Make no mistake about it. Alex Tanguay at 1.7 million for 1 season is a solid signing, if not a bargain.
However, let's go back and look at the events that led up to the original trade for Tanguay, his tenure with the Flames and the eventual (or inevitable) falling out.
2005 - 2006
My first season as a Calgary Flames season ticket holder. I was fortunate enough to witness one of the greatest defensive teams of all time. Of course, they were led by the Vezina-winning goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff. My seats were directly up from Kipper in the Flames defensive end (for 2 periods). Watching Kipper shut the door so many times that season was amazing. It didn't matter that we were outshot 2-1 in a lot of the games.
Then came the playoffs where the Flames choked against a strong Mighty Ducks team, failing to clinch in 6 and playing what can only be described as the worst game I've ever seen a team put together in game 7 to lose the series. A win would have set up a series with the Oilers for the first time since the early 90s and a team whom the Flames had dominated all season long.
It wasn't to be and the first round exit raised a ton of questions. Most notably, the lack of scoring.
So at the draft, Sutter made a bit of a splash and traded Jordan Leopold and a pick (2nd rounder?) to the Avs for Tanguay and promptly gave him a huge 3-yr contract.
Problem solved, right?
Enter 2006 - 2007
Darryl Sutter steps down as head coach to promote Jim Playfair, an inevitable move that would allow Darryl to concentrate on his GM duties.
Tanguay showed us early and often the kind of player he was.
He was a magician with his stick and his passes.
He could shoot the lights out but refused to do so much to the fans chagrin. I remember fans pleading all season long for him to "SHOOT!"... he never did.
... it gets worse from here
Defense? Never heard of it.
Hustle? I get paid 5+ mil per... I'm not hustling.
Heart? Never heard of it.
Tanguay posted 81 points and Iggy excelled with Tangs feeding him the puck. But the team floundered. A lead was never safe because the total change in the system that Playfair used (which seemed to revolve around Tanguay) never worked. Road wins were scarce and often involved blow outs. The team was hard to watch.
Another first round exit. More changes.
2007 - 2008
I was living in Vancouver for the year and I'll never forget when my roommate asked for my thoughts on the Flames hiring Mike Keenan.
My knees became weak and I nearly fell to the floor. He had just destroyed the Florida franchise and had proven that he hadn't been a decent coach since the mid 90s.
I wanted to puke.
Apparently, so did Alex Tanguay. And his play showed it as he struggled to near-career lows in points and Keenan's tactic's wore thin very quickly as he tried to turn Tanguay into a penalty killing specialist.
Tanguay repeatedly asked for a trade out of town and was finally granted his wish at the draft.
Keenan turned on him, and, with his lack of production, the fans turned on him. Finally realizing his glaring issues that weren't as prominent when he was getting a point every night.
Dealt to Montreal in a deal that would see sniper Mike Cammalleri come to Cowtown. A great trade by Sutter.
I thought Tanguay looked great in Montreal when he was healthy. He was flying around and he actually looked like he was trying. He looked invigorated and, to be honest, I was pissed. Where was this heart when he was in Calgary?
Of course, injuries derailed his season in Quebec and he was banished to the Southeast division.
He had trouble cracking the scoring lines in a team that missed the playoffs on his way to 37 points. Ugh.
Let's Try This Again
What did we learn? What can we expect? Is he a bargain? Or a 1-yr experiment gone wrong?
Obviously time will tell. But looking back at his years here I do find something intriguing... and it doesn't pump me up.
Tanguay flourished (offensively) under Jim Playfair. But then again, so did the whole team. Langkow and Huselius put up big numbers too. But, there was no defense on this team and no one was held accountable.
Hard to analyze Keenan. Sometimes I thought his decisions were based on a monkey drawing numbers out of a hat. But one thing he did do, was try to improve the team defensively. How did Tanguay react? By going all diva and not playing hard. Yes, I can't imagine playing for Keenan was easy... but that's how he reacts?
Fast forward to today.
Now - we have Brent Sutter as our coach. Do you think for one second that Brent is going to let Tanguay get away with floating around the ice, passing up brilliant scoring chances and then not back checking on neutral zone turnovers etc?
I don't think so.
In our only dealing with a coach trying to make Tanguay accountable - he flipped out and asked for a trade.
Bottom line is we can expect to see an improvement in offense and the power play. However, it will be interesting to see how he handles Brent Sutter and what happens when Brent comes down on Tanguay like he did on so many others last season. Will he revert to his old self and give up... or has he matured? And will he allow his game to do the same?
Personally - I never liked him when he was here and below is the first time I wanted to choke Tanguay (first of MANY).
Tanguay loves to play pucks off his skate, even when his stick is right there, ready to corral the pass... he'd still let it bounce off his skate and then up to his stick. He's really good at it, but it often led to turnovers in the offensive zone. In the video below, it's exactly what happens with the Flames on the PP in OT against Toronto, 1 week into Tanguay's tenure in Calgary. Little did I know that I was getting some foreshadowing into the rest of his career in Cowtown.
Also, losing this game cost me $10,500 on a Pro-Line point spread ticket. I was 11/12 that Saturday night and a shortie in OT cost me... Tanguay, cost me. Sorry for the poor quality... 30 second mark you'll see Tanguay botch a pass in OT by trying to take it off his skate, leading to a turnover and a Mats Sundin rush up the ice... his eventual 500th goal... you all remember that night don't you?
I sure as hell do.
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