This is a terrible way to start an article, so kids, don't copy our form. But...
The Million Dollar man was on twitter this morning, talking about how the Red Wing coach, Babcock, told him that 'the difference between winning and losing in this league is #HardOnCoaches' (And we are sure we linked that wrong).
Which we take to mean that Roger was pushing for this guy to be coach. Which we are totally down with. Dude is a cowboy.
Anyways, getting a little tired of the media covering for the coach. And we aren't bloodthirsty: Bowman behind the bench wouldn't make this group a Cup contender. But please, to act like the coach is completely 100% innocent of contributing to the suck of this club is a little much.
For whatever reason (poorly constructed roster, management guaranteeing that this poorly constructed roster will make the playoffs), this group is not clicking. The effectiveness of the coach figures into the equation somewhere. Ultimately, we think that if the players are not buying into what the coach is selling, then the coach isn't a good salesman.
Brent Sutter's approach to coaching, as far as we can tell, has been to tell his team, publicly and through the media, that they suck. It has been. When he says "We suck so much we have to play the trap to win because we really really suck", (which, for those of you who don't speak Sport is what he is really saying when he says the team needs to play a team game, and be defensively responsible and all that) you don't think that gets on the players? We do.
We are going to steal this from Craig Button, but we are stealing it because we think it is just good coaching: A coach needs to get his players feeling good about themselves, because players are soft and pampered, and soft and pampered people need to feel good about themselves in order to perform. Players don't like getting told about all the things they can't do. It's acid to their confidence, and we know it is hokey as fuck, but confidence and swagger matter, especially when you are playing in a league that has all the top talent in it.
Anyways, it is a moot point, because, as we said, it doesn't really matter who coaches this team. There are too many NTC's and multi-year contracts on the roster for the coach to wield the hammer of a demotion, and if he restricts the minutes of the guys he is warring with, Iginla and Tangs, then the club really won't win many games. He is in a spot.
He is a man, so he won't quit, but he should. Brent should say that King saddled him with a club that had a very small margin for error, and slim chances to compete, and then King had Feaster flap his gums in the media about how the Flames were guaranteeing a playoff spot, which only added to the infeasibility of the whole operation. He should point the finger of blame not on the players, but on the people who assembled the players.
Look, you can bitch about Jarome all you want, but Ken King is the guy who decided to build his team around a 34 year old right winger. OK?
We got a link for ya'll, provided by RC, and it shows the decline of Iginla at even strength.
But we will put it another way: Jarome is past 30. He was/is going to decline at some point, because time is an asshole. The club, in his post 30 years, if it had decided it was going to keep Iginla on the roster, then should have made finding the 'next guy' a bigger priority than it did. Because it didn't, it has no leverage in the current situation. They can't bench the guy because he is their best offensive player, even at 34.
To us, this is just another note in the long tale of Ken King mismanaging this club.
Fuck, like 1000 words later and we are getting to what we wanted to talk about. 19 games in, 20 games in following tonight, the Flames will be a sub-.500 team. As it stands now the team is 27th in the league for goals per game (2.21) and 15th in the league in goals given up per game (2.68). The PP is 24th at 13.6%, and the penalty kill is working at a 82.4%, good for 15th. They give up more goals then they score at even strength.
Good teams are good teams for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons invariably happens to be that they do something well. The Flames do something very well: They are amongst the top teams in this league at not scoring.
Peter Maher likes to say that you use the first 20 games to evaluate the club. Well, we see it sits (as of today pre-Red Wing game) six points out of a playoff spot, and would have to climb five teams to get into a playoff spot. Couple this with the clubs previous performance of win one/lose one, and the odds that this team will make the playoffs would certainly have to be described to be at the low end of the table.
The club, in our view, needs to start positioning itself for next year. The team had the first 20 games to show us they were legit, and they have not shown us that. It's time to evaluate who is going to stay for next year and who is going to go.
But wait. Here we are going to tie our anti-SutterBourque and Stajans (and Tanguays, but we realize we may be in the minority with that opinion), then they have to start getting those players to produce more. Well, how do you artificially juice someones scoring numbers? Gee, we don't know, maybe PP time and an offensive minded playing style?
We here at DB are suggesting that Coach Sutters win lose record is less important than whether or not we can get rid of the Stajan and Bourque contracts. And to get rid of those contracts, those players are going to need good box car numbers. Which means, even if it hurts the chances of the team to win, which it does, that Stajan and Bourque should be getting fed PP minutes. It also means that the team should open up it's system, to allow for more goal scoring chances. It's not like the players are going to get worse +/- numbers then they currently are...and we may even be able to juice some goals out of those cats.
This offseason the club is shedding 10 salaries, but it will retain what is the new 'core' of this team: Jarome, Kipper, Bouwmeester, Tangs, Bourque, Stajan, and Gio. Backlund will be an RFA. The team will need to decide if it can win with this group. We don't think it can. We don't think reality thinks it can either. So the group needs to be broken up as well, not just to recoup cap-space that could be spent on better players, but also to get some of that stench of failure out of the room, and give some space for some new players to breathe and develop.
As we said yesterday, the Brand has been tarnished. The club is irrelevant. It's gone past punchline territory to 'Oh wow that team is still in the league?" territory. The person most directly responsible for that is Ken King. This club needs to rebuild, yes. But not only on the ice. It needs a new vision. It needs a new President, a new GM, a new coach. It needs new hope.
Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias Ken King should be fired.