Why pretend? We like Jarome Iginla.
That's where we come from. There was a time when Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla was among the best hockey players in the world. During that time, his contract ended. He could have signed anywhere he wanted; he left millions of dollars on the table to sign here. We all know Glen Sather was dying to offer him a 10 year, $252 million dollar contract. Something about having to win the back page wars.
We respect that. In this age of free-agency, of Lebron James leaving his home town to form a super team for an easy chance to win, of Brett Favre leaving his team of a decade for a paycheque, the show of loyalty from Elvis was erection inducing, no homo.
Don't get us wrong here. Elvis doesn't play for free. The latest contract he signed with the Flames compensated him to the tune of $35 million dollars over 5 years. If you take the amount the contract and divide it by its length, which oddly enough, is how the NHL determines one's contract value in the today's new-fangled hard salary cap environment, you get $7 million dollars. Which makes #12 the 16th highest paid player out of the 927 some players in the league.
Which means there are certain expectations on the captains shoulders, namely production. It is certainly an understandable sentiment to hold. It's like thinking your women isn't having sex with some random European guy in some club bathroom when she goes out with her friends on 'Girls Nights Out'. But it's equally as flawed. It's flawed for two reasons. One, Jarome is being paid for more than his ability to score, and two, Jarome isn't the reason the team isn't winning.
Let's deal with the first one first (how Western!). Jarome Iginla has been a member of the Calgary Flames his entire career. Including this one, that makes 15 seasons. Over that span, Jarome Iginla has never embarrassed the organization. He has never been arrested over his time here. Don't act like that is nothing. Getting caught for drunk driving (score some fucking goals and we will stop showing this) is embarrassing, both for the players involved and for the organization that employ them. Not, you know, because driving and drinking is bad per se: really, what's more exhilarating than downing a flat of Trad, hitting the Deerfoot, turning up the radio, lowering the windows, and your eyelids, and just getting zen with it? No, it's embarrassing because it's so fucking hard to get caught at it that it takes a special commitment to stupid to pull it off. And you don't want to be employing stupid people. Similarly, Jarome has never been arrested for assault either. We don't know about you, but not being involved in stories about beating up cab drivers over 20 cents, or ones about smacking your bitch up (and kid!), is worth something, we think. The most impressive feat by number twelve, however, may be the fact that he managed, over his decade and a half in this city, to keep his sister out of the newspaper (score a goal and we will stop showing this).
And do we even need to talk about charity work?
Look, you may call it silly, you may call it naive, but we like to call it 'brand building'. Marketability. The ability for one to be marketable. That's money. Don't underestimate the inherent value of having someone on your team that you can put faith into; someone you can show your kids and say 'Hey, this guys a good guy, look up to him.' That's a whole generation of wallets, err, fans (I'm sorry, my inner Ken King got out for a second, but we will get to that later) that have been raised on the Jarome Gospel. Trust us, this city's relationship with it's team would be different if Jarome happened to act like Rasheed Wallace.
And don't think for a second that when an agent is negotiation a contract on behalf of his player, this 'good citizen' ish isn't brought up. Like it or not, Adekunle Tig is getting paid for more than what he does on the ice.
Which, in a roundabout way, brings us to our second point; Jarome Iginla is not the reason the Calgary Flames are a mediocre hockey team (getting just fucking nuts with the semicolons today).
The Calgary Flames aren't bad because their 33 year old power forward is on pace to score 20 goals. The Calgary Flames are bad because they have constructed a roster so bereft of actual game changing forwards that they need their 33 year old power forward to score 40-50 goals just for them to have a chance.
And as Domebeer-aholic Kent Wilson has gamely pointed out, that Superman act was just going to have to come to an end at some point, and the people paid to pay attention should have been. Do you know how good you have to be to carry an NHL franchise by yourself? At 1036 games into your career? You don't think it's a little retarded to think that a guy who has broken the 40 goal plateau 3 times in his career would make a habit out of it after his 30th birthday?
