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Who Wants to Wait 5 Years for a Contender?

This post was inspired by Adam Proteau's column in The Hockey News, Time for Flames to Trade Iginla, Kiprusoff, in which he says just that - citing the work of the team's northern rivals as evidence this is just the route they need to take.

I responded via twitter before even reading the post that I disagreed with the premise before even knowing his reasoning, and that's true - it's exactly how I feel.  A team with good management from top to bottom will essentially re-tool their team on the fly, remaining competitive without having to struggle amongst the bottom-feeders for years while stock-piling lottery picks.  This theory is based on proper evaluation of talent and receiving worthy return on the trading of aging or overpaid assets that are clogging your system; setting up a cycle of transactions that allow your team to remain competitive and current for years on end.  The best sports franchises excel in this model.

Having said that, I can't say I fully disagree with Proteau's take that trading Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, triggering a re-build, is the right way to go.  My problem with it, much like my problem with most of the work of Eric Francis and the Calgary Sun, is that he's pulling a Ted Turner on us - telling the "realists" what we already know while at the same time slamming the "Hardcore Flames devotees."

Your article is a year-and-a-half late, Adam.

But, that's enough on Mr. Proteau - he's got a job to do and the Flames are ripe for the picking right now.  He's not the first and won't be the last to have their own epiphany's on how to save the Flames.

The reason I say his article is a year-and-a-half late is because the re-build or re-tool actually started (SHOULD HAVE STARTED) with the trading of Dion Phaneuf in late-January 2010.  That triggered the beginning of the Flames sell-off and in this article I wrote back in July of this year, I document the wealth of assets the Flames could have if proper trades were made.  For those unwilling to hit the link, the quick version is that they'd have ended up with multiple 1st/2nd round picks while retaining top prospects Keith Aulie and Brandon Gormley (PHX), also keeping Michael Cammalleri while having 15 million dollars in cap space, all of this being more than enough to make an equivalent trade to acquire Jeff Carter or Mike Richards... re-tooling the team while remaining competitive.

Who wants to wait 5 years for a contender? Well, the reality is that, because of the Flames managements poor evaluation of what they had in a team, we're already 1.5 years into that "re-build".  If it were just to start now with the trading of Iggy and Kipper then we'd still have to wait another 3-5 years for the team to complete the cycle and be good again, whereas we could have remained competitive all along, or even had they went the firesale route at the proper time, we'd only have maybe 1, possibly 2 seasons to wait.

Now that management has traded 4 high-quality assets for nothing more than long-term headaches it appears that perhaps Proteau is actually right, because it's clear the team doesn't have enough to compete for a Stanley Cup and there are so many problems that need to be addressed, anything short of a firesale may not be enough to re-tool this team. (To be clear, I'll not support a trade of Iginla - I'd rather they try for a spell to do it with him, first)

It's unfortunate that either Jay Feaster's rose-colored glasses or upper managements insistence on making a push for the playoffs delayed what should have (finally) started last year when Darryl was dismissed, but it did and here we stand watching the same players play the same inconsistent hockey that we've now gotten so used to over the last 2+ seasons.  With all the rumours surrounding Flames players currently, and the news that was leaked about Kipper being made available at the draft - it seems we're teetering on the brink of Feaster himself sharing the same epiphany as Proteau and others.

And, although I'll vehemently argue that Jay Feaster (and Ken King) is not the right person to lead the charge (take a look back at his history in another of my old posts), I'd rather they do something than continue to insist the lazy team that has failed in back to back seasons is somehow going to miraculously change the way they play and show us that third time's a charm.