SUN Hockey Pool

Don't just sit 'n' pout... Let it out!

DAVID VEITCH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

More than 24 hours have passed since The Game 7 Debacle and Flames fans from the Dead Mile and beyond are surely still asking themselves the same question:

What the heck was that?

Lose in a do-or-die game?

Sure, it happens.

Lose in a do-or-die game because most players seemed more willing to 'die' than 'do'?

That's just wrong -- and it's surely not what you'd expect from a Darryl Sutter-coached team that preaches work ethic, strong defensive coverage, work ethic, speed ... and more work ethic.

One hyperbole-loving national TV analyst called Calgary's performance in a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks Wednesday night the worst Game 7 effort from a home team in hockey history.

Geez, that's a bit much. Yet there's more than a little truth in what he said.

The performance was obviously deemed unsatisfactory by the Sea of Red in the 'Dome that night, who booed their hockey heroes, and many more heartbroken Flames fans (including former captain Craig Conroy), who phoned our sports section yesterday to ask one very simple question:

What the heck happened?

Alas, only the players and coaches in the Flames locker-room can really answer that.

But where does the club go from here?

Now that's a question that can sustain us through the long off-season.

Allow me to make some suggestions:

* Sutter must hand over the coaching reins and concentrate on his GM duties. The trades he made (giving up much needed scoring prowess in Steve Reinprecht for ineffective forward Mike Leclerc and rarely used backup goalie Brian Boucher) were as damaging as the trades he didn't make (allowing rival GM Kevin Lowe of the Edmonton Oilers to scoop up sparkplug Sergei Samsonov at the trade deadline). Sutter's a savvy GM; he just needs more time to do his job.

* Find a team -- any team -- to take 14-goal man Tony Amonte and his grossly over-inflated $1.85 million salary. Are you sure Mike O'Connell isn't making the deals in Boston anymore?

* Ditto slooooooow Chris Simon and his $1.216-million deal. He doesn't score and he's too slow to be a consistent physical presence. Nice hairdo, though.

* Make sure fourth-liners remain on the fourth line. That means the Flames need three of them, not nine. And they shouldn't be on the powerplay when games are on the line.

* Calgary must free up some cap space for some much-needed offensive help. Can't help but look at blueliner Roman Hamrlik and ask: Did Calgary really get

$3.5 million of defensive help from him? Are you really sure O'Connell is no longer making deals in Boston?

Those are my thoughts.

Now over to you.

Sun Sports wants to hear your opinions about what the Flames should do in the off-season.

It's simple.

Log onto our website, www.calgarysun.com, and click on our You Be The Boss link. There, you will be given a list of players, their 2005-06 salaries and three options: Keep him, trade him and give him a raise.

We'll also ask you four burning questions, listed above.

Have more to say?

E-mail me at dave.veitch@calgarysun.com with your comments. Include your name and telephone number if you'd like to see your thoughts possibly published in these pages.

And don't hold back.

- - -

ANSWER OUR FOUR BURNING QUESTIONS:

1. Have the players tuned out coach Darryl Sutter?

2. Did Darryl Sutter fail the Flames at the trade deadline?

3. Was it a mistake not re-signing Craig Conroy and Martin Gelinas?

4. For season-ticket holders only: Will you renew your season tickets for the 2006-07 season?

CAST YOUR VOTE AT CALGARYSUN.COM


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