The fact that the fans expect Jarome to score 50 goals and get 100 points a year is bad enough. The fact the front office expects it is disgraceful. And, in a sentence, that is why everyone in it should lose their jobs (also, Peter Loubardias is terrible, annoying, and terribly annoying. Fire him too, while we are pink slipping).
Darryl Sutter constructed a team that is supposed to be strong in the net (sometimes) and strong on the blueline (allegedly). In this cap world, you can't be strong everywhere (nobody better bring up last years Chicago team) and Sutter chose to make the sacrifice on his forward corps. He thought he could get away with putting out a weaker forward corps because the greatness of Iginla would allow the team to get away with it. But, in the words of General MacArthur: There's a big fucking whole in that plan. Namely, what if Jarome isn't so great?
What the fuck was Plan B? And why did nobody in the administration even ask for one? Have these people ever heard of Risk Management? The Sutters own a ranch, for tits sake. Every farmer in the world knows about risk, about shit not going according to plan. Why the fuck don't these two?
Look at this roster without Jarome. Stajan, Tanguay, Bourque, Hagman, Backlund, Glencross, Jackman, all of them...that isn't exactly wetting any pussy.
Despite Kent's protestations to the contrary, we think Jarome can still play. We also think that you need someone on this roster that he is able to play with, if you want to be as successful as you possibly can be. If you look at a lot of the teams out there, you may notice that they tend to go with AT LEAST TWO FUCKING REAL FORWARDS DARRYL YOU SON OF A BITCH WHY DID YOU LET CAMMY GO, ARGH! It's as clear that this roster lacks that other forward as it is that Charlie Simmer lacks the professional decency to tell a story that doesn't bore everyone to death (What, DB, you don't like cliche?).
We will acknowledge that there are flaws to his game. He isn't perfect. All the more reason to try to get another world class talent on this team; to alleviate the pressure on Jarome. Sure, he shoots from the top of the zone sometimes. We can see he is playing less of a power forward game. He is 33 and trying to play 82 games. It would be nice if our other 28 year old 'power forward' wasn't infested with the injury bug, made of glass, and stored in a paper mache box marked 'Fragile', and could play that way (like a power forward) so Jarome wouldn't have too, could instead concentrate on unleashing his deadly shot from prime areas of the ice, but that's not how it is, now is it?
We're not even hating on Bourque. Guy has the most goals on the team, and is playing some tough competition. But we all saw that Detroit game. This team is lacking in a certain je ne sais quoi...dynamism (And organizational structure on the ice. And puck support. And discipline, And ect...). We understand that's with Jarome on the roster (and getting like 9 minutes of ice, which we also got to get too later), but we are willing to bet (with Murray Edwards money) that Jarome would get better if he was playing next to a real, bonafide, game-changing NHLer.
(By the way, and I, AZR, know this is off topic, but I still want to throw up when I see Morrison in a Flames sweater. I know it's irrational. I don't care.)
Because again, let's get real. It would be one thing if Jarome was the only guy on this team not living up to his contract. Staios? Sarich? Ivanan (we don't even care if we spell his name right or wrong that's how tough that cat is)? JBlow may not be the worst player in the league, but he is overpaid. Ian White? Ian White is a defenceman who gets pushed off the puck. ALES KOTALIK IS STILL ON THIS TEAM! Heaven has punished us for some reason, and smote Langkow. We can live with Bourque, and we can even live with the Hagman, at least the concept of having another scoring winger on your second line, but common, Matt Stajan? Olli Jokinen?
