SUN Hockey Pool

Flames: Anatomy of a disaster

Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter talks to the media after losing to the San Jose Sharks and...

Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter talks to the media after losing to the San Jose Sharks and finding out the team is out of the playoffs on April 7, 2010. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 PM ET

Now that a winter of disappointment is over, the Flames and their fans are heading into a spring — and summer — of discontent.

Ever since the Flames returned to the playoffs in 2004 and made it within a goal of the Stanley Cup title, hopes have been high in the Stampede City they would challenge for the second crown in club history.

Those dreams have crashed and burned each year since, but none ended worse than the now completed 2009-10 campaign.

A season which began with promise, thanks to the addition of Jay Bouwmeester to a cavalcade of stars which included Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen at forward, a defence corps which already had Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, appeared on track.

The Flames were within striking distance of the Western Conference lead in early December and all was right.

Then it all fell apart.

The offence disappeared and rumours of dressing room rifts necessitating the incredible roster turnover ran rampant as the losses mounted until the team fell out of playoff contention.

The club’s braintrust will spend the next while doing an autopsy on what went wrong, and the fallout is expected to be wide-ranging.

What they’ll find is an organization which has had a revolving door of players and coaches since the 2004 run, a highly touted core group which has failed to deliver — especially this past season — and not a bright future, with few draft choices and fewer high-end prospects waiting in the wings.

General manager Darryl Sutter is in the hot seat for creating a team which has failed to deliver despite its high payroll, while mortgaging the future to build it.

Sutter’s future will certainly be the subject of much speculation externally and will come under forensic review internally.

The same can be said for each and every player, including all the on-ice leaders. Even Iginla, the all-time leading scorer and face of the franchise, has been the subject of a debate on who should be traded.

What the Flames will look like when the 2010-11 season begins is anybody’s guess. There could me small changes, big moves in the front office or the dressing rooms, or maybe even a full-scale rebuild.


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