At the beginning of the summer, I began a series of posts about the best and worst parts of the 2012-13 Calgary Flames' season. We tackled the best or most surprising parts of the shortened season, and now that I'm home from my European jaunt and with pre-season action fast approaching, it's time to take a look back at the not-so-good parts of the year--because yes, we're that masochistic.
Given the way last season turned out for the Flames, 48 games felt like more than enough for many fans of the local team, but even so few of us can deny that we sorely missed NHL action from the months of September to January, even if we didn't necessarily miss watching the Flames.
Yes, the team played like dog poop on a stick for the majority of the season and made their own beds with regard to the results they garnered, but they were also on the receiving end of some shit luck at times, and if they had played a full 82-games, things just might have evened out and ended up looking ever so slightly rosier for the home side.
The Big Guns
Part of the reason for Calgary's poor results last season was the fact that the players who were supposed to make an impact on a game-to-game basis simply, well, didn't.
Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri were hot and cold and Alex Tanguay, who may as well have been donning an invisibility cloak for large portions of the season, generated a miserable 44 shots on goal in 40 games all year long. That's the same as defeceman TJ Brodie and bottom-sixers Matt Stajan and Blake Comeau, and just two more than grinder Tim Jackman, who received less than half of Tanguay's nearly 20-minutes per game.
Jiri Hudler, who signed on for four years at $16M last summer, was also frustratingly inconsistent and finished with only 56 shots in 42 games, while his countryman Roman Cervenka was perhaps the biggest disappointment of all for for some Flames fans, although he was arguably brought to Calgary under false pretenses (i.e. his health and the fact that he was/is not a centre), and mishandled by Bob Hartley.
Which led to...
Questionable Trades/Returns for Star Players
The way that the Jarome Iginla trade was handled will likely remain a sore spot for many Flames fans for years to come, and at this moment in time, the return in the deal (forwards Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and the Penguin's first round pick) remains questionable--with the most promising piece thus far appearing to be 28th overall pick Morgan Klimchuk.
After the first shoe dropped, Jay Bouwmeester's deal to the St. Louis Blues also left some fans wonting, although the players acquired in this trade are moreso unknown quantities than those acquired in the Iginla trade. There is hope yet for Mark Cundari and Swiss olympic wannabe Reto Berra, but perhaps the biggest letdown in this swap was Jay Feaster and Co.'s fumbling of the Blues' 22nd overall pick.
Goaltending/The Miikka Kiprusoff Saga
Even as one of the biggest Kiprusoff fans in the whole wide world, I cannot deny the simple truth that he stunk up the joint last season.
An ES SV% of .889 and an overall SV% of .882 were by far the worst of his NHL career, and put him 73rd out of all 82 'tenders in the league, just behind Leland Irving at .883%.
So, understandably a good number of Flames fans were peeved at their former #1 goalie for refusing to accept a trade at the deadline, despite the fact that his no movement clause had expired the previous year. This in turn raised questions about the Flames and Kiprusoff having made an under-the-table deal stipulating that he would retire before the final year of his contract, which would see him earn just $1.5M, thus circumventing the salary cap.
Then, in the most Kiprusoff-ian fashion imaginable, the goaltender announced his retirement from the NHL indifferently from his home in Finland, via the Finnish national team, which, I may add, has still not been confirmed by the Flames front office, who instead maintained that a trade was potentially in the works with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
No worst of list would be complete without mentioning Anton Babchuk. The pathetic excuse for a Flames defenceman earned $2.5M to play just seven games last season, even after Jay Bouwmeester was traded, while munching popcorn in the press box and eating up precious LTIR space.
In those seven games, Babchuk scored one assist and finished with a -1 rating. Needless to say, nobody else in the league wanted to take a flyer on Babchuk, his no-movement clause and his 29 seconds of powerplay time per game, and he signed with the KHL's Salavat Yulaev.
Will the Flames be better this season? Surely not, but in some cases there is something to be said for addition by subtraction.