CALGARY – Two days after his Calgary Flames finished out of the post-season picture for the fourth year in a row, Curtis Glencross summed up what his teammates were thinking Sunday.
“It’s disappointing obviously,” Glencross said as the Flames cleaned out their lockers. “It’s too many years in a row that we’ve missed the playoffs.”
Glencross said Flames’ general manager Jay Feaster and his staff will face a tough task if they hope to put an end Calgary’s streak of playoff futility next season.
“They’ve got a long summer ahead of them,” Glencross said. “They’ll do what they can.”
Forward Alex Tanguay, who missed the final eight games of the season with a knee injury, said he’s optimistic that the Flames can ice a competitive squad next year.
“I wouldn’t see why this team wouldn’t be competitive in the very near future,” Tanguay said. “That’s my hope for this team and that’s what I think is very possible.”
One of the main challenges for the Flames might be finding a new starting goalie to replace Miikka Kiprusoff, who wasn’t made available for comment on Sunday.
“We’ll get a new goaltender in here probably,” Glencross said. “He’s kind of said he’s pretty much done I think unless something changes over the summer here or the next couple weeks.”
Glencross referred to Kiprusoff as a world-class goalie and the backbone of the Flames.
“Just talking to him, I don’t think he’ll be back, but we’re all hoping he is,” he said. “I think Miikka knows everyone wants him back.”
Fellow goalie Joey MacDonald, who the Flames acquired off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 11, said he would love the chance to compete for the starting job in net should Kiprusoff decide to not return.
“It’s going to be some big feet to fill,” MacDonald said. “Kipper’s been here for a long time and has done a great job.”
MacDonald finished the season with an 8-9-1 record, Kiprusoff went 8-14-2, and was rewarded with a one-year contract worth US$925,000.
The 33-year-old said he realizes that Calgary will also audition other goalies for the starting job next season and that Kiprusoff could also still decide to return as well.
“My focus now is just to be ready and be 100 per cent and give myself the best chance in training camp,” said MacDonald, who referred to Kiprusoff as one of the best teammates he’s ever had. “If Kipper comes back then great…but if not I want to have a chance at that No. 1 (job) too.”
Forward Mike Cammalleri, who the Flames re-acquired from the Montreal Canadiens last season, said he’d like to make a return to the post-season sooner rather than later.
“I was traded back here halfway through last season to compete for playoffs and try and win,” he said. “After a half season last year and a half season this year, it hasn’t been the case. It’s disappointing where we are. Everyone will take their own piece of responsibility for it and move forward.”
Following his first season as head coach with the Flames, Bob Hartley said he and his staff still have work to do before switching their focus to next year.
Over the next couple days, Hartley will meet with management to make final evaluations of the season, the players and all staff members.
Looking ahead to next season, Hartley said he would like to see an upgrade to the size and speed in Calgary’s lineup.
“Sometimes it’s easier said than done,” he said. “One thing we feel very good about is that we have a good core of veterans and they certainly helped us in the last couple of games with all the young players that we have.”
The Flames also currently have three picks in the first round of June’s draft, so Hartley realizes that he and his staff will have to remain patient with the young players while continuing to work with the veterans.
“We’re representing a very proud hockey community, a great Canadian hockey market and certainly we have to find ways to be better,” Hartley said.
With support from ownership, defenceman Mark Giordano said he believes that the Flames will do whatever it takes to improve the team in the off-season.
“We have owners who are obviously always willing to spend right to the cap here in Calgary, so we’re fortunate as players to be here because it’s an organization that wants to win,” said Giordano, who is considered by many as one of the top candidates to become Calgary’s next captain after the mid-season trade of Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I just keep doing what I’m doing, playing the same way and whatever comes with it, comes with it. I look at myself as a guy who can be a leader on our team and being an assistant captain for the past couple years, I’ve really enjoyed that rule.”