fans a direct inside view of our prospects and who better to provide us with an honest view from the Heat than Dan Kinvig. Dan is the sports editor at the Abbotsford news! Dan has great sports knowledge and follows the Abbotsford Heat on a daily basis. Dan is a MUST follow on twitter at (@dankinvigsports) and I highly recommend reading up on his articles at http://www.abbynews.com/

I was pleased that Dan took some time to be interviewed by Flames Jambalaya, answer some questions that allow us as Flames fans to get a more inside view of the Heat.

Question#1 We all know it is a young team, but with that said are the Heat playing like a young team? Or is their 16-14-4 record, a sign of great young talent with good leadership and coaching? How do you assess the team so far this year?
"There's definitely a learn-as-you-go element this season, what with all the youth on the roster. But that said, the Heat have found a way to win, and that's a tribute to Jim Playfair and the players in the room. They haven't been able to score many goals (just 23 in the last 15 games), but they've buckled down defensively and won a lot of 2-1 games. Playfair talks a lot about the character in the room – he's really impressed with these young kids."

Question#2 I have been a big fan of Leland Irving since his junior days, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed the past couple of years. Is Leland back to form and is he close to being that 1st round pick that I was so excited about?
"Leland really struggled last year – he spent some time in the ECHL, and it was clear that his confidence was low. But he put in an awesome summer of work, and his confidence is back. You can see it in his body language on the ice, and in his results. He's always been a technically sound goalie, and he's taken full advantage of the opportunity that Playfair's given him to run with the No. 1 job. His stock as a prospect, to me, has to be back where it was two years ago."

Question#3 Is it fair to say that Kris Chucko is no longer a “prospect” and should we just accept that he is a bust as a former first round pick?
"Kris is really a hard-luck case. He had a pretty nice 2008-09 campaign with the Quad City Flames (28 goals, 23 assists in 74 games), but concussions have limited him the past two years. He played only 41 games last season, and he was concussed once again in just his second game this season. What I'm trying to say is, it's hard for him to shed the 'bust' label when he can't get on the ice. Playfair said earlier this week that Chucko isn't anywhere close to returning at this point, so you've got to wonder whether this season is the end of his run in the Flames organization."

Question#4 I have heard a lot of positives about Greg Nemisz and Carter Bancks so far this season. How excited should Flames fans be about these two kids?
"To me, this year's crop of rookie pros is the most exciting strata of youngsters in the Flames system. That includes the likes of T.J. Brodie, Lance Bouma, Mitch Wahl and Gaelan Patterson, along with Nemisz and Bancks. Bancks has been just awesome. Concussions have sidelined him for 16 games, but when he's in the lineup, he's been the Heat's best forward more often than not. He's the definition of gritty – never scared to throw his body in front of a shot – and his offensive skills are underrated. Not bad for a kid who wasn't drafted and is on an AHL contract. Nemisz has a lot of tools, as you'd expect from a first-round pick. He's got good size, good puck skills, and he's an effective penalty killer."

Question#5 Jon Rheault had a great summer camp and then a good pre-season, was it a fluke? Or has he been struggling to find his groove again?
"Jon has definitely struggled to find his groove. He had six goals in 13 AHL playoff games last spring, but he's scored just four times in 34 games this season. When Jon is rolling well, he's using his speed to beat defencemen to the outside and take pucks to the net. That aggressive mentality hasn't been there for him on a consistent basis this season, but he played well in the Heat's last two games before the Christmas break."

Who are your MVP, Most improved and Norris trophy guys on the Heat so far this season?
"MVP has got to be Leland Irving. He leads the AHL in goalie wins with 15, and it's hard to imagine where the Heat would be without him. They have so much trouble scoring, and Irving hasn't had a lot of margin for error. Carter Bancks might have given Irv a run for MVP honours, but he hasn't played enough games to join that discussion, in my mind.
"Most improved is a bit of a tough one, since there are so many rookies and new faces on this team. Irving is probably the best choice – he's having a huge bounce-back season – but for the sake of variety, I'll mention defencemen Keith Seabrook and Gord Baldwin. Seabrook plays huge minutes for this team, and seems to be taking on more of an on-ice leadership role after a bit of a slow start. As for Baldwin, I think the Heat coaching staff would still like to see him use his big body more effectively (he's 6'5", 205 lbs), but his +4 rating is third-best on the team.
"For the Norris, I'll go with T.J. Brodie. I'm a huge fan of Brodie's – every game he makes at least one 'wow' play. He's so mobile, and I think he might be the best NHL prospect on this team."

