Jay Feaster has come under heavy scrutiny since taking over as “acting” general manager of the Calgary Flames on December 28th 2010, however questions of his direction and lack of stated strategy have fans feeling confused and unsure of where the Flames are headed. The major question then is “Are things getting better or worse for the Calgary Flames hockey club?”.
In order to address this, several elements will be considered; staff hirings, drafting, minor player transactions, major player transactions and the state of the northwest division. This series will aim to examine the club while focusing on these topics to give insight into the likelihood of the club being successful over the next few years under new coach Bob Hartley.
As an introduction, let’s take a look at the club records of the the last 3 seasons (last playoff appearance 4 years ago) as a loose indicator of progress for the club.
40-32-10 (90 pts)
41-29-12 (94 pts)
37-29-16 (90 pts)
(Note: Although there are more statistics that can be examined here such as PP%, PK% or FO%, the above records are for a general understanding only.)
To many fans, these club level statistics would suggest that nothing has changed over the last 3 years and debatably the Flames are in decline, having their worst season of the three in 2011-12. On the surface, it’s hard to argue with the numbers that paint a negative picture of progress and one of stagnation. On top of this, the club hasn’t made many changes to its core players during this period, with the likes of Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano all at this stage appearing to be suiting up for the 2012-13 season. The selection of a relatively unproven prospect in Mark Jankowski when immediate impact is thought to be more necessary leaves fans and media frustrated and confused with what the Flames are trying to achieve.
On the other hand, Stanley Cup winning coach Bob Hartley will be leading the team this season preaching a significantly different style of hockey to his predecessor. Coming from within we have Sven Baertschi who will be staking his claim for top 6 minutes over the course of the year after a very brief but exciting glimpse late in the season to record 3 goals in 5 games. On the free agent front, the Flames have made significant acquisitions in Roman Cervenka, Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler, who are all expected to take up major roles within the club.
The future is definitely uncertain and there will be no bold predictions of a lottery pick or the northwest championship. The Flames are no doubt taking a questionable approach in regards to their future, both immediate and long-term, and Jay Feaster can be commended for staying the course with his team. At the end of the day though, are the Flames unwilling/unable to make a big splash and go for the full rebuild that many journalists and fans claim is long overdue and the only way forward? Or is the more drawn out approach for financial stability and fan enjoyment a viable option?
Thanks for reading and I always welcome feedback and suggestions.