A 9-0 Loss: That Which Is Simply Impossible To Ignore

Something I've been saying all season is that the Calgary Flames, despite the occasional moments of brilliance, if not competence, are not very good. Something the Calgary Flames management has been ignoring all season is that the Calgary Flames are not very good.

It's easy to delude yourself- listen to the people that call in to sports radio shows. Most of them believe what they wish to believe about their team and ignore the realities. Management is rarely so different. With a vested interest, sports management personnel wish to both believe and sell a rosier reality- and it's hard to blame them. That reality is their livelihood.

If Jay Feaster were to turn to Ken King and say, "My moves from this summer aren't working out, let's go in a different direction", King would probably look at him until Feaster walked himself out the door. Why should team CEO's, presidents, and even owners rely on a coach or general manager who wastes their money and then doesn't even have faith in their own moves?

In a perfect world, GMs would be able to look back at a move and say "This didn't work, this is why" and not lose their job for it. In a salary capped NHL where players cost both cap space and real dollars, that's hardly possible. There is little room for errors of the magnitude of Ales Kotalik.

However, the Calgary Flames have finally hit a point where they can no longer sell this team as quality. They can no longer merely point to Jarome Iginla and say "Look! We have a star! Iggy Iggy Iggy!" Why? Because the team not only embarrassed itself- it embarrassed the fans. A team can be pretty bad before it starts upsetting even the most casual of fans- look at the Edmonton Oilers. The problem is not consistently being pretty bad, it's occasionally being embarrassingly bad. It's losing 9-0, a contest so bad that PR can't even sell it as a gong show.

That embarrassment is not something you can sell. TSN, CBC, hell, even ESPN in the States will look at that score and point and laugh. Calgary fans will find themselves less willing to shell out cash for gear, because why wear gear that gets you mocked? Calgary fans will find themselves less willing to talk about the team online, because why support a team that gets you relentlessly trolled?

So management is in a position where the team was so noticeably bad that a change has to come. This may be in the form of a trade (the immediate result of the 9 game losing streak, if you'll recall, was the Dion Phaneuf trade), the form of a firing (it took a while, but even Darryl Sutter eventually bit the bullet), or even a pretension of honesty (the rarest result of all with this organization). What response the organization will have is a mystery at this point, but given the poor play over the entire roadtrip, it should be big. This game in and of itself won't be and shouldn't be the reason the Flames tear it down and fire personnel; this game should be and will be looked upon as the catalyst for that tear down though.

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