February 16th, 2012 | Posted in Commentary
By: D'Arcy McGrath
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in Calgary with the Flames getting more and more depleted in bodies but piling up more and more points.
Sure the club may have been lucky in Vancouver, but deserve full marks for their warm belt road trip, and a solid effort against Toronto on home ice.
As a result they don’t need to be that “lights out” the rest of the way in order to secure a playoff spot, much to the contrary of what this writer assumed when they were a .500 club through 40 odd games. Improbable to say the least.
sportsclubstats.com has them at 46% likely to make the playoffs now, their highest mark I’ve seen this year. The figure a 13-9-3 record will give them a 70% chance of making it (though that would only land them at 91 points.
Things are never black and white, something I learn more and more with every passing year.
The Flames aren’t trying to snub Al MacInnis by refusing to retire his jersey, but in my mind they have yet to offer up the quote or soundbyte that adds any logic to this somewhat ham-handed PR disaster.
McDonald had the heart of the city and it made sense to retire his jersey with the cup victory. Mike Vernon was a local boy and also won the cup, so it makes some sense, but I’ve been pining for MacInnis ever since he announced his retirement in St. Louis.
There isn’t a thing on his resume that suggests there is, has been, or perhaps ever will be defenseman as good as Al in Calgary.
So what gives ….
1. They don’t want to retire any more jerseys because a) they want to be unique or b) they don’t want to look like Montreal with everyone wearing football jerseys
2. Similar to 1. they want to honour a bunch of players but feel to go that wide (2, 14, 25, 34, 12) would be too many banners and they don’t want to pick favourites
3. They feel MacInnis is too close statistically to Fleury to pick him and not the controversial Fleury for the honour.
Either way something needs to be said because it doesn’t make sense at all; and really won’t if they reverse course and retire Iginla in 5 years.
Jeff Ens’s Leaf game story brought up the topic of Brent Sutter and coaching youth, which was pretty astute. As a coach he’s very technical, and loves to teach; a younger roster falls into his wheel house.
I’ll add to that however with a potential changing of leadership on the team.
The Flames marched to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final because they were a struggling franchise that was looking for Moses to come down from the mountain. When Moses appeared in the form of Darryl Sutter it worked; they respected him, feared him and took leadership from their coach to be a team that put a system on the ice each and every night.
Since then Darryl lost them, Jim Playfair lost them, Mike Keenan lost them, and Brent Sutter shook his head in amazement at the team’s inability to find consistency and the game in game out details required to win in a highly technical new age NHL.
Recent injuries has flooded the lineup with players that are so happy to be here (and likely intimidated) that the work ethic is hard, the system is followed to a “T”, and perhaps, just perhaps the leadership has moved from a veteran group that has always had trouble putting it together back to behind the bench with the other Sutter steering.
It’s a lot harder to take the easy way out on a shift if you have two other lines that look to be doing whatever is required in order to win, and please their coach.
My thoughts anyway.