Flames Fans Must Demand a Rebuild

Will we hear some chants of REBUILD - REBUILD - REBUILD tonight in the Dome and in the final other two home games?

In a earlier article I speculated on why a rebuild has not started, why it can't. I put the responsibility on the Ownership.

Not Ken King, not Jay Feaster, I believe key players are hands off. A carte blanche rebuild is not going to happen without the Owners clearance and a rebuild involves moving older star players for younger prospects. I speculate it is the Owners who are blocking it.

Things are starting to get ugly in the Dome. I honestly had forgotten that pivotal point when a fan base that is lied to gets so disgusted that they start to do things like throwing jerseys on the ice. Tom Kostopoulos loses it in this act of fan protest in the last game against the Kings.


On one hand your back goes up at not being able to support your team through thick and thin but on the other hand you have to appreciate that this fan has been lied to. Sold and hyped on a playoff team that hockey analysts from all strips and informed fans from all NHL teams have known for several years now is not a playoff team. One that is on a descent, not a rise.

This young man is likely one who bought into the illusion and hype, as many have over the last three years, and now that it is becoming obvious to even the most Homerish fans that the team is not even close to a playoff team, never mind a Cup contender he is pissed off.

Hockey fans are not complete fools, well some are, but still when you get to the point that Jay Feaster's pre-season comments at the start of the season are looking like lies now, blatant lies. When it is a management group that is looking deluded and selling snake oil. When Owners seem to be more interested in playing golf with Jarome and watching Football now, it is a protest that I may not agree with but I do understand.

It will continue and it has to sadly, only when the fans, the season ticket holders and the ones who put money in the pockets of a extremely well-moneyed ownership group start to protest in mass, only then will they make changes.

I believe it is Ownership that is blocking the rebuild.

To use a phrase Jay Feaster used, if they were to be "intellectually honest" with the fans they would come out and say the same things we have been reading for years now on hockey blogs, the Flames need a rebuild.

It can start this off-season but only if the Fans demand it loud and clear.

If the word from fans and chants can reach up to the high ivory towers of the Owners it just may start this off-season.

The Owners can play their last game of Golf with Jarome this off-season. The owners can chat with him about the organization, they can ask him if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, they can offer him life time employment with the Flames after he retires as a player, they can do all these things and yes the star of the team can ask for a trade. He can clear discussions and give his blessing to it.

The Owners can clear discussions on Miikka Kiprusof being traded and Jay Feaster can become what many of us thought he may be when he was hired. The hatchet GM to make the tough, heart-breaking trades.

Package it all up like the Oilers did. The soft fans will lap up the propaganda of a Flames version of "Oil Change." I've actually watched a lot of those episodes and been pretty impressed with it. It is well done and well put together.

The Flames can start their own communication and at least the fans will understand what is happening, they will likely accept it with the promise of the future being in place just like Edmonton is. I am already advocating it be called "Re-Ignition."

Head up North to Edmonton, I think they will be smug as can be and more than happy to refer the marketing companies they contracted and production teams they used to put together their announcement to their fans. Get the marketing department of the Flames to work.

Lets get on with it because the current path is giving me flashbacks to the dark era.

______________

Yes - the Iginla trade will be shocking to Flames fans and prepare yourself now because whatever is coming back it will never be enough to satisfy Flames fans. But look to the web for savy bloggers to break the trade down. Perhaps in a fair unemotional analysis it won't be as bad as some may think.

I don't think anyone will condemn Jarome for going to another team to win a Cup, the opposite will occur. Just like Ray Bourque I think some other NHL team is suddenly going to find tens of thousands of Flames fans suddenly jumping onto cheering their team to a Cup because lets face it, if Jarome can't win it in Calgary, everyone still wants to see him lift it.

Yes - the Kipper trade will drive the Flames to probably historic lows in the standings. Never have they finished in the bottom 5 but when he leaves it will become a very real possibility. Leland Irving with all his promise still must be sheltered to a degree and too heavy a work-load too fast is not wise.

Yes - refusing to sign Olli Jokinen or also moving Alex Tanguay will essentially negate any pretense of a first line and poor Mike Cammalleri may be waking up in a cold sweat with flashbacks to his days in Montreal but you know what?Even he can be traded again in the final year of his contract at the deadline when the bulk of his yearly Cap has been eaten up.

Even Cammy can get some nice pieces back a year and half out. Certainly more than Rene Bourque will at the end of his contract.

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Personally, I have reached that point where the team has jumped the shark tank. I know several who reached that point long ago but for me personally, being the optimist I am, I have hung on and used my emotion to fight back all the rational inclinations. Such is the nature of a fan.

