Flames fans hopeful for free agency

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:15 PM ET

July 1 — the day Flames fans have been waiting for since the curtain fell on their sordid season.

Of course, given the club’s payroll issues, no one is expecting Darryl Sutter to dive into the pool of big name free agents made available on free agent day.

But what they do expect is for him to dip his toe in and come up with someone who could possibly help the league’s second-most anemic offence.

While a good argument could be made that person should be Alex Tanguay, the fact is locals need to be introduced to at least one recognizable, warm body who will wear red while playing forward this fall.

They were hoping for it at the draft but the man who has habitually been the talk of the glorified crapshoot came home with little more than a hotel pen and a backup goaltender no one had ever heard of.

Just as the fans are waiting for an assistant GM or two to be hired by the club to “enhance” the front office, they await word for any signs of hope.

It hasn’t been easy for Flames faithful, especially when endless checks on their iPhones throughout the draft left them with nothing but increased data charges.

The frustration is palpable because, despite Sutter’s insistence he has a good hockey team, the status quo is unacceptable.

The very real fear is that the club’s bloated payroll has the GM so hamstrung he won’t be able to make any significant moves before the leaves fall.

Despite six years of overwhelming evidence proving Sutter is as capable as anyone in hockey at shaking things up, the club has so far done nothing to appease the angry masses. Nothing.

That needs to end now.

Yes, the same day the club is bound to lose future NHL captain Eric Nystrom there needs to be something done to stop the bleeding.

There’s just been too much bad news for the club ever since the GM made two horrific trades (the gifting of Dion Phaneuf and the charitable acceptance of Ales “Cut me Loose” Kotalik) and the team missed the playoffs.

The decision to change nothing at the management level disappointed many but surprised no one, leading to a summer of growing discontent that needs to finally be addressed.

Otherwise, one wonders how the Flames organization can possibly go about trying to sell hope to a fan base who knows better.

Without significant changes how can anyone suggest an aging roster will actually produce better results than the one posted by a team that won most nights on the back of an all-world goalie who had one of his career years?

OK, OK, we’re getting ahead of ourselves as perhaps July 1 is in fact the day the club’s master plan of attack begins to unfold. Or unravel.

After doing his best to try shedding salary by way of the waiver wire, the doors swing open this morning to the possibility of signing roughly one quarter of the players who played in the league last year.

Obviously Sutter has picked his way through that list and has targeted those with dwindling stocks he feels possess an upside in exchange for relatively little compensation.

Now he can start identifying those lads.

And while the reaction from skeptical locals will almost certainly be mixed at best to anyone he acquires, at least it will mark change.

And that’s all anybody’s asking for these days.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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