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What’s next for the Calgary Flames?

Image (1) Kipper-thumb-250x157-8431.jpg for post 647

What an incredibly disappointing season for the Calgary Flames. What has to be most frustrating is how the team completely sold out for this one season, making several big moves in an attempt to spark any sort of secondary scoring, is that nothing seemed to work. Nearly every move made has handcuffed the team for the future, and bringing back the same roster next season has to be unfathomable for fans and ownership alike.

So what’s next for the Flames?

For one, it’s like that Darryl Sutter is on his way as the team’s general manager. After a season of such catastrophic decisions not paying off, starting at the very top is the first step to recovery. Yet as Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail puts it, changing the general manager will not instantly make things better.

Sutter’s team-building philosophies kept shifting over the past half-dozen seasons as he made the move to permanent GM. In that time, he loaded up on high-end blue-line talent (Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf, Bouwmeester) only to discover that the way of the new NHL is to score more goals. So he changed gears in midseason, dumped Phaneuf, dumped Olli Jokinen, and was probably the only man in town genuinely surprised when the newcomers failed to right the ship. Collectively, the quartet of forwards brought in to save the day (or at least provide secondary scoring) failed miserably. Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Chris Higgins managed 11 goals collectively in a total of 86 games, not nearly enough considering the premium ice time they received.

As we stated yesterday, the Flames currently have $53 million locked up among 17 players for next season. Not much room to make needed changes, without at least making some major changes in the process. One suggestion that may be getting whispered in corners around the NHL is to trade Jarome Iginla. Not a smart idea, says Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun:

Dealing Jarome Iginla after this disappointing season would be the biggest folly of them all. It’s the type of move which could backfire in the same manner as the infamous Doug Gilmour deal, which eventually crippled the organization for several years.

Iginla, who has a no-trade clause, said Wednesday he doesn’t want to go. “I want to be part of the solution, and I don’t think we’re that far (off),” he said.

Sutter’s constantly changing philosophy for the type of team he wants to build put the Flames in difficult situations, as it seemed they never could figure out the type of team they wanted to be. Tough to maintain consistency when your own general manager fails to make up his mind. Shifting the philosophy in the middle of your season -- and looking to the Toronto Maple Leafs to fix your scoring woes -- is an even faster way to head straight to mediocrity and disappointment.

Whatever happens, trading Jarome Iginla is not the answer. There are many issues with the team but Iginla is not one of them. He had a bad season and didn’t step up when it mattered, but not even he could have pulled this team away from a season collapse.