Flames' direction needs to change

Flames general manager Jay Feaster speaks to the media at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary,...

Flames general manager Jay Feaster speaks to the media at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., April 10, 2012. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:19 AM ET

CALGARY - Jay Feaster insists he has the power and the penchant to affect significant change to the Calgary Flames this summer.

However, it appears one thing that has yet to be altered is the flawed logic that ran this franchise into the ground in the first place.

Despite missing out on the lowly goal of finishing seventh or eighth in the west each of the last three seasons, the Flames GM still believes there’s such a thing as a quick fix.

Whether he still believes in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, Jarome Iginla or Olli Jokinen wasn’t addressed as he refused to talk about the specifics of a plan he somehow believes can allow the team to take a step forward before taking at least a few steps back.

After opening his remarks by shouldering the blame and apologizing to fans and ownership, the Flames GM said the organization can no longer enter seasons hoping to simply scrape into one of the final playoff positions.

He said they need to aim higher, thus changes will be made.

Minutes later he contradicted that thought, saying, “I have no interest in standing here on Apr. 10 next year explaining why we’ve missed the playoffs.”

He still wants to have his cake and eat it too, which is exactly why this aging team is in such a mess.

When pressed on the point that has driven many Flames fans mad throughout the club’s lipstick-on-a-pig window dressings each summer, he reiterated his stubborn belief things can change on a dime.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory you need to miss the playoffs a couple of years in a row,” said Feaster during his annual wrap-up presser.

“There are some real good pieces here. We have some good pieces coming. There are a number of ways to improve the hockey team. It’s not always by acquiring draft picks. It’s signing free agents and trading for players. We need to make changes but I don’t want to be standing here on April 10 next year.”

That’s not intellectual honesty.

That’s just silly.

You can’t admit in the same sitting that your team “wasn’t close” to being a playoff team but now will focus on trying to become elite without some more growing pains, especially given how bare the cupboards are.

It’s the same nonsensical, delusional pap we’ve heard for years. Pick a path and follow it.

Tough decisions need to be made to shake up the core of this wayward team and it will take more than adding free agents collegians and CHLers to prospect camps as he suggested.

“In my mind, what we have to do as a hockey department is change the nature of the discussion,” said Feaster, adding the future of everyone — including Iginla — will be reassessed.

“The discussion shouldn’t be ‘can we assemble a team good enough for eighth, maybe on a good year get into seventh where anything can happen.’ That isn’t what this organization aspires to be. It isn’t good enough. It’s clear we need to make changes.”

Yes, meaningful ones that will hurt short term with an eye on growing long term for that top-tier status.

Granted, Feaster is still in the early stages of figuring out his desired course of action and likely doesn’t even know himself if Brent Sutter, Miikka Kiprusoff or Iginla will be part of his solution moving forward yet. He’s in a tough spot made somewhat easier by the salary-cap flexibility that comes with having ten mostly borderline free agents on his hands.

After last season he thought the team was still ‘close.’ This year he realizes how wrong he was.

It’s time to end the delusional playoff predictions and dreams and choose a path that’s best long-term.

If the Flames truly want to be elite one day Feaster won’t be in front of a Dome podium on April 10, 2013 — he’ll be at the draft lottery in Toronto.

Now that would be real progress.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.


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