There is an ongoing conversation amongst Flames fans regarding their lack of a first line centre. Can you imagine what stats Iggy would have had with the right centre? The Flames tried to fix the problem for years, but have failed in so many ways.
The issue with Iginla was not in finding him a decent centre. They tried after attempting to sign Richards. Flames fans were beginning to think they were cursed. Oh yes, the Flames were trying to find themselves a centre. Iginla waited for ten years, and the best centre was Conroy. The next best centre was not even a centre - Cammy.
They have tried through the draft. I could name many attempts and failures, but I think I will mention the two worst. The first was Rico Fata. He was supposed to be Greg Nemisz. Oh wait -- no, that's not right. Rico was suppose to be a stud. Instead, he turned into... well... Greg Nemisz. Do not get me started on Nemisz. Yet he is still a Flames prospect. Although with him, he is pretty much a farm hand.
Do I need to mention the Oli fiascos? Acquiring him twice? First of all, they traded for him from the Coyotes in exchange for Matthew Lombardi and a first. Matthew was the better player, but the Coyotes got the first round pick. Then of course, they traded him to the Rangers. And then they resign him for $3.5 million. I think he played very well, yet the Flames let him go to the Jets. The Flames fans can blame the curse. Olli never really meshed with Iginla.
Last year, our best centre was Roman what-was-the-last-name-oh-yeah Cervenka. You remember the hype. Before signing, he was supposed to be the best forward not in the NHL. All season they argued about whether or not the Flames gave him a chance. Whether you believe the people like me that feel he was or not, he just did not fit into the Flames' system.
Then there was Mr. Backland. If he could stay healthy, he could be blossom into a number one centre. The problem was that last year he turned into Mr. Fragile. On the bright side, he was playing the best of his career as a Flame. Still, the centre curse continues to haunt the flames.
So you can forgive my skeptical self as we enter the season. The Flames have promised us that they have addressed the issue with the two incumbents, Knight and Monahan. Let me add Mr. Backlund to the list.
I know I said he was part of the problem, but I saw some positive signs in his play. He was terrific at times, killing penalties, and his defensive game improved immensely. Backlund stepped it up his offensive performance. If he keeps it up, he could be the number one centre the Flames have been looking for.
Simply put, he is potentially the best player the organization has ever drafted. He has great skills with the puck -- he could stick handle out of a phone booth! His leadership skills are top notch. He knows how to play on a bad team. He never gives up, no matter what the score.
I have never seen him, I am getting all this second-hand: He plays a complete game and has a chip on his shoulder. He might very well be ready to play. He understands the defensive zone coverage.
There you have it. Whether these three end the centre curse is anyone guess, but one thing for sure -- the Flames have definitely taken a new direction on fixing the problem.