The Flames have officially pressed the panic button.
Losing 10 of your last 11 games is not fun and usually signals change on a professional sports team. To add into the fact that you play in a Canadian fish bowl where every move is over-scrutinized to the extreme, you cannot help but think that the Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter made a move that he did not necessarily want to make but simply, had to make. Sutter officially traded away Olli Jokinen not even a year since acquiring him from the Phoenix Coyotes.
So the Flames, in essence, actually traded Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust Version 1, Brandon Prust Version 2 and a First round pick in the upcoming 2010 Draft for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. Sound fair? Would you be as angry if it had been Lombardi being traded a year later and not Jokinen, I think not?
Jokinen was too inconsistent and did not fit in with the team. He went goalless in the last 13 games of last season. He scored 2 goals in October, 3 in November and 2 in December of this season. So for people to say that this was a bad trade, I strongly disagree because what, really, were the Flames getting rid of? This was Olli Jokinen’s market value. A guy making $5.5 million who scores as infrequently as this guy does and has little to no experience in a “critical situation’ does not get you much in the NHL these days. Now you might say he had good playoffs, and fine he did play well, but it still does not make up for the strings of invisibility that Olli would go on. He was brought in to be the Number one centre men for Jarome Iginla and did not fit. You can not fit a square peg into a round hole...or something like that. I am glad to see him go, as I believe the Flames did not lose a whole lot to begin with. And one final note about this moustached Finn is this...Matthew Lombardi has the same amount of points (35) as Jokinen at this point and costs $3.15 million less. You cannot argue the numbers.
Kotalik and Higgins are not saviours by any means, but after watching last night’s shameful performance by the Flames I am not sure anything will help them right now. I am fully expecting a first round loss or to miss the playoffs entirely. If the Flames do squeak into the playoffs, they will be either the 7th or 8th seed and be forced to go up against the Sharks or the Hawks, which spells immediate doom for all intensive purposes. You cannot send 4 roster players out and bring in 6 new ones and expect everything to be ok. This is a team game, and teams take a while to gel. The Flames have been in trouble for a while and I am not sure this full fledged panic attack will help solve any of the immediate problems, except for maybe the salary cap situation, which in better shape.
These next 3 months should be interesting, but do not be surprised if the Flames have ‘garbage bag day’ a few days earlier than normal this year.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames