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The Flames Finally Get Honest with Fans

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneering Swiss psychiatrist whose significant academic contribution was her book On Death and Dying. She proposed a 5 stage model that was named after her, the Kubler-Ross Model.

Although she originally argued that these were the psychological stages of the terminally ill, it has been recognized that they can apply to any traumatic life event: divorce, addiction, disease or any significant personal tragedy or disaster.  

The disaster in the Flames case, for fans and management, is fully understanding that Darryl Sutter significantly damaged the Flames over his final years and with it having the proper expectations going forward.

A article I have linked dozens of times all over the web and am happy to continue to pimp is Kent Wilson's 6-part series on The Rise and Fall of Darryl Sutter which explains how the Flames got to where they are today.

Recent comments by Ken King to the Calgary Herald are an indication that management and ownership may have finally passed Kubler-Ross's final stage of acceptance and are getting honest with fans which is a huge relief. Fans themselves will be in different stages naturally but it is important to know that management is finally there. 

Jay Feaster's cocky early season comments about the Flames making the playoffs and telling the media "To write it down" and unnecessarily poking the hornets nest up the QE 2 required a public comment from King. After all Feaster can't say much about it at this point with his foot firmly in his mouth still. 

 King does admit that last season’s brisk trot through the middle stages — 22-6-6 in one stretch — may have been misleading, may have led to unrealistic expectations. Calgary Herald ~ Nov 25, 2011

This is a positive move that I appreciate as a fan, the Flames being honest instead of blowing smoke. It is reassuring that they understand the stage the team is at. That they have the correct perspective. A perspective and set of expectations that reveal that they have processed and gone through Ross's stages. That they are not in denial. 

Read on for a review of Kubler-Ross's 5 stages and decide where you are as a fan. King's interview with the Herald implies to me that the Flames and the ownership behind them have finally passed through all 5. 

The Flames magical 2004 season is definitely the point in time when expectations shot to the moon. It is the point in time where thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Flames fans suddenly were created. They were certainly no where to be seen beforehand.

Unlike the Oilers after their 2006 run, the Flames were a consistent playoff team for several years post 2004. Something that helped engrain the contender status in the minds of fans and the organization. A team on the rise. Then a losing streak and the point in time which I consider the beginning of the end. 

The Neuf trade

The trade with Toronto never should have happened. It should have been vetoed. It isn't that Neuf should not have been traded it is the fact the trade was grossly unbalanced.  A lack of checks and balances on Darryl Sutter here and Ken King's close personal relationship with him clouded what was best for the team.

This is my marker in time for when the ship hit the first iceberg. What came after we all know, worse and worse trades. The Flames no longer became a playoff team and it is time to pass through the 5 stages of recognizing this.

Stage 1: Denial

Still think the Flames will make the playoffs? Telling the media to write it down? Jay Feaster is feeling lonely in the denial stage. As a fan you may be in this stage. Still expecting the Flames to take it to Bruins, Penguins and Canucks

Nothing wrong with cheering your team but brazenly telling others the Flames will beat the elite of the NHL and are a lock for the playoffs is denial. 

Stage 2: Anger

So you know Darryl Sutter made the Flames a non-playoff team. That his moves damaged the team. Now you rage against everything from the owners, the president, the GM, the coach to the players. You seethe with rage at the loss of the Flames playoff aspirations.

Do you refer to yourself as "we" in your writing to give the impression of collective?

Are you 

Stage 3: Bargaining 

Do you imagine bargaining through fantastic trade returns and messiah like players coming in and turning the team suddenly around and into a contender. It happened with Kipper after all. Do you imagine Parise and a pick for Iginla or Jbo for Chara or any number of messiah players arriving?

Do you imagine Sven Bartschi as a better player than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I admit to hanging out at this table, just because it is fun. 

Step 4: Depression

Have you stopped watching Flames games because the losing is making you sad. Are you isolating yourself from other Flames fans, do you feel a need to detach from the team? Is being a Flames fan, which gave you such joy in 2004 and for years after now bringing you extreme sadness?

Are you considering cheering another team? A winning team, a playoff team and one that can give you your fix of satisfaction. 

When you consider jumping ship for a team on the upswing you are definitely depressed. 

Step 5: Acceptance

The final stage, although the order of the previous 4 is not linear, the final one is Acceptance. You understand that the Flames are not a playoff team. You understand that Darryl Sutter seriously damaged the team. You understand there is no quick fix. 

You mentally become serene and understand the current state of the team without anger, depression, magical bargaining thinking or denial of the state of the team which quite simply is a non-playoff team. You become cautiously hopeful of the future.


What do you get if you make it to this point.

You get to wear your Flames jersey, your Flames hat, your Flaming C and you get to be a Flames fan.

You get to mark out your claim as a real Flames fan because it is easy to cheer a winner, much tougher to support one out of the playoffs. I saw that quick and easy support emerge on the Red Mile. But to cheer a non-playoff team, to stand by that team, that is the mark of a true fan. 

This is a little sexist but fans are like women. They reveal their true character not when you are at your best but when you are at your worst. 

I figure I would dedicate this to the angry Domebeers, who needs to get up there with this Nashville Predators fan and sing that he gives all his love to the Flames.

Stand by your team Domebeers, or hit the road you skank and go cheer the Oilers.

: ) 

Carrie Underwood performs "Stand By Your Man" at the Grand Ole Opry (via oprylive)