Housley Out, Allison In!

September 28, 2001

We know Jamie Allison is a lefty.

Allison provided Flames fans with one of their few epic moments in an otherwise moribund 1996-97 season when he flattened pugilist Tie Domi with two quick lefts at Maple Leaf Gardens.

On Hockey Night In Canada no less.

Needless to say, Domi was expecting to tangle with a right-hander and even in the return bout later in the evening Allison held his own.

This isn't a guy that's going to be pushed around.

Unfortunately, that has been the career highlight for Allison, once regarded with considerable promise in the Flames organization but now, at age 26, hoping to finally find an NHL niche after being picked up for a second try in Calgary in today's waiver draft.

Blessed with good wheels, excellent lateral movement and tough as nails, Allison has been something of an enigma. There seems no clear reason why he hasn't turned into a very good defensive defenceman in the NHL other than the fact he continues to suffer a prolonged problem with consistency, the bane of most young defencemen.

But Allison, in the grand scheme of things, is no longer young.

He was originally taken 44th overall by the Flames in the second round of the 1993 Entry Draft. He puttered around the AHL with the St. John Flames for awhile and put in 20 games with Calgary in 1996-97 and 43 in 1997-98. He split time in Chicago and their minor league affiliate the last three years and, as was the case in Calgary, was often injured.

An added treat for those forced into the iron lung rides up to Edmonton is that Allison plays a mean guitar and has a Randy Travis like voice.

In ditching Phil Housley, Flames GM Craig Button picked up an extra $2 million to work with or, if you are cynic and see the Flames not qualifying for the NHL Assistance Program, he's merely brought his budget back into line.

Through 19 seasons, Housley has been one of the premier offensive defencemen in the NHL yet his record is not without its warts. The fact his team's have only made it past the first round of the playoffs twice in his career - and once with Phil as a bench warmer on a fine Washington squad - is hardly a recommendation.

For a Flames team that will have to fight for every point it gets, Housley was a luxury it couldn't afford.

The Flames have an emerging Toni Lydman as well as Derek Morris to carry the Housley load on offence and both are now better defensively as well. With Robyn Regehr, Denis Gauthier, Bob Boughner and now Allison in the mix, the Flames suddenly boast one of the tougher defence cores in the NHL as Button continues his dramatic reshaping of the Calgary lineup.