And the problem is Jarome Iginla? Or more specifically, his salary? We're sorry, we don't buy that shit more than we would buy Puma's. We will acknowledge that he has scored two goals. But let's also acknowledge what's really going on here, ok? Darryl Sutter has fucked up, and bad. There is nobody in the Flames system even capable of being a franchise player. And there isn't really anybody on the big league roster capable of taking the torch, either. If Bourque is the best forward on the team, that's not good. Jarome Iginla isn't the GM of this hockey team. Darryl is. Yet Darryl, staring into the abyss that is the Calgary Flames top prospect list, and seeing the abyss stare back at him, has gone into survival mode. He thinks, and perhaps, in his defence, quite rightly, that his only shot at saving this franchise long term may to be to trade Iginla.
Bluntly, that's fucking criminal. For a lot of reasons, but here is one in particular. You brought in JBlow, which was a move that suggested the team was going to try to be a power. You then panic, which 9 game losing streaks have been known to cause people to do, and trade Dion at the trade deadline for established, if mortal, NHLers. That's another move that suggests competitiveness was in mind. And know, only several months removed from those events, you are waiving the towel and trying to trade Jarome Iginla to the Kings (to pick a name out of a hat) for young players and draft picks? That isn't criminal, we apologize for that statement. It's fucking schizophrenic!
And the team is going to war with Iggy, no doubt. He has been getting less and less even strength ice time as the season has gone by. There is a reason for that, and it goes beyond bench management. The organization is hinting to Jarome that it can play hardball. The Flames brass, Darryl, Ken, they have been good at one thing at the very least during their time here in Calgary: Keeping their jobs. They understand the PR shitsunamia that will wash over this franchise if it appears that they asked Jarome to accept a trade. Let's face it, Darryl is done anyways. Fat Jay Feastor getting hired for $400, Alex. But still, the upper management is trying to save their skins. In order for them to have any chance of that, they need Jarome to ask out. Which is why we think he gets nine minutes of ES ice versus the Red Wings.
And that's tragic; that this franchise might have to go to war with it's face. It doesn't look good on the organization at all. And we think the fans will see through it, but that's because we respect the fans more than we think the Flames do. Would this be a good time to talk about how a lot of the season ticket holders are being gouged for shitty seats at the Winter Classic? No? Stay on point? Ok.
We think Jarome, in his heart of heart, wants to win, of course, but he wants to win here, in Calgary. He would probably move elsewhere, under the right circumstances, conditions, for a chance to win a Cup. Which means, with Kipper under contract 2013-2014, we think a good faith effort should continue to be made by the Flames administration to try to win a Cup with Jarome here.
Which means the Flames need to acquire talent, and make room for said talent. The dead weight needs to be cut, and some real soldiers need to be brought in (by the way, the Flames lose a game when we trot the troops out for motivation?). If the owner is perturbed about having to send close to 10 million dollars to Abbotsford, he should make his displeasure known to the people he allowed to run his toy, and fire them. But if the owner is serious about winning, he has to be prepared to add another real player to this lineup, and real player cost 6-8 million dollars a year.
It may be easier, from an asset management point of view (and by easier, we mean cheaper as well) to trade Jarome for some maybe's in the form of a young defenceman, a young forward, and a draft pick. But we don't think that is the honourable thing to do. We also don't think that is the healthiest thing to do, as it concerns the franchise, either. The Flames are trying, ultimately, to fund a new building. We think they would have an easier time justifying their high ticket prices if the Flames had a high payroll and real players on it than it would be if the team rebuilt around a core of young 'ifs' and 'one days' (and while we are talking about trading people and rebuilding, which is going to take like 4 years, why not trade Kipper, JBlow, and Bourque too?).
To conclude: Fire Darryl. Fire Ken King and Feastor for even going along with this 'trade Jarome to cover up Darryl's terrible ability to build a farm system even though he is a farmer' idea. Keep Jarome. Fleece a bankrupt team like Dallas for a star player (Hey, if Morrison can be a Flame, so can Brad Richards). Trade or bury the really bad contracts like Sarich's and Kotalik's. Just win, baby.
Oh, and here's a hot girl, because we're sexist, and you, dear Reader, made it through that post.
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.