Thanks, everyone. I’m off to hit the post.

•October 9, 2008 • 4 Comments

This blog began a couple of years ago, born out of frustration. Some 20 months and dozens of posts later, I’m still frustrated. Lately, it’s been mostly with Darryl Sutter. But it’s also from being marooned in a land of Leafs fans with just Centre Ice to hold me.

A short time after this blog was launched, we discovered in a series of comment strings that, in fact, an inordinate number of Flames bloggers lived in Toronto. So we arranged a couple of get-togethers, including the likes of Leanne, Dave, and Steal Thunder. (Our fearless leader, Kent. W, then known as “Metrognome”, has always been in Calgary, but joined us “in spirit.”)

Anyway, the other person at all these meetings was one “walkinvisible” — who, in fact, proved to be the catalyst to finally getting me to blog in the first place. I had been wandering through the comment strings on Flames blogs for ages, but WI picked out a particular comment I made, immediately after the disastrous Andrew Ference/Chuck Kobasew for Brad Stuart/Wayne Primeau trade, in which I questioned whether players would want to re-sign with a Flames team that treats players like they treated Ference. (In case you don’t remember, he had signed a below-market deal just a short time prior because he wanted to stay in Calgary.)

Anyway, she was so enamoured (troubled) with the comment, that she kept talking about it, so I decided that, in fact, what I had to say about the Flames might matter to more than myself, so why the hell shouldn’t I say it more often, and in a more prominent way?

(Also, I got over the creative block that had also been stopping me from starting a blog, which was the block at deciding on a name. I never did, hence “Flames Blog.”)

I was eager at the start, and I think I really hit my stride during the Flames-Wings playoff series in 2007. But as last season went by, my stride turned into a stumble, followed by a full-on hibernation with a couple of sleepwalks.

Fast forward to this past summer. WI and I have become pretty good friends, if I do say so, despite the fact that she’s now in Calgary. She was in Toronto, and we’re having a couple of beers, and the idea came up that, well, she’s a better blogger than me, but don’t I still have potential? And why are we making our MILLIONS of blog fans visit two places to read our incredible takes? And why are we asking ridiculous rhetorical questions?

Anyway, I’m burying the lead here. What I’m trying to say is that, as of today, I’m joining WI at hit the post — now at a fresh new address, I’m honoured that WI will have me there, and I’m a revitalized blogger. It’s going to be a fun place — and at the very least, I’m going to bring capital letters.

Thanks to those of you who’ve followed (and participated in) Flames Blog during the past two years. The archives will remain in place here, and I hope you’ll follow me to hit the post.


Another great reason to hate the Canucks!

•September 30, 2008 • 7 Comments

Can’t really say it much better than Chris! does here:

So what do you call a team captain who doesn’t get to wear the “C”? … You call him Roberto Luongo — or Bobby Lou if you’re an insufferable ass cheering for a doomed team.

And now, just wait for the geniuses in their Dan Cloutier jerseys to start hailing this as a genius way to keep him in town.

This is why the Canucks will never win the Stanley Cup.

Fleming departs: Another chance for Flames to blow it!

•September 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

So, just as main camp begins, redundant assistant coach Wayne Fleming departs the Flames to coach Omsk of that KHL league in Russia.

It’s just as well. I’m not sure exactly what Fleming has handled during his time with the Flames, but it’s been a time where areas traditionally handled by assistant coaches — specialty teams, defensive assignments, systems, that kind of thing — have often been lacking. With the Flames, it’s been one year under Nervous Jimmy, one under Mike Keenan and done.

Fleming’s a guy whose appeal has always kind of confused me. He spent several years with Hockey Canada, but never in a role more important than head coach at the world championships. He’s pals with Ken Hitchcock, and served under him during underwhelming years in Philadelphia. Last time he was a head coach? Leksands IF (hey, WI!) in the early 90s.

The Sutter Flames have shown very little interest in developing coaches at the NHL level. Rich Preston, the most boring interview in hockey (and clearly not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer) has served as a yes-man for three consecutive coaches now. Nervous Jimmy is relatively young as a coach, but was obviously not comfortable head guy and has settled into a career as a supporting man.

So why do we have this situation? This is a team that has nobody who might relate to the players’ situation behind the bench, all coaches either long removed from playing in the NHL, or never having been there (save for new goaltending development guy Jamie McLennan.)

Ryan McGill, a very good coach who’s excelled both in Major Junior and the AHL, is the head coach in Quad Cities. He was knocked out of the NHL in the early nineties with an eye injury and, frankly, can’t be far away from a good job in the league. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the Flames, whose press release doesnt’ exactly make it seem sad to lose Fleming: Is it time to promote McGill? Probably, but the guess here is that Fleming’s position — which as I already pointed out was redundant when Playfair was demoted — probably just won’t be filled.

Wouldn’t want someone who won’t bow down to Darryl Sutter behind the bench now, would you.

Depth Charts Wrap-Up: The predictions

•August 28, 2008 • 5 Comments

Still plenty of time before the season begins, and plenty of training camp and coming transactions to change things. (For more on that, check out MetroGnome Kent’s nice “Loose ends” piece.) But that doesn’t mean I can’t take my depth charts series and decide who’s going to finish where in the conference.

Here’s what I’ve come to:

1. Minnesota. Losing Rolston will be hard, but this is still a well-coached team with better-than-average goaltending and adequate depth to last over 82 games. Third seed in conference.

