I had intended to write about Rudy Gay and the general situation revolving around the Raptors (hack allegories are fun!) but when I plopped down into my chair an anecdote popped into my mind, and I'll start by sharing that:
Some measure of time ago I had a twitter exchange with (memory fuzzes) Kent Wilson about the difference between the teams of the 90's and the Salary Cap era teams, regarding the level of hope a fan could feel towards the teams chances to win (and by extension, how disappointed a fan in each era could feel about not winning).
My argument was that it was it better to be a fan in the 90's. The team couldn't (or wouldn't) compete with the big money teams for free agents, and as there was no salary cap, big money teams often loaded up on the best available hockey talent. It was difficult to field a team on $30 million dollars that could beat an $80 million dollar one. Because of this the expectation to win could never realistically be entertained, and therefore the fan was inoculated from being too disappointed. (And if the team did happen to catch lightning in a bottle...)
The formulation of No Chance = No Hope = No Worries, if you will.
Contrast that with the situation of the Salary Cap Era. High payrolls means the team has the chance to acquire the best hockey talent available. That in effect translates into hope. There is always the chance to improve. Not only that, but the fans of the Flames find themselves rooting for a big money team, a team that spends close to the cap maximum every year. Now the expectation to win is not only entertained it is demanded. Far from being inoculated from disappointed, the population is now susceptible.
Chance = Hopes = Worries.
Today, looking at the standings, there are plenty of things to be worried about. The team has more games played then it does points; the team has the second worst goal differential in the West. The team has let in the most goals in the West; The team is 2-6 at home, the worst home record in the West.
The team has a top ten payroll, and it is looking like it will miss the playoffs. Again. So people are worried.
I think what worries people the most, or at least what worries me the most, is the lack of direction. The Flames season is well over a quarter of the way over. The team has flaws; generally it needs centres and it needs a goalie. #34 may come back in time, and start playing well enough, to alleviate us from the latter problem. Backlund could be out until at least mid-March (could be longer) and that translates into 10 - 12 more games without him in the lineup. Over half of the season could be gone, and any realistic chance to make the playoffs could be gone by that time as well.
I think the time for evaluation, if not over, is quickly approaching the terminal deadline. If the team wants to make a push, it's gonna need to bring in some horses from elsewhere, which means dealing draft picks and potentially young prospects. The team is going to have to apply some cost benefit analysis to that scenario to see if the potential to maybe dig its way out of from a hole and make the bottom half of the playoff tournament is worth spending draft picks and young players on.
Or it can go the other way. The team can look itself in the mirror and decide that it maybe has a better chance of missing the playoffs than making it. The team could decide to trade away it's useful pieces (all of the wingers not named SVEN, for an example), restock the cupboard, and lay the foundation of the next iteration of the team.
Either move would represent action. Lack of action in regards to this under performing (remember kids they spend to the cap ceiling) and underwhelming team is killing the hope. And the Flames should realize that eventually lack of hope will lead to lack of ticket sales.
Furthermore, I think Ken King should be fired.