Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
When GM Darryl Sutter deposed Jim Playfair as coach after one season and installed Iron Mike, the thinking was that the Flames had to get back to the hard-nosed play that saw them advance to the 2004 Stanley Cup finals. Sutter, whose relationship with Keenan extends back to their shared days in Chicago, believed the old task master was just the man to do the job.
Now, with the team in a free fall, there are questions about its preparation, focus, drive, energy and desire. Those are all of the things, the intangibles, Keenan was supposed to bring to the table. Those are coaching issues.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
As much as the lazy Sunday away from the horror house known as the Saddledome was a chance for the beleaguered players to clear their minds, rest assured there was plenty of introspection going on.
Certainly, there are plenty of reasons for the Flames, with their under-achieving 6-8-3 record, to consider.
They’ve frittered away a home-heavy schedule that had 11 of those 17 games at the ‘Dome, in which they’ve won only four times. They’ve frittered away half of an eight-game intra-division run.
They’re floundering like Brittany Spears’ career.
from the Calgary Sun,
Hot on the heels of a six-year extension for goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, there’s talk in Calgary the Flames might be a small step closer to signing Dion Phaneuf to a long-term contract.
The 22-year-old defenceman’s agent, Don Meehan, was in town last week, and it’s believed he spent time meeting with Flames general manager Darryl Sutter about a possible extension.
Sources say talks were informal and could help lead to a deal but no dollars were discussed.
Phaneuf’s entry-level contract expires at the end of this season, and as a restricted free agent, he’d be a prime candidate for an offer sheet from another team.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan didn’t exactly leap to the defence of his injured centre Daymond Langkow on Friday….
“I looked at the tape again today,” said Keenan. “I know Matt Cooke, I coached him, he’s a little bit of a hunter, and you know he’s out there, you know he’s coming at you, and you know he’s going to body you.
“But he didn’t leave his feet. He hit him hard into the boards; at the same time, you have a responsibility to know that players like that are out there. It’s a fine line between playing the game hard; he cracked him good, and Daymond maybe should have positioned himself in a more protective manner so he wouldn’t have had the whiplash effect against the glass.”
more NHL talk including Bouillon explaining his hit on Aaron Ward…
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
Calgary is sub .500.
Edmonton is sub .500.
Given the respective stenches emanating from both camps, a cynic might suggest The Battle of Alberta has been replaced by The Cattle of Alberta, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of sizzle on tonight’s steak.
Nothing fuels a barn burner like animosity and desperation and the Flames and Oilers will be bringing plenty of both to a unique and unusually important showdown in Cowtown.
Something has to give. They can’t both lose.
via Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Losers of four straight and participants for maybe 20 minutes in each of those contests, the Flames are a team that has yet to become comfortable with the demands of Mike Keenan. To the fiery coach’s credit, he’s been patient during the process, allowing his players time to adjust. But it’s becoming clear that not everyone is on board, and a shakeup seems inevitable.
Stephane Yelle, a solid defensive player who could add something to any team’s penalty kill, could be available. Center Craig Conroy, who has just two goals this season despite playing alongside Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay for long stretches, is another candidate. His contract brings a $2.85 million hit, but it only goes through this season and becomes more manageable for another team to assume with each passing day. Calgary would like to add scoring (who wouldn’t?), but might be willing to take on a veteran forward with leadership experience and a winning background.
Atlanta’s Bobby Holik, perhaps?
from the Calgary Sun,
What’s preventing the club that’s now lost four straight games from the expected 60-minute performance?
“I have some ideas, but I’m not prepared to share them right now,” Keenan finally said. “I want to discuss them with the team before I make those comments.
“I think I know why but I want to make sure, and in fairness to them give them an opportunity to explain it first before I have that discussion.
“Maybe I can answer your question in a day or two.”
Until then, Keenan’s club will deservedly be queried about its Jekyll-and-Hyde outings. After all, it’s hard to understand how a team that went into the clash having lost three in a row could be listless through the first 30 minutes.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Keenan watchers in these parts have been waiting for the inevitable eruption, any sign that the legendary Iron Mike was ready to lose it on his up-and-down Flames’ squad. So far, there’s been none of that — and what passes for frustration has been mild compared to what coach Craig MacTavish may be saying about his Oilers or Alain Vigneault about his Vancouver Canucks.
It isn’t clear if this is a kinder, gentler Keenan or simply a craftier version, someone who knows that all eyes will be on him when things go wrong — and he refuses to take the bait and go bananas in public.
from the Calgary Sun,
Only two Flames players were exempt from the exhausting conditioning skate that came at the end of yesterday’s practice.
One of the absences could spell trouble for the club. Defenceman Dion Phaneuf is out indefinitely with a leg injury.
“Dion went for an x-ray,” said coach Mike Keenan after the hour-long session wrapped up at the Saddledome.
“He re-aggravated an (old) injury, and then he bumped it again (Monday) night. It’s a recurrence and he needs some time to heal.”
update 3:06pm, via TSN,
The 22-year-old Edmonton native had the leg x-rayed on Tuesday and the results were negative. He plans to skate tomorrow and is probable to play against Vancouver Thursday evening.
Theo Fleury will be joining the Calgary Flames broadcast crew doing the color commentary on tonight’s Pay-Per-View match against the Colorado Avalanche.
Which reminds me of this from Eric Duhatschek’s post on the Globe & Mail hockey blog just last week:
Asked if he had any plans to come of retirement, Fleury retorted: “Just for the shootout. I think I can still do that. I’m pretty good at it, in the basement, playing with the kids.”
Otherwise, Fleury says he’s through with hockey (“I hate it. I really do,” he said).
Love it or hate it, I guess he just can’t stay away from it.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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