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Flames re-do rebuild

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., June 27, 2012. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

CALGARY - Rebuild?

More like a re-do.

Anybody crying for Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster to blow it up and start over received confirmation Friday that’s not in the plans, courtesy of news the club has re-signed three familiar faces from last season.

Hard-hitting defenceman Cory Sarich will return for a sixth campaign at the Saddledome, while forwards Lee Stempniak and Blair Jones are back for a second straight winter.

All three missed the playoffs with the Flames last season.

All three signed two-year deals to come back and try again.

“I just feel like there’s some unfinished business,” Stempniak said. “With the moves, signing (Dennis) Wideman and (Roman) Cervenka and some other guys, Jay has shown we want to win now, and it’s exciting to be coming back to a team like that.

“I think we’re ready to take a big step as a team, and that’s something that you want to be a part of. It’s definitely an attractive selling point for me.”

It could be a tough sell for Feaster.

After a third-straight spring without playoff hockey, the Flames GM was adamant there would be substantial changes at the Saddledome. Judging by the early reaction to Friday’s signings around the Twitterverse, some fans were puzzled that bringing back three guys from last season was part of the plan.

It’s worth noting, though, Feaster has been as busy as any of his counterparts since the puck dropped on the off-season.

The Flames parted ways with bench boss Brent Sutter and hired Stanley Cup-winning skipper Bob Hartley, who filled out his staff with longtime associate Jacques Cloutier, former Flames winger Martin Gelinas and returning goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.

They signed KHL all-star Cervenka of the Czech Republic to a bonus-heavy contract and will hope his scoring touch translates to the NHL.

On Wednesday, they acquired Wideman from the Washington Capitals and immediately signed the offensively gifted defenceman to a five-year, US26.25-million deal.

“It shows they’re not content with the results over the last couple of seasons and they’re looking to make some significant changes,” Sarich said.

The signing spree continued Friday, less than 48 hours before the start of the NHL’s free-agent shop-a-thon.

Sarich, one of few Flames to stick around Calgary during the off-season, signed for $2 million per campaign, plus a no-trade clause in the first year of his new pact. The 33-year-old rearguard was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Canada Day.

Same goes for Stempniak, whose two-year ticket will cost the Flames an average of $2.5 million per annum.

Jones, a restricted free agent who arrived in a swap with the Tampa Bay Lightning midway through last season and appeared in 21 games for the Flames while also missing a month-and-a-half with a broken ankle, will earn $650,000 under the terms of his new agreement.

Feaster admitted Friday’s two-year deals are an indication some of the Flames’ top prospects are still one year — or more — away, and until the kids prove they’re ready to skate at hockey’s highest level, he’ll continue to tinker and explore the trade market to fill holes on his roster.

Forwards Olli Jokinen, Tom Kostopoulos and David Moss and defenceman Scott Hannan seemed poised to find employment elsewhere as unrestricted free agents. The Flames GM has money to spend.

And if Jones, Sarich and Stempniak figure this is a playoff team, perhaps others can be convinced.

“Now, with the NHL, I feel like it just doesn’t matter where you finish as long as you’re in the top eight,” Jones said. “Obviously, it was proven this year that you don’t need to the Presidents’ Trophy winner to win the Stanley Cup. It’s kind of frustrating to watch and think what might’ve been.

“I think we had a good team last year, we just fell a bit short. It’s certainly exciting, with the way things have gone here the last few days and the moves. We’re definitely an improving hockey club.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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