October 2nd, 2002


Charlton's NHL

Big Trade: Fiscal & On Ice Sense

AP Photo

RFA's Flames swap Morris' negotiations this summer for Drury's

by Rick Charlton

In the after-glow of yesterday's Derek Morris/Chris Drury swap it may also be prudent to follow the impact of the money the Flames gained in the deal.

The Jarome Iginla contract last month prompted analysts to kill great swaths of cyber-forests in falling over themselves predicting the Flames had one year, at most, of their superstar forward before they would be forced to trade him under the weight of a $7 million bill coming due next season.

But one of the unheralded results of yesterday's dramatic events was to drop $1.3 million into GM Craig Button's wallet.

Naturally, we couldn't help but observe he was unusually ecstatic at getting the extra loot.

"That's significant for us," Button told the Calgary Herald. "It cannot be underestimated in any way, shape or form."

Speculation had been rife throughout the summer that moving Jeff Shantz as well as losing Igor Kravchuk and Mike Vernon would provide enough money to pay for Iginla this season. The trade yesterday served to complete that scenario.

Presumably the Flames had been planning to deal with the contract status of Morris next summer just as they will have to look at Drury's as well - in effect, a wash.

Which leads us to speculate the presence of Drury will spell the end of Rob Niedermayer in a Calgary uniform, but probably not until next summer given his almost non-existent trade value. But he's suddenly more than expendable and it would figure his $2.1 million will belong to Iginla next year as well as smooth over any pay raise Drury might gain.

We may find in the next few days, with the waiver draft upon us, that Button might surprise us, that his cryptic comment may have meant something else, that acquiring a veteran defenceman may instead be a priority for the extra cash.

But don't be surprised if nothing happens, that Micki Dupont moves up a notch and Drury takes the place of Morris on the Flames power play.

And Iginla stays the full two years of his deal, which we thought would happen anyway.

THE TRADE SERVES BUTTON WELL IN ANOTHER WAY AS WELL as it clearly goes to the heart of his earlier stipulation of dealing with teams which have a winning tradition. Button has stated before the Flames have been in danger of getting used to losing and that dealing with other losing organizations only reinforces that culture. The acquisition of Drury and Yelle, guys who still have a hunger for the playoffs rather than a fatalistic approach, fits the profile of the type of trade he wants to make to a tee. The GM also continues with the mantra of living or dying (isn't it a contract year for the GM as well?) by his own ideas, the caution of Al Coates nothing but a distant memory now. If only Button can do something about his "Pause" moniker during the regular season, when a shakeup might be needed.

ONE OF THE GIDDY IMPRESSIONS FANS SHOULD TAKE FROM THIS TRADE is that the Flames, for the first time since virtually 1995, actually look like a real hockey team. The signings of Martin Gelinas and Chuck Kobasew plus the early resurgence of Marc Savard and now the addition of Drury gives the Flames scoring depth and options up front they've spent years dreaming about. The defence is young but not without skill and grit while Roman Turek should give them quality number one netminding. In the dry years the Flames always seemed to have one third or one half of the overall equation in their favour but elements were always missing, usually scoring, but sometimes defence and more often than not, second tier goaltending. Today, there is a balance throughout the lineup we haven't seen for years. But, as we've said for several seasons now, they'll need to be top ten defensively if they're to have any hope of the post-season. This deal, however, might do more to help Rollie Cyr sell tickets than any benefit the Flames may have generated from the Iginla signing.

WE CAUGHT A DENVER PAPER THIS MORNING considering Stephane Yelle as the throw-in for this deal, figuring the Avalanche were so disenchanted with the checking centre's contributions that he was probably going to be exposed in Friday's waiver draft anyway. With some amusement, we note that was also the verdict of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when the Flames acquired Craig Conroy. We're not expecting that type of a miracle again - the Good Lord could strike us dead if the Flames were to get THAT lucky twice - but Yelle is definitely an upgrade over Shantz.

