CALGARY - Now that the Calgary Flames are a non-playoff team for a third consecutive season, the talk will turn to the future.
To rebuild or not to rebuild: That is the question.
It's a tough one for players to cope with.
"As a player, you never want to believe the answers aren't in the room," said defenceman Mark Giordano in the aftermath of Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks which officially eliminate them. "It's tough because at times we've shown we can be a really good hockey team, and be a team that battles with good teams and is right there. But, at times we haven't.
"But until anyone tells us differently, we believe in each other."
The Flames will have changes, but how big they'll be remains to be seen.
They have six pending unrestricted free-agents currently with the club -- Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos, Cory Sarich, Scott Hannan -- as well as three forwards due to be restricted free agents in forwards Blair Jones, Mikael Backlund and Blake Comeau.
Giordano, who played the first season of a five-year contract, appears destined to be one of the faces of the franchise going forward, and is well aware there may be bolder moves than just allowing free agents to walk, with players such as Miikka Kiprusoff, Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester in the sites of those wanting a complete rebuild.
"We're all going to have meetings and stuff at the end of the year and go through our season, and as players we all have to look in the mirror, individually and as a team. There were times we were good, but there were also times we had letdowns," he said.
"I'm sure the team will go through an evaluation process," said Alex Tanguay, who has four more years remaining on his contract. "And I'm sure they'll try to do what's best for the team, but I can't really comment on it.
Added Giordano: "I committed last summer to be a part of this team, and I want to be part of the solution. But my head's not really into (rebuild talk) right now."
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