Last thing, I was hoping to get your opinion on Backlund’s recent “healthy scratch” status and if you feel he should be playing with the Heat to continue his development?
"I really thought we'd seen the last of Backlund in Abbotsford, and I certainly don't have my finger on the pulse of the Flames to the same extent as I do with the Heat, but the recent healthy scratches kind of make you wonder. To me, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have a young guy watching from the press box for a long stretch. If he's not going to play regularly in Calgary, there's really no downside to sending him down to get some game action."

Definitely sounds like there are some things to be excited about in Abbotsford, especially Leland Irving. On the down side, they sound a lot like the big club in the sense of no goal scoring. When the Flames signed Karlsson, I was wondering if Irving would bounce back or crumble with his label of “mentally weak”. Great to see he is bouncing back and working hard. Hopefully come next camp or in case of a call up he is ready to take the next step! I also have been critical of Nemisz before the season but sounds like he is developing well and hearing that he is on the penalty kill is much to my surprise.

Jim Playfair! There is a reason why some feel he should be at the NHL level. We all know about his defensive smarts and it is great to hear and see him develop these young guys into solid responsible hockey players at all ends of the ice. Likewise, sounds like the room is a healthy one and as Flames fans that is encouraging to hear!

I agree that Backlund needs to play; it would not hurt him if he played in the AHL although I feel he can play and be effective with the big clubs as well. But until a change is made and the team decides what direction they are going in, Backlund will mostly likely draw in here and there!

Again thanks to Dan from www.abbynews.com for taking the time to give us his time and thoughts! We wish Dan and his family a very happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New GM needed!


General Manager Wanted!


Well my previous blog stated I still had some hope. I got a lot of reaction and no one seemed to agree, I was a little bit surprised but I understood! Now with saying that and after seeing the Flames play against the Wild and Blue Jackets I understood both. I had some hope left because the Flames showed great effort and teased me with believing they are close to putting it “all” together. But realistically...yes, realistically, when the Flames can’t beat two teams that are considered “weaker” opponents (or are they?) it means the team is in a deeper hole than some thought. But now it is time for me, and apparently Ken King and Daryl Sutter to see the real issue and begin the process of re-tooling or re-building this team! Come January you have to figure something is going to drop! Is it a trade or firing/hiring? That I don’t know but both have to be highly considered.


I still do not believe this team can pull off a massive trade that propels the Flames to solving the “youth” “speed” and “talent” hole they have in the system. And that is due to the “harsh and tough to trade” contracts some players have, where most team will not give up quality to add one of these. So maybe the Flames should hold a garage sale…
It’s a mess but until you make the necessary first step, it will not get better! And that big first step has become pretty evident;


Make a change at the GM position. I have been one of Sutter’s biggest supporters, but it is time to get a new guy making decisions! I believe Daryl stuck to what he knew and what he believed was important. Things such as loyalty, bold moves and keeping it Western Canadian were a few of Sutter’s characteristics that I agree with, but the League has moves ahead of that. Sutter’s lack of European knowledge, attention to speed and unwillingness’ to change has now caught up and cost this team. It is time to bring in a new face, voice and outlook to hopefully re-kindle the Flames. I am not sure as to whom to suggest, Feaster is the obvious but I am not so sold but I also would not be against him! Call me crazy but would a Gary Roberts be an option? Kelly Kisio to bring in a complete fresh new look?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Dwindling Hope


My Thoughts.....Maybe too positive??


Few days away from Christmas and the question I hold is “do I save money for play-off tickets, or do I go ahead and spend that money on gifts for the family?”