2. Calgary. Iginla, Kiprusoff, Regehr and Phaneuf should be enough to carry this team, which will be worse in its Top 6 but better in its Bottom 6. Seventh seed in conference.

3. Edmonton. Yes, a lot of those points last year were shootout. But I’m a MacTavish believer, and there’s something about a young team that likes playing the game that gets me going. Eighth seed in conference.

4. Colorado. Budaj and Raycroft? It’s a bloody travesty that Francois Giguere would back up that group of forwards and defencemen with that goaltending tandem. Now, move someone for Khabibulin or equivalent? Now we’re talking playoffs. Ninth in conference.

5. Vancouver. They just won’t be able to score. 11th in conference.

Now, frankly, I’m tired of the off-season. But the rookie tournament doesn’t kick off till the 14th, so all we have is boring player introductions where we learn that, for instance, Mike Cammalleri looks like Todd Bertuzzi’s little buddy and that, at press conferences, Bertuzzi apparently likes to sing to his son Tag.

Hmmm, I wonder if Dion Phaneuf was wearing something ridiculous at that music festival in Pemberton whilst hanging out with Elisha Cuthbert. Yep, looks like it!

Depth Charts 5: Vancouver Canucks

•August 12, 2008 • 8 Comments

The exciting finale!

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (39-33-10, 88 pts)
1. Henrik Sedin
2. Daniel Sedin
3. Pavol Demitra
4. Ryan Kesler
5. Steve Bernier
6. Taylor Pyatt
7. Alex Burrows
8. Matt Pettinger
9. Mason Raymond
10. Kyle Wellwood
11. Jeff Cowan
12. Darcy Hordichuk
13. Ryan Shannon
DIVISION RANK: 5. Good lord. They could add Sundin and still be No. 5, and maybe No. 30 in the whole league. Ryan Kesler a No. 4? Taylor Pyatt a 6? Good lord.

1. Mattias Ohlund
2. Kevin Bieksa
3. Sami Salo
4. Willie Mitchell
5. Alex Edler
6. Lukas Krajicek
7. Rob Davison
DIVISION RANK: 1. On the other hand, no weak links here at all, and five of the six are capable of great breakout passes.

1. Roberto Luongo
2. Curtis Sanford
DIVISION RANK: 1. Unless he decides to pout

Previous Charts
Minnesota Wild

Colorado Avalanche

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

Coach rankings, plus predicted order of finish

Depth Charts 4: Edmonton Oilers

•August 11, 2008 • 5 Comments

Depth charts: The legend continues.

EDMONTON OILERS (41-35-6, 88 pts)
1. Shawn Horcoff
2. Ales Hemsky
3. Sam Gagner
4. Erik Cole
5. Dustin Penner
6. Andrew Cogliano
7. Fernando Pisani
8. Robert Nilsson
9. Ethan Moreau
10. Kyle Brodziak
11. Gilbert Brule
12. Zack Stortini
13. M-A Pouliot
DIVISION RANK: 1. This is based a lot on potential, but this group was awfully explosive last year, and they’ve only added Erik Cole and should get a full year out of Horcoff. Love this group, love the potential Brule adds.

1. Lubomir Visnovsky
2. Tom Gilbert
3. Sheldon Souray
4. Steve Staios
5. Ladislav Smid
6. Denis Grebeshkov
7. Jason Strudwick
DIVISION RANK: 5. Like Colorado could drop, this group could easily rise. Souray IS capable of an excellent year, Smid and Grebeshkov could break out … there are just more question marks here than on any other blue line.

1. Mathieu Garon
2. Dwayne Roloson
DIVISION RANK: 4. Uh, neither of these guys will scare a shooter, unless it’s a shootout.

Previous Charts
Minnesota Wild

Colorado Avalanche

Calgary Flames

Vancouver Canucks

Depth Charts 3: Calgary Flames

•August 10, 2008 • 8 Comments

The tradition continues. (It’s been three days now, that counts as a tradition around here.)

CALGARY FLAMES (42-30-10, 94 pts)
1. Jarome Iginla
2. Daymond Langkow
3. Mike Cammalleri
4. Todd Bertuzzi
5. Matthew Lombardi
6. Craig Conroy
7. Rene Bourque
8. Curtis Glencross
9. David Moss
10. Dustin Boyd
11. Wayne Primeau
12. Brandon Prust
13. Andre Roy
DIVISION RANK: 2. Analysis: Really trying to decide if this is a homer pick or not, but I like that there’s actually a third line here. Maybe it’s a GOOD fourth line doing a third-line imitation, but it’s better than last year. Plus, bottom three have an opportunity to not be embarrassing if Roy doesn’t dress too often.

1. Dion Phaneuf
2. Robyn Regehr
3. Cory Sarich
4. Adrian Aucoin
5. Jim Vandermeer
6. Mark Giordano
7. Anders Eriksson
DIVISION RANK: 4. Analysis: Flames’ onetime strength continues to be its new weakness. And it’s too bad, because the 1-2 are the best two defencemen in the division, full-stop, but they can’t play the full 60 minutes.

1. Miikka Kiprusoff
2. Curtis McElhinney
DIVISION RANK: 2. Kiprusoff is capable of a better year than Luongo, but he’s going to have to prove himself to be worthy of elite status after last year.

Previous Charts
Minnesota Wild

Colorado Avalanche

Edmonton Oilers