BY THE WAY, CYR HAS CONFIRMED THE FLAMES TICKET TOTALS which are barely scratching over the 11,000 mark, do include equivalents like game packs which means the team is facing a whole lot of hurt financially if things don't pick up. I still think the NHL will find a way to get the Flames their share of the currency stabilization grant, particularly given the closeness to a new labour agreement in 2004. Does anyone know of a team, after all, which has been denied? On another front, your humble correspondent does occasionally glance at the business pages and did note Flames owner Murray Edwards making ominous noises about moving segments of his oil business form Calgary to the USA if the Kyoto Agreement is signed by Canada. Lets hope it doesn't become a habit in other walks of his life.

"THE MONTREAL CANADIENS OF 1976-77 won 68 regular season games, lost 12 and dropped only one of 12 playoff games. We beat Philadelphia four straight in the final. Also, you don't forget the 1974 and 1975 Montreal teams that beat Philadelphia. And you remember with fondness our first Cup in Detroit, when we brought home the trophy for the first time in 42 years. But if you ask me about the best team I coached to the Stanley Cup, I'd have to say it was the '76-77 Montreal team . That team had the likes of Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt and Ken Dryden, all of whom started to blossom at the same time." - Retired coach Scotty Bowman looking back on his career.

"MAYBE IT WAS MY FAULT, maybe I should have tapped somebody on the shoulder and directly told him what to do. But I don't believe in that. I never have. And in the past, I always had guys who understood what was necessary without being told. I'll tell you what, though. I'll bet you that's why (Krzysztof) Oliwa is here now." - Former Rangers coach Ron Low discussing opponents taking runs at the head of Eric Lindros without apparent fear of retaliation from New York tough guys Sandy McCarthy and Dale Purinton. Oliwa, now a Ranger, had this to say: "I'm going to be there for our guys. They don't have to worry about that. I know my job."

"THE THING I LIKE ABOUT HIM IS HE'S CREATIVE and he's like most scorers, he's not afraid to thrown the puck to areas where he thinks he can set guys up. I think he's going to be an excellent player in this league." - Ottawa GM John Mucker chatting up Jason Spezza, the wunderkind making a bid to be in the Senators opening night lineup. Spezza and the Kings Jason Allison have a lot in common. Highly skilled but not particularly fleet of foot. Allison, through time, managed to fix his skating deficiences after being ruled something of a bust in his early Washington years. Spezza may not jump out of the gate early in his career but the Senators should be more patient with him that the Capitals were with Allison.

"I DON'T KNOW HOW HE CAN STAY ONSIDE AS MUCH AS HE DOES and as well as he does. Especially playing with (Sergei) Samsonov, who doesn't know what the hell he's doing. He almost never goes offside. That's almost impossible. It's uncanny how well he can stay onside. Most players would be dead right at the blue line. - Boston coach Robbie Ftorek discussing winger Glen Murray who will be counted on to fill the boots of the departed Bill Guerin.

"WE CARRY 22 PLAYERS. My highest paid player is making $2.75 million and my lowest is $425,000 a year. Our players cost are around $25 million a year. Now I'm suppose to play against the Detroit Red Wings who spent $70 million on players. They spent more on players than my revenue is in a year. So, tell me how that makes sense.'' - Columbus GM Doug MacLean complaining about his lot in life to the Charlottetown Observor, a paper he probably thinks we never read here at Calgarypuck.com. He'd be wrong about that but he's right about his situation. And that's not all. ``Times have changed and what does this do for our fans?," asked MacLean rhetorically. "There's real confusion amongst the fan base out there. There's apathy. It's a `what have you done for me lately' attitude. We care about the players, but they don't care about us. Of the average fan who is excluded from games because of ticket prices, they feel they're being ripped off. There's a disconnect between fans and players, and attending games sometimes is more trouble than it's worth.'' Hear that Rollie Cyr?

``I TOLD THEM I DIDN'T WANT A BLOODY BOBBLEHEAD." - San Jose's Mike Ricci on the 6000 bobbleheads which include his lengthy hair. But no scars or Bobby Clarke teeth.

"I REMEMBER WHEN THE TWO TEAMS WERE STANDING, and the anthem played, and all of the Canadians stood and all of them were big, good guys. I said to Valeri Vasiliev that 'I hope they don't kill us.' " - defenceman Alexander Gusev recalled of the first game Canada/Soviet 1972 Summit Series.

  Back to Calgarypuck.com
Read other Stories
Talk About it!