April 07 2010 01:30PM
The Flames are toast. Or Extinguished. They were flickering, but now they've been put out. There, I think I've exhausted every example from the Headline Writers Handbook:Flames Choking Edition. Last night's shootout loss for the Canucks was worth celebrating since the extra point it gave the Avalanche eased the Flames out of the playoff picture. The fact that Flames fans' pain causes celebration on the right side of the Rockies may add anger to their already depressed state of mind. That said, I'm feeling something that may make them even angrier, Pity.
You see, there's been few playoff matches for the Canucks that have been more exciting, more intense than when they play the Flames. Even if the Cowtowners are loathe to admit it, the rivalry between the Canucks/Flames has taken the place of the Oilers/Flames one that just doesn't have the same juice anymore. So it's fun to see the Flames miss the playoffs, I'd much rather have the Canucks beat them in the playoffs, it just more satisfying that way. The pity comes in because it really feels like it's gonna get worse before it gets better for the Flames, so missing the playoffs may become more of an annual tradition. It could be a while till we see another knock'em down, drag'em out seven gamer with the Flames.
That said, they're not awful, they're worse. They are mediocre. In the NHL it's much better to be awful than average. Look at the Penguins and Blackhawks. Years of futility have given them rosters that have them set for decades. Look at the young players teams like the Lightning and Oilers are stockpiling, both teams looking to add blue chippers to the pile in this summer's draft. The Flames seem to be following the Maple Leaf model where the team is almost good enough to make the playoffs and then either just miss, giving them a mid level first rounder, or they make the playoffs and serve as a tune up for a far better team. They've further followed the Leafs lead by trading away their first rounder this year and the Flames don't even have Phil Kessel to show for it.
This mediocre position is probably the hardest one to get out of. The Dallas Stars always seem to be locked in this kind of "meh" holding pattern, and the Flames are looking to follow suit. The present is underwhelming and the future holds nothing. At least the Oilers have something to look forward to. They can debate Tyler Seguin vs. Taylor Hall. The can rewatch Jordan Eberle's World Junior heroics. Hell, they can even drool over youtube sensation Linus Omark . What do the Flames have? A defenseman that costs nearly $7 million per year, yet has almost four times as many letters in his last name as he does goals this season and an aging core of players that used to be great, but unfortunately are still being paid like it's 2004. At least they've got Ales Kotalik and Matt Stajan locked up at totally unreasonable, borderline insane contracts.
It comes down to this, it's either time to fire Darryl Sutter or trade Jarome Iginla. Or both. Knowing the Flames they'll probably let Darryl be the one to trade Jarome, then fire him. I'm sure Darryl could pry out a long list of second and third tier talent from an already crappy Leafs team. That muffled sound you heard was Flames fans collectiveley throwing up in their mouths.