The list of things the Calgary Flames are missing is a long one.
Speed, scoring, skill, identity, the playoffs, a future …
But don’t tell that to Darryl Sutter.
In his mind, the Flames were just a few more wins at home away from being a Stanley Cup contender.
Yep, asked at his annual season-ending availability yesterday what he thought went wrong this year the Flames GM provided none of the answers rabid fans seek answers to. Nor did he display any of the humility you’d expect from someone whose club finished 10th in the west and faces a bleak future.
He didn’t fall on his sword, admit any errors on his part or suggest he could’ve done better — he simply stuffed the furious backlash right back in the face of most questioners as if everything was rosy.
He didn’t so much as avoid questions as he clouded his answers with obscure stats like the fact his squad “had the most career 20-goal scorers on Feb. 2.”
While that may be true, it didn’t help his team from being the lowest scoring club in the league. But no, the bolstering of the club’s defensive corps “did not come at the expense of scoring,” he said, defying all conventional wisdom.
“If we can get three or four players back on track, we’ll be right there.”
When pressed on which players he was referring to, he responded with his typically condescending tone, suggesting he never said that.
He doesn’t even know what he believes anymore, which is evident in the hodge-podge nature of a club so non-descript even he can’t clarify its identity.
“Our identity is that, on paper, we’re a really good hockey club,” reiterated Sutter, despite mounting evidence that, on ice, the team stinks.
“We have to get to the bottom of why we were like we were at home.”
So, did the team underachieve or was it simply overrated six months ago? Impossible to say given his response to the question, which led back to the team’s 20-17-4 home record.
Hinting the young coaching staff sure did a lot of learning this year, Sutter even stooped to mentioning injuries at one point, even though the team once again ranked almost dead last in NHL man games lost.
The only insight he provided was the fact dressing-room issues played a role in the hopeless, knee-jerk trades involving Dion Phaneuf and Olli Jokinen.
“Sometimes in a room you have different personalities that don’t work,” said Sutter, pressed later on whether those issues precipitated trades. “I think that was part of it.”
Sutter went one further by reminding us all the No.-1 criteria for acquiring players is that they have to want to be here. Um, then why was Ales Kotalik and his obscene contract added despite the fact he had originally written into his Rangers deal a no-trade clause to Calgary?
Fans who tuned in expecting answers were almost as delusional as Sutter yesterday, as surely everyone knew all along he and president Ken King would deflect specific questions by way of the annual “we’re going to review everything for a few weeks” mantra.
While suggesting he would be working on adding a first- or second-round pick for the draft (of which he has neither), Sutter insisted he had no plans to move any of his club’s large contracts to do so.
“I don’t think we have to do that,” said Sutter.
“I don’t think right now that would be a consideration.”
Then again, that’s exactly what we heard just before Phaneuf and Jokinen were sent packing.
And just like that the GM added a few more things to the list of things missing: Credibility, accountability and compassion.