On this Sunday, I am going to take some time and answer some questions and share my opinion.
First off,

Are we bound not to make the play offs this year? Well with 98 points still left up for grabs and let us say we need 95 points to make the 8th seed. The Flames will need 64 points out of the possible 98 which means 65.3% win hockey is needed from here on out. So yes it looks bleak, and unless our home ice play and consistency improves, we will be talking about possible trades involving guys like: Regehr, Iginla, Glencross and Hagman come February, along with watching Nugent-Hopkins closely in Red Deer.

Who will not be wearing a Flames jersey off of the current roster after the trade deadline? Again this depends on where the team is positioned in the standings but even if we are out of the playoff picture, I do not think Daryl (or the new GM) will be able to move many bodies. And instead he will try to re-tool in the offseason. Still I have a tough time seeing Glencross not being dealt. When Kostopoulos came over in the Ian White deal, I felt Glencross was expendable and with his contract status come deadline day I can see a few teams making the call and presenting an offer. Another player is Adam Pardy; I really like his play this season. But with all the youth coming up on defence and his contract expiring at season’s end, he could draw some interest by a team who is in a good playoff position and is not comfortable with what they have in the farm. Realistically, if you are looking for major deals this team in my opinion will not be involved, straight due to contracts statuses. And yes I still think Iginla will be wearing red!


Should we just tank it and go for 1st overall pick? No! Absolutely not, where is the pride in that? As long as Jarome is on this team and the captain, this team will always try to move north in the standings! I know some media folk are insisting the Flames should blow it up and blow it up now. But in the past, teams in worse positions have made the playoffs. Now I am not saying the Flames will but why not try? What does this team have to lose… 1st overall pick?? That’s for the yearly embarrassment of the league and I will gladly let the Islanders or Edmonton take that, maybe even Toronto… although Boston will be the real winner in that scenario! The upcoming draft will be a deep draft though there is no real player that can change an NHL team by next season. There are still plenty of good prospects all over the first round. Second is we can’t blow this team apart, who will take Jokinen, Kotalik, Staios and or Stajan? I think the Flames need to play it out and hopefully make the playoffs. And if they do not make the playoffs you cannot make any progress until the offseason unless you are on the side of the people who want Iginla dealt.


Is our age and lack of star youth to blame for this potential horrendous season? Sure it is; our veterans have not been good or consistent! Now with the lack of “star” youth that is due to not drafting high and making trades in the past to become a Stanley cup contender (which I will not hold against this team). But viewing this from a positive angle, I now am glad we have these veteran players. Because if this team is to get out of this funk and perhaps make a push you need vets and experienced smart players, rather than inexperienced youth.


I guess I might still be in the “win now” phase and holding on to our last gasps of hope, but I do not think this season is over yet and I do see it getting better. Our play of late has been good, analysts like Pierre McGuire said the Flames needed to win 6 straight game against these weak opponents such as the Wild and Jackets, otherwise this team is done. Now I know we lost to the Wild last night and that snapped that opportunity, but winning 6 straight games in this league is tough and borderline unrealistic! And I also think it is too early for the Flames to be “done” if they lose a game… although maybe it isn’t…?


We have 5 games left this year and in no way do I think it is unreasonable to think we can get 7-8 points still before the year is up. That could have us start the season perhaps only 4 points out of a playoff spot!

I still have hope but do you? Let us know!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What are the odds of making the playoffs


So, what happens now?


15th in the Western conference, win one lose one trend continues. 7 points out of a playoff spot with more home games to play then road games. Keep in mind the home record and play has not been good all year!


So what is the issue, the real issue?
That question will be answered almost similar by most people; can’t score, power play sucks and there is no consistency …oh and that Daryl character too! True, so how do you fix it? Many are suggesting Daryl should be fired and some include Brent in that conversation. My opinion is firing Daryl Sutter will not improve this team now, and the same goes for Brent. Yes, Daryl got us into this mess and I agree he should be held responsible. But what can he or any “new” GM do? Too many NTC & NMC included with questionable contracts and a dysfunctional leadership group. Assets such as Iginla and Regehr both are playing extremely well right now, so who do you deal to get value in return? And don’t even say the “K” name! I realize if this team needs a re-build than Daryl should and will probably not be the guy steering that wheel, but at the same time a rebuild is not possible at the moment just based on everything that is tied to this club and the lack of pick quantity at the next draft. Either way to turn this around or the next year and a half will be a tough time for Flames fans.

