It's over. But, then again, it has been over for this team since the season started.
The team has 20 points in 23 games. The team has a goal differential of -5. They are .500 at home and sport a losing record on the road. The team gives up goals at even strength, and doesn't score any on the power play. Things have gotten so bad that somebody mentioned it to Murray Edwards.
We have talked before about money and the Flames. The Babchuk trade is a major example of the team making a move not to increase it's competitiveness but rather to save money. It's like the 1990's all over again!
We think the ownership is getting spooked. They are spooked because they fear the fan base may revolt and stop spending money. When the team was losing in the 90's, the team wasn't selling out the Saddledome. A good 4,000 people were added to the season ticket roster after the 2004 Cup run, and ownership does not want to lose them.
Which is why Murray Edwards is speaking. After being told what hockey was, and what hockey team he owned, Murray looked over the situation and in his wisdom decided that to calm down the fan base he would speak to them. And here is what he said (via The Sun):
“The message I gave to Jarome (Iginla) and Darryl and Brent (Sutter) is that failure is not an option...We have to make this work.”
Uh oh. What the fuck is this asshole talking about?
Seriously, where to start. The message he gave to Jarome? Jarome is part of the upper management for this team now? Wonderful. What could go wrong with that arrangement?
Also, failure is not an option? What the hell is this guy talking about? Failure was certainly an option last year. Did something change? Hey, Murray, if the team didn't make the playoffs last year, and you allow the guy who built it to return with largely the same team for the next season, why are you expecting different results?
Edwards is full of shit. What we suspect happened is that someone got through the guys bubble to tell him that the fans are pissed and the season is over. Murray wants to keep selling tickets, so he comes out with some tough talk about 'making it work' in the hopes that he can convince the people to not give up on the team in the first month of December.
And what the hell does 'making it work' mean? What the hell is the plan with this team? Does 'making it work' apply if the team squeaks into the playoffs and gets bounced in the first round? Or does 'making it work' mean a Stanley Cup, or at least a deep playoff run?
At the very least the words are succor. We can't remember the last time a Flame owner said something like this in public, to the media, for the fans. Darryl may very well be at the end of the leash.
Which means...who the hell is going to be the GM of this club? (Answer: Lanny McDonald).
Although the grim playoff picture is terrible news, and the word that Ales Kotalik is close to returning is even more terrible news, it is not all bad. The Flames timed their roadtrip of death with 'black Friday', one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This allowed the team to find some great deals on things they will need later on in the year. Like golf clubs.
Do the Flames deserve this fate or are they just unlucky?
(numbers used for this exercise are from NHL.com and are from 11/25/2010)
We looked at the Western Conference, which has 15 teams. For arbitrary reasons, we split the teams into thirds. We then assume the top 5 teams are good teams, the next 5 are mortal teams, and the next 5 are bad teams. We then took a look at where the teams ranked in the three categories (5-5 Goals For/Against, PP%, PK%). The teams that ranked in the top 5 in the conference in any of the respective categories were awarded one point, while the bottom teams were awarded three. It reads like golf, with lower numbers being better. We get:
For this exercise, a middle of the road team would have 2+2+2=6 points. The best a team could do is 3 points, while the worst is 9. You will notice the Oilers have 9.
Teams in the top seven positions of the standings will be lucky if they have a total greater than six. By this measurement, two teams are lucky, the Coyotes and the Blues. The numbers would suggest they should be in the bottom half of the conference. The Sharks, sitting in the middle spot of the standings, have been unlucky this season. Their numbers suggest they should be in the top half of the conference. For the bottom half of the conference, a number less than six would indicate that the team had been unlucky. One team fits that criteria, and that is the Wild. That would give us two lucky teams (PHX, STL), and two unlucky teams (SJS, MIN) while the rest of the teams are roughly where you would expect them to be. We didn't count Chicago or Dallas as being unlucky as they fall within the range of the standings where you would expect a team with six points to fall, between the 6th and 10th spots. Looking at it in this way, the Flames are not an unlucky team, as they fall within the bottom half of the teams in the conference, and that is where you would expect to find them.
In otherwords, there is nothing special about this current group, and teams without any specialness to them don't win Stanley Cups. So it isn't a travesty to find them sitting in 14th place. They are middling 5 on 5, have a terrible PP, and a middling PK. It is a middling team.
A talent infusion is needed. If Murray Edwards is really pissed off about what is happening, he has two options, it would seem. He can wait this season, and next season, and by the 2012-2013 season the Flames get out of the capspace hell Darryl has put us in. Or he can start buying players out now, freeing up the capspace that will be required to sign the talent needed to make this club elite again. Pretending the Flames have a good team that loses because it doesn't work hard, or is snake bitten is not a good strategy.
And going young is not the answer. Going with a more talented team is the answer. However that can be done.
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.