Flames season on life-support

Detroit Red Wings' Ruslan Salei and Calgary Flames' Matt Stajan chase the puck. (REUTERS/Rebecca...

Detroit Red Wings' Ruslan Salei and Calgary Flames' Matt Stajan chase the puck. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 PM ET

They haven’t flatlined yet.

The Calgary Flames showed a little heart on their five-game road trip so many suggested would either breathe life into their season or kill them off completely.

The pulse is still there, however faint.

And even if they eventually end up on life support, the ownership group appears reluctant to pull the plug.

Earning four points of a possible 10 on their trip through the east, the Flames didn’t do themselves any favours in the standings.

They gained no ground.

There were seven points separating them from the eighth seed in the Western Conference when they left, and the Flames found themselves the same margin behind when they woke up in their beds Sunday morning to enjoy a recovery day before getting back to business against the Minnesota Wild Monday night at the Saddledome. (7 p.m., Sportsnet Flames).

But by putting up a fight to earn a point in Detroit, claiming another single in New Jersey and beating the league’s best team at the time by squashing the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout, the Flames might have done something almost as important.

Buy some more time.

For the players, coaches and their general manager.

Despite watching the team string together a sub-.500 record on the trip, the ownership group must have seen enough to remain somewhat patient.

Team chairman and co-owner Murray Edwards told the Sun this weekend they aren’t about to fire anyone, just days after GM Darryl Sutter told the media he believed the team can still be a playoff contender.

Of course, those are just words. What else but ‘We believe’ could Sutter say and still hold onto his job?

Likewise, would Edwards tell the masses he was considering making sweeping changes to the organization, while still hoping for a miracle to take place on the ice to salvage this season for his Flames?

Not likely.

But here are some more words for you, from those same mouths.

Edwards’ statement that ‘Failure is not an option’ suggests his stance on keeping things status quo are only temporary if the team indeed fails to make the playoffs a second straight season.

And then there’s Sutter’s annual mantra ‘Just OK is not OK.’

You’ve heard that one on a few occasions, usually at the year-end meetings with media members as he declares the need for improvement.

If things keep progressing the way they have so far this season, at some point, those two declarations will intersect and one or both of Sutter and Edwards will take action.

‘Just OK is not OK’ is a message Sutter has always applied to his players, but he can’t be excluded from those expectations.

Rumour has it the GM’s allegedly term-less contract could actually expire this summer, and that ownership would prefer to end things that way than fire him midseason.

But with an already daunting climb toward the playoff picture ahead of them, what happens if the Flames fall further behind before the Feb. 28 trade deadline and ownership decides to make a deal or two for the future?

You’d think a second straight spring without post-season hockey in Calgary would seal Sutter’s fate.

So does ownership trust the GM to make moves for the future when the present he’s already pieced together is not working?


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