I originally planned to post a general post-gold-medal game, pre-deadline blog this afternoon. However, though I expected an epic game, I had no idea just how epic. I genuinely was not expecting Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla to give Canada a truly generational hockey moment.
The goal will be discussed for years; it instantly joined the pantheon of legendary moments in Canadian hockey (arguably, Canadian history in general). I don’t know if I can put an original spin on this moment. It will be discussed and reminisced upon for years to come. I don’t have a great “where-were-you” story; I watched the entire game in my living room. But it was the most I’ve ever celebrated at a sporting event, and though this may be seen as corny or generic, I soon realized just how special a moment it was. To my generation (I was born in 1990), Crosby’s goal is our Henderson moment. I can’t fathom another international hockey moment in my lifetime being bigger than it. As Bob McKenzie noted, the 2002 Salt Lake City win was also a huge moment, but it wasn’t nearly as dramatic.
The ending of the game reminded me a lot of the ending of the Calgary-Vancouver Game 7 from 2004. A last minute tying goal which seemingly sucked the entire life out of the winning team’s fanbase (of course, the key difference is that the Game 7 was played in Vancouver, so the tying goal had the opposite effect it had on the mostly Canadian fans in the seats this time. My point is, I felt exactly the same as a Canadian fan when Parise scored as I did as a Flames fan when Matt Cooke scored with 5 seconds left in 2004.) On both occasions, when the tying goal went in, I thought the game was lost (especially in Canada’s case since they had basically been trying not to lose rather than going for the kill for the entire third period). But anything can happen in overtime, and Team Canada pulled out the win just as the Flames did. And just as Jarome Iginla played a pivotal role in that Game 7, he did in this game, setting up Crosby for the goal (sadly, Iginla’s role may be overlooked by some). And now Iginla has to go back to Calgary and downgrade from playing with Sidney back to playing with Matt Stajan. And that’s a great segue for me to shift into the Flames part of my blog.
The Olympics were preceded by eight years of hype that sometimes felt like twenty. And now they’re over after two weeks that felt like half that. The NHL’s absence has felt like an offseason, however. As usual, my outlook on the Flames is not great heading into the stretch run. That can make up its own separate blog, but now is a time to focus on the trade deadline and what it means for the Flames.
Simple logic dictates that the Flames have to move a few bodies soon. They have 24 roster players, all on one way deals, and this doesn’t include Mikael Backlund, who was sent down for the Olympic break but who I have heard will be recalled. Hence, at least one player must be removed, with Rene Bourque and Craig Conroy due to return from injured reserve. Darryl Sutter has said that he is happy with the look of his forwards and probably done dealing, but how seriously can his comments be taken after his angry denials that Dion Phaneuf was on the block?
Of these 25 players, 15 are forwards, and 11 are wingers – 3 excess wingers. I think something is in the works a bit more complicated than, say, Brian McGrattan being waived and one other player being traded for a pick. David Moss, in the midst of a quite disappointing season and with two more years on his deal, could be dealt. The inconsistent Nigel Dawes seems a good candidate as well. Another idea is Dustin Boyd, though he’s not a winger. The Flames agreed to give him a one way deal in exchange for a one year contract, which meant they were essentially challenging him to prove himself. He is a pending UFA now, but is still young and could be a decent piece. A more radical idea is still re-flipping Ales Kotalik, but it seems unlikely to me. Ever since the baffling trade of Olli Jokinen’s expiring contract and Brandon Prust for Kotalik and Chris Higgins (and Kotalik’s contract), Flames fans have proposed the idea that Kotalik may be flipped in another deal. Part of this has revolved around the fact that the Flames were supposedly on Kotalik’s three-team limited no-trade clause. (I’d like to note two counterpoints to this, however. First, Darren Dreger said that the trade was delayed not because of Kotalik’s NTC but apparently something from Calgary’s end. Second, if there really was another team Darryl Sutter promised Kotalik he would be traded to, wouldn’t they have been involved immediately? Unless, of course, they couldn’t absorb Kotalik’s salary until the trade deadline, but this sort of delayed 3-team trade is unprecedented.) I wouldn’t be that surprised either way, whether or not Kotalik is still a Flame come March 4th. However, from day one I have been mystified as to how he fits into the system here, especially given his contract. (I will say this in his defense – he has added a new dimension to the powerplay, which hasn’t looked quite so abysmal since his arrival.) Regardless of what happens with Kotalik, though, it’s apparent to me that Darryl is not done dealing.
I’ll be back after the trade deadline analyzing whatever moves, if any, the Flames made and determining their outlook heading into the stretch run. In the meantime, here’s to a truly unforgettable Olympics and hopefully another exciting trade deadline.
(Addendum: I also wouldn’t be very surprised if Darryl indeed simply did something like waiving McGrattan and demoting Backlund, or trading another player for a non-roster player. I consider this a mark of my generally low faith in the man, which has been at an all-time low since the Kotalik trade.)