As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.
Team 16 of 30: the Calgary Flames
HOW THE FLAMES SPENT THEIR SUMMER VACATION
The Flames finished 10th this past spring in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Their 94 points would've given them a spot in the East over the Rangers, if that helps shed a little perspective on the difference between the two conferences. Calgary's slow start last season caught up with them during the final run to the playoffs.
Calgary has a pretty large chunk of its core wrapped up with 10 players having no-trade and no-movement clauses. Its roster does has its share of talent - led by captain Jarome Iginla - but it'd be hard to deny that the team is starting to creep up in age while the rest of the league seems to keep getting younger.
Veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, 35, saw a lot of games last season, but I think he'd agree with Tim Thomas that age is just a number. Kiprusoff has seen 70+ games for the past six seasons; his workload will need to be eased this season not only to give his backup(s) more experience, but to help some gas in the tank for a playoff run.
Probaby the biggest loss for the flames is Adam Pardy, who left via free agency. The team had a very good winning percentage with him in the lineup, but he missed more than half the season with a shoulder injury. Prospect Tim Erixon, who many rated as one of the club's top prospects, couldn't work out a contract with the team, and ended up getting traded to the Rangers.
Chris Butler was a solid D-man for Buffalo. It's interesting that Buffalo traded two dependable defenseman away (Steve Montador being the other), but Calgary should benefit from the acquisition.
New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Chris Butler (BUF), Paul Byron (BUF), Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (NJ)
Players who appeared in games for the team during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not re-signed/(team now signed with): Tim Erixon (NYR), Ales Kotalik (BUF), Adam Pardy (DAL), Robyn Regehr (BUF), Steve Staios
In short, Calgary's best window for a Cup run with their current roster might be this year, but the team has some interesting prospects in the pipeline for a few years down the road. Expect the Flames to need to grind through a couple years before becoming a solid Cup contender again.
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Let's talk a bit about your fandom.
I've been a Flames fan since 1989. This was the first year I actually understood the NHL and could somewhat follow it. Lanny MacDonald had the coolest moustache I'd ever seen and the Flames won the cup. What was not to like? I've been a fan ever since, through good and bad.
Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?
Paul Byron - I suppose
Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on?
Unfortunately I am not optimistic that the Calgary Flames have done anything to improve their organization this summer. They missed an incredible opportunity at the draft to select a big center (McNeill), which the team has been lacking since the early/mid 90's. This was followed by re-signing Brendan Morrison and Alex Tanguay. Not that Tanguay shouldn't have been re-signed, but the term was far too long. A team that should be re-building is now handcuffed to yet another aging player with a history of over performing in contract years.
In the coming season, I am hoping the team gets off to a slow start, recognizes the need to start over and makes some bold/high risk decisions. I didn't believe the rumors last season of an Iginla for Schenn trade, but after seeing Schenn moved to the Flyers, I couldn't be more disappointed that the Flames may have missed such an opportunity.
As hard as re-builds are on fans, Calgary's fan base can handle it. A lot of things went right in 2003, and management needs to recognize their window has closed.
Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference?
11th in the Western Conference
What was your favorite moment for your team last season?
My favorite moment for the Calgary Flames last year was when Andrew Ferrence won the Stanley Cup. Odd favorite moment yes, but when he had a chance to speak, he went on about his memories of 2003 and how close they the Flames came. He discussed how tight the team was and how badly he wished he could have won with Iginla, Regehr, Conroy, Donovan, etc. That interview really made me happy for him.
In a year where so little went right for the Club, it was nice to see a former Flame have success and think of his old team.
What existing hockey rule would you change (and how) if you could?
No touch icing. Far too many unnecessary injuries related to icing races.