Many Calgary Flames fans are calling for the removal of struggling goalie Mike Smith. Conversely, some reports indicate the team is going to be patient and let him find his game. Clearly, the Flames will, at some point, need to take action to ensure there is quality and consistency at the position. But when? Flame For Thought asked you, the reader.
I feel like I’ve done this before. It seems as though every time I put my figurative pen to paper for this publication, I only address the situation in net for the Calgary Flames. I mean I’d love to talk about things like the team’s top spot in the Pacific Division, or Sam Bennett‘s play, or the emergence of secondary scoring.
But I can’t. The single most troubling issue surrounding this team is their goaltending.
There’s no need to run the numbers again. All Calgary Flames fans know the situation. David Rittich has been excellent, earning the moniker ‘Big Save Dave’, while starter Mike Smith has been trying to recover from performances like the one discussed below.
The inevitable result of Smith’s performance thus far is the discussion about what to do next. The current setup is unsustainable. Certainly, Rittich is playing well. But given his late-season regression last year, there is simply no evidence to support the claim that he can carry the Flames to season’s end, much less the playoffs.
If the season were to end tomorrow, the decision is easy. Smith’s contract would expire and he would not likely be re-signed, allowing Brad Treliving to scour the free agency market for his replacement.
The season does not end tomorrow, however. Changes need to be made, and there are many variables to consider. Chief among those is timing. When should the Calgary Flames take action to replace Mike Smith?
Some are calling for the experiment to end immediately. Either trade Smith now or relegate him to backup duty for the remainder of the season. Essentially, the latter is in effect.
However, according to former Flames VP of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, the team will give Smith a lot of freedom to return to form. In his November 17th intermission segment on Hockey Night in Canada (video above), Burke had this to say…
"Everybody loves Mike Smith…He’s a hard worker. He’s a leader. They’re going to give him every chance to fail. They’re not going to throw him away just because he’s battling right now…(The Calgary Flames) will give (Smith) more time because he’s a wonderful human being."
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to hear that my favourite team isn’t so morally bankrupt as to kick a guy to the curb. But the obvious counterargument is that I don’t care how fabulous Mike Smith is. He could bake muffins for the homeless every morning for all I care, it wouldn’t change the fact that he can’t keep the puck out of the net. Put another way, and this is not an indictment of him as a person, but the Calgary Flames must immediately pursue alternative options to Mike Smith.
But what do you think?
Flame For Thought polled readers via Twitter to determine when Brad Treliving should take action to replace Mike Smith. Here’s what you thought.
Clearly we, the fans, are giving Smith a shorter leash than Burke is espousing.
Obviously, there are complexities that influence action. Who to acquire and acquisition cost are chief among those. The point is that, in the mind of the fan base, Mike Smith is running out of time to get back to form.
Miss you, Kipper.