It’s not something that a true hardcore Flames fan would want to discuss, but realistically, it has to be something that crossed a few minds out there, wouldn’t you think?
The Calgary Flames dealing away their captain and arguably the best player the franchise has ever had? Yes, it wouldn’t sit well with a lot people, whether it be fans, members of the media, the locker room and even some members of the Flames management group. However at the end of the day, the National Hockey League is a business, and wouldn’t trading Jarome Iginla be a smart long-term business decision?
The 2010-11 Calgary Flames was a group of veterans hoping to make a splash in the postseason but instead underachieved for a few months, saw their General Manager get canned, and then went on an unbelievable run, only to fall short of the playoffs for a second consecutive season. There were a few players that overachieved, and a few that underachieved, but usually that happens every season. Now, the 2011-12 Calgary Flames are, for the most part, the exact same team (minus Robyn Regehr of course) heading into this season, so why would the results be any different this year, especially if your two best players are both 34 years old?
Now, it’s understandable that the team wouldn’t want to move their best player, especially since he still is vital to their offense (Iggy passed the 40-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career last season). However, is it not a smart thing to move a stock when the value high, especially if you are aware that it is only going to decline? That doesn’t mean that Iginla doesn’t have a few good seasons left in him, because he does. However, he was 33 last year, and is now 34. It would be a different story if he was 23 and going on 24. Then this wouldn’t even be a topic for discussion.
Besides Iginla, you also need to look at the rest of the team. Yes, there are still some solid pieces around him that will definitely win Calgary some games (Miikka Kiprusoff, Alex Tanguay, Mark Giordano and Rene Bourque come to mind), but will that support be enough? It’s not about just making the playoffs, but also doing some damage. The loss of Regehr will be a huge one on the blueline, and it’s hard to believe that Chris Butler will end up replacing him and playing the same game. Jay Bouwmeester is not the Florida version that scored a bunch of goals and contributed offensively, and Corey Sarich has lost a step or two.
Up front, it’s not a given that Olli Jokinen, David Moss and Curtis Glencross will guarantee any secondary scoring, and don’t forget, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman are still on this roster. Nobody knows what to expect from Daymond Langkow and Brendan Morrison is not the cure that is going to make all things well.
Most of the other teams in the Western Conference have either remained status quo (Detroit, Chicago and Nashville come to mind), improved (San Jose, Columbus) or are just expected to be better than last season due to the youth and upside on their rosters (the Oilers and Blues are perfect examples).
The Flames are still one of the higher cap teams in the league, and there is no additional help down on the farm that could provide any sort of immediate impact. All of these ingredients sound like a recipe for disaster, not for success.
Moving Iginla doesn’t guarantee Calgary anything. They could receive a top prospect and/or a top draft pick in the deal, only to see that player be a total bust. At the same time, Iggy deserves a shot at the Stanley Cup, but there is no guarantee that even if he was dealt to a perennial contender that he would win. That is part of the business…there are no guarantees.
Jarome Iginla is a class act and easily one of the best captains in the league. He leads by example, on and off the ice, while having the respect of his peers and coaches in the process. It is hard to picture the Calgary Flames without #12 patrolling the right side, but it might be for the best if both the team and Iginla went their separate ways.