(Ed. note: This is a sponsored post for Steve Dangle. If you want me to write about any old thing in hockey, all you have to do is donate $50 below. It’s easy and fun. Bye.)
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Noted video blogger (”vlogger”) and dumb Canadian idiot Steve Dangle proposed perhaps the most interesting of the sponsored topics yet. It’s one I’ve subsequently been thinking about a lot.
“Maybe [write about] who the next Calgary Flames are going to be. And by that I mean the next team to be totally screwed.”
Damn, that’s one hell of a good thing to think about. The obvious answer would be the Buffalo Sabres, who seem hellbent on turning Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller into the next Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff circa 2008 or so, the only good players on a team, surrounded by detritus and with their own skills fading slowly at first, and then with alarming rapidity.
Another pretty good answer would probably be the San Jose Sharks, who tried as the Flames did to force their way back to Stanley Cup contention with greybearded veterans and in doing so not only missed the boat on that, but also cost themselves several years worth of good draft picks.
You might even be able to say it’s true of the Carolina Hurricanes, treading water in mediocrity forever after one totally shocking and perhaps undeserved Cup run (the difference being they won and Calgary didn’t). The ‘Canes have since drafted Jeff Skinner, and probably won’t be so foolish as to trade him as Calgary did with Dion Phaneuf, but otherwise have a relatively bare cupboard and an aging-but-not-good-enough core, led until only recently by a bad coach.
But then last night, I figured out the perfect candidate for which team will be the next one to be as hopeless as the Calgary Flames are currently. It’s the Calgary Flames. Yesterday was perhaps the most embarrassing day in that franchise’s history, which, given the quality of the franchise’s management in the last several years, is really saying something.
It all began bright and early on Thursday morning in Calgary, when Jay Feaster pulled the trigger on the trade the brought ex-Flame Brian McGrattan, who is awful, back to Calgary for a minor league prospect in an attempt to become “tougher to play against.” Normally, this would be fine. Except McGrattan was on waivers one day earlier and cleared because no one claimed him. Baffling stuff, except that adding McGrattan would have pushed Calgary up to the league’s 50-contract limit. I conjectured that this was a precursor to some other kind of move that would necessitate them taking on an additional deal, and well hey look at that I was right.
Jay Feaster, of all people, was finally the one GM in the league smart enough to give Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly the $5 million a season he wanted and deserved, and he did so through an offer sheet after apparently trying in vain to pry O’Reilly away via trade (astronomical asking price for a division rival, and all that). This was something that wise fans of a number of teams league-wide had been clamoring for since the O’Reilly situation turned truly acrimonious in Denver, and that Feaster jumped on the grenade was a bit of a surprise given how judicious such a move — which would only have cost Calgary a first- and third-round pick — was. With that having been said, the way Feaster structured O’Reilly’s contract also allowed the center to get a massive qualifying offer when the two-year deal expired, but that was less of a concern, largely because everyone was still sitting somewhat agog at the fact that Feaster made a pretty shrewd managerial move, as is generally the opposite of his wont.
However, the CBA certainly allowed Feaster to sign O’Reilly to that offer sheet, just as it allowed Colorado to match that offer and get all mad, which GM Greg Sherman did within a few hours.
In fact, that decision to match came midway through the Avalanche’s game that night, which rather coincidentally was being played against Calgary at the Pepsi Center. But hey, at that point, things were going very well for the Flames, as they were up 3-0 and looking like they would cruise to a win that would catapult them to a tie for 12th in the West with Edmonton. Instead, they gave up five of the game’s next six goals and lost 5-4 in regulation because the Flames are an embarrassing conflagration of a disaster.
That capped a pretty ugly night for the franchise, which has had too many of those to count on a couple dozen hands in the last calendar year. And then it got worse.
What most people, including the Flames organization, didn’t realize (or at least forgot) is that Jay Feaster is constantly skirting the borderline between incompetence and outright negligence. This morning it came out that what Feaster apparently didn’t know was that it also stated that if he had to bring the center onto the roster, he would have to first put him through waivers, where someone would have almost certainly claimed him. (Colorado was under no such restriction because he was their own restricted free agent and therefore had no waiver requirements.) So Calgary would have lost both those two picks and Ryan O’Reilly in the space of a day, for no reason at all other than Jay Feaster not knowing how the CBA works. Which, I am to understand, is a pretty large part of his job.
Now, that this didn’t happen is entirely a function of Sherman also not being a very smart GM. Because while he would certainly love to have O’Reilly back on his team (though perhaps not at that price point) having the opportunity to not only get two free draft picks, which were likely to be quite high, while also completely screwing a division rival that you now had a pretty decent reason to dislike.
But at least he got something out of the deal, and that something is a very good young center. Calgary got nothing but another regulation loss, a player no one wanted on waivers, and a whole lot of derision.
No one’s knocking them off the perch as the NHL’s most miserably-run franchise any time soon.
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