It is the end of an era, it is the end of the Iggy era, the end of the Kipper era and thinking back to the slow painful sunset of the former Cup team I would prefer it happens quickly rather than slowly. The drawn out exits of Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk and Theo Fleury were not fun.

______________

Too long of a time period. It was hauntingly similar in some ways but for dramatically different reasons.

The dramatic difference was the reason for the Flames decline in the 1990s. The CDN dollar had plummeted to record depths. The Owners at this time were losing money and the team was in danger of being relocated. Their hands were tied.

It was hauntingly similar in other ways.

For five consecutive seasons after the Cup was won in 1989 the Flames failed to go past the first round of the playoffs. Sound familiar?

Finally Al MacInnis had enough in 1994 and the team could not match the Blues offer at the time. It wasn't even close, the Flames offered 2.5 million, the Blues 3.5 - 29% more. MacInnis said he did not want to leave Calgary but this would be like the Flames offering 5 million to Jarome instead of 7 million.

Then it was six consecutive seasons in 1995 without winning a round and Joe Nieuwendyk wanted out but this was not on good terms.

He held out and refused to report to camp despite an arbitrator decreed contract of 1.85 million. The Flames uped the offer to a 3 year 6 million dollar deal and still he refused. The Flames were over a barrel and dealt him to the Stars for a 1st round pick and a forgettable player named Corey Millen. The trade created outrage at the time, it turned out pretty good for the Flames given their circumstances, they got lucky.

Then came Theo Fluery, who like MacInnis wanted to stay in Calgary but the Flames simply could not come to terms on a contract. He left on Feb 28th, 1999 and the team at this point had not only failed to win a playoff round in ten years, they had now failed to even make the playoffs for two years and were going on to their third straight miss in 2000.

This was despite all the hoopla surrounding a new and obviously talented rookie named Sven Baertschi, ooops I mean Jarome Iginla. Sorry, another flashback there.

_____________

The descent of the Flames into darkness had an explanation in the 90s.

A force external to the organization and everyone understood it. Small market teams had no place in the NHL. The Owners had no choice. Fans were outraged but at the same time there was a degree of understanding.

Today the team's circumstances are similar in their performance. Failing to go past the first round for 7 years now, then failing to even make the playoffs for three years but the reason is not external, it is internal. The Flames descent this time can be squarely placed on Darryl Sutter's shoulders and not on any low Canadian dollar.

It can be placed on Ken King and the fact he had likely grown to close to Sutter and himself did not understand the terrible moves that were being made and the consequences they would have. Ken King is not alone in being fooled by Darryl Sutter, many were and the Owners of the Flames obviously were as well. It was the hangover of 2004 and essentially one lucky trade that enshrined Darryl Sutter as a know all hockey genius he never was.

There is no point dwelling on the past though. One of the points of history is that you learn from it, otherwise you are doomed to repeat it.

The Flames in the 90s could have moved sooner on their big trades and gotten bigger returns. They could have embraced their circumstances and traded Joe N sooner, same with MacInnis, same with Fleury. Today they are making similar mistakes but for different reasons.

Today there are no financial issues whatsoever for the Flames Owners. It is the exact opposite, they are rich beyond belief and loving the high price of oil. They have actually expanded recently to take out majority ownership on the Calgary Stampeders. So what on earth is the reason for blatant denial into the state of the Calgary Flames? What is the reason they refuse to rebuild this team that is now at least half a team away from being a playoff contender?

I speculated in a previous article that they are worried about the reaction of the fans.

Well, send them the message, there are three more home games to play out the string. If I hear that "Rebuild" chant in the Dome in any of them that has to send the message. The Owners not only don't want to win a Cup, they are not even serious about making the playoffs who can imagine what their perspective is if they hear their own fans chanting Rebuild and still fail to do it.

Even if Sven turns into the second coming of Jarome this team will be out of the playoffs for years just like it was before.

If you go to Flames games, see if you can get the chant going because I have a bad feeling until something like that happens, the Owners are going to continue on this steady as she goes limbo path of no playoffs for years completely disconnected and oblivious to what the fans want.

If you go to games, start the "Rebuild" chant because the disconnect from the Owners at the top and fans at the bottom has never been larger.

"We're serious about making the playoffs and being a team that can win in the playoffs," Feaster told TSN's That's Hockey. "This is a franchise that has no interest in rebuilding or blowing [it] up or any of those things."

Jay Feaster - Jan 13th, 2012

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