Sutter's deadline resume dull

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

It's been Dud-line Day in Calgary for years.

The trade deadline has been a bit of a tease for Flames fans ever since Cory Stillman was swapped for Craig Conroy and a seventh-round pick back in March of 2001.

With all due respect to Conroy, when that's the most exciting deal in this Millennium to go down on one of the most anticipated afternoons on the NHL calendar, it's no wonder fans are praying for movement today as the battered and bruised Flames arrive in Philadelphia.

It's been more dull than deal since Darryl Sutter took over as Calgary's GM before the 2004 deadline.

Preferring to make his moves well before time is up, Sutter has been suspiciously quiet this season, which might mean a switch from his usual silence today.

Last season, he made no moves on the big day, picking up defenceman Jim Vandermeer from the Flyers six days before the deadline.

His big splash in 2007 was another depth defender, David Hale.

At least fans enjoyed some excitement a couple of weeks earlier when he moved popular blueliner Andrew Ference and winger Chuck Kobasew to Boston for defenceman Brad Stuart and centre Wayne Primeau.

They were also loving the return of Conroy, who came back to Calgary from the Los Angeles Kings in January in exchange for Jamie Lundmark.

Lundmark was the biggest deadline-day acquisition the year before, scooped from the Phoenix Coyotes for a fourth-round pick as Sutter sent Jason Wiemer packing for a pick in the fourth in a separate deal with the New Jersey Devils.

Feel free to stifle that yawn growing in your throat.

Necessity might force Sutter to overpay for talent today, but only the Flames brass knows for sure how long injuries to top-six talents like Todd Bertuzzi, Daymond Langkow and Rene Bourque will keep them on the shelf.

It's entirely possible the positive play of his Quad City call-ups and secondary scorers, plus the hot hand of captain Jarome Iginla, will allow Sutter to stick to his usual stand and let other teams make bad deals.

The closest Sutter has come to making an impact on the big day was in his first effort for the Flames in 2004.

A day before the March 9 deadline, he picked up Swede Marcus Nilson from the Florida Panthers. On March 6, he snagged Chris Simon from the New York Rangers. He traded for agitator Ville Niemenen the previous month.

Nilson, Simon and Niemenen all played big roles in the Flames' run to the Stanley Cup final that season.

None of the bigger moves Sutter has made in anticipation of the stretch run have made much of an impact, so maybe it's best he puts his faith in the guys he already has.

Stuart and Primeau couldn't help the Flames rise in the standings and avoid the Detroit Red Wings in the first round in 2007.

With Ference a bigger loss in locker-room chemistry than anyone anticipated, that deal might have hurt more than it helped.

Chemistry is something this year's version of the Flames has had since mid-November, and the price of adding one of the big-name players reportedly on the block might be the wrong thing to do.

But thanks to the lineup at the trainers' room, never before has the temptation to make a deadline deal weighed so heavily on Sutter.

A betting man wouldn't wager too large a sum on that prospect. Especially if he puts any stock into history.


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