The Calgary Flames are a team in flux but the problem is their general manager Jay Feaster might not be the man to rebuild them. Calgary fans had to endure a pretty rough 2013 season in which their favorite team finished with just 42 points. The Flames will spend the 2013-14 season looking for a new identity after the departures of both Jarome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff.
Calgary had a busy off season that started by acquiring David Jones and Shane O'Brien from the Colorado Avalanche for Alex Tanguay and Cory Sarich. They also acquired T.J. Galiardi from the Sharks and Kris Russell from the Blues. But the biggest move they made was bringing in Brian Burke as President of Hockey Operations. For the first time in a long time Calgary has some brains up top. I imagine it won't take long for Burke to start cleaning house and make sweeping changes in Calgary. Let's just say Mr. Feaster better start updating his Monster resume.
We have brought in Hayley from Matchsticks & Gasoline to help us out with all things Flames.
Jay Feaster has been a bit of laughing stock around the league. Has Brian Burke been brought in to be his baby sitter or his replacement?
That is a debate that has been ongoing among Flames fans since his hiring, and I suppose I see it as a little bit of both potentially, but also that Flames president and CEO Ken King is trying to further remove himself from the hockey operations side of things. There have long been rumors of his meddling in the on-ice product, and I think that if there is a middle-man of some sort that Feaster has to report to/collaborate with who is actually a "hockey guy," then that frees him up a little bit too. I also think it's very possible that Burke was brought in to replace Feaster at some point, whether he gets fired or simply runs his course as the GM of a rebuilding team, since they are always essentially sitting ducks.
Is there anyone that can possibly come close to replacing what Jarome Iginla brought to the table year in and year out?
In terms of sheer production, no. I'd be very surprised if anyone on the Flames' current roster cracks the 30-goal mark this year or next, let alone for the next decade! In terms of leadership and intangibles and all that fun stuff, you can argue how much any of that really matters on a good team, but in the situation the Flames are in I think the choice of Mark Giordano for captain was a good one.
Now that Mikka Kiprusoff has retired how do you see the Flames' goaltending situation panning out?
The Flames' goalie situation this year is likely going to be very unstable, if preseason play thus far is any indication (which it typically is not). In all seriousness, I have no idea how it's going to pan out--goaltending is a very different beast. The Flames still have three goalies in camp after they re-signed Joey MacDonald in April, and one of which (Karri Ramo) is said to have agreed to return to North America on the condition that he will not play in the AHL. With Ramo and Reto Berra, who the Flames picked up from St. Louis in the Bouwmeester deal, both competing for a job in what will likely be a 1a/1b type goaltending rotation, we could end up with a situation very similar to the one that forced the Flames to deal Henrik Karlsson to the Blackhawks last season when Leland Irving effectively took his job and they then acquired MacDonald.
Is the year Sven Baertschi breaks out and becomes one of the top young players in the NHL?
Baertschi has showed some dazzling moves at times in pre-season action, and has also showed a tendency to turn them on only when he wants to. Some fans still have doubts about him, but there's no doubt he has skill, and with the advantage of both being a little older than some of the younger players entering the league this year yet still being Calder eligible and the fact that he will likely get more ice time this year because the Flames have taken a sledgehammer to their roster, he could either flourish or struggle with increased responsibility. I think if Bob Hartley manages his ice time in the right way by sheltering him yet still giving him the opportunities he needs, he could be very successful.
Is Sean Monahan good enough to make the team out of camp?
The Flames' preseason schedule thus far has involved two split squad games which have both been televised strangely and with the result that we haven't really gotten to see Monahan play in an NHL game. By all indications, he has been impressing fans and Flames management alike, and by the sounds of it he has been working hard over the summer to ensure that he is ready to make the jump. The Flames' lack of depth at centrer may be the deciding factor in him making the team out of camp, and although I'm not sure it's necessarily the best decision, it's not as if the team has much to lose by giving him a chance.The worst case scenario is that he struggles and they send him down or back to junior, and they burn a year of his entry-level deal.
Will the Saddledome be ready for the start of the year after suffering some severe damage during the terrible flooding that occurred in June?
The Saddledome seems to be as good as new, although I believe they're still working on finishing up the dressing rooms and getting the media area/equipment set up at ice level and below. It really is amazing what they were able to achieve in under three months, and I suppose their haste really demonstrates how important the teams that play in that building and the concerts that are held there are to the City in terms of revenue. If you haven't already checked out the before and after photos and the time-lapse video of crews cleaning up the Stampede grounds I would highly recommend it. Hopefully it holds up, and it's unfortunate that the money for repairs had to be sunk into the building the year before the lease expires and the team will likely enter negotiations with the City for a new arena.
A big thank to Hayley for taking some time out to answer my silly questions. The Flames will make their only appearance at the Untied on November 3rd. The Blackhawks will make two trips to western Canada on November 27th and January 28th. Calgary in January, yeah buddy!!