Let’s break it down:
52 games: 104pts still up for grabs
28 Home games left
24 road games left
On pace for 221 goals for
On pace for 243 goals against
(Projection) 95pts needed to clinch a playoff spot in the West
52 games left 68pts needed to get to 95pts. That means the Flames must play 65.38% hockey for the rest of the season!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Outside View

A look at the Flames from the East!

For my blog on the Flames today I am very excited to be working with Todd Cordell. Todd is a NHL/NJ Devils writer and staff manager for sportshaze.com. I respect Todd’s opinion highly and look at him as an honest and very knowledgeable hockey man.

Since Todd views the Flames with an outside eye, I wanted to ask him some questions that I receive a lot from Flames fans. I felt that by doing so, maybe we could see this from a different angle and see how the Flames are viewed outside of the Calgary area! Here are the questions I asked Todd and his answers;

1. From an outside view on the Calgary Flames, what movable assets do the Flames have?

Answer: Based on salary and everything aside from Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr, I think that Anton Babchuk, Alex Tanguay and Niklas Hagman are the most valuable players the Flames have that other teams would want come February if they're made available.

I think that come February a lot of teams that are close or in the playoffs would like to add a nice cheap offensive defenseman like Babchuk. I know Babchuk was just acquired, but I have been told by several people that if they are out of the playoff race, they will look to move him at the deadline.

FJ: Interesting answer, I looked at Babchuck as a cheaper option for Sutter to sign to an extension than Ian White. But when you have Brodie, Pelech, Negrin and Seabrook who are almost NHL ready and with a guy like Erixon coming up, I can totally see Babchuck being expendable come deadline day.

2. Whose job is on the line with the Calgary Flames and why? Do the Owners love Daryl Sutter too much?

Answer: I think Brent Sutter is on the hot seat to be honest. Based on what I have heard, the Flames ownership group believes that Daryl Sutter has the players to get the team to the playoffs, and it is Brent Sutter's job to get them there.

FJ: I can’t argue that, the team has totally under performed. I really like Brent and I hope he stays but if he is the issue than maybe the Flames have to once again make a change.

3. When you saw the Flames play the Devils, what stood out the most to you when it came to the Flames? Good and bad.

Answer: To be honest nobody really stood out good or bad. What stood out to me was the Flames knack for taking bad penalties. They didn't take a ton but they took them at bad times, luckily for the Flames, the penalties didn't really cost them.

FJ: I think every Flames fan will agree this team has taken some bad penalties and at bad times. Also Glencross can be blamed for a large chunk of them. I love this answer because it shows that even people like Todd who do not follow the Flames like we do, sees a big time issue the Flames have.

4. Has Brent Sutter done a good enough job with the Flames given what he has or has he not?

Answer: He has and he hasn't. The team is by no means filled with talent but there should be enough there to keep them in contention for a playoff spot which as of now, he hasn't done. If the Flames are sitting around 8th or 9th come February they could make an acquisition or two but that doesn't appear likely to happen.

FJ: Sounds like the Flames have to do with what they have. Which is hard to imagine otherwise due to all the crazy contracts and “NTC, NMC” in players contracts.

5. Will the Flames be a play-off team come April?

Answer: I don't think so, but with Kipper in net you never know, He is more than capable of stealing some games, the only questions is, how many can he steal?

FJ: Hit the nail on the head…Kiprusoff! Once again he has to be border line “not human” to carry this team to the play offs. I still think the Flames have a chance but is an eight place finish worth it? Depends on how you look at it. I want playoffs regardless of what seed!

I hope this gave you a small look from an outside view on the Calgary Flames current situation. I want to thank Todd Cordell for taking the time to answer a couple of questions. I highly suggest you add Todd to your “twitter” followings @ToddCordell. You can also find him at; http://nhltoddcordell.wordpress.com/ Todd gives great insight on everyday NHL happenings and insight to trade rumours.

GO FLAMES GO
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.