A Tale Of Two Cities…
With the regular season coming to a close, now is when fans and ownership alike ask “what happened?”
Two Canadian teams face this question and, as usual, one of them is the Leafs, but surprisingly the Flames are the other.
The Leafs are repeating their year in, year out late season surge, once again suckering the faithful into starry eyed dreams of “next year”. Honestly, when will the followers of the Blue Team learn? I don’t mean to dump on the team I hate, honestly, but how often does “but this time is different” have to be uttered before real change is demanded? Re-building and no 1st & 2nd round picks are not synonymous. Yes Kessel is a solid addition, but with little or nothing around him, his presence is like wasting new paint on a dilapidated house. By the time this team develops enough talent to compliment Kessel and Phaneuf, both will be ready for renegotiation, and more than likely have worn out their welcome in Hogtown. What a mess, but once again, management feasts on how it looks, not how it is.
From Hogtown to Cowtown. Once again the Flames are fighting for a play-off berth. 2009 – 11th, 2008 – 14th, 2007 – 13th, 2006 – 6th. Like life in the oil patch, the flames glory days seems to be a fond memory. Unlike in Toronto however, the fan base is not content to cheer for hope. They want to win…NOW. Which is good, because from a prospect angle, there’s little to hope for, in fact, even less than the Leafs. The years of mediocre draft selections are putting this team between a rock and a hard place in terms of moving forward. With the exception of Backlund this team is deep only in role players. Add to this the restrictive contracts to underperforming core players Bouwmeester, Iginla and Kipper and you have a team staring over the edge of a very steep cliff.
So, do they jump, or continue to swing their arms in hopes of regaining their balance? My bet is, should they miss the post season, they jump. And, considering the lack of high end talent in this seasons UFA crop, now might well be the best time to leverage your core assets for players, picks or prospects. The fact remains that each of those players have very real talent, and teams looking to fill key roles, thus putting them over the top, would line up to get in on the bidding.
Kipper – Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, San Jose, Washington.
Iginla – Boston, Carolina, Colorado, St. Louis.
Bouwmeester – Vancouver, Dallas, Buffalo.
Change is a comin, at least in Calgary.