Flames opt to ride pine

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

The timing of his press conference told the story before he did.

When Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter appeared before the assembled media moments after the 1 p.m. deadline, everyone had a pretty good idea what was coming.

Or, rather, wasn't coming.

"We probably came close to a couple of bad deals," said Sutter, drawing laughs from the crowd, after announcing he made no moves on trade deadline day.

Alex Tanguay is staying put, as are pending unrestricted free agents Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius.

Olli Jokinen is going to continue to try and prove a Finn can actually get a tan while toiling in South Florida. Michael Ryder, still a Hab, will not be filling the void left behind by little brother Dan's decision to leave the Flames organization earlier this year.

All the rumours proved to be just that. And while Sutter surely entertained calls from fellow GMs looking to pry parts of his own puzzle away, he figured most of his labour was already in the can.

"We did most of our work yesterday in terms of just seeing who was going to be available or what was going to happen," said Sutter.

"I slept like a baby."

Some were wondering if he'd get that same sort of slumber last night after so many Western Conference teams made moves to improve in the midst of a tight battle.

The Anaheim Ducks, a model the rest of the league has been trying to imitate since last spring when they won the Stanley Cup, improved their already deep defence and backup goaltending situation.

The Colorado Avalanche, who beat the Flames 3-2 in a shootout last night, San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings bulked their blueline as well.

The Minnesota Wild gooned up with former Flame Chris Simon, and the Dallas Stars made maybe the biggest splash of the day by adding centre Brad Richards.

Sutter wasn't about to jump into any bidding wars, though. He's a man of action, not reaction.

He made his deal last week by picking up Jim Vandermeer for his defence corps.

Sutter believes his team's spot in the standings -- first in the Northwest Division prior to last night's game against the Avs -- and an impressive 23-9-5 record since Dec. 1 are signs of a good team.

"We didn't want to disrupt any of our top group," he said.

There were probably plenty of suitors hoping to grab Tanguay or Huselius at the deadline, but Sutter most likely laughed them off the way he often does when faced with a question from the media he considers foolish.

"I think it's natural for teams to try and steal somebody, or think they're going to get somebody for less than they should," said Sutter.

"That's how you remain a competitive team -- as we have and we will -- by not doing that.

"I prefer to keep our first-round picks, things like that."


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