Ice Hockey

What a difference a year makes

Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to complete a full orbit of the sun. Although the calendar year is exactly 365 days, every four years, a leap year occurs. This in affect takes care of the quarter of a day.

Therefore 365 days ago, the Calgary Flames were on the verge of their first post-season, play-off appearance since 2008. Stand out seasons from NHL veterans Dennis Wideman, Jiri Hudler and Mark Giordano helped to steer the Flames into third place in the Pacific division.

Major contributions from the ‘kids’ on the roster such as Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Kris Russell (most shot blocks in the NHL) and T.J Brodie matched those of the wiser owls of the team to form a remarkable set of players.

Many will compare the re-building success to that of the Colorado Avalanche of the year before, but this one almost felt different, it looked different.

The talk throughout the play-offs and off-season was all about how well set the Flames are to go on and be a force to be reckoned with next season. With the likes of Bennett, Jooris and Ferland all breaking into the regular line-up, coach Bob Hartley certainly has the rookies to work with.

Acquiring Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton in the free agent frenzy was also a massive boost for the flames, as this season looked to be very promising indeed.

How it’s turned out was definitely not what was expected.

Sitting not very pretty, 11 points off the wildcard spot in the western conference, plagued with injuries, hit with suspensions and time running out, Calgary are really struggling.

Poor goaltending throughout the year, no real stand out performers and mistake filled games has cost the side a chance at another shot of the cup this term.

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Calgary are yet to replace franchise goalie Miikka Kiprusoff

What will be interesting from now on though is what happens up until and including trade deadline day. Hudler will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but for any team looking for a top six forward he certainly carries some trade value.

It’s believed that Dennis Wideman has been floated around by the ownership group in an attempt to bring in some younger players. However being hit with the 20 game suspension last week, it will be incredibly hard to get the right deal for him at this time.

Rumours were speculating that Russell was another name the Flames were willing to listen to offers for and with the likes of Hamonic, Drouin, Stamkos and Bernier on the trading list everyone is waiting out to see what has to be offered to acquire a player like those listed.

A disappointing year it has been.

Especially after last season proved to be such a ground breaking foundation for this year and those years to come as the Flames look to continue their rebuilding phase.

As there is very little left to play for, many are suggesting it’s now time to give some fringe players ago. The like of Wotherspoon, Nakladal and Poirier among names who are looking for a chance in the big league.

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Stockton Heat: AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames is host to many a bright prospect

After all it may not be such a bad thing for the Flames to win only a handful of games from now on until the end of the season and hope to get a top five pick in next year’s NHL draft.

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