Feeding frenzy

I’ve been hating to read the #Flames hashtag for the last while.

Too many Suzie Sunshines have been talking about the team turning a corner when they post an occasional win.

Too many Cheery Charlies have been talking about how the team needs to keep Jarome Iginla for his heart and his leadership.

Too many Happy Harrys have been talking about ‘next game we’ll get ’em!’


A 3-1 loss is in the books after playing the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s preceded by a pair of losses to the Minnesota Wild.

And a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs.

Big fucking deal.

The Leafs have a 12-17-4 record in the East, only slightly worse than the Flames at 14-18-3.

So, no. It’s no big deal to beat the Leafs.

Nor would it have been a big deal to beat the Wild or the Blue Jackets.

It really isn’t a big deal to lose to them either.

Because, folks, this is not a good team.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, Brent Sutter is handcuffed by a roster of old and slow plugs in a game that’s speeding past with youth and flash and dash.

That defence we keep being told is one of the best in the league … on paper? The top four combined for a minus-6 rating tonight.

Strange decisions are being made. The one with the youth and flash? Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch tonight, in favour of guys who aren’t lifting feathers let alone pulling their own weight.

In complete honesty, I didn’t watch until the last three minutes. I had better things to do, figuring the Flames would be putting in a tired, heartless effort after losing to the Wild last night.

I followed along on the Twitter stream while I was in the hairdresser’s chair and at the gym.

Fans are pissed.

“So happy the world juniors is starting. Watching the #flames is painfull (sic).”

“#flames some kind of failure tonight…again”

“Wow, the #flames continue to struggle, and yet do NOTHING to help themselves. How #pathetic AND #stupid can a professional #hockey team be?”

“The #Flames are just so bad. It hurts my soul.”

“3 in a row… NOW can we fire Sutter? Waiting for management/ownership to do something is as frustrating as watching this team play. #Flames”

“If DSutter isn’t fired by the time I get back from States, I’m gonna … I’m gonna … I’ll probably just swear and tweet about it. #Flames”

Oh wait … that last one was me.

So yeah, how much longer will this go on without someone, i.e. general manager Darryl Sutter, being held accountable for the dreary season we’re facing?

For the fact the Flames don’t have a complement of players who can score.

For the fact the Flames don’t have the stalwart defence we’ve been led to believe it is.

For the fact this team is pushing the salary cap this year and next and has no future.

Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Now that’s a big deal.

No offence, Brendan Morrison

It isn’t a long-term solution.

And that’s what bothers me.

The Calgary Flames signed Brendan Morrison today, desperately needing to plug some holes in light of injuries to centres Daymond Langkow and Matt Stajan and wingers David Moss and Ales Kotalik.

Morrison is 35, got dumped by the Vancouver Canucks just hours earlier today and was looking only for a one-way contract, guaranteeing he wouldn’t spend possibly his last season in the minors.

Yes, it’s easy math. At $750,000 for one year, Morrison is a bargain … not much of a cap hit, even though his numbers have dropped severely since his glory days on the Canucks top line with Markus Naslund and One of the Names I Dare Not Speaketh.

He’s a capable centre for the third line, while Olli Jokinen tries to keep the young upstart, Mikael Backlund, at bay for the first-line position.

I just wish the Flames didn’t have to go fishing so early.

It’s still considered ‘training camp,’ since the new 2010-11 season doesn’t start until Thursday.

And yet the Flames can’t go to the bench — the AHL team in Abbotsford — to find an able centre to fill the spot.

It’s troubling that this kind of talent doesn’t exist on the farm, that Backlund was the lone hope to make the jump to the bigs this year … that T.J. Brodie’s feisty play on the blueline is a more-than-pleasant surprise, forcing the Flames brass into some tough decisions in the very near future.

Two players? That’s it?

Yes, we saw great things from Jon Rheault.

But that’s it?

We knew the Flames didn’t have a ton of depth but their inability to ring the bell in Abbotsford ought to serve as a warning sign.

It’s time for general manager to stop trading away draft picks to get aging, B-level stars and start drafting the right way.

Start building this team from the ground up, instead of regurgitating has-beens and other teams’ castoffs.

Declare a five-year plan like Brian Burke did in Toronto, then turnaround and dump some of these guys on some poor unsuspecting sap somewhere else in the league, just like Brian Bur … oh wait. Crap.

Sutter might think the Calgary fan base is content to watch these guys muddle their way to a mediocre finish and a first-round knockout.

But we’re not.

We’d be just as happy to watch the team struggle through a season or two, knowing the Flames are building towards something, instead of making desperate attempts with guys whose glory days are behind them.

Miikka Kiprusoff won’t last forever, you know.

And at least Morrison didn’t get a no-move clause.

Signed, sealed, delivered

Dear Alex Tanguay,

I know I’ve said it before.

But here it goes one more time: welcome back.

I remember when you were lighting it up in Denver, Col. Drafted 12th overall in 1998, you were a fresh-faced youngster from Ste-Justine, Que., jumping out of the QMJHL with 214 points in three years for the Halifax Mooseheads — my favourite Q team, after all.

You were a highly touted rookie and you proved your merit as a skilled power forward with promise.

You won the Stanley Cup in 2001 but, as time went on, the Avalanche had to clean house, start over again and rebuild.There was no place left for you and the salary you commanded as a 25-goal scorer.

When you landed here in 2006, I was thrilled. Some thought, ‘what? he’s not that great.’

I thought, ‘no, he’s the perfect playmaker for Jarome Iginla.’

But you weren’t ready for the shit show that you were to face here. The Flames hired Mike Keenan to run the ship and you didn’t respond well to his dictatorial style of coaching, constantly juggling the lines when many of us knew where you were supposed to fit.

And don’t even get me started on that whole Todd Bertuzzi experiment. Ugh.

You lasted two seasons here. Instead of paying you what you were worth after 99 assists in two campaigns, the Flames let you go.

Off to Montreal with you. How odd. Two years later, they did the same thing to your replacement, Mike Cammalleri.

Neither of you wanted to leave Calgary either. But Calgary didn’t want to keep you.

After bouncing to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a season you’ve come back, signing for a bargain $1.7 million, compared to the bags o’cash you were making here before.

During tonight’s pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers, I watched you on the top line with Iginla and stud rookie Mikael Backlund.

You were exactly what this team was missing last year: a forechecker, a digger in the corners and that guy who can make that pass from wherever and whenever and get that puck to that Iginla, who only needs that laser-like wrist shot to score a goal.

It was beautiful.

And it tells me you’re going to do some good things here in Calgary this season.

So thanks for coming back and giving Cowtown another chance.