I’m in the camp that coach Mike Keenan should be dismissed and GM Darryl Sutter should stay.
Keenan didn’t do enough in his two years guiding the Flames. With his primary mandate to coach the Flames deep into the playoffs, he simply didn’t get the job done.
His litany of other shortcomings is extensive: He couldn’t revive a floundering Calgary power play that shorted out in the final 12 games of the season and six more in the playoffs; he failed to even make an attempt at establishing a backup to Miikka Kiprusoff and burned out Kipper in the process; he watched as defenseman Dion Phaneuf regressed to epic proportions offering only increased ice time as a remedy; he failed to spark Olli Jokinen into a consistent scorer; he was badly outcoached by Joel Quenneville in the playoffs.
Sutter should be allowed one more coach. In my mind, it has to be someone who has a better track record of educating and developing a system. The GM did a good job picking up cheap talent such as Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross, Mark Giordano and showing the gumption to acquire Jokinen and Jordan Leopold at the trade deadline. Those deals didn’t work out to perfection, but perhaps if he had a better coach…
Sutter did make some mistakes on contract signings – Jim Vandermeer at $2.4 million, Daymond Langkow at $4.5 million, Phaneuf at $6.5 million for five more years – but he has proven himself as a GM who can work his way out of a mess.
Calgary’s roster is sure to turnover at least 30 percent over the summer and there’s a good chance a new forward-thinking coach can weave this misdirected outfit into a spring winner.
Here are a few Flames I don’t think will be back.
Mike Cammalleri: It would have been nice to sign him for $4 to $5 million, but he’s determined to earn max dollars as a free agent and will surely get close to $6 million from Toronto. His 39 goals will be missed, but seeing him as a non-factor down the stretch and into the playoffs was disturbing.
Dion Phaneuf: Trade this diminishing asset to Florida for Jay Bouwmeester and a first-rounder.
Todd Bertuzzi: At $1.95 million and a pending UFA, he just didn’t do enough on the second line and doesn’t have what it takes to play on the third and fourth lines. If he was a lock for 25 goals and 50 points, you’d have him back for $1.5 million, but he’s not.
Adrian Aucoin: He’s coming off the books for $4 million and is probably worth half that, but chances are he’ll look for a better offer.
Jordan Leopold: Also coming off the books at $1.5 million and is looking for in excess of $2 million. Pass.
Wayne Primeau: Is he worth $1.4 million in the final year of his deal? I’d rather have Warren Peters for $500,000.
Curtis McElhinney: The team needs a backup it has confidence in.
This column also appears in the Calgary Metro newspaper.
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