Nine to nothing, with heavy emphasis on the nothing.
No goals. No effort. No grit. No spirit. Nothing.
You can say a lot of things about where the Calgary Flames after Thursday night’s 9-0 loss to the Boston Bruins and none of them would be good. Even the players were among their harshest critics Thursday night, with forward Curtis Glencross saying the debacle was like “an NHL team playing against midget players. Brutal.”
But now the question looms larger than ever: what can general manager Jay Feaster do to fix a hockey team that looks void of interest? Fire the coach, Brent Sutter? And then what – promote assistant Craig Hartsburg, a former NHL head man himself? Fat lot of good that will do. Hartsburg would still have the same inconsistent talent base to work with, and really, Scotty Bowman could be in charge of this bunch and still come off looking like Bill LaForge.
The best thing Feaster can do is go to the Flames’ owners and tell them, “Guys, this group of players isn’t going to cut it. We have to trade one of our stars for younger talent or draft picks. We have to sell hope instead of hopelessness.”
That means either Jarome Iginla or Miikka Kiprusoff have to go. Perhaps both, if the deals are good.
The Flames’ owners have been loathe to trade Iginla for fear of public backlash. They love the guy, love the way he generates brand recognition and moves merchandise. That said, they’d allow Feaster to shop Iginla if he came to them and requested a change of scenery. That would enable the owners to say they were doing a long-serving employee a favour by giving him a chance to pursue a Stanley Cup elsewhere – because we all know it’s not going to happen here any time soon.
Even with Iginla’s $7-million salary, there are teams interested in acquiring him for a playoff push. One team official, who attended the world junior tournament in Calgary, was asked if he’d be interested in Iginla and replied yes, given the right deal, extremely interested.
Trading Iginla wouldn’t hurt the Flames much more than they’re hurting now coming off their 9-0 embarrassment in Boston. Trading Kiprusoff would because there’s really no backup ready to replace him, not Leland Irving, at least not yet. A veteran goalie would have to be secured one way or another if Kiprusoff were to leave. But unless Feaster begins dangling Kiprusoff as trade bait, there’s no way of knowing what the Flames could garner as compensation.
Would trading Iginla or Kiprusoff be akin to running up a white flag and saying the season’s over? Undoubtedly. Then again, the season’s next to over already. This was supposed to be a team that learned from last year’s mistakes and was going to avoid a bad start; was going to put itself in the playoff hunt early and stay there for as long as it could, come injuries or slumps. Yet here they are after 42 games, riding a five-game losing streak and sitting 12th overall in the Western Conference. Not much to build on.
For the record: the Flames did make a trade Friday, sending defenceman Brendan Mikkelson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for centre Blair Jones. It was a deal that had been in the works prior to Calgary’s beat down in Boston.
If they’re smart, the Flames will begin making calls and letting it be known among their peers that the time has come; the captain and the goalie are on the table and all offers are encouraged.
To refute that and do nothing … well, we’ve already seen what that’s doing for the Flames.