The off-season intrigue begins


Gonna match Iain’s first-round playoff prognosticating with my own in a few minutes here, but first things first – lots of navel-gazing and yapping and questions already swirling around the emplying corridors down at the Saddledome. Who the hell knows if it will amount to anything, but lots of questions being asked and some guys taking a long, hard look in the mirror, so that’s gotta count for something.

One of the big questions is, who’s going to be run out of town on rails? Fans and media all figure someone will be – either because someone has to pay for this mess or, simply in practical terms, the team needs to do something concrete to set it in a new direction. (Four months ago, that would have meant dealing a young defenceman with blue-chip credentials and a Norris nomination to his credit. But I guess that wasn’t the solution.)

Will it be Jarome Iginla? The captain has heard the talk, heard the criticism, and is saying he’d wave his no-trade clause if the team asked him to. Sad to hear, sad it’s come to this. The past month – hell, the past season – was a disappointment, but the guy has given his heart and soul to this team, and the franchises successes of the past several years have all been built on his back (that includes all those sellout crowds and all that money the owners have enjoyed).

In my head, I know it makes some sense to consider trading him; his best years are behind him, he’s only going to get worse from here, but on the right team he’d be a hugely valuable asset and the Flames could still receive a big package of young talent/prospects/high draft picks in return, not to mention the cap space they;d open up by moving him.

In my heart, I hope he plays his entire career as a Flame. He’s played his entire career the way every Flame should want to play, and he’s been a decent guy and a pillar of the community to boot. Guys like this don’t come along very often, and they can’t be replaced. I’d trade Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, any list of six to eight forwards – hell, even Miikka Kiprusoff – before I traded Iggy; you send him away, this team ceases being the Flames.

As for the guys who actually DO deserve to pay the price for years of mistakes, Darryl Sutter and team president Ken King were sitting behind the microphones at a press conference this week making it abundantly clear they weren’t going anywhere, despite being a pair of numbnuts who have squandered millions in wasted salary and, now, lost revenues for their billionaire owners. (I figure each home playoff game is worth about $3-million in revenue. Ouch.)

Why are King and D. Sutter so confident they aren’t going anywhere, inquiring minds ask? Well, guess whos responsible for their annual performance reviews? THEMSELVES. Unbelievably, Sutter reviews his own performance and reports it to King, who apparently pretty much nods and smiles, staring dreamily into Darryl’s eyes, his adoration unshaken by a year wallowing in the crap-heap. King – this is even better – simply reviews his performance with himself. And apparently they both agree they’re doing a bang-up job. Case closed. Good Lord.

Stay tuned for the next post, my first-round playoff preview.